Lugovoi Willing to Work With Britain

ReutersPeople lighting candles at a gathering to commemorate the death of Alexander Litvinenko in Moscow on Saturday.
Andrei Lugovoi, widely regarded as the top suspect in the fatal radiation poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London, has said he is ready to go to Britain to try to persuade authorities to step up the investigation, Ekho Moskvy reported.

Litvinenko, a former security service officer who was granted asylum in Britain, died two years ago Sunday in London from poisoning by the radioactive substance polonium-210.

British officials consider Lugovoi, another former security agent, the main suspect and have charged him with the murder. Russia has refused to extradite him.

The Ekho Moskvy web site quoted Lugovoi as saying Saturday that he is willing to go to Britain to demand prosecutors "get down to investigating" the case. He says he is innocent.

"For two years, we have been urging the British Prosecution Service to begin to cooperate with us. Nothing new has happened in the Litvinenko case for the past year, and we have been amazed that the British government has not made a single attempt to contact us," said Lugovoi, who was elected last year to the State Duma.

The Times of London on Saturday reported that Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, whom British authorities want to question as a witness, offered in an interview to send Kovtun to Britain to help with the investigation.

Litvinenko fell out with the Federal Security Service, the main successor to the Soviet KGB, in 1998 when he publicly accused superiors of corruption and plotting political killings.

He fled to Britain in 2000 and co-wrote a book alleging that the FSB was behind the deadly 1999 apartment house bombings in Russia.

Alex Goldfarb, an associate of Litvinenko's and author of a book about his killing, dismissed Lugovoi's offer as "a PR stunt."

"However, if he gives himself up to the British authorities and tells the truth about who commissioned him to murder Mr. Litvinenko, we would not object if he is given some degree of leniency," Goldfarb said in a statement.