British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament on Wednesday that he had raised a number of human-rights issues with the Russian authorities during his recent visit to Moscow.
Cameron met with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minster Vladimir Putin during his brief visit to the Russian capital. He also met a number of human-rights activists.
He was accused during a news conference with Medvedev of “parking” the issue of Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB officer killed in London in 2006, in exchange for trade relations. Cameron denied the allegation, saying the issue remained “important” for Britain.
British police suspect ex-KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoi of the murder. Russia rejected British requests to extradite Lugovoi, citing its Constitution, which does not permit the extradition of Russian nationals. The row led to a drastic deterioration in bilateral ties.
“The foreign secretary spoke to Alexander Litvinenko’s widow before I traveled to Moscow, and let me be absolutely clear, the British government has not changed its view about how wrong it was for that murder to take place and how we need a proper explanation of what happened and who was responsible,” Cameron told parliament.
“And we want justice for that family. We haven’t changed our views, but I do think it’s right at the same time to try and build a better relationship with Russia across all range of issues,”he added.
“I made sure when I went to Russia I didn’t just raise the Litvinenko case, I raised many other human rights cases, including the Magnitsky case with the Russian president and with others. I think it’s the right way to conduct our international relations,” he went on.
Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer for the British-registered Heritage trust fund, died in a Moscow pre-trial detention centre in 2009. He was arrested on tax evasion allegations after announcing he had exposed massive fraud by law enforcement officials.
A Kremlin rights council said the death of the Hermitage Capital lawyer was likely to have resulted from a beating in jail and the failure of prison doctors to provide timely medical assistance to him.