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Russia disputes UK evidence against Lugovoy in Litvinenko poisoning

[JURIST] Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Zvyagintsev on Monday criticized evidence provided by the United Kingdom to support the extradition of Andrei Lugovoy [JURIST news archive] for the poisoning-murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko [BBC profile; BBC timeline], saying that the materials gave no evidence that the UK conducted an objective investigation of Litvinenko's death. Meanwhile, in an interview [transcript] published Monday by Interfax and the Kommersant [media websites], UK Ambassador to Russia Sir Tony Brenton urged Russian authorities to interpret the Russian constitution in "light of the circumstances" and rejected assertions by the Russian Foreign Ministry that the UK was hypocritical in its demand for Lugovoy's extradition while simultaneously refusing to extradite Russian billionaire and alleged coup plotter Boris Berezovsky [JURIST news archive]. Brenton said that the "British Government cannot just 'decide' to extradite anyone," and that independent British courts make extradition determinations based upon evidence submitted by Russian authorities.

Russia has repeatedly rebuffed UK requests to extradite Lugovoy, saying that to do so would violate the Russian constitution [MFA statement; JURIST report], which prohibits extraditing citizens for crimes allegedly committed abroad. Last Monday, the UK expelled four Russian diplomats [press release; JURIST report], blaming Russia's "failure to cooperate to find a solution" to the two countries' differences. Russia responded by expelling four British diplomats [MFA press release; JURIST report]. AP has more.

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