Interview with Viktor Linnik

Chief Editor of the Slovo daily, Viktor Linnik, believes the Litvinenko case has been given too much media attention and that the current diplomatic row is likely to take a new twist in a couple of weeks.

Russia Today: Is the current showdown about more than just the Livinenko case? Where can the difficulties be traced back then?
Viktor Linnik: Several things, obviously. Unfortunately, the USSR and Great Britain as well as Russia and Great Britain have a long history of diplomatic expulsions and spy scandals. Remember the scandal of 1971, when five Soviet diplomats were expelled, or the story of 1983 when Margaret Thatcher expelled 25 diplomats – after which she invited Gorbachev to work together.

By the way, I'd like to note one more thing. One of your top stories today is dedicated to the murder of the Romanov family in 1918. I could even trace the British participation back to this time. Of course, as you state in your news report, the Romanovs were killed by the Bolsheviks but in 1917 and 1918 the British royal family had very good chances to save their relatives (Nicholas the Second was a cousin of the then British king, George V). And yet they did nothing to save the Romanovs from their terrible fate.

RT: Do you think it was appropriate, politically and diplomatically, to demand Russia to go against its constitution to allow Lugovoy's extradition?

V.L.: I believe this really demonstrates very hectic thinking. To demand a country change its constitution is something out of this world. We might as well ask of Britain to first of all write its own constitution so that we could at least address some  guidelines in our judgement of the country's stance. So this goes beyond political and diplomatic imagination. That kind of approach will lead nowhere. Britain should really think about finding different ways of settling the matter.

RT: What do you think could be the way to resolve the problem?

V.L.: I think the quarrel will obviously calm down. I don't think it's necessary to create all this havoc around the case. If Lugovoy is guilty, he can go on trial in his own country without extradition. In my opinion, the British investigators, parliamentarians and court officials could be present at the hearings. And this is I believe a good way out of this situation. Actually, I'm inclined to think that in three or four weeks we will be seeing quite a different situation.

RT: Do you think all the media attention around the case has put additional pressure on investigators and the British authorities to name a chief suspect?

V.L.: I think the case has been enormously blown out of proportions so that it has even become household talk. Obviously, there's little hope to see an unbiased hearing in these circumstances in London – where people are so much agitated and so much prejudiced against this case. So in it will be much better to deal with it in Russia.