A reader offers some additional thoughts on the Lugovoi scandal by e-mail:
I think most people who read this blog would probably find Mr Lugovoi's recent accusations in his hour and a half marathon news conference totally unbelievable. Unfortunately, not only will the vast majority of Russians accept them almost without question but I am sure that quite a significant proportion of people in western countries will believe them as well. After all there are plenty who believe that the twin towers were brought down by controlled demolition.
It is also evident that the Russian media take them extremely seriously. A Russian newspaper reported on the news conference: "Overall, more than 130 Russian and foreign reporters, as well as crews from 26 TV-channels were accredited to the event." Since the Russian media is now mainly state owned and largely state controlled it is hard to resist the conclusion that the news conference was instigated with Kremlin involvement.
However, it is easy to forget that no British law enforcement, judicial, or government official has accused the Kremlin of complicity in Litvinenko's murder. The whole news conference was (in theory) only for an independent businessman to give his alibi (and of course to make a huge string of unsubstantiated counter-allegations). It is therefore a bit rich for the Kremlin to accuse Britain of trying to politicise Litvinenko's murder*, when British statements have instead been to remind everyone that it is a criminal case (even though they know it might well have been state sponsored murder).
* Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by news agency Interfax as saying, "We see attempts from the British side to use a criminal case for stirring up some kind of political campaign. We are against this,". I think he protests too much!
I would also like to offer some observations on the central accusation, that the British secret service tried to recruit Lugovoi to try to find information to blacken Mr Putin's name (and apparently his family as well). Firstly, it does not take secret services to start false rumours and publicise them. In a free country the tabloid press is perfectly capable of unearthing not just rumours but genuine damaging information about public figures. Granted init may be more difficult and dangerous, but anyway, if there is no damaging information to discover, why should Putin be worried?
Really, the best person at the job of blackening Putin's name is V V Putin himself. The archived articles in this blog are testament to that, and the fact that the British media and especially the British government have so little interest in the issues that they deal with is testament to the fact that Britain is not waging any kind of propaganda campaign against