Russian businessman says poisoned ex-FSB agent, Berezovsky spied for U.K
( RIA Novosti ) - A suspect in the poisoning of a former Russian agent told a Moscow news conference Thursday that the murdered Alexander Litvinenko and fugitive tycoon Boris Berezovsky worked for the British secret services.
The U.K. applied for the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi, a Russian businessman and also a former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer, Monday, saying it had enough evidence to charge him with the murder of Litvinenko, Berezovsky's associate who died of radioactive poisoning in London in November.
"Today I would like to make an announcement, which should shed some light on this dark political story, where the main roles were played by the British secret service and their agents Berezovsky and the late Litvinenko," Lugovoi said, adding that British intelligence had also approached him with an offer of cooperation.
Russian prosecutors have refused to extradite Lugovoi, saying it was against Russian law. Moscow has also been fruitlessly seeking the extradition of Berezovsky, accused of fraud, from Britain where he has been based since 2001.
Lugovoi also said he had evidence that the British secret services had been involved in the Litvinenko poisoning. "I am very serious about what I am saying, including these accusations," he said.
In his deathbed note, Litvinenko, who received a British passport shortly before his death, said Russian President Vladimir Putin had orchestrated his poisoning, an allegation denied by the Kremlin. Lugovoi told reporters Thursday that the British secret services had been looking for information to discredit Putin.
"The British basically proposed that I collect any materials to discredit Vladimir Putin and his family," Lugovoi said.
The businessman also said that he and his colleague Dmitry Kovtun, another former spy-turned-businessman suspected in the case, were victims rather than witnesses in the Litvinenko case.
"We maintain a clear position that we are not only innocent or witnesses, but are victims," Lugovoi said.