Lugovoy named nationalist party No.2 in Russia polls

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MOSCOW, Sep 15 (Reuters) The Russian wanted by Britain on suspicion of killing Alexander Litvinenko is to stand as a leading candidate for the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party in parliamentary elections in December.

Former intelligence officer Andrei Lugovoy would receive immunity from prosecution as a member of parliament were the LDPR party to receive the minimum seven per cent of the vote required to enter the state Duma.

Britain wants to try Lugovoy for the murder of Litvinenko, who died an agonising death in a London hospital last November after receiving a dose of radioactive polonium-210. The two men met each other on the day Litvinenko fell ill.

LDPR party head Vladimir Zhirinovsky revealed that Lugovoy was his candidate in an interview today with Moscow regional television's Channel 3.

His appointnment as No 2 on the LDPR's list of candidates is expected to be confirmed when the the party publishes its election list on Monday.

Zhirinovsky, a political veteran know for his outspoken nationalist views, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper in an interview this month he expected his party to win at least 20 per cent of the vote in the parliamentary elections.

Lugovoy was not immediately reachable for comment as his mobile phone was switched off.

He has previously said Britain's accusations against him were part of a smear campaign by enemies of the Kremlin and British secret services to discredit Russia.

Britain has sought to bring Lugovoy to trial in London, but Russia has refused the demand, saying its constitution does not allow the extradition of its citizens.

Russian prosecutors said earlier this year that they could prosecute Luguvoy themselves if Britain provided enough evidence of his guilt.

Britain and Russia expelled four diplomats each this year in the dispute over tracking down Litvinenko's killers.

Relations between Moscow and London have been further strained by Britain's hosting of anti-Kremlin emigres wanted by Russia, including Boris Berezovsky.

REUTERS GL PM2250

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