UK expelling 4 Russian diplomats over Lugovoy extradition refusal

[JURIST] The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office [official website] announced the expulsion of four Russian diplomats [press release] and the immediate suspension of visa facilitation negotiations with Russia Monday, blaming "Russia's failure to cooperate to find a solution" in the two countries' differences over Britain's extradition request [JURIST report] for Andrei Lugovoy [JURIST news archive], wanted [JURIST report] by the UK Crown Prosecution Service for his alleged role in the poisoning-murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko [BBC profile; BBC timeline]. Prime Minister Gordon Brown [official profile] said that Britain would like to maintain "the best of relationships with Russia" [press release] but said that:

...people have got to understand that when a murder is committed on British soil, and when innocent people are put at risk by the method by which that murder is conducted, and when we have had a full police investigation and then we have the Independent Prosecuting Authority demanding that a certain person be arrested for the murder that has taken place and for the damage done to other civilians as a result of that, then we expect authorities in other parts of the world to co-operate with us in bringing that person to justice.
Also on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel [official website] said that both Germany and the European Union supported the UK's investigation.

Russian authorities have insisted that Lugovoy cannot be extradited because the Russian constitution forbids the extradition of its citizens for alleged crimes committed abroad [MFA statement; JURIST report], and have offered instead to try Lugovoy in Russian courts if the UK presented evidence of guilt. Litvinenko and Lugovoy, both former employees of the Russian state security agency, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation [official website, in Russian], met on November 1, 2006, hours before Litvinenko fell ill of radioactive poisoning from polonium-210 [CDC backgrounder]. Litvinenko died on November 26. AP has more.


 

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