Politics

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British Diplomats Expelled in Russian Tit-for-Tat

July 19, 2007 02:39 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Retaliation follows Russian diplomats’ ejection from Britain, as the U.K. government pressures the Kremlin to hand over the suspected assassin in the radiation poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

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On July 19, four British diplomats in Russia were declared persona non grata––officially no longer welcome in the country. They have 10 days to leave.

In addition, U.K. government officials traveling to Russia will face more stringent visa requirements.

These moves emulate the British government’s actions taken three days earlier, when Downing Street expelled four Russian diplomats.

“From now on we shall act in a mirror-like fashion in regard to all visa-related issues,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said. In addition, Kamynin stated that co-operation with Britain “in the field of fighting terrorism is impossible.”

This chain of events began with Britain’s pressuring the Kremlin to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, whom the U.K. police suspect of killing Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko last year. Litvinenko died after ingesting a radioactive isotope put in his tea. Hundreds of Londoners subsequently feared radiation poisoning, and a number of sites in the capital later tested positive for radiation.

Moscow says that such an extradition runs counter to the Russian constitution, and has offered to try Lugovoi on native soil.

These developments come at a time when relations between Russia and the West are at their worst since the Cold War. 

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Key Players

Alexander Litvinenko
Andrei Lugovoi
Boris Berezovsky
President Vladimir Putin
Prime Minister Gordon Brown

The 56-year-old son of a Scottish minister, Brown went to Edinburgh University at only 16 and left with one of the best degrees in decades. He became an MP in 1983 and Chancellor of the Exchequer, the term for the British cabinet minister for finance, on May 2, 1997.

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