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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Slams British Request

President Vladimir Putin said in an interview published Sunday that Britain's request for the extradition of former agent Andrei Lugovoi was politically motivated and was not backed up by enough evidence.

British prosecutors have said they want to bring Lugovoi before a British court and charge him with murdering Alexander Litvinenko, a former Federal Security Service officer, in London last November.

Putin said the request for Lugovoi's extradition was politically motivated and hit back at Britain for granting political asylum to Chechen rebel envoy Akhmed Zakayev and tycoon Boris Berezovsky, both wanted in Russia.

"The suspicion arises that this is a political move made by those who hide terrorists and thieves on their own territory," Putin told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Putin's comments echoed those of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said Friday that Britain was politicizing the investigation into Litvinenko. Lavrov also told reporters the case was "having an impact" on bilateral ties.

Also Friday, Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev said Litvinenko had gone to Chechnya to kill witnesses to purported connections between Chechen separatist warlord Shamil Basayev and Berezovsky.

Meanwhile, human rights activists said Mikhail Trepashkin, a former security agent who claimed to have warned Litvinenko that a state-sponsored death squad was targeting him, could die of asthma in prison if authorities refuse to hospitalize him.

Reuters, AP