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Russia sends note to OPCW demanding access to results of probe into Skripal case

The results of expert analysis will be made public at the end of this week or at the beginning of the next week, according to Russia’s permanent representative to the OPCW

THE HAGUE, April 2. /TASS/. Russia has referred a note to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) demanding access to the results of the probe into the so-called Skripal case, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin told TASS on Monday.

He said citing the OPCW technical secretariat that it had agreed to share information about the investigation with the organization’s Executive Council only if the British side gave its consent for that.

"Our lawyers have checked the technical secretariat’s reference to the confidentiality provision. Our opinion is that this reference is void. We have sent a relevant note to the technical secretariat and are now waiting for an answer," he said.

Experts from the OPCW will only give a conclusion on the chemical composition of the agent that was used to poison former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom, Shulgin said.

"Technical experts will be able to produce only one result - that on the chemical composition of the agent used in Salisbury, with no indication of the country of origin and identification of the guilty party," he said.

Moscow will seek to gain access to data gathered in the investigation into the Salisbury poisoning, according to Shulgin.

"We demand access to footage from the CCTV cameras, transcript of telephone conversations, samples selected by British specialists and analyzed in laboratories of Porton Down (a secret chemical laboratory near Salisbury)," he said.

Earlier on Monday, Shulgin said Russia will insist that its experts take part in the investigation into the Skripal case.

"We will recognize only those conclusions of international and national experts that would be based on irrefutable evidence collected in compliance with all procedures of international law in effect and on an obligatory condition of Russia’s participation in any kind of investigation," he said in an interview with the 60 Minutes program on the Rossiya-1 television channel.

According to Shulgin, Russia will not recognize results of the probe into the Salisbury incident unless it involves Russian experts.

"Again, we are pointing to the necessity of a comprehensive investigation. We will not recognize any results of this probe unless Russian experts take part in it," he said.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is likely to make public results of expert analysis of the agent used in the Salisbury incident at the end of this week or at the beginning of the next week, according to Shulgin.

"The OPCW expert team has already returned to The Hague. They have brought samples taken in the United Kingdom. These samples have been broken into several parts and are now being analyzed at two certifies OPCW laboratories," he said. "The results will be made public at the end of this week or at the beginning of the next week."

Many in the West see the danger stemming from the Skripal case and call for cooperation within the OPCW, Shulgin said.

"Many here, including in the West, see the danger of this situation. The top diplomat of the Netherlands, the organization’s home country, called on Russia yesterday to demonstrate utter openness and cooperate with the OPCW. But this is what we have been saying: we are ready for an open dialogue, we are ready to cooperate both with the OPCW and within the OPCW," he said.

"This is why we are convening an extraordinary session of that organization on April 4. We are making yet another attempt to bring the situation out of the dead end the United Kingdom has brought it in," the Russian diplomat stressed.

The OPCW Executive Council will gather for an extraordinary session at Russia’s initiative on April 4. Ahead of the session, the Russian Foreign Ministry has drawn a list of questions to both the Western countries and the OPCW technical secretariat.

The ministry said earlier it had referred to the OPCW a list of 13 questions related to the Skripal case.

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.