Interpol joins Litvinenko murder probe

Other News Materials 12 December 2006 17:07 (UTC +04:00)

(RIA Novosti) - Interpol has joined Russian, British and German investigators in their probe of former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko's murder in London, the head of the international law enforcement organization's Russia branch said Tuesday.

"Cooperation through Interpol channels has already started, as several countries are involved in this case," Timur Lakhonin told a news conference.

Detectives from Scotland Yard and the Russian Prosecutor General's Office have been pursuing the investigation in London, where Litvinenko died November 23 after being poisoned with the radioactive element polonium-210, and in Moscow, where key witnesses in the case, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, are based, reports Trend.

The two men met with Litvinenko in a London hotel shortly before he was hospitalized with symptoms of poisoning, and are themselves undergoing radiation checks now. Kovtun has already been diagnosed with radiation poisoning, and Lugovoi's test results will be released by the end of the week.

Over the weekend, police in Germany found traces of polonium-210 in several locations in Hamburg, where Kovtun's former wife and mother-in-law live.

Lakhonin said he was hopeful Chechen rebel emissary Akhmed Zakayev, wanted in Russia on terrorism charges, and Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, charged with embezzlement and sedition, will be extradited to Russia before long.

Both men, who have been granted political asylum in Britain, were close friends of Litvinenko.

"Representatives of the Prosecutor General's Office recently visited the U.K., where they held talks on the possibility of arresting Ahmed Zakayev and handing him over to [Russian authorities,]" Lakhonin said.

The top Russian Interpol official also called for the extradition of exiled oligarchs Leonid Nevzlin, former co-owner of the bankrupt oil company Yukos, and Vladimir Gusinsky, a media baron and founder of Media Most and the NTV television channel.

Nevzlin and Gusinsky, who built their fortunes during post-Soviet Russia's mass privatization campaign in the 1990s and then fled the country to escape prosecution for alleged fraud, have in recent years been living in self-imposed exile in Israel.

"We have repeatedly said that Nevzlin, Berezovsky and Gusinsky are wanted by Interpol. But the fact that they still have not been extradited reflects the position of the states where they reside," Lakhonin said.