Theresa May sets out limited number of new measures after inquiry concludes Russian state probably involved in killing
By Patrick Wintour and Shaun Walker
The murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was a “blatant and unacceptable” breach of international law, even though the probable involvement of Vladimir Putin’s government came as no surprise, Theresa May has said.
Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons after an inquiry finds the murder of Alexander Litvinenko was “probably”
approved by President Putin. May accuses
of “a blatant and unacceptable breach of the most Russia
fundamental tenets of international law and of civilised behaviour”.
The British home secretary made her comments as she set out a limited number of new measures in response to Thursday’s findings of the inquiry into the 2006 death in
of the Russian former spy from radioactive
poisoning. The measures included the Treasury’s freezing of the assets of two
men named as being responsible for the murder. London
A spokesman for Putin, the Russian president, took the report to be an example of “subtle British humour”. Dmitry Peskov, calling the inquiry a “quasi-investigation”, ridiculed the report’s use of “probably”. In his report, the inquiry chair, Sir Robert Owen, found “that the FSB operation to kill Mr Litvinenko was probably approved by [Nikolai] Patrushev [head of the security service in 2006] and also by President Putin”.
“This kind of term is unacceptable in our legal system and in the legal systems of other countries, and cannot be taken as a verdict,” Peskov said.
May told MPs in the Commons that she would also be asking Interpol to issue European arrest warrants for Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, but she proposed no wider action against the Russian state.
“This was an act of murder that took place in the streets of
and it was state-sponsored,” May said. “The
conclusion that the Russian state was probably involved in the murder of
Litvinenko is deeply disturbing. London
“It goes without saying that this was a blatant and unacceptable breach of the most fundamental tenets of international law and of civilised behaviour. But we have to accept this does not come as a surprise. The inquiry confirms the assessment of successive governments that this was a state-sponsored act. This assessment has informed the government’s approach to date.”
had taken a number of measures in 2007 after
the killing, but there was a wider national security interest in retaining a
guarded engagement with Britain , including in working with Russia to bring about a peace settlement in Russia . Syria
In response to MPs’ criticism of the lack of specific measures imposed on Putin, she pointed out that it was impossible for Britain to seek to impose a travel ban on a head of state, and said Britain had no illusions about the state of Russia.
She faced backbench calls for wider action against the presence of Russian “dirty money” in
, or in British overseas territories, including
the London . Bahamas
In other measures, she said the government was going to summon the Russian ambassador to the Foreign Office, and ask the director of public prosecutions what could be done to bring the perpetrators to justice, or impose criminal asset freezes. The Russians have already refused to accede to
extradition requests, but May said she would
demand a response. UK
A statement from the Russian embassy said ambassador Alexander Yakovenko had used his summoning to the Foreign Office as an opportunity to declare the case a “gross provocation” which “cannot help hurting our bilateral relationship”.
The embassy had complained about the secrecy of parts of the inquiry, and said it was impossible to accept conclusions that were not “tested in an open court of law”, the statement added. It also said the length of time the investigation and inquiry took made it appear “a whitewash for British special services’ institutional incompetence”.
The home secretary said she was writing to
intelligence agency partners and Nato, emphasising
the role of the Russian security service in the Litvinenko case. But she did
not propose an end to all relations between Russian and UK intelligence agencies. UK
Under pressure from MPs, May said she would meet the Litvinenko family to discuss their request for imposing sanctions on a wider set of a Russian agents.
The shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham, called for the expulsion of Russian intelligence agents and a review of whether the
should press for UK to be prevented from staging the 2018 World
He said the government’s response did not “go anywhere near enough in answering the seriousness of the findings” and “could send a dangerous signal to
that our response is too weak”. He said the
report was “one of the most shocking and disturbing reports ever presented to
David Davis, who was shadow home secretary at the time of the murder, said the report meant that in a civil
court Putin would be found guilty of
complicity in murder. He said: “We need to go after the financial assets of
Putin in the UK and in Bahamas . Eventually you get to a point when with a
dictator you have to draw a line as we did in the 30s.” Cyprus
The mayor of
, Boris Johnson, said: “We can’t ignore ... state-sponsored
murder on the streets of London , [this] needs a strong diplomatic response.” London
The SNP’s Peter Grant said: “The report I think leads to only one possible conclusion – we now have to regard the Russian government, the Russian state, as an organisation actively involved in the commission, funding, supporting and directing acts of terrorism against
citizens within the UK .” United Kingdom
Chris Bryant, the shadow leader of the house, said he “fully understood why
wants to engage with Britain – it is a key player in Russia and Syria . But the one thing we know about the
murderous kleptomaniac regime in Iran is that it walks all over the weak. Putin
has no respect for those that let him do what he wants. Russia
“In March 2012 the government declared unanimously it wanted to introduce the Magnitsky Act ensuring no one involved in the murder of [Sergei] Magnitsky, or the corruption that he unveiled, should be able to enter this country.
has such an act. Is it not time we made
absolutely clear that Russian murderers are not welcome in this country and the
likes of Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitiri Kovtun can only enter the country if they
are prepared to stand trial?” US
May repeatedly said the Magnitsky Act would not help bring the agents to justice in the
, and that she already had the powers to
impose travel bans. UK