Litvinenko stalemate unacceptable, UK says

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Wednesday he told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Group of Eight summit that the issue of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko’s death in London ”would not be closed”.

Giving his account of their first face-to-face meeting, which came amid cool relations between Britain and Russia, Brown said he had told Medvedev that the current stalemate over the case was unacceptable.

Russian officials said after the meeting in Japan this week that Medvedev told Brown in frank talks that he wanted to normalise relations between the two countries.

Brown told lawmakers at the House of Commons: ”I made it clear to him that the Litvinenko issue would not be closed.

”We have justice to do on the part of someone who was murdered on British soil and it is not an acceptable position to be where we are.”

Litvinenko died in a London hospital in 2006 from radiation poisoning, which it is thought he ingested through a cup of tea.

Britain wants Russia to extradite lawmaker and ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi to face charges, but Russia has refused.

As part of ”a very full discussion” with Medvedev, Brown said he had also raised the closure of two British Council offices in Russia and said it was ”completely unfair” to deal with the cultural body in that way.

He also raised TNK-BP, a joint Russian-British oil venture that has hit serious problems amid claims from the British side that Russian shareholders are attempting to seize control.

There had been questions over whether foreign managers would have their visas renewed and Brown said: ”Whatever the difficulties in the commercial relationship … the Russian government has a duty to look at the visas.”

Russian investigators on Tuesday rejected claims made by the BBC that the Russian secret service had a role in Litvinenko’s killing. — AFP



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