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Moscow objects to UK denying Russia consular access to Yulia Skripal

The Kremlin noted that Czech President Milos Zeman had said that small amounts of the Novichok toxin had been stored in his country, thereby proving that the UK's stance does not hold water

MOSCOW, May 4. /TASS/. Moscow does not accept London’s denial of consular access to Russian citizen Yulia Skripal and will continue to work on that, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

"We still do not accept Great Britain’s denial of consular access to Russian citizen Skripal," he said. "We still don’t have any information about her whereabouts, while the necessary steps are being made through diplomatic channels in accordance with the Vienna Convention, and we still can see that Great Britain is violating the Vienna Convention. We will continue to work hard to that end," the Kremlin spokesman added.

Czech president's statement

Czech President Milos Zeman’s statement to the effect small amounts of the nerve gas Novichok had been produced and stored in the Czech Republic is a clear illustration Britain’s stance does not hold water, Peskov said. 

"This is yet another clear illustration of the groundless stance the British authorities have taken," Peskov said about Zeman’s remark. "Also, it is fresh confirmation of the absolute provocativeness and adventurism of the Skripal case in general. It is one more step towards the moment when ever more countries will start to feel they have been involved in an adventurist affair."

Peskov confirmed that the Kremlin was familiar with the Czech president’s statement. He stressed the fact that Zeman "did not say that the substance produced there was the one that allegedly poisoned the Skripals."

"I would like to recall that with a high degree of certainty we voiced the assumption the substance might have been produced in different countries around the world, in particular, in the countries that claim to have an antidote. These countries surely produced that substance or had some amount of it at their disposal," Peskov said.

Speaking on Prague’s television channel Barrandov on May 3 Zeman said that a small amount of the nerve agent Novichok had been produced and stored in the Czech republic. He called for not being hypocritical and telling no lies about that.

Skripal saga

According to London, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia.

However, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow without presenting any evidence of its involvement in the incident. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, Russia expelled 23 British diplomats, closed the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg, while the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia.

In the wake of the Skripal incident, a number of EU member countries, the United States, Canada and Australia announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Washington expelled 60 diplomatic workers and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.

The Russian Foreign Ministry later announced retaliatory measures against counties that had expelled Russian diplomats. In particular, Moscow expelled 60 US diplomats and closed the US consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg. The United Kingdom was requested to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia so that it would match the number of Russian diplomats in Great Britain.