Andre Lugovoy met Alexander Litvinenko on November 1, 2006 in London
Last week the UK's Crown Prosecution Service indicted Andre Lugovoy, an ex-KGB officer and former bodyguard for exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. The indictment drew sensational headlines in the British press and commentary on both sides of the Atlantic blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia's secret services for the death of Alexander Litvinenko from radiation poisoning last year.
To date, the Russian Prosecutor General's office claims that it has not received sufficient evidence from the British government to open a criminal case against Mr. Lugovoy in Russia. Article 61 of Russia's constitution forbids extraditing Russian citizens to face trial abroad. Last week Mr. Lugovoy told Russia's RenTV last week that he fears that the British government may try to take action against him on Russian soil. Mr. Lugovoy claims that he is innocent and argues that he was also exposed to harmful levels of radiation during his meetings with Alexander Litvinenko in London on November 1, 2006.
Boris Berezovsky was the subject of Paul Klebnikov's book Godfather of the Kremlin
For his part, Boris Berezovsky claims that Lugovoy's life could be in danger, since "it's absolutely the typical KGB way to solve a problem by killing the witness". Contrary to the prevailing storyline in the Western media, most of the speculation in the Russian press has focused on Berezovsky as the prime suspect in Litvinenko's sensational death from exposure to the rare isotope polonium-210.
Russian prosecutors have continued to demand that UK authorities extradite Berezovsky back home to face criminal charges of unlawful business practices in Russia. Shortly before the Other Russia "dissenters march" held last month in Moscow, Berezovsky called for "direct action" against the Russian government in an interview with the British press. Advocating the violent overthrow of the government is a crime in Russia and could be grounds for Berezovsky to have his political asylum revoked in Great Britain.
National Bolsheviks at the Other Russia march in Moscow on April 14, 2007
Some Russian political analysts argued last month that Berezovsky's provocative statement contributed to an overreaction by OMON special police units against the demonstration led by the chessmaster turned activist Garry Kasparov and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. Pro-Kremlin members of the Russian Duma have accused the Other Russia coalition of accepting funding from Berezovsky, while Kasparov has denied this claim.
To read more Russia Blog posts about the Litvinenko csse, scroll through the Crime (www.russiablog.org/crime) section or click on the links below: