Christian Action Network

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Russia stands by radiation murder suspect

(AFP) Russia refused Tuesday to extradite ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi after Britain charged him with murder over the radiation poisoning of fugitive Russian agent and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko. 

“In accordance with Russian law, a citizen of the Russian Federation cannot be extradited to a foreign state,” Marina Gridneva, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, told Russian news agencies. 

Lugovoi reasserted his innocence of the charges levelled on Tuesday. 

Moscow’s decision to protect Lugovoi deepened the diplomatic crisis over the murder last year of Litvinenko, a former Russian security services officer who had political asylum in Britain. 

He received a fatal dose of polonium 210 while meeting Lugovoi in a London hotel on November 1, police say, and died in agony on November 23. A final letter distributed by friends accused President Vladimir Putin of ordering the assassination. 

Britain’s government demanded “full cooperation” from Moscow in bringing Lugovoi to justice. The Foreign Office called in Russia’s ambassador to discuss the case. 

But Lugovoi — a Soviet KGB officer specialising in bodyguard duties and now owner of a security company and soft drinks factory — dismissed the charges against him. 

“I did not kill Litvinenko. I have nothing to do with his death,” he was quoted as saying by all three main Russian news agencies. 

Dismissing the accusation as “a political decision,” Lugovoi also promised shortly to reveal information that will be “a sensation for British public opinion and could fundamentally alter how these events are viewed.” 

He did not provide any other details, only underlining that he was not guilty. 

“I never had objective or subjective motives to carry out what they accuse me of in London,” he said. 

A man answering Lugovoi’s mobile telephone said he was not available for “at least two hours” and refused to confirm whether he was in Moscow. 

The killing of Litvinenko — and particularly the spectacular use of highly radioactive and valuable polonium 210 — shocked Britain, where hundreds of people were tested for exposure to radiation. 

Litvinenko was part of a group of dissident Russians fiercely opposed to Putin, including controversial billionaire businessman Boris Berezovsky and Chechen rebel Akhmad Zakayev, both of whom also have been granted political asylum and remain in London. 

The murder and accusations that Russian authorities subsequently refused to cooperate fully with British investigators has contributed to steadily deteriorating relations between Western governments and the Kremlin. 

A blond, sharply-dressed athletic man, Lugovoi’s career has followed the trajectory of many of those who received training in the feared KGB, just as the Soviet Union itself was in free fall. 

He joined the KGB in the 1980s, then worked for the presidential bodyguard responsible for protecting Russia’s then head of state Boris Yeltsin. 

In 1996 he left state service and became head of the security detail for a television station then owned by Berezovsky. 

In 2001 Lugovoi was involved in an attempt to spring a businessman, Nikolai Glushkov, from jail. The operation failed, Lugovoi was arrested and spent 14 months in prison. 

After leaving prison, he set up his own business.

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May 22, 2007 - Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror

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