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Moscow calls London’s investigation into Litvinenko case politically motivated

January 21, 13:39 UTC+3
Moscow regrets that the purely criminal case has been politicized and has marred the entire atmosphere of bilateral relations, Russia’s Foreign Ministry official spokesperson says
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Marina Litvinenko, widow of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London

Marina Litvinenko, widow of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London

© AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

MOSCOW, January 21. /TASS/. London has politicized the purely criminal case into the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, marring the entire atmosphere of bilateral relations, Russia’s Foreign Ministry official spokesperson said on Thursday.

"We would like to note that Russia’s position on the issue remains unchanged and is well-known. We regret that the purely criminal case has been politicized and has marred the entire atmosphere of bilateral relations," Maria Zakharova said.

The diplomat said it was evident that the decision on suspending the coroner investigation and launching a public inquiry into Litvinenko’s death was clearly politically motivated.

The reason that London’s inquiry was not transparent is clear taking into consideration that the materials were considered under pretext of "secrecy," Zakharova said.

Moscow had no grounds to expect that the final report of the inquiry chairman, Sir Robert Owen, on the circumstances of Litvinenko’s death could be objective and unbiased, Zakharova noted.

"Of course, we need time to study in detail the content of this document and after that we will give a full assessment," she added.

Earlier in the day, a public inquiry in Britain named Russian citizens Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun as those who put to death Litvinenko in London in 2006.

The judge also suggested the "operation to kill Mr Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr Patrushev and also by President Putin." 

Lugovoy: London using "polonium scandal" to achieve its political goals

The UK authorities are using the "polonium scandal" to achieve their political goals, said State Duma deputy Andrey Lugovoy named by a British inquiry one of the killers of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko.

"For London, the ‘polonium scandal’ has become a convenient way to achieve their political goals, and it was clear for me from the very beginning," Lugovoy told TASS. "I hope that the ‘polonium process’ will debunk the myth about impartiality of British justice," he noted.

The results of the public inquiry once again reinforce London’s anti-Russian position, tunnel vision and reluctance to establish the real reason of Litvinenko’s death, Lugovoy said. In 2013 the British side classified several documents that were vital for the case "thus completely giving up on further investigation." "The whole process turned into a theatrical farce with prolonged intermissions. Our attempts to give comprehensive testimonies — I will stress that we were always ready for contacts -were in fact dismissed by the British side," he explained adding that it was the reason he refused to take part in the trial in 2013.

The results of the public inquiry are "not surprising," Lugovoy said. "Events of 2014 in Ukraine, anti-Russian hysteria that started after that and the coinciding resumption of investigation of the Litvinenko case, despite earlier classified information, personally for me looked like London’s pathetic attempt to use ‘skeleton in the closet’ for their political ambitions," he stressed.

Former FSB chief: Litvinenko affair unable to further upset ties with London

A member of the State Duma’s security and resistance to corruption committee Nikolai Kovalyov believes that the findings produced by public hearings in a British court over the Litvinenko affair are unable to further worsen relations between Moscow and London, because their condition just cannot be worse.

"I believe that no major effects will follow for the simple reason: it’s a situation of three years ago. Regrettably, the relations leave much to be desired, and the way I see it, there is no room for worsening them further," Kovalyov, a former director of the federal security service FSB told TASS.

"The British have demonstrated amazing consistency in their stubborn attempts to ‘punish’ Russia by hook or by crook," Kovalyov said.

In his opinion any normal cooperation with Britain’s law enforcement agencies and secret services is out of the question. "Sadly, at a certain point that cooperation was curtailed in many fields, including the struggle with international terrorism, which looks utterly weird to me," Kovalyov said. He criticized that decision as a "colossal mistake that has resulted in the emergence of the notorious Islamic State (outlawed in Russia as a terrorist organization) and the expansion of international terrorism, which makes no distinctions among countries and continents."

"They [terrorists] ‘get along’ pretty well. They help each other, in contrast to the secret services and law enforcement agencies of most countries of the world and in particular, to the relations between British and Russian secret services," Kovalyov said.

"How can one dare say that ‘we will not be cooperating in the struggle with terror?’ Listen, you will find yourself at the receiving end of your own policy. We have already been able to see that, because while political skirmishes were going on among states, international terrorism kept maturing and consolidating itself," Kovalyov said.

As a result, he pointed out, "we can see growing terrorist insurgency in Afghanistan, in Syria and in other countries."

"All this is evidence of an ill-considered and near-sighted policy in the sphere of cooperation among secret services and law enforcement agencies, including Russian ones," he concluded.

Litvinenko case investigation

Earlier today a public inquiry in Britain has named Russian citizens Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun as those who put Litvinenko to death in London in 2006.

The public probe into the Litvinenko case was launched in a London court last January. The original expectation was the probe would be over in March 2015, but eventually it was prolonged when Russian businessman Dmitry Kovtun declared his intention to testify. Kovtun, whom London suspected of complicity in Litvinenko’s death, eventually refused to appear as a witness. After the open phase the hearings continued behind closed doors. According to counsel Robin Tam, the open hearings lasted 34 days. Testimonies by 62 witnesses were heard.

Litvinenko who had been an officer of the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB, defected to England where he received political asylum. He died in London on November 23, 2006. As an expert study found, he was poisoned with radioactive polonium but the circumstances of his death have not been established to date. The lawyers of the poisoned agent’s widow admitted that before his death Litvinenko had worked for the special services of the United Kingdom (MI-6) and Spain for several years.

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