How Low Can Russian Justice Go?

This evening the Times of London website published an article about the latest in the Litvinenko murder case, in which Russian officials have conditioned their cooperation in Scotland Yard’s investigation (namely, the extradition of key suspects Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitri Kovtun) upon the extradition of Kremlin-critic Boris Berezovsky and Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev. lugovoi2.jpgkovtun2.jpgberezovsky.jpgzakayev.jpg An indecent proposal How low can Russian justice go? And then there is this enfeebled response on behalf of the British government to send a delegation to Russia of 20 CEOs led by Trade Secretary Alistair Darling just shortly after someone commits murder via the import of nuclear materials. I’m not sure which is more obscene. A procuracy general which openly sees opportunity in murder really represents a “great” trading partner for Tony Blair’s Labour government. Is this representative of the kind of values Britain has come to symbolize? After all, the City’s morally reprehensible and loose oversight of public offerings led it to host the IPO of Rosneft, an operation designed to launder money from one of the greatest thefts of all time. If this kowtowing to Moscow continues, Britain will soon lose its ability to judge the conduct of others. However, in my view, the Russians have few illusions that the British will actually extradite Berezovsky and Zakayev as a “swap” to proceed with the Litvinenko investigation (they have tried so many times in the past, and there is no reason to believe this “swap” will produce better results). They have put forth the condition simply as a pretext to freeze the case – an excuse to end cooperation, and, for whatever reason, protect two murder suspects. Observant readers will recall that I was one of the first people to come to Putin’s defense following the death of Litvinenko, and argue for his presumption of innocence. However, the Kremlin’s willful obstruction of justice in this case is a crime in itself. If Vladimir Putin truly wants to put an end to the “unfair suspicions” he so often complains about, one would think that he would cooperate with Scotland Yard eagerly, and not let his KGB instincts take over to see opportunity in murder.