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Diplomat slams UK's claims about Russia's involvement in Skripal case as lies

Czech President Milos Zeman said earlier that small amounts of the Novichok nerve agent were produced and stored in the Czech Republic
Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova Aleksandr Shcherbak/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova
© Aleksandr Shcherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, May 4. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that ‘lies’ of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government become clearer and outlined three cases of false allegations.

"The fog is thinning and multiple lies of Theresa May’s government are becoming clear," Zakharova wrote in her Facebook account. "The first lie is that British experts established the country, which produced a chemical warfare agent to poison the family of Skripals, but then the British experts in the person of the head of the Porton Down laboratory officially dismissed this allegation."

On April 3, Chief Executive of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down Gary Aitkenhead told Sky News that British experts had been unable to identify the origin of the nerve agent used to attack Skripal and his daughter.

The second false allegation of May’s government, according to Zakharova, is that Russia allegedly had a motive for poisoning Skripals.

"The third lie of Theresa May’s government is that Novichok chemical warfare nerve agent was allegedly produced in Russia only and this allegation was rejected by the president of the Czech Republic by saying that his country had been involved in the development of this chemical warfare agent," she said.

Czech President Milos Zeman told Prague-based Barrandov television on Thursday that small amounts of the Novichok nerve agent were produced and stored in the Czech Republic.

The Czech president stated that "We did produce and store Novichok, though in insignificant amounts. We know where and when. Let us not be hypocritical. We should not lie about this."

Zeman recently ordered the Czech Security Information Service (counterintelligence) to see if the type of the nerve agent used in the Salisbury poisoning could have been made in the Czech Republic.

"Last year, in November, A-230 chemical was tested at the Defense Ministry’s research institute in the city of Brno. Its amount was insignificant. After the testing, it was (fully) destroyed," Zeman said.

Skripal poisoning

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and was later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, the UK. Police said they had allegedly been exposed to a nerve agent.

London immediately accused Russia of being involved, but failed to produce any evidence. British 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.

In response, Moscow expelled the equal number of UK diplomats. In addition, Britain’s consulate in St. Petersburg was ordered to be closed and the British Council’s operations in Russia were terminated. Later on, the Russian foreign ministry demanded the overall number of the British diplomatic personnel at the embassy in Moscow and consulates general across Russia be equalized with the number of Russian diplomats and technical staff working in the United Kingdom.

In late March, a number of countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and a number of other European countries, expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats in all in a show of solidarity with London’s stance. Last week, the Russian foreign ministry announced tit-for-tat measures against these countries.