Interview with Dmitry Babich and Peter Lavelle

Dmitry Babich, political commentator of the Russian Profile magazine and Peter Lavelle , Russia Today's political commentator commented on the press conference of Russia's Prosecutor General about the Litvinenko / Lugovoy case.

Russia Today: Dmitry, do you think the statements made by the General Prosecutor's office were surprising or were you expecting those kind of statements?

Dmitry Babich: Well, I did not expect exactly this statement but it was clear that the Russian Prosecutor General's Office was very angry with what was going on with Britain and that they would make some kind of a tough statement. But their attempt to turn the tables, basically on British justice was rather surprising for me. I just expected them to say that Russia cannot extradite Lugovoy because Russian Constitution does not allow doing so.

RT: Peter, Dmitry thinks Russia's Prosecutor General's Office turned the tables against the UK? What do you think the reaction will be?

Peter Lavelle: I agree with Dmitry completely, I think that what they have probably essentially done is turn their back to the Crown Prosecution Office to refute what the Russian General's Office was said. It is a kind of an interesting, and going to a sort of different lavel, with sort of tit-for tat. But I would like to ask Dmitry, do you think that we are getting at rock-bottom? How much further can we go, I mean how much does either side value the relationship?

D.B.: Well it is clear that the longer this argument will continue the less likely we are to know the full truth about what actually happened to Litvinenko and what happened in London at the time. So, I do not expect any speedy improvement, it looks like we have got a real irritant in Russian – British relations for years to come, probably. Or at least for months to come.                                                                              

RT: Are you suggesting Russia extradites Lugovoy in order to resolve the dispute?

D.B.: I do not think so. I think that Russia will not extradite Lugovoy, at least until the presidential election. I think that Lugovoy will stay an irritant for years probably.

P.L.: Unless he goes on trial here in Russia for activities related to a not necessarily for the murder of Litvinenko but maybe this polonium-210 thing. But that would not go along with the Prosecutor General's Office, having to say. I think what we have learned today is that we are getting more questions than answers; I agree with Dmitry, this is continuing to remain an irritant in the bilateral relationship. So, I am just expecting when we are going to hit the rock bottom.

RT: What are you expecting as the British reaction.

D.B.: I think that the British reaction will be as tough as the Russian reaction. I mean this is the whole problem: the longer this argument continues the less likely we are to know the truth. And unfortunately it is also a problem of Russia's image. The problem is that the Russian Prosecutor General's Office has a worse image than the Crown Prosecution Office. And there is nothing that can be done about it. But Russian Prosecutor General's Office is understandably irritated by that.

P.L.: Dmitry, do you think that makes the reputation of the Prosecutor General's office, lowers and tarnishes even more in this case?

D.B.: Well, just as usual as in Litvinenko case in general, the amount of negative rhetoric is so huge that indirectly it tarnishes everyone's image. Like Litvinenko case indirectly tarnished Russian image, whatever we say about this. And I think that unless this argument stops now, unless both sides make steps towards each other and towards finally finding out the truth, I do not see any prospects for Russian-British relations.