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UK refuses to provide legal assistance to Russia in Skripal case

According to the Russian prosecutor general’s office, it proves that "British law enforcers are reluctant to hold constructive dialogue with Russia at the moment"

MOSCOW, October 4. /TASS/. The British Home Office has refused to provide legal assistance to Russia regarding the the poisoning case of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, Spokesman for the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office Alexander Kurennoi said on Thursday.

"We were informed yesterday that an official refusal to provide legal aid in the case had been received through the Foreign Ministry," he said.

According to Kurennoi, it proves that "British law enforcers are reluctant to hold constructive dialogue with Russia at the moment." "The wordings they used in their refusal show that our relations have moved from the sphere of law to the political sphere, the process is being politicized," he said, noting that Great Britain had previously ignored all Russia’s requests so that was the first refusal given by London.

"We would like to assess the legal aspect of this case together with our colleagues from investigative agencies but we get only big statements and no facts from Great Britain," Kurennoi noted. He also said that London’s approach was "rather strange" as Russia always responded to legal assistance requests. "Over the past years, there hasn’t been a time when we ignored such requests," he said, adding that some requests had been turned down but always for a reason.

Kurennoi did not rule out that new legal assistance requests would be sent to Great Britain.

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.

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.

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 to 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 be.