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Diplomat: Moscow has grounds to blame London for intentional propaganda in Skripal case

Nobody has seen Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia for more than a month, the Russian diplomat claims

MOSCOW, April 12. /TASS/. Russia has every reason to accuse London of deliberate disinformation and propaganda over the poisoning of former Russian GRU military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

"Today we have grounds to come with accusations against official London of intentional misinformation, propaganda and manipulation of public opinion," she said.

Moscow has no official information about Skripals’ whereabouts and circumstances behind the incident, she added.

"We are doing our utmost to obtain the information via the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For that purpose, we are sending diplomatic notes and urging London in public to share information and to act in the way so that we can make sure that they [Skripals] are out of danger, so that the world can realize that those people are not being held hostage and are not playing in some horrible game and, finally, so that something could surface in the story which might be used as true information," Zakharova said. 

The denial of a British visa to Viktoria Skripal is politically motivated, the diplomat pointed out.

"We understand perfectly well that there are political motives behind a non-committal response about the reasons for the denial," she said.

On April 6, the British authorities rejected a visa application by Viktoria Skripal, the niece of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned in the British city of Salisbury along with his daughter Yulia.

Viktoria later requested British Prime Minister Theresa May to reconsider her visa issue.

Where are the Skripals? 

Nobody has caught a sight of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia for more than a month after they were allegedly poisoned in Salisbury, Maria Zakharova said.

According to the diplomat, the British media outlets are drawing a parallel between the Salisbury incident and the poisoning of former Russian FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who became a British citizen.

"There is one very important point drawing our attention as then we at least saw images of Litvinenko, at least what he looked like," Zakharova said. "As for Skripals, a month has passed but nobody has seen them [Skripals] yet."

"It is impossible to get in touch with them, neither by the media nor by the Russian side. Although Russia has been sending notes to the UK to be provided with this opportunity," the diplomat noted.

According to London, Sergei and Yulia Skripal suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4. 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.

On April 3, Chief Executive of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down Gary Aitkenhead told Sky News that British experts had been unable to identify the origin of the nerve agent used to attack Skripal and his daughter.

However, in the wake of the Salisbury incident, 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. The United Kingdom was later requested to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia so that it would match the number of Russian diplomats in Great Britain.