Bush, Rice Prodded on Litvinenko

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House of Representatives has endorsed a resolution suggesting that the Russian government might have had a hand in the 2006 radiation poisoning death of former Federal Security Service officer Alexander Litvinenko in London.

The resolution, endorsed Tuesday, asks U.S. President George W. Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to press Russian officials to cooperate with British investigators probing the death Litvinenko, who fled to Britain in 2000 and took British citizenship. He died in November 2006 from radioactive polonium-210 he had ingested.

The resolution is merely an expression of the sense of the U.S. Congress. But it is likely to annoy Russia as Bush prepares to meet with President Vladimir Putin on Sunday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. U.S.-Russian tensions are high as the U.S. pushes a missile-defense plan for Europe that Russia has opposed.

Democratic congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tuesday that Litvinenko's death raises "disturbing questions about how elements of the Russian government appear to deal with their enemies."

The resolution also calls on Bush and Rice to urge Russian cooperation "to ensure the security of the production, storage, distribution and export of polonium-210 as a material that may become dangerous to large numbers of people if utilized by terrorists."