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Russia calls on UNHRC to induce London to stop isolating Yulia Skripal

British authorities have been keeping Russian nationals Sergei and Yulia Skripal in total isolation for over six months

GENEVA, September 13. /TASS/. The Russian delegation participating in the 39th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva has called on the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to influence Washington and London who abduct foreign nationals and prevent family members and diplomats from visiting detained Russians. As far as Great Britain is concerned, Russian delegation member Olga Cherkizova mentioned Yulia Skripal.

"We would like to point to the outrageous conduct by US and UK authorities, who are used to abduct people in third states without notifying their home countries and prevent family members and diplomats from visiting detained Russians, including Yulia Skripal," she said. Cherkizova was hopeful that the Working Group "will take advantage of its authority to induce those countries to listen to the criticism and stop blatantly violating human rights."

According to the United Nations, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention "was established by resolution 1991/42 of the former Commission on Human Rights." The Group investigates "cases of deprivation of liberty imposed arbitrarily or otherwise inconsistently with the relevant international standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or in the relevant international legal instruments accepted by the States concerned," seeks "information from Governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and receive information from the individuals concerned, their families or their representatives," conducts "field missions upon the invitation of Government, in order to understand better the situations prevailing in countries, as well as the underlying reasons for instances of arbitrary deprivation of liberty," presents "an annual report to the Human Rights Council presenting its activities, findings, conclusions and recommendations." The group, led by a chair-rapporteur, consists of five experts.

Months of isolation

British authorities have been keeping Russian nationals Sergei and Yulia Skripal in total isolation for over six months, depriving them of the opportunity to freely communicate with their family, reporters and Russian diplomats. After being discharged from Salisbury District Hospital, the two have remained isolated in a secret place, the Russian diplomat noted.

London is reluctant to allow the Russian embassy to contact the Skripals in order to inquire after their health, find out about their current living conditions and figure out whether they were forced to remain where they are.

According to the embassy, Great Britain has been violating Russia’s legitimate right to communicate with its citizens, enshrined in the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the 1965 Consular Convention.

Skripal saga

According to London, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, 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 neither the Soviet Union nor Russia ever had any program aimed at developing such a substance.

Chief Executive of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down Gary Aitkenhead said later that British experts had been unable to identify the origin of the nerve agent used in the attack on the Skripals.

On September 5, British Prime Minister Theresa May informed the country’s parliament about the conclusions that investigators looking into the Salisbury incident had come to, saying that two Russians, believed to be GRU agents, were suspected of conspiracy to murder the Skripals. According to May, the assassination attempt was approved at "a senior level of the Russian state." The Metropolitan Police published the suspects’ photos, saying their names were Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.