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Russian ambassador says UK not ready to cooperate on Skripal case

Ex-Colonel Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a nerve agent on March 4 and found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury

LONDON, March 20. /TASS/. Moscow sees no signals from London that it is prepared to cooperate on the Skripal case, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Alexander Yakovenko said on Tuesday.

"Nothing has changed. We see no drive towards cooperation," he said. "London is indulging in throwing accusations against us." 

Commenting of Tuesday’s article by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson slamming Russia’s presidential polls of March 18, the Russian diplomat noted, "it is at least surprising of a minister to write such articles." "It looks like it is a new style in British diplomacy and such new reality is to be taken into account," he added.

Russian citizens, media and diplomats in Britain are receiving threats, he went on. "There have been threats not only against correspondents but diplomats and ordinary Russians as well," he said.

"We will be putting questions to the British side. We will point out that such a tone in the British media and such hysteria are absolutely impermissible," he added. "It is important for us to create the safest conditions to ensure nobody threatens our people and they enjoy safety."

"I believe we are confronted with hostile attitudes. What makes us particularly worried is hysteria in the British press is getting so strong that there develop tensions around Russian citizens who come, live and work here," Yakovenko said.

Yakovenko has received quite a few complaints from Russian citizens.

"Everybody feels worried about children’s safety. People have no idea where the situation in this country will move. Many find negative attitudes in everyday life worrisome," he explained.

Diplomats expulsion

The expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the UK will double visa processing time to British citizens, he added.

"Naturally, this is going to affect visa issuance to British applicants. I believe visa processing time will actually double," he said, adding that regular visa processing time may reach 20 days and urgent entry visa processing time - seven days.

He also noted that the embassy would focus on working with Russian citizens, stressing that this the embassy’s primary goal.

Yakovenko stressed that, despite Consular Department staff reduction, the diplomatic mission would continue its work with citizens. "Life goes on, and we will continue working with less staff members, the more so since the workload has increased," he said.

The ambassador pointed to London’s "rather unconstructive stance" on the case of former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergei Skripal and is daughter Yulia and the death of Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov whose body was found in his house in London on March 12.

Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a nerve agent on March 4 and found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, UK. Both of them have been hospitalized and are in critical condition.

British authorities blamed Russia for the poisoning, but failed to provide any evidence to support their accusations. Russia refuted all of London’s allegations. With that, UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats and the suspension of high-level bilateral contacts. On Saturday, in response to London’s moves, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that Russia had declared 23 British diplomats personae-non-gratae and would expel them within a week, close the British consulate general in St. Petersburg, and terminate the British Council’s activity in Russia.