In a letter to the Guardian newspaper, Professor Richard Sakwa (pictured - would you let that man babysit your children? your pet iguana?) of the University of Kent takes Russia's side in the British Council dispute:
In the light of the breakdown in relations between Russia and the UK, as evidenced by the pressure on the British Council (Report, December 13), would it not be appropriate for the government to rethink its policy. The sacrifice of the British Council in the pursuit of unclear and unachievable goals is unwise.There is no chance of Andrei Lugovoi being extradited to Britain, so it is time to stop digging in that particular hole. Article 61(1) of the 1993 Russian constitution clearly states a citizen cannot be extradited. President Putin will be stepping down in May, after serving the two terms allowed him by the constitution, which suggests at the least that constitutional conventions are formally observed. More than 200 people in the last decade have been extradited to Russia to stand trial, and more than 100 have been convicted. If Britain is so sure of its case with Lugovoi, let it be heard in open court in Russia - and let us draw back from the brink of seriously damaging the important work of the British Council in Russia. The Litvinenko affair was one purported bad man being killed by other purported bad men, with no serious evidence of official Russian state involvement. Let's not sacrifice the British Council and broader Anglo-Russian relations for this.The Kremlin might just as well have written that themselves. And you know what? They may just have done exactly that. Because what the dear professor doesn't care to mention is that he spent two years working for the USSR in one of its publishing houses. Lenin called such people "useful idiots." We'd use another term that our own guidelines prevent us from writing. So we'll settle for this one: Traitor.