Statement by the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova on the publication of the Litvinenko inquiry report in the UK
In light of the publication on January 21 of the results of the so-called public inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko in Britain, we are forced to state that we are not surprised by this outcome reached after 18 months of backdoor games played out under the guidance of a judge who was considered a top-notch professional. The Report of the Inquiry is a logical conclusion of a pseudo-legal play that was enacted by the UK courts and executive authorities with the sole purpose of slandering Russia and its leadership.
We’d like to say in this connection that this highly specific form of investigation was not, contrary to its name, transparent or open to the Russian party or the British public, but consisted of numerous closed meetings held to discuss “classified” intelligence evidence and testimony by unidentified witnesses. The use of these methods in investigation provides sufficient grounds to question the objectivity and impartiality of the verdict.
We have made it known several times that we stood in favour of an objective and unbiased investigation into the causes of death of Russian citizens in the UK. For example, Russia’s Investigative Committee took part as a concerned party in the public coroner’s inquest that was conducted in Britain in accordance with British law.
The public inquiry was launched after the coroner’s investigation was suspended, probably because it did not provide a result that would suit the British authorities. The Russian Investigative Committee terminated its participation in the “public inquiry” for the sole reason that the inquiry was non-transparent and the ultimate politicisation of legal action taken. These fears have been proved true.
We’d like to point out that two key witnesses in the Litvinenko case died under unclear circumstances by mid-2014, about the same time when the UK Home Office decided to launch a public inquiry, which strangely coincided with the flaring of tensions in eastern Ukraine. They are Boris Berezovsky and David West, the owner of the London restaurant that was frequented by Boris Berezovsky and Alexander Litvinenko and where polonium traces were found two days before the alleged poisoning of Litvinenko.
It is also indicative that an ongoing preliminary inquiry into the death of another Russian citizen, Alexander Perepilichnyy, has established that the British police had kept from the coroner’s investigation materials indicating that British intelligence services had worked with Mr Perepilichnyy. That inquiry subsequently acquired many other elements that were previously found in the Litvinenko case. In particular, police said they would apply to keep dozens of documents out of the public domain because their disclosure could damage national security or adversely affect Britain’s international relations.
All in all, the conclusion is that the UK authorities are creating a very dangerous precedent for the use of the domestic legal system in a politically laden and non-transparent investigation with preset conclusions, replacing an objective investigation with a politicised farce.
January 21, 2016