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Telegraph: Russia accuses UK as Litvinenko row escalates

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  • Jeremy Putley
    Daily Telegraph Russia accuses UK as Litvinenko row escalates By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow Last Updated: 1:57pm BST 01/06/2007 Russia sought to stoke a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2007
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      Daily Telegraph

      Russia accuses UK as Litvinenko row escalates
      By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow
      Last Updated: 1:57pm BST 01/06/2007


      Russia sought to stoke a growing diplomatic crisis with Britain this
      morning, accusing London of using ex-KGB officer Alexander
      Litvinenko's murder to undermine the Kremlin.

      Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, claimed that the inquiry
      into the defector's death had been unprofessional and warned that
      relations between the two countries were being damaged.

      "We are seeing attempts by the British side to turn the criminal
      case into some sort of a political campaign," he told reporters in
      Moscow.

      The accusations mark a significant and alarming escalation in the
      increasingly belligerent rhetoric being directed at Britain.

      While senior officials have publicly expressed their fury at the
      British media for its coverage of the case, the Kremlin has stopped
      short of including the government itself in its attacks.

      But after Britain demanded the extradition of another former KGB
      agent, Andrei Lugovoi, to stand trial for Mr Litvinenko's murder,
      the Kremlin appears to be shifting its strategy.

      Yesterday Mr Lugovoi held a press conference in which he alleged
      that MI6 had been involved in the murder. Kremlin critics suggested
      that Russian government or intelligence officials had written Mr
      Lugovoi's statement in an attempt to deflect suspicion being
      directed at Moscow.

      Mr Litvinenko, who died in November three weeks after being poisoned
      with the radioactive substance Polonium-210, was an outspoken critic
      of President Vladimir Putin and was regarded as a traitor by many in
      the FSB, the KGB's main successor.

      State controlled media has sought to pin the blame on Boris
      Berezovsky, a once powerful tycoon living in London, suggesting that
      he carried out the murder to besmirch the reputation of Mr Putin,
      his great enemy.

      But with British police apparently unwilling to swallow that theory,
      analysts say the Kremlin is now trying to show that Britain has no
      interest in solving the murder — either because MI6 was involved or
      because London is itself trying to smear Mr Putin.

      ___________________________________________


      Russian escalation is based on (correct) estimation of Blair's
      appetite for a fight?
      JP
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