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UK denying consular access to Skripals — Russian embassy

Russia's Ambassador in the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, organized for foreign ambassadors in London on Tuesday evening

LONDON, April 4. /TASS/. The British side is denying consular access to former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were exposed to a poisonous agent in Salisbury, and is refusing to provide information about the circumstance of Nikolai Glushkov’s death, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in London told TASS on Tuesday after a briefing Russian Ambassador in the UK Alexander Yakovenko organized for foreign ambassadors in London.

"The ambassadors were informed about the situation over the United Kingdom’s non-fulfilment of its international liabilities under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the bilateral Consular Convention. The British side is refusing to provide consular access and gives no information about the poisoning of the Skripals and the death of Glushkov, who are Russian citizens. It was stressed at the briefing that such behavior is unacceptable," the spokesman said.

The Russian ambassador "also informed about Russia’s intention to insist that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) conduct a transparent investigation and reiterated the Russian side’s preparedness for cooperation and consultations with the British side," he noted. "The ambassador answered questions from foreign diplomats."

Skripal case

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who had been 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 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. Later on, the Russian foreign ministry demanded the overall number of the British diplomatic personnel at the embassy in Moscow and consulates general across Russia be equalized with the number of Russia diplomats and technical staff working in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Sky News reported on Tuesday, citing Chief Executive of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down Gary Aitkenhead as saying that experts from the British Porton Down chemical weapons research center had been unable to identify the origin of the nerve agent used to poison former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.