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Wrap: Lugovoi says innocent, Berezovsky behind Litvinenko murder

Andrei Lugovoi, the U.K.'s key suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, said Wednesday the Crown Prosecution Service has no proof of his guilt and that fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky played a role in the crime.
MOSCOW, August 29 (RIA Novosti) - Andrei Lugovoi, the U.K.'s key suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, said Wednesday the Crown Prosecution Service has no proof of his guilt and that fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky played a role in the crime.

"There is no evidence, there is no proof. Everything that the Crown Prosecution Service says is a lie, inspired by the British top leadership together with the special services," Lugovoi told British journalists via a video link with Moscow.

He said there is not even any proof that Litvinenko in fact died of radioactive poisoning, adding that the cause of death is still unknown.

Lugovoi said he will not go to Britain as the situation has become too politicized.

"I am not going anywhere because this [murder] case involves big politics," Lugovoi said. "I propose that if British authorities have any proof, they should send it here, to Russia."

The former KGB officer added he was sure that British intelligence was involved in the murder of Litvinenko last November in London.

Lugovoi said that fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky was involved in the crime, as well as in the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

"It was a thoroughly planned provocation. I believe there was to have been the chain 'Politkovskaya - Litvinenko - Tregubova [journalist Yelena Tregubova]," Lugovoi told journalists.

He said Berezovsky had met with him shortly before Litvinenko's death and that he was preparing an alibi for himself. Lugovoi did not provide any specific evidence against Berezovsky.

He also said other high-profile murders have direct links to Berezovsky.

"To me, regardless of whether the crime [murder of Politkovskaya] has been solved or not... it is evident who benefited from all these murders, and I think they are directly linked to Berezovsky, just like the murders of [journalist Vladislav] Listyev, [MPs Sergei] Yushenkov, [Vladimir] Golovlyov and all those in his circle to some degree," Lugovoi said.

Lugovoi also said he had not traveled to Britain for questioning because the country's authorities never invited him.

"I am not going and will not go to Britain, because nobody invited me there," he said.

Former state security officer Lugovoi, who repeatedly denied all charges against him, said that last year on November 20, just three days before the death of Litvinenko, he and his business partner Dmitry Kovtun visited the British Embassy in Moscow, where they left their full contact details.

"Acting sensibly, I together with Kovtun wrote a statement and left all contacts, telephone numbers, and addresses," Lugovoi said, adding that he also proposed a meeting with Scotland Yard experts, but that they never contacted him.

The head of the investigating committee at the General Prosecutor's Office said Tuesday Russia has not yet received any evidence from Britain on Lugovoi.

"We have not received any evidence from London of Lugovoi's guilt, and those documents we have are full of blank spaces and contradictions," Alexander Bastrykin said in an interview with a government daily, Rossiskaya Gazeta, which was published Wednesday.

Bastrykin said: "A spate of investigative actions has been performed, but the truth about who committed the murder has not been found."

The U.K. Crown Prosecution Service declined to comment on Bastrykin's statements, referring to the declaration made by Ken Macdonald, director of Public Prosecutions, May 22 claiming that the Crown Prosecution Service had enough evidence to charge Lugovoi in Litvinenko's murder, and that they would be requesting Lugovoi's extradition to the U.K. for trial.

Moscow refused in early July to extradite Lugovoi, sparking a diplomatic dispute with London and unleashing tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats and visa restrictions.

Litvinenko, an outspoken Kremlin critic, is believed to have died of poisoning from a dose of a highly toxic polonium isotope allegedly dropped into his drink in the bar of a luxury London hotel last November. Lugovoi reportedly met with him at the hotel on the day of his poisoning.

Lugovoi's business partner Dmitry Kovtun is also believed to have met Litvinenko hours before he fell ill November 1 2006. In December German police announced that they found radioactive traces in his car and apartment in Hamburg.

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