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London spy case demand "vestige of colonial thinking": Putin
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08:31, July 25, 2007

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said Britain's demand that Russia amend its Constitution to extradite a main suspect in the poisoning case of Alexander Litvinenko is "a vestige of colonial thinking," news agencies reported.

"What they are proposing is obviously a vestige of colonial thinking," RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Putin as saying at a meeting with youth organizations at a presidential residence outside Moscow.

Moscow and London announced earlier this month reciprocal expulsions of four diplomats, escalating the dispute over the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi, the main suspect in the poisoning case of former secret agent Litvinenko.

Britain has asked Russia to hand over Lugovoi, who is accused of murdering Litvinenko in London last November while Russia insists that the businessman and also former secret agent should be put on trial in Russia according to its constitution.

Putin claimed that Britain, however, has not yet extradited 30 people, who are hiding in London and were accused of involvement in crimes in Russia.

"They do not extradite anyone, including those suspected and accused of terrorist activity, who hide on their territory, but they issue demands to other countries, including recommendations to change the constitution, which insult our country," Putin said.

"Their brains, not our constitution, should be changed. The things they are proposing are a relic of colonial thinking," Itar- Tass quoted Putin as saying.

Litvinenko died of radioactive poisoning, from Polonium 210, in London on Nov. 23. Experts investigating his death found radiation traces at a dozen locations and on two British Airways airplanes that flew the Moscow-London route.

Lugovoi, a business partner of Litvinenko and also a former KGB agent, met him at a London hotel on Nov. 1. Litvinenko fell ill on that day and died weeks later in a London hospital.

Russia has said its rejection was based both on a constitutional ban on turning Russian citizens over to foreign countries, and on a European convention that allows signatories to refuse to extradite their nationals.

Source: Xinhua



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