25 August 2019

Russia urges UK to be 'transparent' in poisoning case

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The diplomatic row between the U.K. and Russia continued Thursday with Russian complaints that British authorities were not sharing any information into the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia four weeks ago. reports citing TASS.

Russian ambassador in London said at a news conference that “not only Russia but the whole world” wants to see the evidence linking the nerve agent used in the March 4 attack in Salisbury to the Russian state.

In the news conference held at the Russian Embassy, Alexander Yakovenko said the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) would “probably” release their assessment results “in a week” and urged the British authorities to make the results available to “everybody”.

“Be transparent; be honest,” Yakovenko urged the U.K.

Yakovenko added the U.K. has refused so far sharing the sample of the substance said to be used in the attack, or any information on the health situation of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious in the southern English city of Salisbury.

“Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia,” specifically from the Novichok group, British Prime Minister Theresa May said following the attack.

Meanwhile, a Metropolitan Police statement said Yulia Skripal spoke for the first time since the chemical attack and quoted her as saying that she is “glad to say my strength is growing daily.”

Thanking all who have helped when she and her father were incapacitated in Salisbury, Yulia Skripal also said “the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence.”

The incident has drawn comparisons to the 2006 death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko after drinking radioactive tea. Former KGB bodyguards identified as suspects in the murder denied any involvement.

Skripal was granted refuge in the U.K. following a 2010 spy exchange between the U.S. and Russia. Before the exchange, he was serving 13 years in prison for leaking information to British intelligence.

Russia missed a deadline by London to explain how a certain type of military-grade nerve agent was used in the attack.

A world-wide expulsion of Russian diplomats followed the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the U.K.

NATO and the EU have supported the U.K. and condemned the attack.

British Foreign Office said Yulia has refused to take up any help offer from Russia.

“We have conveyed to Ms Skripal the Russian embassy’s offer of consular assistance. Ms Skripal is now able to choose if and when to take up this offer, but to date she has not done so,” an office spokesperson said.

- Deleted tweet

On the other hand, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson faced questions about the source of the Novichok nerve agent – the chemical weapon the U.K. says used in Salisbury – after an FCO tweet saying the source was identified as Russia was deleted on Wednesday.

The tweet by the FCO said “Analysis by world-leading experts at the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down made clear that this was a military-grade Novichok nerve agent produced in Russia.”

However, Gary Aitkenhead, the chief executive of the government’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) said they were not able to identify the precise source of the nerve agent.

“We were able to identify it as novichok, to identify it was a military-grade nerve agent,” he told the Sky News.

“We have not verified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific information to the government, who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions that they have come to,” he added.

Aitkenhead said the location of manufacture could be established through a number of different input sources which the government has access to and “scientific evidence is only one of those sources.”

Johnson had claimed in an interview with a German channel last week that the British experts from the Porton Down facilities were “categorical” about the source of the nerve agent used in Salisbury and they had no doubt the chemical substance was produced in Russia.

2018.04.05 / 22:58
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