Russia's Medvedev plays down row with Britain
MOSCOW, July 27 (Reuters) A row between Britain and Russia over the extradition of a murder suspect is unlikely to affect important economic and social ties, Russia's first deputy prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said today.
''I think this mini-crisis will pass,'' Medvedev told a news conference. ''Despite unfortunate differences, this should not have an effect on economic and social cooperation between our countries.'' ''It would be stupid to sacrifice these relations because of a small misunderstanding.'' Despite booming business and investment, Russia's diplomatic relations with Britain hit a post-Cold War low this month after Moscow's refusal to extradite ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoy.
Lugovoy is accused by Britain of poisoning emigre former security agent turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London last year.
Following the extradition row, Britain expelled four Russian diplomats and Moscow responded with a tit-for-tat move.
Earlier today, Itar-Tass news agency said the four Russian diplomats had now left London.
''The four Russian diplomats that the British government has decided to expel are no longer in the United Kingdom,'' the agency quoted a representative of the Russian Embassy in London as saying.
Russia's foreign ministry declined to confirm or deny the report. Itar-Tass did not identify the diplomats.
Russia says its constitution does not allow it to extradite its citizens to other countries, and London's suggestions Moscow could amend its laws drew official ire in Russia.
Medvedev said that in order to repair ties with Britain mutual respect and honouring of domestic laws were necessary.
''Our constitution, even if it is maybe not as old (as the unwritten British constitution) and maybe has some faults, is the final and sovereign law in our country.
''It is not very nice to hear that there is something wrong with our basic law and that we should change it and then we can live like a civilised country.'' Reuters JT VP0030