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Lavrov: Russia to accept results of probe into Skripal case if given chance to participate

Moscow will not take anyone’s words concerning the Skripal case for granted and will continue to demand evidence, the Russian top diplomat said

MOSCOW, April 5. /TASS/. Moscow will accept the results of an investigation into the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter provided that it takes an equal part in it, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Thursday.

"We will accept the results of any investigation in which we take an equal part and which is transparent, not a secret one," the Russian top diplomat said.

Lavrov pointed out that London had been trying to keep the investigation into the Skripal case secret.

"Since March 12, we have sent more than ten official notes requesting access to the investigation," Lavrov noted, adding that the "requests have been flatly rejected."

Questions without answers

The Russian top diplomat pointed out that Moscow expected London, Paris and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to eventually answer its questions.

"The questions that we passed to Great Britain, France and the OPCW are extremely professional and specific," he said. "We expect them to eventually come up with answers," Lavrov added.

Nothing taken for granted

Moscow will not take anyone’s words concerning the Skripal case for granted and will continue to demand evidence, Lavrov went on to say.

"We cannot accept the current investigation’s results in advance as we are not participating in it and it is being kept secret," Lavrov said. "London has stated that the results of the tests that the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] is conducting will not be provided to Russia, which means that they will not be provided to anyone but the British," he added.

"We have long ceased to take what others say for granted, it particularly concerns our western counterparts," the Russian top diplomat stressed.

"Unfortunately, our western counterparts blocked the adoption of this decision [concerning the establishment of a Russian-British working group to look into the Salisbury incident - TASS], which could have ensured a fair investigation," Lavrov noted. According to him, most countries did not support the West, either voting in favor of the Russian-Chinese-Iranian draft statement or abstaining from voting. "Saying that most countries rejected Russia’s proposals means once again giving in to wishful thinking and misleading those who are interested in finding out who is to blame for the Salisbury incident," Lavrov added.

Skripal saga

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury. 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 a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia.

However, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow without presenting any evidence of its involvement in the incident. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, Russia expelled 23 British diplomats, closed the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg, while the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia.

On March 26, in the wake of the Skripal incident, a number of EU member countries, the United States, Canada and Australia announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Washington expelled 60 diplomatic workers and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.

The Russian Foreign Ministry later announced retaliatory measures against counties that had expelled Russian diplomats. In particular, Moscow expelled 60 US diplomats and closed the US consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg. The United Kingdom was requested to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia so that it would match the number of Russian diplomats in Great Britain.