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Kremlin slams London’s reaction to interview with Skripal case suspects as ‘absurd’

September 14, 2018, 13:32 UTC+3 MOSCOW

A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May on September 13 described an interview of Skripal case suspects with Russia’s RT channel as an ‘insult to the public's intelligence’

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© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, September 14. /TASS/. London’s reaction to a recent interview of Russia’s RT channel with two men suspected of poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is absurd, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday described an interview of Skripal case suspects, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with Russia’s RT channel as an ‘insult to the public's intelligence.’

"What is the ground for accusing Russia of lying?" Peskov stated. "Russia’s stance has not changed, it is absolutely clear-cut, transparent and consecutive."

"We believe it is utterly inadmissible to draw parallels between the authorities of Russia and the incident in Salisbury," he said adding that "accusing Russia of lies after an interview with two Russian nationals is absurd as well since they are ordinary citizens and have nothing to do with the government."

The spokesman for UK Prime Minister May said earlier in particular that "The lies and blatant fabrications in this interview given to a Russian state-sponsored TV station are an insult to the public's intelligence."

In an interview with Russia’s RT TV channel released on September 13, Petrov and Boshirov said they had visited Great Britain for tourist purposes. According to them, they are businessmen not linked with the GRU and have nothing to do with the Skripal case. The two men stressed they wanted the media and everyone else to leave them alone.

Legal assistance

Moscow is ready to consider London’s request for legal assistance in investigating the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal but the UK has been rejecting cooperation, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

When asked if British investigators could visit Russia to question Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, whom London suspects of being involved in the Salisbury incident, Peskov said that there was a legal assistance mechanism based on bilateral agreements and international law. "I cannot answer your question because we don’t know if there will be any requests. What we do know is that Great Britain has been rejecting the idea. Only this week, we heard an official statement from London, which said that they did not plan to employ the legal assistance mechanism and send any requests to Russia. It is London’s official stance and we regret to say that it is impossible to make any assumptions, unfortunately," he said.

"In case we receive an official request from London, it will definitely be considered in strict accordance with the law, there is no doubt about that," the Kremlin spokesman noted. According to him, Russia "has been emphasizing its willingness and readiness to cooperate in investigating the circumstances of the Salisbury incident and identifying those responsible but Great Britain strongly rejected cooperation at the very beginning."

"We have seen no change in our British counterparts’ position since then," the Russian presidential spokesman concluded.

Skripal saga

On September 5, British Prime Minister Theresa May informed the British parliament about the outcome of the investigation into the Salisbury incident, stating that two Russians, whom British intelligence services consider to be Main Intelligence Directorate agents, are suspected of the attempted murder of the Skripals.

Scotland Yard published a number of photos of the two men, who, according to investigators, had been travelling around the country with Russian passports under the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

On March 4, former Russian intelligence officer and convicted British spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were allegedly poisoned with a nerve agent, according to British investigators. Later on, London stated that this agent had been developed in Russia and blamed Moscow for being behind the incident based on this assumption.

Moscow refuted all accusations, saying that neither the Soviet Union, nor Russia had any programs for developing this agent. Experts from the British chemical laboratory in Porton Down failed to identify the origin of the agent that poisoned the Skripals.

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