LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – It was announced today that Britain will expel four Russian diplomats because of their country’s refusal to extradite former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi so he can stand trial for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, Bloombergs report.
“A U.K. citizen has suffered a horrifying and lingering death,” Foreign Secretary David Miliband told Parliament in London today. “Given the seriousness of the crime, Russia’s reply to the extradition request is extremely disappointing.”
Litvinenko, 43, died in London in November after being poisoned by radioactive polonium-210. The U.K. Crown Prosecution Service accused Lugovoi of the murder and sought his extradition. Both Lugovoi and the Kremlin deny involvement. Russia turned down the request, saying its constitution bars extradition.
The case has strained relations between Russia and the U.K., already troubled by Britain’s refusal to extradite exiled billionaire Boris Berezovsky, who is wanted in Russia on a range of charges including fraud. Today’s expulsions mark the biggest rift between the two countries since 1996, when first Russia, then Britain expelled four diplomats over a spying dispute.
This is the latest indication of the “serious deterioration” in relations with Russia, said Michael Moore, a member of Parliament from Britain’s Liberal Democrat Party. He called on the European Union to remain united across the range of issues where they were seeking to change Russian policy.