The Associated Press reports another massive blow to the Putin regime from the world's only superpower. First the President openly demands NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, and then the House openly accuses Putin of state-sponsored murder:
The U.S. House of Representatives has endorsed a resolution suggesting that the Russian government might have had a hand in the 2006 radiation poisoning death of former Federal Security Service officer Alexander Litvinenko in London.
The resolution, endorsed Tuesday, asks U.S. President George W. Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to press Russian officials to cooperate with British investigators probing the death Litvinenko, who fled to Britain in 2000 and took British citizenship. He died in November 2006 from radioactive polonium-210 he had ingested.
The resolution is merely an expression of the sense of the U.S. Congress. But it is likely to annoy Russia as Bush prepares to meet with President Vladimir Putin on Sunday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. U.S.-Russian tensions are high as the U.S. pushes a missile-defense plan for Europe that Russia has opposed.
Democratic congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tuesday that Litvinenko's death raises "disturbing questions about how elements of the Russian government appear to deal with their enemies."
The resolution also calls on Bush and Rice to urge Russian cooperation "to ensure the security of the production, storage, distribution and export of polonium-210 as a material that may become dangerous to large numbers of people if utilized by terrorists."
Meanwhile, the Moscow Times reports that the Kremlin has formally buried the Staravoitova killing, the first one that occurred after Putin rose to power as head of the KGB:
The Federal Security Service has suspended its investigation into the 1998 murder of liberal State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova without finding the person who ordered the killing, the slain politician's former aide said. Ruslan Linkov, who was injured in the attack on Starovoitova, said the FSB's St. Petersburg branch had notified him that the investigation was being suspended and would only be reopened if new leads appeared or if suspects emerged from hiding, Interfax reported. Linkov expressed outrage that the FSB had closed its investigation without locating former Duma Deputy Mikhail Glushchenko, whom one witness identified in court testimony as the person who ordered Starovoitova's murder. Glushchenko, who represented the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party in the Duma and is thought to be a leader of the Tambov crime group, reputedly lives abroad. Starovoitova was killed in the stairwell of her apartment building in 1998.