The murder of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko was carried out by a Russian State Duma deputy Andrei Lugovoi and businessman Dmitry Kovtun. This operation to eliminate the defector was personally approved by FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
These were the findings stated in the final report published last week of the inquiry into the case of Litvinenko’s death in 2006. The president of Russia was actually accused, in no uncertain terms, to have approved an international murder. What will the consequences of such statements be for the Putin regime, and will they affect diplomatic relations between Russia and Great Britain? British experts and journalists expressed their opinions on this matter in an interview with Novyi Region.
John Lough, an expert on Russia at the Royal Institute of International Affairs Chatham House believes that the revelations in connection with the murder committed a decade ago would certainly affect the Kremlin’s relations with Western leaders.
“The report provides detailed and damning evidence of how Russian state agencies were used to murder a British citizen in London. It confirms many suppositions about the motive for Litvinenko’s murder and how it was carried out. Few people, however, predicted that a cautious English judge would point a finger at Putin and Patrushev. ‘Probably’ is used in this context because the evidence is only circumstantial but what Sir Robert means by this is that ‘everything points to the involvement of Putin and Patrushev.’
As for the consequences: the murder and Russia’s refusal to surrender Lugovoi and Kovtun will continue to cast a deep shadow over UK-Russia relations. This will indirectly affect EU-Russia relations. Effectively, Putin and Patrushev have been labelled murderers, and western leaders going to meet the Russian President will undoubtedly be aware of this even if only subconsciously. So it will affect relations with western countries in a subtle way. My impression is that the overall effect will be to isolate Russia further.
You should take a look at the BBC Panorama program shown on Monday. This is now available with Russian subtitles. For a US Treasury official to state on the record that the US has known for some time that Putin is corrupt puts the Russian President in a category of unsavory leaders that is deeply unflattering to Russia as a country.
The Kremlin will say that this is all political orchestration by a declining European country that still believes it is a global power. The fact is that the British government did not want the Litvinenko Inquiry and the BBC is editorially independent and obviously took legal advice before showing the Panorama programme. The facts do not lie,” concluded the expert.
Sarah Hurst, journalist, writer, translator and specialist in ethnography and intercultural communication is less optimistic.
“I’m afraid, there is a great possibility that the report will not affect the Putin regime.
But how exactly? Even before the release of the report, many understood that Putin killed Litvinenko. However, many people in the UK thought that Litvinenko was a spy, and each state kills its spies who switch sides. There are those who have long understood the essence of Putin, but still work with him, because we work with leaders, including various dictators. We also know, for example, that Putin killed Politkovskaya, Nemtsov and Magnitsky, annexed the Crimea and is bombing civilians in Syria, as well as he is responsible for the downing “Boeing” MH17. But the impact from all of these events has been negligible. In general, in my opinion, our foreign policy is somewhat inconsistent. First, our Foreign Office Minister stated that Russia is bombing civilians in Syria, and then again began to talk about the need to negotiate with Putin. In my opinion, the main factor that can affect people in Russia and regime change is the economy. Yes, we have some politicians who want to be more active against Putin, but they still will not be able to take the kinds of radical measures that could change the regime in Russia. This question, first and foremost, depends on the people of Russia, and not on us.”