Russia warns Cameron to ‘get over’ the Litvinenko poisoning

The Times

The Kremlin has told David Cameron to abandon Britain’s “ideological obsessions” over the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the dissident spy, if he wants relations with Russia to improve.

Sergei Lavrov, the Foreign Minister, issued the thinly veiled warning as Mr Cameron prepared to fly to Moscow today for the first visit by a British Prime Minister since Mr Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in London almost five years ago.

Mr Lavrov made clear that the Kremlin expected him to abandon the stance of the previous Labour Government, which imposed sanctions after Russia refused to extradite Andrei Lugovoy, the former KGB officer accused of killing Mr Litvinenko in November 2006. Mr Lugovoy, now a member of Russia’s parliament, has denied any involvement in the crime.

Britain broke off secret service co-operation with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and imposed visa restrictions on government officials after Vladimir Putin, then President, dismissed London’s demand for Mr Lugovoy’s extradition, citing a constitutional ban.

Mr Lavrov, using coded diplomatic language in an article for First magazine, said that the Conservative leader’s visit was an “opportune time” to move on from the dispute that plunged Anglo-Russian relations to their worst level since the Cold War.

“We cannot afford to be guided by politicised and stereotyped approaches inherited from a different era,” he said.

“More and more people, including politicians, understand that ideological obsessions must give way to pragmatism and the search for balance of interests, both internationally and in bilateral relations of states, in spite of the fact that governments might differ on certain matters.

“Key national interests of Russia and Britain are not contradictory. This is why we believe that the Moscow summit will provide further impetus to the mutual efforts to take our relationship to a new level.”

The warning came as four former British foreign secretaries urged Mr Cameron to get tough with Russia during meetings with President Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister. The encounter with Mr Putin, who is still regarded as Russia’s most powerful politician, will be the first by any British politician or diplomat since 2007.

David Miliband, Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett, of Labour, and Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind urged Mr Cameron to confront Russia over the assassination of Mr Litvinenko, the imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former Yukos oil tycoon, and the death in detention of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer for the British investment firm Hermitage Capital.

In a letter to The Sunday Times, the politicians highlighted “increasing hostility” towards journalists and business people in Russia, warning that the latter were often “victims of an increasingly potent mix of corruption and lawlessness”.

“These concerns need to be addressed before business can truly flourish,” they told Mr Cameron, who is taking a delegation of business leaders to Moscow.

“The dangers of this corruption do not stop at Russia’s borders, and Alexander Litvinenko’s murder shows the consequences of such lawlessness hitting British shores. In this regard the Prime Minister has both a domestic and an international duty to tackle this issue head on during his visit.”

They welcomed Mr Medvedev’s commitment to the rule of law and human rights but said that Mr Cameron had to make clear to him that “if Russia wants to become a fully fledged member of the international community, as it claims, then words alone will not be enough”.

Mr Magnitsky died in November 2009 after being held for a year in pre-trial detention and denied medical treatment for serious illnesses. He said that he was tortured in prison to try to force him to withdraw an allegation that a group of Interior Ministry police had stolen $230 million (£145 million) in a tax fraud. The same officers had arrested Mr Magnitsky shortly after his complaint.

Bill Browder, Hermitage’s founder, said that Britain should follow the United States in blacklisting Russian government officials accused of involvement in Mr Magnitsky’s death. Mr Browder was once Russia’s biggest foreign investor but was barred from the country on national security grounds in 2005.

“We are publicly calling on Prime Minister Cameron to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Russian officials who tortured and killed our lawyer Sergei Magnitsky,” he said.

“It is only right that the British Government should look after their own citizens in a manner that is as robust as other countries. Only after the British Government properly addresses Russia for the harm that they have done to British interests, should the Prime Minister encourage other British companies to invest there.”

The Russian embassy in London has meanwhile announced it had been the victim of a cyber attack ahead of Mr Cameron’s visit to Russia. Officials said a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS), where hackers swamp a site to make it unusable, had brought down its website.

It has set up a “mirror” service on www.rusemborguk.ru to “meet the increased interest of the public and media”.

A statement from the embassy said: “Prior to the visit of Prime Minister David Cameron to Russia the website of the Russian Embassy in London was brought down by a suspected DDoS attack. We have set up a mirror website to meet the increased interest of the public and media.” unshaven girl срочный займ https://zp-pdl.com/online-payday-loans-cash-advances.php https://zp-pdl.com/online-payday-loans-in-america.php займ срочно без отказов и проверок

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