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The Council of Europe, not only British authorities, should be investigating the mysterious death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, according to some German politicians.
Police officials were examining evidence from places Litvinenko visited
Newspapers across Europe voiced suspicions Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime was involved, counter-terrorism police are investigating how a large quantity of alpha radiation from polonium 210 came to be in Litvinenko's urine.
The Foreign Office in London said late Friday it had contacted the authorities in Moscow over the case, which was being treated as a "very serious matter." A spokeswoman said the government had appealed to the Kremlin to help British police investigating the affair.
The 43-year-old former spy died at London's University College Hospital late Thursday, three weeks after he fell ill.
The head of the Social Democratic Party in the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, called on Russia to cooperate with the British investigation.
"President Putin is well-advised to assist fully in clearing up this incident," he told the German mass-market Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
Investigation in Russia's interest
A thorough investigation would be in the interests of all involved parties, said Günter Nooke, the German government's director for human rights.
As a member of the Council of Europe, Russia should be particularly interested in keeping "incorrect speculation from circulating," Nooke told the Berliner Zeitung.
"The murder of Moscow journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the mysterious death of Alexander Litvinenko in London do not cast a positive light on the freedom of the press and expression situation in Russia," he added.
British need time to reach conclusion
Opposition politician Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger of the neo-market liberal Free Democratic Party, also supported European involvement in investigating the deaths of Litvinenko and Politkovskaya.
Schockenhoff said the British should finish investigating before the Council of Europe is involved
"One can only hope, for the sake of the relationship between European states and Russia, that the evil suspicions of the government exerting its influence will not be confirmed in these cases," she told the Berliner Zeitung.
The coordinator for the German government's German-Russian relations, Andreas Schockenhoff, was more reserved when it came to involving pan-European organizations in the investigations, adding that British authorities should have an opportunity to look into the matter before the Council of Europe is involved.
"When a crime is committed in Great Britain against a British citizen, it is a task for the British authorities," he said. "We cannot place Russia under general suspicion."
Putin: Death will be used as provocation
A forensic tent was erected outside the Litvinenko's home
Speaking at a Russia-EU meeting in Helsinki Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, rejecting any accusations of official involvement in Litvinenko's death, offered his condolences to his family.
Putin said he believed the death could be used as a "provocation," adding that he hoped the British authorities don't do anything to whip up a "political scandal."
While Russian dissidents and opponents of Putin pointed the finger of blame at Moscow, some analysts in London said Litvinenko could have fallen victim to a "private feud" between wealthy Russian exiles in Britain.