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US House panel endorses suggestion that Russia had hand in ex-spy's death

US House panel endorses suggestion that Russia had hand in ex-spy's death

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives endorsed a resolution Wednesday that suggested the Russian government might have had a hand in the 2006 radiation poisoning death of a Russian dissident.
The resolution asks President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to press Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials to cooperate with British investigators probing the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian-born former KGB agent who fled to Britain in 2000 and took British citizenship. He died in November 2006 in a British hospital from the effects of radioactive polonium-210 he had ingested.
British authorities have said they will try to prosecute Russian Andrei Lugovoi in Litvinenko's death. They expelled four Russian diplomats last year because the Kremlin refused to extradite Lugovoi.
The resolution was offered by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Foreign Affairs Committee's top Republican. It will have no effect except as an expression of the sense of Congress and now goes to the full House for action. Passed as a concurrent resolution of both chambers, it also will go to the Senate for consideration.
Among facts the document includes to reinforce its accusations about Litvinenko's death is that 97 percent of the world's legal production of polonium-210 occurs at the Avangard nuclear facility in Russia. It says Russia is the world's leading exporter of polonium-210 for commercial purposes, and the substance is neither produced nor commercially imported in Britain.
"The fatal radiation poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko raises significant concerns about the potential involvement of elements of the Russian government in Mr. Litvinenko's death and about the security and proliferation of radioactive materials," the resolution says. "The use of such radioactive materials in such cases demonstrates a threat to the safety and security of the people of the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries.
It urges Bush and Rice to urge Russian cooperation not only to cooperate in the British investigation but "to ensure the security of the production, storage, distribution and export of polonium-210 as a material that may become dangerous to large numbers of people if utilized by terrorists."


Updated : 2021-07-30 21:23 GMT+08:00