United Kingdom expels four Russian diplomats

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Monday, July 16, 2007

The United Kingdom is expelling four Russian diplomats in an extradition row related to the Alexander Litvinenko case. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not named the four Russian diplomats, but according to the BBC, they are intelligence officers.

Cquote1.svg London's position is immoral. Cquote2.svg

—Mikhail Kamynin

Russia has refused to extradite the main suspect, Andrei Lugovoi, in the Litvinenko murder case, who is a Russian citizen. Under the "European Convention on Extradition 1957", Russia has the right to refuse the extradition of their citizens, and according to the Article 61 of the Constitution of Russia "The citizen of the Russian Federation may not be deported out of Russia or extradited to another state".

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he had "no apologies for the action we have taken" in expelling the diplomats. It is necessary to send a "clear and proportionate signal" to Russia, about how seriously the UK regards the matter.

Cquote1.svg No apologies for the action we have taken. Cquote2.svg

—Gordon Brown

Russia is suggesting that Britain’s request for Lugovoi is hypocritical given that British courts granted political asylum to Boris Berezovsky and Akhmed Zakayev, both of whom are wanted in Russia. “It seems to us that London’s position is immoral, given this background,” said Mikhail Kamynin, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, and said it would prompt Russian retaliation. "Moreover, in London they should clearly realise that such provocative actions masterminded by the British authorities will not be left without an answer and cannot but entail the most serious consequences for Russian-British relations," he continued.

In the British House of Commons on Monday, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband said, "This is a situation the Government has not sought, and does not welcome. However we have no choice but to address it."

In his statement to the Commons, Miliband highlighted the seriousness of the crime against Litvinenko and the subsequent danger to the community. "The facts...are therefore that a UK citizen has suffered a horrifying and lingering death. His murder put hundreds of others, residents and visitors, at risk of radiation contamination. And the UK Government has a wider duty to ensure the safety of the large Russian community living in the UK."

Miliband indicated that Russia is an important ally, but co-operation with Russia on a range of issues is under review. "The heinous crime of murder does require justice," said Miliband. "This response is proportional and it is clear at whom it is aimed."

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