The head of a private centre in Russia that trains the country’s special forces today admitted that photographs of exiled former spy Alexander Litvinenko had been used during target shooting practice.
Sergei Lysyuk, head of the Vityaz Centre, said a shooting competition had been hosted but he had been unaware at the time that the photo on the target was Litvinenko, who was later fatally poisoned in London.
Lysyuk said: “The fact that it was Litvinenko we only found out later from the press. We did not shoot at Litvinenko, we shot at a target.”
Use of the target became known this week after Russian media published photographs of Sergei Mironov, head of the upper house of the Russian parliament, visiting the centre in early November, about a week after Litvinenko fell ill, to present awards in a competition for Russian Interior Ministry special forces that was held there.
One photo shows the Litvinenko target in the background behind Mironov.
A promotional video for Vityaz circulating on the internet also shows trainees in camouflage fatigues shooting at a Litvinenko target, but Lysyuk said the video was made in 2002 and that the trainees were men about to enter the military.