Litvinenko suspect could get top parliament job

Other News Materials 3 December 2007 06:52 (UTC +04:00)

Andrei Lugovoy, the chief suspect in the poisoning murder of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, may become deputy head of the Russian parliament's key security committee, his party boss said on Monday.

"Lugovoy will work in a committee close to his specialisation. It will be probably the security committee, probably as a deputy head," said Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the head of the nationalist LDPR party.

LDPR was one of only four parties which overcame a 7 percent barrier to qualify for seats in the lower house of parliament after Sunday elections, incomplete results released by the election commission showed.

Al parties in parliament have the right to appoint their nominees to senior committee posts on a quota basis.

Britain wants Russia to extradite Lugovoy to face trial in London for the murder of Litvinenko, who was poisoned with radioactive isotope polonium-210 slipped into a cup of tea he drank in a London hotel bar.

Lugovoy has repeatedly said he is innocent. Russia has refused his extradition, citing a constitutional ban on sending its citizens abroad for trial.

Litvinenko's widow Marina said in a statement that she felt disgust and sadness over the news.

"The Kremlin stage-managed these elections and orchestrated Lugovoy's elevation," she said in the statement e-mailed to Reuters on Monday. "Now Mr. Putin and Mr. Lugovoy stand together as the emblem of Russia -- the two people linked by a murder."

In a statement that Litvinenko's friends said the ex-spy made at a London hospital as he lay dying, he accused President Vladimir Putin of involvement in his murder. The Kremlin dismissed that as nonsense.

Putin's United Russia is on course to win the election with over 60 percent of votes, followed by the Communist party with over 11 percent, LDPR with around 9 percent and Fair Russia with around 8 percent.

( Reuters )