Litvinenko's father apologises for accusing Russia

image captionAlexander Litvinenko fell ill after a meeting with former KGB contacts in London in 2006

The father of poisoned former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has said he regrets blaming Russia's secret services for his son's death in 2006.

Speaking at his current home in Italy, a sobbing Valter Litvinenko told Russian TV he wanted back to Russia.

"Forgive me, my Motherland, for God's sake," the 73-year-old said. "Help me, an old man, to return to his country."

Previously, he had blamed his son's death on the government of then Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Alexander Litvinenko's death from poisoning by radioactive polonium-210 sparked a diplomatic battle between the UK and Russia.

Moscow has refused to extradite one of its intelligence agents, Andrei Lugovoi, whom the UK suspects of a role in the poisoning.

'Traitors are to be killed'

In the new interview, said by Russia's Channel One to have been recorded recently at his rented home in an Italian village, Valter Litvinenko appears distraught, complaining that he is cold and hungry.

Few of the recent widower's remarks could be heard in the channel's video report.

However excerpts said to be from the same interview were translated and quoted at length by Russia's international broadcaster, RT.

In these, Valter Litvinenko said that if he had known his son had gone on to work for British intelligence, he would not have defended him.

"He might as well have been killed by Russian secret services," he was quoted as saying by RT.

"They had a right to do it because traitors are to be killed. Back then I was convinced he was not a traitor but I am not so sure now, so I won't draw any conclusions."

He explained that he had blamed the Russian authorities because he had been "guided only by anger" over his son's death.

According to RT, Valter Litvinenko said he regretted "his participation in the smear campaign against Russia in general and [current] Prime Minister Putin in particular".

Alexander Litvinenko, 43, fell ill shortly after drinking tea during a meeting at a West End hotel with Mr Lugovoi and another Russian agent.

Three weeks later, on 23 November 2006, he died of radioactive polonium-210 poisoning in London's University College Hospital.

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