The official implication of Vladimir Putin in the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko has brought closure and rejoicing to the late KGB agent's family and friends who are part of the small community of Russian dissidents living in London. Litvinenko's widow, Marina, was in court with their son, Anatoly, to hear Sir Robert Owen pointing the finger at the Russian president as he introduced the findings of an inquiry into the murder.
Sir Robert, the inquiry's chairman, said there was a "strong probability" that Litvinenko was poisoned under the direction of Russia's intelligence agency, the FSB, in an operation approved by the Kremlin. His report identified the likely killers as Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, who met the former intelligence agent at the London hotel where he was served tea laced with highly radioactive Polonium-210 in 2006.
The statement was confirmation of what Litvinenko claimed on his deathbed and his wife has been battling to have officially recognised for almost 10 years. At a press conference, she said she was "very pleased" that the last words of her husband had been proven true in an English court, and thanked her son for the support throughout the legal odyssey started nine years ago.
"Anatoly was only 12 when his father died, and it was not easy for him to step forward and talk to the press. I'm so proud of him and I couldn't have done this without him," she said. "It's been pretty difficult," he added. "It's the only life I have lived".
In court was also the inner circle of Russian activists that knew Litvinenko and has in recent years made his family's battle its own.
"We have been part of one team," writer Yuli Dubov, a fellow exile of Litvinenko closely associated to late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, told IBTimes UK. "This is why [the report] is important [to us], if we forget about justice and things like that: it is personal."
Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev couldn't suppress a cry of joy when Sir Robert named Putin in his final statement. "Finally the international community has an answer to who Mr Putin really is," he said. "He is a terrorist, a killer... I hope after this decision Western leaders will stop shaking hands with and befriending this terrorist."
Microbiologist and activist Alexander Goldfarb, said the findings brought closure to Marina and Anatoly Litvinenko and restored his own faith in justice. "I brought him [Litvinenko] into this country and was there when he died," he said. "It's a great day for all of us. We had been trying to get this for almost 10 years. Now the ball is in the government's court. They have to take some action. This kind of behaviour cannot be tolerated in the modern world."