What Others Are Saying

May 25, 2007

The Russian leadership probably hoped that the world would lose interest in the murder in London of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, as it had for such high-profile murders in Russia as that of crusading journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

But this week the British charged another former KGB agent, Andrei Lugovoi, with that murder and said they would seek his extradition. To show that they were serious, they summoned the Russian ambassador to the Foreign Office.

Mr. Litvinenko received a lethal dose of radioactive polonium-210, a material that would suggest some level of state involvement, and in the three weeks it took him to die, he accused the Russian Federal Security Service, the successor agency to the KGB, of the attack.

The background of the case is as dark and labyrinthine as a Russian novel, but the most interesting question for the moment is how the Russian government reacts to the extradition request. To date, it has downplayed the murder and ridiculed Mr. Litvinenko, even suggesting he killed himself as a publicity stunt, and insisted that the Russian constitution bars extradition of its citizens.

But Russia is also party to European agreements that do allow for extradition. The judgment that the Litvinenko killing would blow over was mistaken. A documentary on the killing will be showcased this weekend at the Cannes film fest with Mr. Litvinenko's widow as a special guest.

- Rocky Mountain News (Denver)

House Democrats ran on a reform menu that included ending wasteful spending. But Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania recently demonstrated how elusive that promise may be. The powerful Democrat became furious when a Republican challenged a $23 million National Drug Intelligence Center for Mr. Murtha's home district, delivering a finger-wagging threat to forever block any projects of his opponent. "Bringing home the bacon" remains a popular dish.

- Newsday (New York)

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