Interview with Andrey Kortunov
Russia Today: The Crown Prosecution Service wants Andrey Lugovoy to be extradited to the United Kingdom to stand trial. It appears that is not going to happen. So what is next?
Andrey Kortunov: Well, I think that the next logical step for the Russian side would be to request documents from the British side and to see how substantial the evidence is. And if the evidence turns out to be really substantial, which is likely to be the case, Russians will probably start their own procedure against Mr Lugovoy. At least, this is something that can happen here.
RT: Britain has said it expects full co-operation from Russia on this matter. Is that going to happen?
A.K.: That depends on how you define “full-so-operation”. If full co-operation means extradition, I think it is difficult to expect that Russia would do it right away. And of course they have a very good pretext not to that because the Constitution explicitly rejects such an option. However, if full co-operation means participation in the investigation, I think the Russian Prosecution General's Office will try to demonstrate that they are ready to co-operate and they are ready to assist their British colleagues especially because they have just signed an agreement on co-operation with the British Justice.
RT: What is the mechanism for a Russian accused of a crime abroad to be brought to justice then?
A.K.: Well, at least the standard practice is that the Russians should be tried and prosecuted here, in Russia. Therefore, if a Russian commits a crime abroad and this particular person is located in Russia, then the Russian Prosecutor General's Office should raise charges after having received a request from their foreign counterparts. So, basically, if the evidence is credible, if the evidence is substantial, they can start a process, a trial, against Mr Lugovoy.
RT: Andrey Lugovoy maintains his innocence saying the charges are politically motivated. Do you think there is a political tint to it?
A.K.: I think that it is definitely something that can be used for political purposes and we know that many in the West are trying to accuse Mr Putin personally that he is behind this crime. On the other hand, in Russia there are many of those who believe that this is a conspiracy from the British side. And it shows that at least some factions, some circles, in the British leadership are trying to disrupt relations between the two countries. So, definitely, there is a political colour to what is going on.
RT: How do you think this will affect already strained relations between Russia and the UK?
A.K.: I am afraid that the relationship is not going to get any better or, at least it will get worse before it gets any better, because, indeed, no matter what happens, we cannot expect full co-operation, we cannot expect extradition and many in the UK will fell unhappy about this decision.
Earlier, Andrey Kortunov joined RT to comment on the U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice's official visit visit to Moscow.
Russia Today: Mr. Kortunov, you have met Condoleezza Rice during her visit. What did you talk about?
Andrey Kortunov: She wanted to deliver a general message the U.S. is trying to avoid further deterioration of further U.S.-Russian relations. She noted the U.S. doesn