A former double agent, Viktor Makarov fled to the U.K. 15 years ago hoping to continue his career in intelligence. But his dream did not materialize, and Makarov has since survived on benefits in a small town in the north of England, the BBC said Monday.
Makarov was arrested in 1987 and released after five years in a Soviet labor camp, when the Soviet Union broke up in 1992. He was then smuggled to the U.K. with the help of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service.
The British government has denied Makarov a pension, as he is not officially recognized as a defector.
This is not the first hunger strike for Makarov, 51, in Britain. He spent weeks without food in late 2004-early 2005.
On Christmas Eve 2004, Makarov gave an interview to the Russian media, which he had earlier refused to do, saying that he "does not talk to representatives of Russia, which I still do not want to have anything in common with," and that "I am Russian only by accent."
Makarov settled in front of the prime minister's residence in Downing Street with a thermos bottle and a sleeping bag, placing slogans on nearby fences and pavement protesting his "oppression" and the violation of his rights, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported at the time.
Makarov, who passed Britain crucial information on how Soviet intelligence deciphered data exchanges between NATO countries' embassies in Moscow and their governments in the West, now lives on modest benefits in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
He said the British government had deceived him by failing to keep its promises, and complained about his living conditions.
The BBC said Makarov had been paid ?65,000 after taking his case to court, which the government viewed as a final settlement. But the former spy said the sum was an inadequate assessment of his work and risks.
Makarov also said his life is under threat following the murder of his KGB colleague Alexander Litvinenko.
Litvinenko, 44, who defected to the U.K. in 2000, died in London in November after being poisoned with radioactive Polonium 210, and in his deathbed he accused the Kremlin of orchestrating his death.