The UK and Russia continue to exchange barbed comments in their political row which has brought relations to their lowest ebb since the end of the Cold War. A senior Russian official says Britain’s decision to expel four Russian diplomats was “groundless, inappropriate and unjustified.”
Prosecutor Alexander Zyvagintsev went on to criticise British law:
‘‘The granting of asylum to six people charged with crimes, which we consider a violation of the Geneva Convention on the status of refugees, and the fact that for years they have ignored Russia’s requests for legal help means Russia has more and more grounds to doubt the effectiveness of the British legal system.’‘
Former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoy denies killing another former KGB agent in London, but Britain wants to extradite him to face charges.
The Russian officials were expelled when Moscow refused. Moscow in turn revoked the visas of four British officials.
But London is not politicising the case, insists Prime Minister Gordon Brown:
‘We cannot tolerate a situation where all the evidence is that not only was one person assassinated, but many other people were put at risk, and we want the Russian authorities to recognise even at this stage that it is their responsibility to extradite for trial the Russian citizen who has been identified by our prosecuting authorities.’‘
Traces of the radioactive isotope Polonium 210, which killed Alexander Litvinenko last year, were found in several sites around London visited by Andrei Lugovoi.
Moscow says it will open an investigation if there is sufficient evidence to support one.