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Putin Slams Britain over 'Colonial Thinking' in Row
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Britain's demand that Russia amend its constitution to extradite a main suspect in the poisoning case of Alexander Litvinenko is "a vestige of colonial thinking."

"What they are proposing is obviously a vestige of colonial thinking," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Putin as saying at a meeting with youth organizations at his presidential residence outside Moscow.

Britain has asked Russia to hand over Andrei Lugovoi, who British prosecutors have charged with murdering Litvinenko, while Russia insists he should be tried in Russia as stipulated by its constitution.

Putin said Britain has not yet extradited 30 people who are hiding in London and accused of involvement in crimes in Russia.

"They do not extradite anyone, including those suspected and accused of terrorist activities, who hide on their territory, but they issue demands to other countries, including recommendations to change the constitution, which insult our country," Putin said.

"Their brains, not our constitution, should be changed. The things they are proposing are a relic of colonial thinking," the Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying.

Litvinenko died of radioactive poisoning last November in London. Lugovoi, a business partner of Litvinenko and also a former Russian secret agent, met him at a London hotel on Nov. 1, the day Litvinenko fell ill.

Russia has said its rejection was based both on a constitutional ban on turning Russian citizens over to foreign countries and on a European convention that allows signatories to refuse to extradite their nationals.

Moscow and London announced earlier this month reciprocal expulsions of diplomats, escalating the dispute over the extradition of Lugovoi.

(Xinhua News Agency July 25, 2007)

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