The father of Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian spy turned Kremlin opponent who died from poisoning in London in 2006, has called his son a "traitor" and begged Russia for forgiveness so he can return home.

Valter Litvinenko fled to Italy with his family in 2008, apparently to avoid retribution from Russian authorities after accusing the Russian Government of ordering his son's assassination. But in a interview broadcast on Russian state television yesterday, the 73-year-old broke down and begged to be allowed to return.

"Forgive me, my motherland. And help me return home, help an old man," he said. Alexander Litvinenko's widow Marina recently said her husband had co-operated with British security services, and was paid for his work. In the interview, Litvinenko's father says this revelation changed his view of his son's death.

"What am I supposed to do, cry out around the world about my traitor of a son?" he says. "When I found out he had worked for their spy agencies ... that was a real blow. That's it. It was such a blow."

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- Independent