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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Britain Rejects Chaika's Lugovoi Offer

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said he could prosecute the chief suspect in the Alexander Litvinenko killing if Britain presented sufficient evidence, but his counterpart in London demanded that the suspect face trial in a British court.

The comments by Chaika and British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith highlighted the deepening disagreement and strained ties between the countries over the only person to be formally accused of Litvinenko's murder: businessman Andrei Lugovoi.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service on Friday formally requested Lugovoi's extradition to face murder charges.

Russian officials repeatedly have said Lugovoi cannot be extradited to Britain even though British officials have pressed for cooperation in the case.

Chaika said he discussed the matter with Goldsmith at a Group of Eight security meeting in Munich.

"I told British Attorney General Goldsmith that if the British side provides us with evidence proving Lugovoi's guilt and we consider it sufficient, he may be prosecuted," Chaika said in televised comments Friday.

In a blunt statement released by his office, Goldsmith said British officials expected "constructive and rapid cooperation from the Russian authorities in bringing this suspect before a British court."

"This murder was committed on U.K. soil, the evidence is in the U.K., a U.K. citizen was killed and other people put at risk and it is therefore right a suspect should face justice in a U.K. court," Goldsmith said.

Lugovoi, like Litvinenko a former Federal Security Service officer, denies involvement. He said in an interview with Ren-TV television on Saturday that he had spoken by telephone to Litvinenko when Litvinenko was in a London hospital after being poisoned by the radioactive substance polonium-210.

"He was in a grave condition at the hospital and practically couldn't speak," Lugovoi said of Litvinenko. "I spoke to him, I spoke to his wife who connected me to him and not a word was said against me."

He said British accusations against him had a "political underlining," and promised to respond shortly with "sensational exposures," which he would not spell out now.

The Prosecutor General's Office, meanwhile, opened a parallel investigation, sending investigators to London to question figures, including billionaire tycoon Boris Berezovsky and Chechen separatist envoy Akhmed Zakayev. Chaika said he briefed Goldsmith on Russia's investigation.

Yury Felshtinsky, a Russian historian who co-authored a book with Litvinenko that accused the FSB of being behind 1999 apartment bombings, said Thursday that he had met Lugovoi in London on Oct. 12 -- several days before authorities believed Lugovoi had entered the country.