Prime suspect says vindicated by Litvinenko revelations

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Britain's prime suspect in the radioactive poisoning of former Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko said Tuesday he felt vindicated by reports on the victim's work for British secret services.

"This at the very least proves the honesty of my position, the correctness of many of my statements," suspect Andrei Lugovoi, whom Russia has refused to extradite at Britain's request, told Moskovsky Komsomolets daily.

Litvinenko's widow, Marina Litvinenko, gave an interview to the BBC Russian Service on Sunday saying that her husband worked as a consultant on organised crime for British secret services.

The Mail on Sunday weekly quoted Litvinenko's widow as saying her late husband worked for MI5 and MI6 and earned tens of thousands of pounds for his services.

Lugovoi, a former FSB security agent who now represents the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia in parliament, denies any guilt in Litvinenko's death from radioactive poisoning in London in 2006.

"I have always talked about his links, said that he received money from them for his work," Lugovoi said.

He speculated that Litvinenko's widow made the revelation ahead of the forthcoming inquest to preempt the information coming out in court in an embarrassing way.

"It would not look good if it came out during their trial. If someone else said it in court, Litvinenko's widow and the (British) public, who funds her, would not appear in a very good light," Lugovoi said.

He said he believed the revelations would influence the inquest.

"I think it will force many to think twice. ... It should have an influence," he said.

Lugovoi has agreed to speak via video link at the inquest.

The 43-year-old Litvinenko died in hospital a few days after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium at a London luxury hotel in November 2006. Lugovoi was one of the two Russian suspects who met Litvinenko at the hotel.

Moscow's refusal to extradite Lugovoi after the murder has soured its relations with London, and the two sides are only slowly regaining each other's trust.

At a September meeting in Moscow, British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Dmitry Medvedev confirmed neither side was prepared to budge, but Cameron said the countries should work round the issue in the interests of warmer relations.

© 2011 AFP

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