Britain urges Moscow to solve extradition standoff


Moscow : Britain's ambassador to Russia, Tony Brenton, Sunday called on Moscow to help find a solution to the dispute over London's demand for the extradition of a suspect in the murder of an ex-KGB agent late last year.

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"We are not demanding that Russia should violate its constitution, but we propose that we should jointly look for a possibility of circumventing this obstacle," Benton told the Interfax agency.

The remark was a reference to Moscow's chief argument – constitutional grounds – in refusing to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, whom Scotland Yard considers the chief suspect in the radioactive poisoning murder of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in November 2006.

Brenton said he felt the Russian constitution was open to various interpretations and that in view of the serious and exceptional case of murder, the legal obstacles should be circumvented.

The British diplomat criticised the fact that so far, Russia had not shown "sufficient willingness for cooperation" in the murder case.

Brenton defended his country's demands for court proceedings to take place in London because the crime took place there, and against a British citizen. In addition, there were witnesses and evidence available in London pertaining to the murder case.

The British diplomat rejected the idea of having the case tried before a court in Moscow, noting that in the past, both the United Nations and the European Union had raised doubts about how the laws were applied in Russia.

The ambassador's remarks come amid ongoing tension between Moscow and London in the extradition controversy.

Last week, in tit-for-tat moves reminiscent of the Cold War era, London and Moscow each ordered the expulsion of four of the other country's diplomats as the dispute over the extradition demand escalated.