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Murder suspect is hero in Russia

Chief suspect Andrei Lugovoi, says his only problem is fighting off Russian autograph-seekers who regard him as a hero, reports Fred Weir.
Hindustan Times | By Fred Weir, Moscow
UPDATED ON JUL 24, 2007 01:04 AM IST

The man at the centre of the diplomatic storm between Britain and Russia over the radiation murder of Alexander Litvinenko, chief suspect Andrei Lugovoi, says he feels comfortable under Kremlin protection and his only problem is fighting off Russian autograph-seekers who regard him as a hero.

"I do not know if I am a hero or not," Lugovoi, a former member of the FSB security service, told the independent Ekho Moskvi radio station.

"Right now I do experience difficulties visiting public places, especially with my family — I am approached by people all the time," he said.

"There is not a single person who would not support me. I'm often asked to give an autograph," he added.

Britain has been demanding that Lugovoi be extradited for the murder of Litvinenko, who was poisoned by radioactive Polonium-210 during a downtown London meeting last November with Lugovoi and another Russian ex-security officer, Dmitri Kovtun.

The British media has quoted eyewitnesses as saying Lugovoi "sprayed" something into Litvinenko's tea during the meeting, while a waiter serving the men was distracted by a disturbance at a nearby table.

Asked by the Ekho Moskvi interviewer whether he killed Litvinenko, Lugovoi answered: "No, I did not." He added that the British allegations single him out as the culprit without any evidence.

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