Kremlin dismisses British Litvinenko inquiry as a 'joke'

21st January 2016, Comments 0 comments

The Kremlin on Thursday dismissed the results of a British inquiry into the poisoning death of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, calling it possibly "a joke" after a London judge pointed the finger at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Maybe this is a joke," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"More likely it can be attributed to fine British humour -- the fact that an open public inquiry is based on the classified data of special services, unnamed special services, and that the verdict which has been made on the basis of this flimsy data has been made public with the copious use of the words 'probably' and 'likely'."

He also said that such a "quasi-inquiry" could only "add more poison to the atmosphere of our bilateral ties."

"Why am I saying 'quasi-inquiry' and why can't we treat this as an inquiry?" he added. "We are talking about some assertions that are based on a probability."

"Such terminology is not allowed in our judicial practice nor is it allowed in the judicial practice of other countries and certainly cannot be deemed by us as a verdict in any of its parts."

A British inquiry into Kremlin critic Litvinenko's agonising death by radiation poisoning in 2006 found that Putin and security chief Nikolai Patrushev had "probably approved" the killing.

That conclusion is likely to deliver a major blow to the already strained ties between Moscow and London.

But Peskov downplayed the possible fallout, saying that London's summoning of a Russian ambassador was "normal diplomatic practice" and that Moscow would seek to answer any questions London may have in connection with the findings.

Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive tea at an upmarket London hotel in 2006.

Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, two Russians identified as prime suspects by British police, are likely to have carried out the poisoning under the instruction of Russian security services, the inquiry reported.

© 2016 AFP

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