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Russia Embraces Possible Murderer!

The Los Angeles Times has a great piece today on Andrei Lugovoy, the main suspect in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. Britain wants to extradite Lugovoy, but now he has become a hero and member of parliament(!) in Russia. This particular section of the story hilariously displays the lack of seriousness that the Russian ruling class (including Lugovoy) is showing in response to the accusations:

Implicit in Lugovoy's popularity, in the public's enthusiastic reaction to his name, is the underlying assumption that he killed Litvinenko. Not that anybody ever comes out and calls him a killer. But that idea hangs over him: Lugovoy is suspected of spiking the former spy's tea with radioactive polonium-210, traces of which turned up in hotel rooms, restaurants and airplanes he was in during his trip to London.

"He would definitely become a national hero of Russia should he confess that he killed Litvinenko and that he was trying to kill [London-based Russian dissident Boris] Berezovsky," said Alexander Prokhanov, editor of the nationalist newspaper Zavtra. "In the eyes of the majority of the Russian population, both Berezovsky and Litvinenko are ugly, renegade traitors and symbols of evil."

During a recent appearance on a Russian talk show, the host waited until the very end to ask Lugovoy whether he had killed Litvinenko.

At the question, Lugovoy burst into laughter. "No," he said.

"Then who did?" pressed the host.

Lugovoy responded with an elaborate shrug and a grin.

--Isaac Chotiner