LONDON, October 3 (Itar-Tass) —— If Britain gave Russia the proof that Russian MP Andrei Lugovoi killed British subject and former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 by poisoning him with radioactive polonium-210, Russia would study it, the spokesman for the Russian Embassy in London, Konstantin Shlykov, said.
“First of all, the statement that Mr. Litvinenko was killed by way of execution ordered by the state and orchestrated by Russia is not backed up by evidence. And we are confident that no such evidence has ever existed. Otherwise, it would have been given to us,” Shlykov said in a letter to The Sundy Times that published an article titled “Russia Murdered Litvinenko, Says Top Prosecutor” on October 2.
“Second, when the author says that Russia refuses to extradite Lugovoi who allegedly killed Mr. Litvinenko, he [the author of the article] did not bother to mention that according to its constitutional norms Russia does not extradite its citizens to other countries for court investigations on their territory, irrespective whether it is Lugovoi or someone else. However, using this trick the author tries to create the impression that the Russian state is sort of ‘covering up’ for Mr. Lugovoi. But this is not true. If the British investigation bodies have well grounded proof of Lugovoi’s guilt, Russian law enforcement agencies are ready to study them. However no arguments to this effect have been presented since Litvinenko’s assassination in London Moreover, the British authorities rejected the benefit of questioning Mr. Lugovoi in Russia. And he, by the way, has repeatedly said publicly that he is ready to answer questions in this case. It would be legitimate to ask why [the British side rejected such an opportunity],” the spokesman said.
“Third, the Russian side has repeatedly requested the medical certificate of Mr. Litvinenko’s death. But this document was never provided, which can only be regretted. Russian law enforcement agencies are still waiting for it,” Shlykov said.
Litvinenko died of polonium 210 poisoning at a London hospital in November 2006.
Earlier, the Hamburg prosecutor's office dropped all charges Russian businessmen Dmitry Kovtun who was one of the suspects in the case.
Kovtun was suspected of having transported radionuclides across Germany. “Justice has prevailed at last, and I has been fully rehabilitated,” Kovtun said on Wednesday. “I have always believed that justice will prevail just as it will prevail in respect of Andrei Lugovoi who has been charged by British authorities.”
“The case against me and against Andrei Lugovoi was a bit too thin and doctored up by certain circles in England, and, as German experience shows, fell apart like a snowball when examined impartially,” Kovtun said.
He said a special unit called “The Third Man” had been created in Germany to investigate his case. "This is a big unit and it was busy all the time looking for the third mythical man who was supposedly seen with me in Germany,” he said, adding, “It's clear now where that search has led to.”
“The decision of the German prosecutor's office is not only the first step towards full rehabilitation of me and Andrei Lugovoi, but it has also took a cornerstone out of the charges against Andrei Lugovoi in England that will also collapse as the Berlin Wall did,” Kovtun said.
Lugovoi's lawyer Andrei Romashov said the decision of the Hamburg prosecutor's office indicates that the initial premises on which the investigation was based is beginning to fall apart.
“Clearly, this decision to drop charges against Kovtun in Germany is a positive move. Apparently, people understood over time that we were right because this [case against Kovtun] was one of the elements of the British investigation plan that was based on the radioactive material transportation route. Now we can see that it is not so at all,” the lawyer said.
“I hope we will see a follow up to this story in Britain,” he added.
Romashov said he was not aware of the reasons for which the Hamburg prosecutor's office had closed the case. “As far as I know, Germany has no more claims against Kovtun. As far as I know, the case in Germany is about 2,000 pages. This is a lot,” he said.
“As a lawyer I can say that for Britain this means some new circumstances that do not support their position at all,” Romashov said.
British investigators consider Lugovoi to be the main suspect in the case, but he flatly denies all charges.
Lugovoi dismissed as absurd the BBC's assertion that he could have killed Litvinenko unintentionally.
“I am not a small and naive boy. I am too professional and experienced in security matters to be used on the sly,” Lugovoi said.
“I am a professional and I will not allow anyone to use me. This assertion is absurd in terms of common sense. But politically, it benefits British secret services and the real murders of Litvinenko,” the deputy said.
In the summer 2007 British prosecutors demanded Lugovoi's extradition as the main suspect in the Litvinenko murder case. The businessman emphatically denied the charges.
He also said that polonium traces were found in London at places that he did not visit. “The polonium traces: were found 30 days after my stay in London, but polonium is not fingerprints, and it is impossible to identify who left these traces,” Lugovoi stressed.
A number of other polonium-contaminated objects were found, “but I don' t have any relation to them,” Lugovoi said.