The Russian president Vladimir Putin has launched an unprecedented attack on Britain, accusing London of acting like old colonial masters. Russian television showed the president in relaxed mode in the country outside Moscow, but his words were anything but laid-back.
Putin was speaking about the diplomatic row surrounding the murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who died of radiation poisoning in London last year.
London wants its chief suspect, Andrei Lugovoi, extradited to face trial. Moscow refuses, claiming the constitution forbids it. Britain said Russia should change the constitution.
“Britain is no longer a colonial power,” Putin said, “there are no colonies left, and thank God
Russia has never been a British colony.”
“They need to change their brains, not the constitution,” he said.
The row over Lugovoi escalated this week, as Britain and Russia each expelled diplomats.
Relations were already strained by London’s refusal to hand over Russians wanted by Moscow, including the billionaire Boris Berezovsky.
Lugovoi denies any involvement in the death of Litvinenko, who died after being poisoned with polonium in London.