The Poison Spreads

Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

British officials said that they will seek the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi from Russia to face a charge of murder in the poisoning death of former Soviet agent Alexander Litvinenko.

Polonium-210 has a half-life of 138 days. Yet 30 weeks after the substance was administered to Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, its potency seems undiminished, contaminating relations between two former imperial powers and pitting the demands of justice against the exigencies of realpolitik. London's request to Moscow on Tuesday to extradite Andrei Lugovoi as chief suspect in Litvinenko's murder drew a response that's increasingly familiar to Kremlin watchers: an abrupt no. There were some obvious reasons for Russian intransigence. The case is a skein of disputed plots and subplots. Lugovoi and one companion — or two, according to some versions — met...

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