GENEVA, March 28. /TASS/. Russian and British lawmakers had a chance to talk in Geneva, at the 138th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), to consider repercussions of the Skripal saga for the two countries’ relations, but the British side had refused to hold a meeting, Russian State Duma Deputy Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy told TASS on Wednesday.
"We had spoken with the head of UK’s delegation suggesting a meeting with British parliamentarians and separately discuss all the issues that they bring up," said Tolstoy, who is participating in the IPU session.
"Unfortunately, the head of UK’s delegation could not find it possible to enter into direct dialogue with us, although the meeting had been planned and the need for a discussion among lawmakers had been negotiated. He said that as the UK parliament was holding hearings into the case, and he could not meet with the Russian delegation."
The British delegation is headed by Nigel Evans to the 138th Assembly of the IPU, which has brought together lawmakers from over 140 countries.
The deputy speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament pointed out that during the IPU’s 138th Assembly "many counterparts from various countries would come up to [the Russian delegation] expressing their concerns about London’s aggressive and blatant disinformation campaign unleashed in recent weeks."
"As before, we are open to dialogue, but we are not going to put up with these obnoxious shenanigans that we can now see in the light of these presentations circulated by Britain throughout the countries of the European Union," he emphasized.
"In the coming days (when it is considered timely), Russia will definitely furnish an appropriate response to our diplomats’ expulsions. I am sure nobody will find it funny!" he said.
Skripal poisoning case
On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who was earlier sentenced in Russia for spying for the UK, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, UK. Police said they had been exposed to a nerve agent.
Later, London claimed that the toxin had been allegedly developed in Russia. With that, the UK rushed to accuse Russia of being involved, while failing to produce any evidence. Moscow refuted the accusations that it had participated in the incident and points out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia have ever done research into that toxic chemical.
Without providing any proof, London expelled 23 Russian diplomats and suspended all planned high-level bilateral contacts. In response, 23 British diplomats were expelled from Russia. In addition, Britain’s consulate in St. Petersburg was ordered to be closed and the British Council’s operations in Russia were terminated.
On March 26, the United States declared 60 Russian diplomats personae non gratae. Among them are 46 diplomats from the embassy in Washington, two from the consulate general in New York and 12 more from Russia’s mission to the United Nations.
Germany, Canada, Poland and France followed suit by expelling four Russian diplomats each. Lithuania, Moldova and the Czech Republic expelled three diplomats, while Australia, Albania, Denmark, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands - two. Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Macedonia, Norway, Romania, Finland, Croatia, Sweden and Estonia each ordered the expulsion of one Russian envoy. While, Ukraine made the decision to expel 13 Russian diplomats.
NATO slashed the Russian mission from 30 to 20 staff. Bulgaria and Luxembourg recalled their envoys for consultations.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry promised that those countries’ hostile steps would not be left unanswered.