“I have today concluded that the evidence sent to us by the police is sufficient to charge Andrei Lugovoy with the murder of Mr. Litvinenko by deliberate poisoning,” [UK] Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald said, immediately setting off a diplomatic confrontation between London and Moscow.
This of course has gone over like the proverbial heavy-isotope balloon in Moscow, where authorities and lawyers have alternately blustered, denied, denigrated the British court system and pointed to the Russian constitution, which appears to make extradition a dead letter. Still, an EU-wide warrant is likely to follow, and Lugovoy’s travel prospects will surely be limited.
Foreign relations tests will come fast and furious in the early part of Gordon Brown’s term as prime minister…
The Litvinenko case just gets weirder, although perhaps a little simpler. Yesterday’s Observer ran a long report based on the testimony of a Russian doctoral student in London who got in touch with him whilst looking for information on Chechnya. Apparently he boasted of having not only a dossier on the Yukos case, but also sources in the FSB who would provide him with documents on command. He also said he planned to blackmail the Russian government and prominent persons with these documents, in order to escape his financial dependence on Berezovsky.
On the other hand, the role of Mario Scaramella becomes a little clearer with this must-read report in the Independent. It seems that essentially everything he has told British reporters is untrue. He is not an investigating magistrate, nor a professor, nor does his “Environmental Crime Protection Project” exist in any signal way. Instead, he appears to be a political operative of some kind. Continue reading →