Brown's Stance Praised By Litvinenko Widow

The widow of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has commended Prime Minister Gordon Brown for "standing firm" on his demand for the extradition of the main suspect in the assassination of the defector.

Marina Litvinenko welcomed Mr Brown's continued "firm" calls for the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi, two years after Mr Litvinenko's poisoning.

Reports suggest Mr Brown raised the matter during this week's G8 summit in Japan, attended by the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Mr Litvinenko, an ardent critic of former Russian President Vladimir Putin, was poisoned in a London restaurant in 2006.

According to the BBC's Newsnight programme, Whitehall sources have suggested the murder was sanctioned by the Russian state.

In a statement released following the G8 talks, Mrs Litvinenko said she was "proud of being British".

"I am convinced that the harassment of the British Council and British Petroleum in Moscow were devised by the Kremlin to induce Britain to stop pursuing Mr Lugovoi's extradition," said Mrs Litvinenko.

"I was relieved to find out the Prime Minister stood firm and explained to Mr Medvedev that there can be no compromise on that."

"Britain once again has shown that it would not short-change its principles in the face of bullying and blackmail," she added.

The Crown Prosecution Service formally submitted an extradition request to Moscow for Mr Lugovoi, in May 2006, calling for him to stand trial in Britain.

That request still stands, despite Russian authorities refusing to co-operate.

The Russian state has said such a move would conflict with its constitution.


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