The Daily Telegraph (here) reports on President Putin’s intemperate outburst concerning The UK’s request for the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi who is alleged to have murdered former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko:

Vladimir Putin today accused Britain of insulting the Russian people with “colonial thinking” by demanding the extradition of the main suspect in the killing of the former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko.

In an escalation of the war of words with Britain, the Russian president angrily dismissed attempts to force Moscow to hand over Andrei Lugovoi so he can stand trial in the UK.

In televised remarks during a meeting of pro-Kremlin youth organisations, Mr Putin said: “They are making proposals to change our constitution which are insulting for our nation and our people.

“It’s their brains, not our constitution, which need to be changed. What they are offering to us is a clear remnant of colonial thinking.”

I know not if the gentleman concerned is guilty or not: that is for others to decide. But Mr. Putin ought to consider for a moment what the effect of this part of his country’s constitution has: in effect it gives Russian citizens the opportunity to commit crimes, even the moist serious ones such as murder and rape, abroad and then to return home where they know they will be safe from extradition. In effect it licenses crime with impunity.

Mr. Putin wants us to treat his country as our equal. I am bound to say that that is rather difficult given the circumstances that his country will for no other reason than someone is a citizen of Russia provide lifelong protection to murders, rapists, child molesters, international gangsters and the perpetrators of other vile crimes.

In fact the protection is not complete. Under the various provisions setting up, for example, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), an alleged war criminal who holds Russian citizenship and who is wanted by the ICTY would have to be transferred to the jurisdiction of the ICTY come what may: transfer is the operative word and is a universal obligation.

It seems to me not unreasonable to invite Russia to contemplate changing a constitution which is, in effect, a criminal’s charter so that Russia can join the rest of the world in operating a reasonable, fair and sensible extradition system.