No direct Putin-U.K. contact ‘for 4 years’

There has been no direct contact between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and U.K. ministers or diplomats since 2007, the BBC said on Friday, citing Whitehall officials.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is due to make his first visit to Russia next week. A meeting with Putin is expected, but has yet to be confirmed.

Relations between the U.K and Russia soured dramatically in 2006 after the death of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London and the British government’s subsequent demand that Moscow extradite Andrei Lugovoi, its chief suspect in the case.

Russia’s Constitution forbids the extradition of its citizens, and Putin reacted furiously to the demand.

“They are making proposals to change our constitution that are insulting for our nation and our people,” he told a rally. “It’s their brains, not our constitution, which need to be changed.”

“They forget that Britain is no longer a colonial power and that Russia was never their colony,” he added.

Lugovoi has since been elected to Russia’s lower house of parliament, which gives his immunity from prosecution. He has denied all the charges against him.

Officials told the BBC that tensions remained high, and this was why Putin had not agreed to meet. The last high-level meeting came when then British prime minister Tony Blair met Putin at a G8 summit in 2007.

Leave a comment