Murder suspect Lugovoy wins place in parliament

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The Independent Online

Instead of sitting in a British courtroom, the man suspected by British detectives of the fatal poisoning of the former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko will now sit in Russia's lower house of parliament. As such, he will be immune from extradition and prosecution.

Andrei Lugovoy's entry into the Duma had not been certain. The ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), where he featured at number two on the list, was consistently polling just short of the 7 per cent required to make the Duma in the weeks before the vote. In the end the party made it comfortably across the threshold. "This will give Russia another tool to avoid extraditing him," said Dmitry Suslov, a political analyst.

The LDPR leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, even suggested that Mr Lugovoy might take up a post on the Duma's security committee, which oversees intelligence issues and co-operation.

Mr Lugovoy has appeared to relish his notoriety in recent months and even taunted Britain after England's failure to qualify for the 2008 European Championships.

He will probably feel at home with the LDPR whose leader loves the limelight but rarely criticises the Kremlin. Mr Zhirinovsky's career has featured a litany of outrageous foreign policy statements, including a suggestion that the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, was anti-Russian because she "lacked male attention".

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