Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Dark side of Russia

The Daily Telegraph - May 24th 2007

Sir

The murder of my constituent Alexander Litvinenko last November revealed the dark forces at work in Vladimir Putin's Russia, which is now a trillion-dollar economy on the back of the huge rise in oil prices (report, May 23).

Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder of Germany and Jacques Chirac of France had sought to cultivate President Putin, conveniently overlooking his authoritarian tendencies. This appeasement only emboldened the Kremlin to ignore the rule of law.

My fear now is that this matter will be gently put to one side in the wider interests of the West's relations with Russia, as we become increasingly dependent on its oil and gas, or allowed to drop as Gordon Brown takes office as Prime Minister. He should pursue this extradition as a priority.

The death of a courageous British citizen in such a despicable manner demands justice. Clearly we all want a stable, united and prosperous Russia as a partner, but also one that respects human rights and democracy and lives up to its international obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Dr Charles Tannock MEP
Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman
Brussels