British investigators in Moscow as Litvinenko case continues

(AFP) - British detectives were in Moscow to continue their investigation into the mysterious poisoning death of former spy Alexander Litvinenko, as diplomatic tensions between Britain and Russia rose closer to the surface.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed that "a team of officers" had arrived in Moscow, but could not say how many had made the trip, or how long they planned to stay, reports Trend.

While British media have reported that nine detectives went to Moscow, Russian state television RIA-Novosti said that only four arrived, and were met by British embassy offiicals before leaving in a minivan.

According to The Guardian daily, the officers were to interview the three Russian men who met Litvinenko on November 1, the day he fell ill, about three weeks before he eventually died. They will also interview two men whose names have not yet appeared publicly, the newspaper said.

The trio -- businessmen Andrei Lugovoi, Dmitri Kovtun and Vyacheslav Sokolenko -- have all asserted that they are innocent, and Lugovoi has said that he believes they are being framed. In comments made to The Times, he said he and his two associates were ready to meet with investigators.

Meanwhile, lawyers for jailed former Federal Security Service (FSB) agent, and acquaintance of Litvinenko, Mikhail Trepashkin, have said he has key evidence in the case, and have urged the detectives in Moscow to meet with their client.

Alex Goldfarb, a close friend of Litvinenko, said that Trepashkin's health was poor and warned that if police did not visit with him in jail in eastern Russia, they could miss out on an "important witness".

"He knows those old boys who are mad at Alexander for defecting," Goldfarb said.

The Times reported on Tuesday that British intelligence officers are convinced that the Russian secret service authorised Litvinenko's poisoning, citing unnamed security sources.

According to the report, only officials such as agents of the FSB would have access to sufficient amounts of the radioactive substance polonium-210 to kill Litvinenko. The former agent's urine was found to have large unexplained quantities of the isotope. Meanwhile, one room in the British embassy in Moscow is to be tested for radiation "in the next day or so", a spokesman for the British foreign ministry told AFP on Monday. He described the tests as "precautionary".

In Britain, authorities extended their search for radioactive material to two more buildings in central London -- in addition to the dozen or so that have already been examined -- the Health Protection Agency said.

The political fall-out of the investigation into Litvinenko's death has also seemingly strained relations between London and Moscow, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying on Monday that it was "unacceptable that a campaign should be whipped up with the participation of officials."

"This is of course harming our relations," Lavrov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying during a visit to Brussels.

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that as there is no bilateral extradition treaty between Britain and Russia, any one-off extradition request for a Russian suspect to be sent to Britain to stand trial would require Russian parliamentary approval.

According to the newspaper's report, Russia granted itself an exemption to a 1996 European convention on extradition which it signed in the form of an amendment to its constitution which reads: "A Russian citizen cannot be sent beyond the borders of the Russian Federation or given to another state."

In what some suspect to be a related case of poisoning, former Russian prime minister Yegor Gaidar was released from hospital on Monday, after having been stricken with an unexplained illness 10 days ago, the Interfax news agency reported, quoting his spokesman.

In another unexpected development in the story, Litvinenko's father said his son had requested before his death that he be buried according to Muslim tradition.

"He converted to Islam when he was sick, at a point when he didn't yet know he was going to die," Valter Litvinenko told AFP by telephone, confirming a Russian press report.

"My son voiced the wish to be buried following Muslim custom."

One of Litvinenko's contacts, Mario Scaramella, meanwhile said he was confident that polonium-210 found in his body had not led to "a degeneration of internal organs".

Scaramella told Italian news agency ANSA that doctors at London's University College Hospital would continue to keep an eye on him.

He had said on Italian state television Sunday that he had five times the amount of the radioactive substance considered deadly in his body.

But the hospital said Monday further tests were being carried out and that there was no evidence to suggest the level was five times the amount considered deadly.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Turkey discloses volume of cargo transshipped via Zonguldak port in 9M2021
Turkey discloses volume of cargo transshipped via Zonguldak port in 9M2021
Volume of goods loaded/unloaded in Iranian ports up
Volume of goods loaded/unloaded in Iranian ports up
Turkey's cargo traffic via its Gulluk port for 9M2021 revealed
Turkey's cargo traffic via its Gulluk port for 9M2021 revealed
Loading Bars
Latest
Iran fully supports the ECO
Iran seeks to promote ties with Turkmenistan
Azerbaijani servicemen suffer in mine explosion in Fuzuli district
Problem loans in Azerbaijani banks decrease for year
28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions continue in Baku (PHOTO)
Number of client accounts in Azerbaijani banks increases
Turkey discloses volume of cargo transshipped via Zonguldak port in 9M2021
Iran eyes increase in exports via customs of Markazi Province
Finalists in individual trampoline among men announced at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Close relations between Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey are important – Iranian President
Presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan discuss current areas of bilateral relations
Azerbaijan provided financial and humanitarian assistance to about 80 countries to support their fight against coronavirus - President Ilham Aliyev
Azerbaijan to allocate at least $1.3 billion for building new cities and towns in liberated territories in 2022 - President Ilham Aliyev
Our strategic foreign exchange reserves exceed our state external debt by over six times - President Ilham Aliyev
Over past 18 years, economy of Azerbaijan developed rapidly - President Ilham Aliyev
Finalists in double mini trampoline among women announced at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Today I can say that Zangazur corridor becomes reality - President Aliyev (FULL SPEECH)
Confident that ECO Member States will benefit from Zangazur corridor - President Ilham Aliyev
Azerbaijan achieved favourable investment climate as result of large-scale reforms - President Ilham Aliyev
Finalists in tumbling among men announced at 28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Australia confirms two cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant
Zangazur Corridor to contribute to economic development of region - Turkish FM
President Ilham Aliyev participating in 15th Summit of Heads of ECO member-states in Turkmenistan (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Azerbaijani Defense Ministry presents weekly review (VIDEO)
Final day of 28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions starts at National Gymnastics Arena in Baku (PHOTO)
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev arrives in Turkmenistan for visit (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani, Iranian FMs meet at Economic Cooperation Council's meeting in Ashgabat
Georgia imposes new regulations for citizens from 8 countries
Turkey, Turkmenistan sign deals, strengthen ties in Erdoğan's visit
Indonesia bans arrivals from 8 African countries to curb Omicron variant
Volume of goods loaded/unloaded in Iranian ports up
Azerbaijan’s 10M2021 volume of loans issued to energy, chemistry and natural resources decreases
Kyrgyz president leaves for Turkmenistan for working visit
Kyrgyzstan adds 41 fresh COVID-19 cases
Access to finance remains major challenge for small businesses in Georgia - IFC
847 more COVID-19 cases reported in Kazakhstan
Parliamentary elections begin in Kyrgyzstan
Cooperation with regional countries, Iran’s top priority - İranian president
Spanish police march in Madrid to protest against 'Gag Law' reform
Storm Arwen: Third person dies as gale-force winds hit UK
U.S. imposes travel ban from eight African countries over Omicron variant
Israel to ban entry of foreigners from all countries over Omicron
Saudi Arabia allows entry of all travelers who received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Two workers die in accident preparing Spanish stadium for cup game
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on November 28
UK, Germany and Italy detect Omicron coronavirus variant cases
Results of Sochi summit fully reflect position of Azerbaijan - Russian expert
Awarding ceremony third day held as part of 28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions in Baku (PHOTOS)
Winners in synchronized trampoline jumping at 28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions in Baku determined
Baku names winners of World Age Group Competitions in jumping on double mini-trampoline for men
28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions: Russian gymnast takes first place in tumbling
Baku names winners of World Age Group Competitions in jumping on double mini-trampoline for women
Azercell announces contest on social network
Gymnast from Kazakhstan win gold in acrobatic jumping at 28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions
Best moments of third day of the World Age Group Competitions in Trampoline Gymnastics and Tumbling in Baku (PHOTOS)
World age group competition in Baku - Russian gymnast wins first place in individual trampoline jumping
Russian gymnast wins gold in individual trampoline jumping in Baku
Turkmenistan boosts imports of electrical goods from Turkey
Turkmenistan agrees to participate in Lapis-Lazuli project
Smoking to be banned in taxis in Georgia
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds
11,358 people received COVID-19 vaccine in Kyrgyzstan over past day
Prepared hard for the 28th World Competition in Baku - athlete from Denmark
Finalists in synchronized trampoline jumping among men and women announced at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Finalists in individual trampoline jumping among men announced at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Azerbaijan expects mutual steps from Armenia towards achieving peace - FM
Azerbaijani, Turkish FMs meet at Economic Cooperation Council's meeting in Ashgabat
Phone conversation held between Presidents of Azerbaijan and Belarus
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 1,617 more COVID-19 cases, 1,979 recoveries
ECO Council of FMs supports Azerbaijan's proposal to establish Clean Energy Center (PHOTO)
Buy/sell operations at Iran Mercantile Exchange revealed
Finalists in double mini-trampoline jumping among men announced at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Finalists in acrobatic jumping among men named at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Azerbaijani gymnast Seljan Mahsudova reaches finals of World Age Group competition
Kazakhstani Astana- Motors to produce Hyundai cars in Uzbekistan
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for November 27
Finalists in acrobatic jumping among women announced at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Novavax developing vaccine that targets new COVID-19 variant
Eni sells some stakes to Snam
28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions underway in Baku (PHOTOS)
Azerbaijan reveals financing of pensions, benefits for 9M2021
Turkish company to organize cotton-textile cluster in Uzbekistan
Finalists in double mini-trampoline among women announced at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Georgia’s imports from Turkmenistan triple
Coach set goal to enter top three in individual trampoline jumping - Russian gymnast
Uzbek National Bank to issue its bonds on Russian Exchange
33,946 new Covid cases registered in Russia in 24 hours
Georgia to replace damaged buildings – Mayor of Tbilisi
Meeting in Sochi - new step towards sustainable peace in South Caucasus - Turkey's presidential administration
Turkey's cargo traffic via its Gulluk port for 9M2021 revealed
GUAM shares reviews of results of Georgia's presidency
Uzbekistan to sell shares of its two banks to Russian banks
EBRD to support green innovation in Uzbekistan
Turkmenistan's On Dogan to scale up production of vegetables, melons
Turkey shares data on cargo shipment via its ports from Greece for 9M2021
Azerbaijan limits import of poultry products from number of countries
Number of flights from Iran’s Shahid Beheshti International Airport soars
Turkey discloses volume of cargo shipment via its ports from Italy for 9M2021
Iran resumes activity of several enterprises in Sistan and Baluchestan Province
All news