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Cameron urged to challenge Russia

David Cameron has come under pressure from four former foreign secretaries to challenge the Russian regime on his visit to Moscow.

They have called on him to confront President Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin over failures to protect businessmen who are becoming "victims of an increasingly potent mix of corruption and lawlessness".

In a letter to the Sunday Times Labour's David Miliband, Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett, and Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind, also called on the Prime Minister to raise the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko.

The letter says hundreds of thousands of Russian businessmen are detained in jails, victims of corruption sanctioned by the authorities.

It adds: "The dangers of this corruption do not stop at Russia's borders and Alexander Litvinenko's murder shows the consequences of such lawlessness hitting British shores.

"In this regard the prime minister has both a domestic and international duty to tackle this issue head on during his visit."

The Prime Minister is flying to Moscow today in an attempt to build up relations with the leaders, which have been non-existent since the killing in 2006.

Moscow has refused a long-standing British request to extradite the prime suspect in the case, Andrei Lugovoy, a former KGB officer who is now a member of the Russian Parliament.

Mr Litvinenko died in hospital at the age of 43 after suddenly falling ill and was found to have been poisoned with radioactive polonium-210.

The British Government's refusal to cooperate and share intelligence since the scandal has harmed counter-terrorism efforts, according to Alexander Yakovenko, Moscow's ambassador in London.

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