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U.K. Lawmaker Hancock Dismisses ‘Ludicrous’ Russian Spy Claim

U.K. lawmaker Mike Hancock said reports in the Sunday Times newspaper that his Russian researcher in the House of Commons is being deported for spying are “ludicrous.”

Hancock, who is a member of the governing coalition’s Liberal Democrat party and sits on the defense select committee, said the immigration status of Katia Zatuliveter had been investigated for “several months” and he was surprised at the speed of the decision to deport her.

“It’s ludicrous; no one has ever showed me any evidence,” Hancock said in a telephone interview. “I am surprised at the swiftness of the decision to remove her. It seems a bit strange.”

Hancock, who represents Portsmouth, where there is a Royal Navy base, told the Press Association newswire that Zatuliveter, 25, is appealing the decision to deport her. “She is not a Russian spy,” he told PA. “She is appealing because she feels, quite rightly, that she has done nothing wrong.”

Zatuliveter was questioned by immigration officials after returning to the U.K. from a holiday in Croatia in the summer, the Daily Mail reported on Aug. 30.

The Home Office declined to comment on the allegations. “We do not routinely comment on individual cases,” Rhiannon Spellman, a spokeswoman for the department, said in an e-mailed statement.

Hancock has rebelled against the coalition government, voting against legislation changing the governance of schools and increasing VAT, a sales tax. He also wrote a letter to party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Sept. 19 warning him to maintain party democracy and not lead the Liberal Democrats as a “dictatorship.”

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