Relations between the UK and Russia have cooled further with reports that London is considering the expulsion of Russian diplomats over the Litvinenko affair. Authorities in Britain want Russia to extradite Andrei Lugovoy to face trial over the murder in London last year of Alexander Litvinenko, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin.
Russia says it is against the constitution to extradite one of its own citizens. Lugovoy denies murder and claims the British intelligence service MI6 was behind the killing. “The prosecutor who accuses me should order an investigation into the British secret service,” he said, “and should find the proof that Litvinenko worked for them, and should find the proof that he was paid by them every month.”
The murder of Litvinenko, poisoned with highly-radioactive Polonium 210, could now lead to the kind of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions reminiscent of the 70s and 80s. Analysts also believe the Litvinenko case might also lead the UK to suspend co-operation on counter-terrorism, important to Moscow, which is keen to keep tabs on Chechen militants in Europe.