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Russia to come out with 'good initiative' at OPCW session on Skripal case — envoy

It fits perfectly well into the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention and is geared to resolve the problem by civilized means, the Russian diplomat says

MOSCOW, April 11. /TASS/. Russia will come out with a "good initiative" at an extraordinary session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the so-called Skripal case that is to be convened on April 4, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin said on Sunday.

"We plan to come out with one more initiative at the extraordinary session," he said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily. "I’d prefer not to disclose it now but, you can take it from me that it will be a good initiative, which will give rise to no unfavorable criticism. It fits perfectly well into the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention and is geared to resolve the problem by civilized means."

He noted however that the OPCW experts were unlikely to provide results of their probe. "It was reported that they will need two or three weeks after the samples are collected, packed and taken to laboratories for analysis. Obviously, countdown has begun. The samples are at corresponding laboratories. But we don’t think the results will be ready by the session," Shulgin noted.

In his words, it is outside the OPCW’s competences to identify those to blame. "We expect the experts to give an official, purely fact-based conclusion on the chemical composition of the samples collected by the technical secretariat specialists with due observance of the procedure of evidence collecting and ensuring their safety. The mission’s mandate does not envisage identifying those responsible," he stressed.

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been earlier sentenced in Russia for spying for the UK, and his daughter Yulia, 33, 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 of Novichok-class 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, Moscow expelled the equal number of UK diplomats. In addition, Britain’s consulate in St. Petersburg was ordered to be closed and the British Council’s operations in Russia were terminated.