Kremlin dismisses British Litvinenko inquiry as a ‘joke’
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Kremlin dismisses British Litvinenko inquiry as a ‘joke’

UK inquiry’s findings that Russian leader likely involved in murder of critic attributed to ‘fine British humor’

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, speaks as Sergei Ivanov, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration looks at him in  the Kremlin, Moscow, January 21, 2016. (AFP/POOL)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, speaks as Sergei Ivanov, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration looks at him in the Kremlin, Moscow, January 21, 2016. (AFP/POOL)

MOSCOW, Russia — The Kremlin on Thursday dismissed the results of a British inquiry into the poisoning death of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko as a possible “joke” after a London judge pointed the finger at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Maybe this is a joke,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “More likely it can be attributed to fine British humor — the fact that an open public inquiry is based on the classified data of special services, unnamed special services.”

Earlier Britain summoned the Russian ambassador and imposed asset freezes on the two men identified as the perpetrators.

Litvinenko, a prominent Kremlin critic, died three weeks after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium at an upmarket London hotel in 2006.

Two Russians, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, were identified by British police as prime suspects but attempts to extradite the pair have failed.

Home Secretary Theresa May also told parliament the killing was “a blatant and unacceptable breach of the most fundamental tenets of international law.”

The office of Prime Minister David Cameron called the findings by British Judge Robert Owen, who said that Putin was “probably” involved in the poisoning of Litvinenko, “extremely disturbing.”

“It is not the way for any state, let alone a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to behave,” Cameron’s spokeswoman said.

“Regrettably, these findings confirm what we and previous governments already believed.”

Cameron’s spokeswoman said the prime minister would “weigh carefully” any response with the “broader need to work with Russia on certain issues.”

“He recognizes the importance of engaging and co-operating with Russia where this is in the national interest and limiting our engagement with Russians… where that is in our interest.”

Times of Israel contributed to this report.

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