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Russia's top prosecutor says looking into U.K.'s Lugovoi charges

RIA Novosti

14/06/2007 17:09

MOSCOW, June 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's top prosecutor said Thursday that his office was examining London's case against Russian businessman Andrei Lugovoi, accused of murdering ex-FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, but ruled out extradition.

Britain considers Litvinenko, a former security officer turned businessman, a key suspect in the murder of secret service defector Litvinenko, who died of radioactive poisoning November 23, 2006 in London, shortly after receiving British citizenship.

"We are examining Britain's arguments, but extradition is out of the question," Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said.

Chaika said London had only offered Russia the analysis of evidence in the murder case "without any materials in the criminal case."

The United Kingdom applied for Lugovoi's extradition in late May, but Russian prosecutors have refused to extradite him, saying it was against Russian law, under which a Russian national cannot be handed over to another country.

In his deathbed note, Litvinenko, who received a British passport shortly before his death, said Russian President Vladimir Putin had orchestrated his poisoning, an allegation denied by the Kremlin.

Lugovoi, who met with Litvinenko not long before his death, said in a news conference May 31 that British Intelligence might have been involved in the murder and had been looking for information to discredit Putin.

Moscow has also been fruitlessly seeking the extradition of Litvinenko's boss Boris Berezovsky, a fugitive tycoon, on fraud charges and for trying to instigate a coup from Britain, where he has been based since 2001 and whose citizen he became in 2003.

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