Russia to expel four British diplomats

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin has announced that Moscow will expel four British diplomats in retaliation at London's decision to expel four Russian diplomats.

“The British Ambassador to Russia was presented a note declaring four diplomats at the British Embassy non-grata persons, and demanding their departure from Moscow within ten days,” the Russian official said.

Mr Kamynin also said Moscow inquired, for clarification, about the issue of new visa regulations for Russian officials, announced by London on June 16. “Until such clarification is given, Russian diplomats will not apply for British visas. Similar applications from the British side will not be considered by us,” he stated.

The Russian diplomat also said that the moves by the British side “make co-operation between Russia and Great Britain in fighting terrorism impossible.”

Summing up Moscow's response, Mr Kamynin called the steps “minimal, balanced and targeted,” and said the Russian side considered the interests of common citizens, journalists, businessmen, scientists and other non-official people in choosing its reaction. He also put the blame for the row on the new British government and said their position lacked common sense and pragmatism adherent to Britons.

The British were certainly expecting this, there was nothing new. It is a part of the protocol that we see between the states on this. I was a little surprised that they have been waiting so long. The penny has dropped, and maybe we can start moving forward – let's get the worst over now and start moving away from the brink. But what might destroy the relations between the two countries is a legal issue, it is Russia's Constitution versus the British legal system. This is a terrible crime,we all would agree, but why destroy the relationship over this?

Peter Lavelle, RT political commentator


Earlier, the UK's Ambassador to Russia, Sir Anthony Brenton, said he has personally informed Russian Foreign Ministry officials of Britain's continued disappointment over Russia`s refusal to hand over Andrey Lugovoy.

Russian Foreign Ministry representative “has given me certain messages to deliver back to the Foreign Office which I will now do. I have underlined to him our continuing disappointment at Russia's reaction so far to our request of the extradition of Mr Lugovoy and our continuing hope that Russia will find a way to co-operate,” British Ambassador underscored.

Russia is urging the EU not to interfere in its dispute with the UK over the extradition of Andrey Lugovoy. Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko says he hopes EU members will not use the issue to gain a political advantage.

Russia Today's political commentator Peter Lavelle expressed his opinion on Mikhail Kamynin' announcement that Moscow will expel four British diplomats: “The British were certainly expecting this, there was nothing new. It is a part of the protocol that we see between the states on this. I was a little surprised that they have been waiting so long. The penny has dropped, and maybe we can start moving forward – let's get the worst over now and start moving away from the brink. But what might destroy the relations between the two countries is a legal issue, it is Russia's Constitution versus the British legal system. This is a terrible crime,we all would agree, but why destroy the relationship over this?”

Earlier, Portugal, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, expressed disappointment with what it called Russia's failure to co-operate.

Russia and its current relationship with Britain was the focus of a session of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the UK Parliament. Fourteen MPs from the government and opposition who examine the administration and policy of the Foreign Office had a pack of questions for Europe Minister, Jim Murphy, and other Foreign Office officials.

Berezovsky is a gambler. Both at the time that he was playing an important role in Russia's domestic politics and now when he is de facto political emigrant. His tactics, if not strategy, is to raise stakes to a maximum and to try to out-bluff his partner. That is exactly what he was doing in the recent months

Boris Makarenko from Centre for Political Technologies , Moscow

The main question was how far will Britain go in this dispute?

“Britain has sufficient evidence against Lugovoy, and Litvinenko's murder was horrific. The CPS has to decide if Berezovsky and others have a sufficient case presented against them,” Europe Minister Jim Murphy said.

The man in question – Boris Berezovsky – was giving a press conference at the very same moment.

The self-exiled billionaire, wanted in Russia on serious charges – from fraud to formenting a coup – received political asylum in Britain in 2003. In a separate development a court in Brazil last week issued an arrest warrant for Berezovsky on charges of money laundering. Supported by one of the most famous British spin doctors – Lord Bell – and famous himself for spinning public opinion Berezovsky was explaining to the media how British special services foiled a plot to assassinate him. He also confessed he had spent between $US 300 and 400 MLN since 2001 – just funding opposition groups in his former homeland.

“They were spent for the years which I spent here, including the Orange revolution, including Russian opposition, including institute of civil society, including foundation which I created in New York – for Civil Liberties. I think that all together I spent around $US 300-400 MLN. I openly declare my target. I feel that Russia needs a revolution. And according to my definition – a revolution is a changing of a less effective society to more effective society,” Mr Berezovsky said.

Boris Makarenko from the Moscow-based Centre for Political Technologies looked at the motives behind Boris Berezovsky's most recent actions.

“Berezovsky is a gambler. Both at the time that he was playing an important role in Russia's domestic politics and now when he is de facto political emigrant. His tactics, if not strategy, is to raise stakes to a maximum and to try to out-bluff his partner. That is exactly what he was doing in the recent months,”Boris Makarenko said.

The Russian Ambassador to Britain said neither the Embassy nor Moscow have received any official information from British police about the alleged assassination plot.

“We haven't received any official information from Scotland Yard or any other law-enforcement agencies, although police usually inform the embassy about all the cases of detention, arrest or deportation of Russian citizens. Berezovsky is known not only for financial and political fraud, but also for propaganda claims. So, being a criminal wanted in Russia and other countries, he tries to act like a politician, like an opposition member and attract attention to himself,” said Yury Fedotov, Russia's Ambassador to UK.

Also on Wednesday, London's Metropolitan Police said a man had been arrested on June 21 and released two days later without charge before being handed to immigration officials.

Boris Berezovsky claims British special forces 
            foiled a plot to assassinate him
Boris Berezovsky claims British special forces foiled a plot to assassinate him


Boris Berezovsky says the man was deported to Russia, but that has not been confirmed by any officials.

The police statement came hours after Mr Berezovsky said he had fled the country for about a week in mid-June after police warned him his life was in danger.

In the meantime, Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband visited Paris and Berlin on Tuesday – seeking support among members of the European Union.

The EU issued a statement urging Russia to co-operate with Britain over London's request. David Miliband hopes to get more backing for Britain's actions in Brussels on Monday.