Interview with Mikhail Vinogradov II

Mikhail Vinogradov, a political analyst from the Centre for Political Situations, joined Russia Today to comment on possible developments in the Litvinenko case.

Russia Today: First of all, Andrey Lugovoy says that this Litvinenko case is purely a political scandal, while the British authorities say that this is strictly a criminal case. What do you think about it?

Mikhail Vinogradov: At first, Litvinenko's death was not a political case because Litvinenko was not a political figure. He was an associate of Boris Berezovsky, but Mr Berezovsky is not a leader of the Russian opposition now and ceases to be a political figure. But when the Litvinenko case and the polonium scandal grew into a problem in relations between several countries, after Mr Berezovsky accused Russian authorities of Litvinenko's death, it certainly became a political event. And today the Litvinenko case attracts interest mainly as a political case.

RT: The U.S. has backed the British request for Mr Lugovoy's extradition. What do you think about that, what does that mean?

M.V.: After Litvinenko was killed, an information war began and the participants began to present their own versions of what had happened. I think at the beginning, Russia was lagging behind to offer its version and Mr Berezovsky's point of view was predominant in the media – American, British, etc. I suppose the American response was a result of the fact that the U.S. is focused on the so-called 'Russian connection' version. I think that in the last several weeks we saw Russia trying to take the initiative and give its own interpretation of the case. I believe the stand of the U.S. is not predetermined. If Russia manages to give convincing facts and arguments to back up its version, the U.S.' position can be changed, it is not final.

RT: And finally – how do you think this whole story will end? What is the best possible solution for this controversial issue?

M.V.: From the legal point of view, the best way is a joint investigation and clearing up all these questions on the table. There are two scenarios. The first one is a hasty and pedalled investigation of the Litvinenko case by the British police, possibly followed by a criticism campaign against Russia to come before the elections [in Russia]. But if the investigation goes properly and takes due time and all the arguments of both sides are examined, there will be ups and downs as it was in the previous half a year, and finally it would no longer be a political case. Moreover, the change of political power in Russia and the U.S. will distract the international community's attention from the Litvinenko case. It would be fair and would let the case return to purely criminal field, to remove this unnecessary political shade.