Russian poisoning suspect seeks office
Published Sunday, September 16, 2007 8:25PM EDT
MOSCOW - The sole suspect in the radiation poisoning death of a former KGB agent announced plans to run for parliament Sunday on the ticket of a pro-Kremlin ultranationalist party.
Andrei Lugovoi, another former KGB officer who met with Alexander Litvinenko at a London hotel bar on Nov. 1 hours before Litvinenko fell ill, told state-run Russia Today television that he had no desire to go into politics but changed his mind because of British accusations.
Now a Moscow businessman who runs a private security agency, Lugovoi said Sunday that he would be No. 2 on the list of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party in December's parliamentary elections.
Litvinenko, who became a vocal Kremlin critic and sought asylum in Britain, died Nov. 23 in a London hospital after ingesting radioactive polonium-210. On his deathbed, he accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being behind his poisoning -- charges the Kremlin has fiercely denied.
Britain has identified Lugovoi as the main suspect in the death and and demanded his extradition. Russia has rejected the demand, saying its constitution forbids it, and Putin has called the demands a vestige of British "colonial thinking."
Lugovoi has dismissed the accusations and accused British authorities of hurting his business interests.
"I was a businessman, but no longer, thanks to the disgusting policy of British prosecutors which led to this political hysteria," Lugovoi told Russia Today. "With the situation being highly politicized by British opponents, I find myself in the midst of a political wave of interest in me."
Zhirinovsky, a flamboyant politician who heeds the Kremlin's orders, said his party congress would confirm Lugovoi's position on the party list on Monday. He dismissed British charges against Lugovoi as "an attempt to organize provocations against our citizens," the Interfax news agency reported.
Tensions over the Litvinenko case have badly hurt the bilateral ties, and the two nations recently have announced tit-for tat diplomat expulsions.