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Polonium And The Piano Player: A new podcast about one of the world’s most notorious assassinations | UK News

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A London-based former KGB agent goes deep into the mindset of the undercover Russian spies who released a miniature nuclear weapon in London, in the latest episode of a Sky News podcast. 

Polonium and the Piano Player explores the 2006 assassination of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with the radioactive chemical polonium-210 in Mayfair’s Millennium Hotel.

Not only did the attack fatally poison Litvinenko, but it also sucked the hotel’s piano player, Derek Conlon, into a world of espionage and murder.

Derek Conlon (left) and Alexander Litvinenko
Image:
Derek Conlon (left) and Alexander Litvinenko

Mr Conlon’s untold story is the focus of the four-part weekly series from the multi-award-winning StoryCast team.

In the latest instalment, the former KGB agent – whose identity is revealed in Episode 2: The Poisoning – details the training and cultural influences that helped bring about the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko and transformed the life of Derek Conlon.

Litvinenko was slipped the nuclear poison in his green tea at the hotel’s piano bar – and it was here that the two men’s lives collided with devastating consequences.

:: Listen to Polonium and the Piano Player on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker or wherever good podcasts are listened to

In Episode 1: A Nuclear Connection, listeners learned what happened up until this point.

At the end of the first episode, Derek Conlon was getting ready to enter the Millennium Hotel where Litvinenko was about to be poisoned.

Episode 2 opens with Conlon entering this murky world of spies and subterfuge.

Pianist Derek Conlon, accidentally drank from the same radioactive cup used to poison Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006
Image:
Pianist Derek Conlon accidentally drank from the same radioactive cup used to poison Alexander Litvinenko

Sky News StoryCast went in-depth with an ex-KGB agent to understand how and why Litvinenko was targeted.

He had undergone much of the same training as the men accused of carrying out the attack, Andrey Lugavoy and Dmitri Kovtun.

In his previous life, the agent oversaw clandestine missions for the notorious spy agency at a time when Russian had infiltrated the most closely-guarded security networks in Britain and the United States.

“We didn’t wear uniforms,” he said. “But we were soldiers in a constant state of secret war.”

The poisoning attack is regarded by many as the start of a new Cold War relationship between the UK and Russia.

Speaking about the conflicting relationship many Russian spies had with Britain, the former KGB agent said: “It’s a very complicated picture because England was extremely popular in the Soviet Union.

“There were a lot of Anglophiles. I was one of them. British TV series like Sherlock Holmes. British movies. British music like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the Wings. They were all extremely popular in the old Soviet Union.”

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