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Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko was a fugitive officer of the Russian FSB secret service who specialised in tackling organised crime. In November 1998, Litvinenko and several other FSB officers publicly accused their superiors of ordering the assassination of the Russian tycoon and oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Litvinenko was arrested the following March on charges of exceeding the authority of his position. He was acquitted in November 1999 but re-arrested before the charges were again dismissed in 2000. He fled with his family to London and was granted asylum in the United Kingdom, where he worked as a journalist, writer and consultant for the British intelligence services. During his time in London, Litvinenko wrote two books, Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within and Lubyanka Criminal Group, wherein he accused the Russian secret services of staging the Russian apartment bombings and other terrorism acts in an effort to bring Vladimir Putin to power. He also accused Putin of ordering the murder in October 2006 of the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

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