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Diplomat: London openly violates international norms refusing to provide access to Skripal

March 29, 16:09 UTC+3

According to Maria Zakharova, Russia has repeatedly proposed the British authorities through official channels to cooperate in investigating the case

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© AP Photo/Sang Tan

MOSCOW, March 29. /TASS/. London openly violates international norms refusing to provide Russian diplomats consular access to former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia who were poisoned in Salisbury, the UK, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

According to Zakharova, Russia has repeatedly proposed the British authorities through official channels to cooperate in investigating the case and asked them to provide information about their health condition. "The notes to this effect were sent through the Russian Embassy in London on March 6, 13, 14 and 22," Zakharova noted. "Unfortunately, in response to Russia’s legitimate demands and constructive proposals for cooperation, Britain keeps mum or sends incompetent answers."

"We are witnessing obvious obstacles to Russian representatives’ access to the affected Russian citizens," she said. "The UK thus openly, without any hesitation, violates international legal norms, in particular, the 1968 bilateral Consular Convention. This document’s Article 36 contains a provision that a consular official has the right, within his consular district, to meet with any citizen of the country he represents, offer him advice, provide all kind of assistance, including the need to take measures to provide legal assistance to him."

Zakharova noted that, according to the convention, the host state in no way restricts communication between the citizen of the represented state and the Consulates and his access to the Consulate. "No one has cancelled this document," she stressed.

"We will shortly make public the list of questions posed to the British side on the information resources of the Russian Embassy to the UK," the diplomat said. "These questions have been handed over through official channels and have repeatedly been voiced by Russian Ambassador to the UK [Alexander Yakovenko]."

Salisbury incident

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and was later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, UK. Police said they had allegedly been exposed to a nerve agent. Both are in the hospital in critical condition.

London immediately accused Russia of being involved, but failed to produce any evidence. UK Prime Minister Theresa May rushed to blame Russia for "unlawful use of force" against her country. She identified the alleged substance used in the attack as the so-called Novichok nerve agent, allegedly developed in the former Soviet Union. Subsequently, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow. Russia has flatly rejected these allegations pointing out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia had any programs to develop that substance.

Some European countries, including France, Germany and Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine, Moldova, along with the US, Canada and Australia, decided to expel more than 100 Russian diplomats over the Skripal episode. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned that this unfriendly move would not go unanswered.

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