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Litvinenko suspect Lugovoi could run for Sochi mayor - 2


(recasts, adds para 6)

MOSCOW, March 13 (RIA Novosti) - The main suspect in the Alexander Litvinenko murder case, Russian MP Andrei Lugovoi, may run for mayor in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, a senior lawmaker said on Friday.

"The Liberal Democrat Party considers Andrei Lugovoi to be the movement's leading candidate for the Sochi mayor elections," said Igor Lebedev, the leader of the ultra-nationalist LDPR faction in the Russian parliament.

Lebedev said the party still had two weeks to choose its candidate for the election, scheduled for April 26. Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics and the next mayor is likely to play a major role in the development of the city for the showpiece international event.

Former Russian security officer Litvinenko died of radioactive poisoning in London on November 23, 2006. British investigators accused agent-turned-businessman Lugovoi of the murder, and demanded his extradition, sparking a major diplomatic row.

Moscow has refused to hand over Lugovoi, who has repeatedly denied involvement in the murder, citing lack of evidence and the Russian constitution, which does not allow extradition of Russian citizens to other countries.

During an interview on Ekho Moskvy radio station, Lugovoi was asked if he would be willing to visit London in order to gain experience from his British counterparts in holding the Olympics, he said that he would "without a doubt." He also added that he was prepared to go to Beijing, the host of the 2008 Olympics, to get experience from them as well, if he were elected mayor.

The next Sochi mayor will oversee construction of infrastructure for the Winter Olympics in 2014 and most likely play a major role in the management of the sums involved. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who oversees the preparations for the event, recently said that the Olympics budget amounts to more than 200 billion rubles ($5.7 billion).

Lugovoi, 42, was elected to parliament from the LDPR in 2007. Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky named Lugovoi as number two on the party list two months before the parliamentary elections.

In November last year, the supreme council of the LDPR appointed Lugovoi as the party's supervisor in Russia's Far Eastern Primorye Territory, the Kamchatka Territory and the Irkutsk Region.

The LDPR is the third largest party in the State Duma after United Russia and the Communist Party.

Other candidates for Sochi mayor include former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, local businessman Pavel Yemelyanenko, retired military officer Sergei Bernasovsky, and the head of the St. Petersburg-based Airlen airline Nikolai Kuznetsov.

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