As British Prime Minister David Cameron kicked off his visit to Russia, an aide to the Russian president said that the agenda is expected to be pragmatic and calm and concentrated on bilateral co-operation.
Sergey Prikhodko, an aide to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, addressed the press on Monday morning. “I think the visit will be pragmatic and calm. No one is expecting any breakthroughs,” the Russian politician said. “Russia and the UK do not need ‘resets,'” he also said.
However, the Russian official noted that Russian-British relations have not always been completely friendly and understanding. “What has dominated them since Cameron’s arrival is the progress in those areas that are important for Russian-British bilateral relations, the wish to expand co-operation on key regional and international issues. We have pointed out the pragmatic approach of the Cameron administration to bilateral co-operation,” Prikhodko said.
Prikhodko also touched upon probably the most acute issue in Russo-British relations – the investigation of Aleksandr Litvinenko’s poisoning in London in 2006. Prikhodko told the press that the Russian side had no intention of avoiding the issue during the British PM’s visit. “We have no plans to raise this issue, [as] we have other, more important issues. However, if they ask something, we don’t have any forbidden issues,” Prikhodko said.
The official stressed that the Russian authorities maintained the same position over the issue. “Our law enforcement agencies informed their British partners about their readiness to work with them a long time ago,” Prikhodko said. He also said that, in his view, the Litvinenko case will not have a serious influence on the development of Russian-British relations.
Also on Monday, Russian news agencies reported that Andrey Lugovoi, a former Russian intelligence officer who is the prime suspect in Aleksandr Litvinenko’s poisoning case, said he was ready to meet with the British prime minister and discuss the relations between Russia and Great Britain. Lugovoi is currently a member of the Russian parliament, representing the nationalist political party LDPR. At the same time, Lugovoi called upon the British authorities to stop politicizing the situation and move on.
Aleksandr Litvinenko, a former Russian security officer and a close associate of the fugitive Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, died in November 2006 in London of acute poisoning from the rare and expensive radioactive metal polonium. British prosecutors have demanded that Russia extradite Lugovoi to Britain, as regard him as the prime suspect in the crime. Russian law does not allow for Russian citizens’ extradition to other countries for trial without a trial at home, but the British side refuses to send their evidence to Russian investigators. Notwithstanding this, Lugovoi is now protected by parliamentary immunity.