Russia Declares Litvinenko Murder Suspect a Victim

Wall Street Journal

In a new twist of Cold War-style tit-for-tat accusations, Russia asserted Wednesday that Britain’s chief suspect in the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 was himself the target of a murder attempt with the same radioactive substance.

The declaration by Russia’s top investigative body, the Investigative Committee, is likely to deepen the diplomatic chill between Moscow and London, and widen the gulf between Russian and western law enforcement agencies.

Russian investigators have appeared recalcitrant in the Livtinenko case, and the government has refused to extradite the polonium suspect, Andrei Lugovoi, calling it a matter of national sovereignty.

British police say they have amassed detailed evidence against Mr. Lugovoi, a career security service officer, and tracked a trail of polonium across Europe to his London hotel room and the upscale Mayfair bar where he met with Mr. Litvenenko when he consumed some polonium-laced tea. Last month a British coroner agreed to open a full inquest into the radiation poisoning, potentially bringing the case before a British legal forum for the first time and revealing new details about his death.

On Wednesday, Russia’s Investigative Committee said it had also conducted its own investigation, and had ascertained that Mr. Lugovoi and a colleague, Dmitry Kovtun, were also poisoned with polonium in the restaurant. The committee’s spokesman, Vladimir Markin, said the committee has responded by opening a criminal case into the attempted murder of the men, who the committee has recognized as aggrieved parties.

British police declined to comment on the findings.

Mr. Lugovoi has become a celebrity in Russia since the murder, and was elected to Russia’s parliament the following year. He told Russia’s state-run RIA-Novosti news agency Wednesday that he was satisfied with the new investigation. “For five years I have been saying that I am a victim both physically and from the moral point of view,” he said, according to the news agency.

Russian officials gave no details Wednesday on who might have masterminded the poisoning. But they have in the past suggested that Mr. Litvinenko, a former Russian security service officer who was living in exile and sharply critical of Vladimir Putin, accidentally poisoned himself at the London meeting, or was killed by fellow exile Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky to discredit the Russian government.

Mr. Lugovoi repeated those suggestions Wednesday. “The death of Litvinenko and everything connected with it has been useful to Berezovsky,” Mr. Lugovoi told RIA Novosti. “Berezovsky is an enemy of the Russian state.”

Mr. Berezovsky, who lives in London, calls the accusation absurd.

Kremlin critics suspect that Mr. Lugovoi, who ran a private security firm at the time of the poisoning, was actually working undercover for the Kremlin, often spying on his clients. He denies the allegation, and said that he often visited London and visited Mr. Litvinenko to promote his side business exporting kvas – a traditional Russian beverage made from fermented rye.

Moscow’s refusal to extradite Lugovoi after the murder sparked a round of expulsions of diplomats and has long soured its relations with London. At a September meeting in Moscow, British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Dmitry Medvedev discussed the matter but made no tangible progress.

In the U.S. Congress is considering placing a number of Russian law enforcement officials on a travel ban list for allegedly obfuscating an investigation into the death of a hedge fund lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, in a Russian prison two years ago. займ на карту займы без отказа https://zp-pdl.com/get-quick-online-payday-loan-now.php www.zp-pdl.com займы на карту без отказа

екапуста займ онлайн на карту credit-n.ru займ на киви кошелек мгновенно
онлайн займ на карту маэстро credit-n.ru займ онлайн на киви кошелек срочно
кредит онлайн на карту долгий срок credit-n.ru онлайн кредит круглосуточно
быстро займ на карточку credit-n.ru кредит без верификации карты

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • LinkedIn
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • FriendFeed
  • NewsVine
  • Digg

Place your comment

Please fill your data and comment below.

Your comment