Russia hedges response in UK spat

Russian foreign ministry says it will take into account the interests of citizens.

    Britain wants Andrei Lugovoi to be extradited [AP]

    Britain had said on Monday it would expel four Russian diplomats and halt co-operation in easing visa regulations because of Moscow's refusal to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the prime suspect in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London in November.

    Constitutional ban

    Your Views

    "British and Russian relations may sour a little over this situation but I doubt that either side wants to escalate it very far."

    Mack Rogers, Chattanooga, TN, USA

    Send us your views

    Interfax news agency quoted a Russian embassy source in London as saying Britain had presented a list of the four diplomats it wanted expelled.

    "These diplomats hold middle-ranking positions," the source said, adding that London was not insisting they leave in 24 or 48 hours.

    British prosecutors have accused Lugovoi of carrying out the poisoning and have demanded his extradition to face trial in Britain.
     
    Russia has refused, citing a constitutional ban on extraditing its own citizens.

    Grushko said: "These sanctions are used to politicise Litvinienko's case. This is a direct confrontation."
     
    The Russian media described Britain's response as a declaration of diplomatic war.

    Double standards
     
    Grushko also accused Britain of double standards for punishing Russia while itself ignoring numerous Russian extradition requests.
     
    "Over the past six years, Moscow has sent Britain 21 extradition requests, but not a single suspect has been extradited.
     
    "The suspects included fraudsters, killers, terrorists, drug dealers and persons involved in especially serious embezzlement of funds. Six of the people mentioned in the requests have been granted political asylum in Britain."
     
    Litvinenko, who held British citizenship and who had become a critic of the Russian president, died an agonising death in a London hospital after being poisoned by highly radioactive polonium.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Trump's Middle East plan: Decoding a century of failed deals

    Trump's Middle East plan: Decoding a century of failed deals

    Al Jazeera read all 181 pages of 'the deal of the century', comparing its language with 100 years of failed agreements.

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    As tensions over India's citizenship law shine a light on Assam, a writer explores the historical tensions in the state.

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    The story of a man who spent 19 years awaiting execution reveals the power of a false blasphemy claim to destroy a life.