Russian brands Britons 'bandits'

VLADIMIR Zhirinovsky, leader of Russia's ultra-nationalists, yesterday said Britain was a nation of cheats and bandits and had no right to seek the handover of Andrei Lugovoy, a candidate standing for his party.

Mr Lugovoy, a former KGB officer, is wanted on suspicion of killing the Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko. He will be a candidate for the Liberal Democratic party in the parliamentary elections in December.

Sitting next to Mr Zhirinovsky at a news briefing, Mr Lugovoy disavowed a statement on Monday that he would like to become president, saying: "Vladimir Volfovich [Zhirinovsky] has all the qualities for the job."

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Minutes later Mr Zhirinovsky - known for his flamboyant and violent rhetoric - flew into a temper when a western journalist mentioned the murder of Mr Litvinenko. "Britain, you keep the whole world soaked in blood," he yelled.

Mr Zhirinovsky said London could not prosecute Mr Lugovoy because Britain itself was providing a haven for Kremlin opponents such as the tycoon Boris Berezovsky.

"You cover cheats, extremists and criminals," he said. "You are all accomplices, all of you are bandits and criminals, your whole government together with your Queen," he said.

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