[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Excerpts: Lugovoi news conference
Andrei Lugovoi, the man suspected of poisoning ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, has held a news conference in Moscow. Here are excerpts of his statement.

ON THE BRITISH SECRET SERVICES' ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT IN THE POISONING

"It's hard to get rid of the thought that Litvinenko was an agent who got out of the secret service's control and was eliminated. Even if it was not done by the secret service itself, it was done under its control or connivance."

Asked if there was evidence of their direct participation, Lugovoi said: "There is."

ON ALLEGEDLY BEING RECRUITED AS A BRITISH SPY

Mr Lugovoi said in 2005 Mr Litvinenko invited him to London where he proposed the idea of starting a joint business. Mr Lugovoi went on to say that he was paid too much money for giving minor consultations to British business partners.

"It became clear that the fee was aimed at gradually engaging me in co-operation. The talks were becoming more open. The British started to show interest in everything: my connections, financial opportunities, if I had direct access to the Russian president's administration, as well as contacts with officers of the Federal Security Service, the Federal Bodyguard Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service. They were especially interested in an opportunity to get information about the FSB activities in the so-called English direction.

"They openly begun to recruit me as a British intelligence agent. The British, in essence, suggested that I gather any discrediting information about President Vladimir Putin and members of his family. For example, it was proposed that I gather information about a state official, through whom they intended to get discrediting information about the president. In particular, they intended to lure this state official to London in order to get discrediting information about the president in exchange for silence about his personal bank accounts. I will tell investigators of the prosecutor-general's office who I'm talking about.

"For maintaining an undercover connection, I was given a British mobile phone, which I was supposed to use for calling from Moscow to London. From bad to worse: Litvinenko gave me an edition of Yevgeny Grishkovets' book Rubashka and told me that now we have to use cipher like in spy movies and to encode a text using numbers of pages, paragraphs and lines.

"One has to be a complete idiot not to understand that under the pretext of developing a joint business, a banal recruiting was going on with concrete political and intelligence goals with regard to Russia and its president.

"I do not regard myself a passionate supporter of President Putin and I have my personal reasons for that, which many can guess about. But I was taught to defend the motherland, not to betray it. During another meeting with Litvinenko, I told him straight everything I thought about that and said that I was not interested in such business."

ON ALLEGEDLY BEING MADE A SCAPEGOAT

Mr Lugovoi said the British had already made up their minds that he was guilty of killing Mr Litvinenko.

"For a long time I was constrained by my obligations to the Crown Prosecution Service. I was willingly co-operating with the crown prosecutor's office and I was answering every question. I was also answering all the questions that the Scotland Yard investigators were asking me. Even then I had a feeling that all the questions were just a formality and the accused were already determined, that is myself and Dmitry Kovtun. But I tried to keep all the obligations... and I was made a scapegoat."

He said the British had hoped he would stay silent, but that he was not going to allow them to push their agenda.

"Just think of it: they have found a Russian James Bond, who enters into nuclear centres and in cold blood poisons a friend of his and, at the same time, poisons himself, his friends, children and wife. And all that was done single-handedly by the terrorist Lugovoi. Who - as a result - loses his business and clients. And the main question: what for? Where is the motive for my crime?

"London was hoping that I would keep silent as I have not been extradited... and that all the questions would resolve themselves: I would be branded as a criminal; Berezovsky would get a very good reason not to be extradited to Russia; Scotland Yard and the British special services would save face in the eyes of their taxpayers; while Russia and its leadership would be discredited for a long time.

"Only none of this will happen. I am prepared to lose even more money, but I will fight for my honest name. I understand that if I went to London, I - for the sake of preserving somebody's professional honour - would be convicted, no matter what. That is why in the very near future, as we have done before, I will hire serious lawyers in London in order to defend my honest name in the British law-enforcement agencies.

"If the British authorities refuse to conduct a fair trial, I will be prepared to appeal to the international court in The Hague."

ON WHY HE BELIEVES THE CHARGES AGAINST HIM ARE WRONG

"Now I would like to return to the issue of [Litvinenko's] death. First, I don't think you have to be a lawyer to understand that a motive is needed to carry out a crime like this. Sasha [Litvinenko] was not my enemy. I did not have any opinion on what he was doing in London, which books he was writing and who he was criticising. I have been a businessman for a long time now, and this didn't really interest me.

"Second, for some reason all British newspapers are saying that the poisoning took place on 1 November, but Litvinenko and I met twice in October. Moreover, we met in his home in summer, when his wife Marina was away. By the way, Berezovsky didn't know of that meeting. It was almost the ideal place for a poisoning. However, when conditions were ideal, it didn't happen. But in a bar with a lot of people, when he could have failed to turn up, in the presence of dozens of witnesses, it happened. This means that someone wanted us to be seen together in the Millennium Bar.

"Third, those who know Sasha can confirm that he never drank or smoked. Neither I nor Dima [Dmitry Kovtun] can remember whether he ordered anything, tea or water, because we were preparing to go to a football game at the time and, since it was cold, had drunk a good amount of spirits. What kind of idiot poisoner would it take to act in such a primitive way? Again, somebody wanted to set us up.

"Fourth, if the poisoning took place on 1 November, then how did the polonium leave traces [changes track], I underline, it only left traces in places in London where I and Litvinenko met in October. And why was the polonium found in aircraft on which Dima and I returned to Moscow and Germany respectively in October 2006? My only conclusion is that we were purposely marked with polonium in order to use us in a political scandal later.

"[Fifth,] I came to London with my wife and children to go to a football game. As a consequence, all of them were checked for polonium poisoning and the results were not comforting. They were tested together with me in the hospital. What kind of monster would you have to be to expose the lives of your children and your wife to such threats?

"Sixth, already in summer 2006 Litvinenko started giving me various little gifts. When I was tested in the hospital, all my things were checked. It turned out that souvenirs and a number of documents which Litvinenko had given me long before 1 November were splattered with polonium. I told our investigators in the Prosecutor-General's Office about this, but they said that their British colleagues weren't interested for some reason. It is possible that Litvinenko himself left the traces (of polonium), but this theory was unacceptable to the British justice from the very beginning.

"Seventh, it is no longer a secret that all my meetings with Litvinenko were thoroughly followed by the UK secret services. Why didn't they follow up Litvinenko's poisoning and allow all of us to leave Britain without punishment? Why has the address where we met British agents, [names omitted], not been included among the dozens of places in London mentioned in the media where polonium has been found? I would like to know whether polonium traces was found in that office, which is in essence one of their secret meeting places."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Andrei Lugovoi's statement





FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific