Downing Street Reconsiders Relations with Russia

The new Gordon Brown administration in the UK is not mincing words with Russia, calling the refusal to cooperate in the Litvinenko case “extremely disappointing,” and saying that they “did not have full confidence that it would meet the standards of impartiality and fairness we would deem necessary.” If only BP saw things the same way might some progress be made.


July 10, 2007 – Press Briefing by the Prime Minister’s Spokesman

Asked if there had been a reaction to the formal announcement by Russia that Mr. Lugovoy would not be extradited, the PMS said that our position was that Russia’s refusal to extradite Mr. Lugovoy was extremely disappointing. We deeply regretted that Russia had failed to show the necessary level of co-operation in this matter. The Director of Public Prosecution had carefully considered Russia’s offer of a trial under Russian law, but concluded that this was unacceptable. This was a crime that was committed in London, the evidence and the witnesses were in the UK, and we did not have full confidence that a trial in Moscow would meet the standards of impartiality and fairness that would be deemed necessary. Therefore, we remained convinced that Mr. Lugovoy should answer the evidential case against him in a British court. In terms of next steps, at the moment we were reviewing the situation and considering what further steps we could take, but in our view, this response was extremely disappointing and we considered it a serious matter. Asked if there was anything further that could be done, the PMS replied that we were considering all of the options on this, so it was best to wait for a more formal response from the FCO. Asked if there had been discussions today with the Embassy, the PMS said that he was not aware of specifics. Asked if there were any future talks planned between the Prime Minister and President Putin, the PMS replied that clearly, there was contact with the Russian Government at a number of levels. Put that this issue that the Prime Minister had inherited could become a diplomatic obstacle, the PMS replied that it was a serious issue. Russia was an important partner on many issues and we continued to seek a constructive relationship with them. However, given their refusal to co-operate on this matter, we needed to carefully consider our co-operation on a range of issues. Asked if the Prime Minister took his predecessor’s assessment that this kind of behaviour by Russia could impact on Western and British investment, the PMS replied that Russia had to accept that they had responsibilities as well. We did continue to seek a constructive relationship with Russia, but this was a serious matter, and we had to consider a range of options. Asked if it would impact on British business investment, the PMS said again that we were considering our options. Asked what the range of options were, the PMS said that it was best to wait for a response from the FCO.