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Senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday that Britain's decision to expel four Russian diplomats over Moscow's refusal to extradite a suspect in a high profile murder case would complicate bilateral cooperation in security issues
A senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday that Britain's decision to expel four Russian diplomats over Moscow's refusal to extradite a suspect in a high profile murder case would complicate bilateral cooperation in security issues. The U.K. decided to expel four Russian diplomats and suspend visa facilitation talks with Moscow after Russia refused to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the U.K.'s key suspect in the Alexander Litvinenko murder case, citing Russia's Constitution that forbids the extradition of Russian nationals. "It is obvious that the line London is pursuing will complicate or make impossible cooperation between law enforcement bodies in issues relating to the safety of millions of British and Russian citizens," said Alexander Grushko, a deputy foreign minister. He said Russia's response would be appropriate and targeted, but that it would not affect ordinary people or businessmen. He did not specified the measures, adding that the British Embassy in Russia would have lost 80 diplomats if Moscow had followed London's example. According to the latest information, the British Foreign Office said that any possible retaliatory measures taken by Russia would be unjustified. Russian Ambassador to the U.K. Yury Fedotov said London had already fixed a deadline for the expulsion of four Russian diplomats. "We need time for a response," Fedotov said, without specifying what retaliatory measures Russia could take. "We are serious people." Grushko said that although Russia had asked Britain to extradite two of its own suspects, fugitive tycoon Boris Berezovsky and Chechen emissary Akhmed Zakayev, "none has yet been extradited." Berezovsky is accused of fraud and plotting a coup, while Zakayev is facing terrorism charges. Both have been granted British passports. At a news conference Tuesday, London Mayor Ken Livingstone said Britain could not expect Lugovoi's extradition after refusing to extradite Berezovsky, Zakayev and a number of other people. Russia condemned as "Russophobic" and "immoral" the planned expulsion, warning of an inevitable political backlash after U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband announced the move. Miliband said Monday that negotiations between Russia and the European Union over facilitating the visa regime would be suspended and visa restrictions introduced for Russian officials. A spokesman for the British Embassy in Moscow clarified that the restrictions would not concern tourists or other ordinary citizens. Shares of Russian companies traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) fell between 0.3% and 4% on news of the U.K. measures against Russia. However, Britain's move has not affected the implementation of radiation security projects involving British companies in the Kola Peninsula in northern Russia, an economics spokesman for the Murmansk Region administration said. The source said Britain was involved in a number of projects to handle solid radioactive waste at Andreyeva Bay, where it had already invested over 7 million pounds sterling ($3.5 million). Lugovoi, who met Litvinenko on the day he fell ill in London, told journalists that London's decision to expel Russian diplomats was a clear attempt to politicize the case. Litvinenko died in a London hospital in November 2006. British experts said they discovered the radioactive isotope Polonium-210 in his body, but have not yet published an official autopsy report. In a deathbed note, purportedly written by Litvinenko, who received British citizenship shortly before his death, he blamed President Vladimir Putin for his murder, an allegation the Kremlin dismissed. Early last week, British prosecutors said they had received Russia's official refusal to extradite Lugovoi, which cited the Russian Constitution as saying Russian citizens could not be handed over to other countries, and proposed trying Lugovoi in Russia if Britain provides sufficient evidence. The latest reports said the Russian Foreign Ministry expected the Lugovoi case would not affect relations between Russia and the EU. "We hope common sense will prevail in the European Union and its members will refrain from new attempts to turn relations between Russia and the EU into a unique instrument for attaining unilateral political goals that have nothing to do with the true interests of the EU-Russia partnership," Grushko said. In turn, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the EU Manuel Carvalho told RIA Novosti the European Union did not plan to strain relations with Russia over Moscow's refusal to extradite Lugovoi. "The European Union will try to do everything possible to ease tensions," Carvalho said, adding that "the Lugovoi case is a legal issue."
Print Senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday that Britain's decision to expel four Russian diplomats over Moscow's refusal to extradite a suspect in a high profile murder case would complicate bilateral cooperation in security issues Bookmark Senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday that Britain's decision to expel four Russian diplomats over Moscow's refusal to extradite a suspect in a high profile murder case would complicate bilateral cooperation in security issues

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