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Russia's top prosecutors rule out the extradition to the UK of a key suspect in the murder of security service defector Alexander Litvinenko
Russia's top prosecutors rule out the extradition to the UK of a key suspect in the murder of security service defector Alexander Litvinenko, a source in the Prosecutor General's Office said Friday. Agent-turned-businessman Andrei Lugovoi "is a Russian citizen, and under the Russian Constitution, citizens of our country cannot be extradited to other countries for trials," the source said. British daily The Guardian said earlier Friday that UK authorities intend to demand Lugovoi's extradition, and that Russia may in return demand the extradition of exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who fled to the UK in 2000 to escape fraud charges and was granted political refugee status there. Russia has also been seeking the extradition of Akhmed Zakayev, a Chechen separatist emissary charged with terrorism and inciting ethnic hatred in Russia, who was granted political refugee status in the U.K. Litvinenko, an outspoken Kremlin critic with close ties to Berezovsky, defected in 2000 and received a British passport shortly before his death in London in November. Doctors said traces of radioactive polonium-210 were found in his body. Before his death, Litvinenko accused the Kremlin of orchestrating his poisoning in a deathbed note, a charge that President Vladimir Putin strongly denied. Detectives from Scotland Yard and the Russian Prosecutor General's Office have been investigating the case in London and Moscow, where key witnesses, Lugovoi and another former security service agent, Dmitry Kovtun, are based. The two men met with Litvinenko in a London hotel shortly before he was hospitalized with symptoms of poisoning, and have themselves undergone radiation checks. Both have denied any involvement in Litvinenko's death.
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