Lugovoy says he`s been framed for Litvinenko murder

Businessman Andrey Lugovoy has again denied any part in the radioactive poisoning of former security officer Aleksandr Litvinenko in London. He insists he's been set up by the British authorities and exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky.

Lugovoy made his remarks in Moscow during a live link-up with journalists in the UK.

UK police say Lugovoy remains the only suspect in the case, but the ex KGB officer has dismissed the accusation. Lugovoy says he won't travel to London to stand trial as the British authorities have no real evidence against him.

Lugovoy was supported at the news conference by business partner Dmitry Kovtun, who is involved in the Litvinenko case as a witness.

To read their full transcript please follow thelink.

In May Britain requested Andrey Lugovoy's extradition from Russia, but Moscow said it's against the country's constitution.

The dispute triggered tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats and visa restrictions.      

Mr Lugovoy and Mr Kovtun held a conference three months ago but it was primarily for the Russian media. Wednesday event was held for British and other international journalists.

In May Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun put forward their own version of Litvinenko’s murder. Lugovoy claimed then that he was not going to be a scapegoat in this affair and put forward at least three versions of what could had have happened to Aleksandr Litvinenko. He pointed the finger at MI6, the Russian mafia and exiled Russian  tycoon, Boris Berezovsky.
On Wednesday he didn't say anything new. Yet again he stressed he had not been involved in the murder of Litvinenko. He also explained why he would never go to London for trial. He also stated he has never received any official request to go to London from the British authorities. Nevertheless he was named the only suspect.

The British do not have any evidence. It is all lies, inspired by the British government and special services. To answer the question whether I killed Litvinenko the answer is no, I did not. Unfortunately the British public is not trying to look into this. Over the last ten months public opinion has been created in Britain and internationally saying that I am involved in this murder, as well as the Russian special services and the Russian government as a whole.

Andrey Lugovoy

In such circumstances he refuses to travel to London. He also asks the question: “Why should I trust the British justice system?”

Lugovoy commented to the testimony of the exiled Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky on Litvinenko case.

“Berezovsky's testimony is a lie. I didn't see him on October 31. I met him four days before that. And he never said why he called me. He continues to insist that he met with me to thank me for being his daughter's bodyguard. And in reality the whole meeting was devoted to discussions of protecting Elena Tregubova. And I hadn't had contact with him in seven years. He suddenly called me when he found out I was in London – that was a surprise. So he asked me to provide security for Elena. He said he was worried the same thing that happened to Politkovskaya might happen to her,” Lugovoy stated.

This media briefing came just two days after Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika’s press conference, during which he made several statements on the the most important current investigations conducted in Russia. Number one was the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, who was a fierce critic of the Kremlin. Yury Chaika said this murder was masterminded by a Russian living abroad.

Therefore all journalists were waiting to hear whether Mr Lugovoy could make any connections between the Litvinenko and Politkovskaya cases. In the event, Mr Lugovoy, in a very indirect way, and under pressure of questioning, did make a link between these two cases and mentioned the name of Boris Berezovsky, connecting him with both Litvinenko and Politovskaya.

Aleksandr Litvinenko
Aleksandr Litvinenko

Mr Lugovoy also stated that a PR campaign was underway in Britain today aimed at tarnishing the image of Russia. He named Boris Berezovsky as the main sponsor of this campaign.

Answering a British correspondent who asked whether any fresh evidence of his innocence had emerged since his last news conference, Lugovoy said: “Do you work for Britain's Prosecutor General? Did you read the materials for the criminal case? Did you see the witness statements? And you ask what has changed! You ask about the changes but what have you got except for the leaks from corrupted policemen who are used to disseminating lies about me? Your question is not professional. Nobody presented evidence to me! The Crown Prosecution request contains no evidence.”

“Mr Lugovoy is not helping the image of Russia by going on a media show like this. It certainly does not do any good for the relations between Russia and Britain,” commented RT’s political analyst Peter Lavelle.

And an independent analyst Oleg Nechiporenko said that the press conference didn't shed light on anything new.

It has left us no wiser as to what happened with Mr Litvinenko. There was no new evidence produced, no new suggestions as to what might have taken place. It was rather an emotional outburst at times from Mr Lugovoy and essential questions still remain.

Robin Oakley, CNN reporter
“I am surprised at the weakness of the British media at the press conference today. It seemed to me that all the questions have already been asked and answered. When the London incident took place I knew right away that this operation was designed against the Russian Federation. Any comment that comes out of Russia now, becomes a building block in an anti-Russian speculative campaign. I am familiar with the stereotypical psychological actions taking place now as I have been through it myself during the cold war,” Mr Nechiporenko said.