Moscow is prepared to cooperate with a British investigation into the death of ex-spy Sergey Skripal, the Russian foreign minister said. He dismissed rumors of the country’s involvement as “hysteria” and “propaganda.”
Sergey Lavrov said that Russia is blamed for everything that goes wrong on the planet, and noted that no facts had been presented to suggest any Russian involvement in the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter.
“We haven’t heard a single fact, we only watch TV coverage, where your colleagues speak fervently with serious faces that if it is Russia. The response will be that Russia will remember forever. It’s not serious, it’s propaganda at its finest and pressing hysteria,” said the foreign minister, who was speaking at a press conference alongside his Ethiopian counterpart, Workneh Gebeyehu.
However, Lavrov stated that if British authorities were interested in cooperating with Russia in relation to any case, “be it poisoning of British subjects, be it rumors of interfering in US campaign, if help is really needed, we are ready to look at such possibility.
“However, to conduct such matters, one shouldn’t run to TV screens with baseless accusations, but turn professionally to existing channels, including law enforcement,” he added.
Lavrov added that the frenzy of finger-pointing at Russia sought “parallels” with the case of Alexander Litvinenko. However, the Russian FM pointed out that Litvinenko’s death, also blamed on Russia, hasn’t been fully investigated.
“I want to remind people that Litvinenko’s death was also attributed to Russia, but hasn’t been investigated, because court proceedings, which were called ‘public,’ were in fact closed. They were carried out in a very strange way, and numerous facts, which emerged throughout investigation, haven’t come into the public domain,” the minister said.
“We offered our assistance and cooperation, however British justice decided that they are above this, and it was enough just to come out with a verdict which is not inclusive,” Lavrov added, saying that many facts linked to the tragedy have been “swept under the carpet.”
Those interested in the matter should turn to countries they wish to find answers from, not to “propaganda channels,” Lavrov added.
Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were exposed to a nerve agent, according to UK authorities. The pair were found slumped on a bench outside a shopping center in Wiltshire on March 4. British police say that more than 20 people in total were injured in the alleged attack, which has been described by authorities as “attempted murder.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd stressed that the investigation must “respond to evidence not rumor.” But British media wasted no time in blaming Russia for the incident.
Skripal worked as a double agent for the UK intelligence agency MI6 and was jailed in Russia in 2006 for spying for Britain, having passed on the names of undercover Russian intelligence agents. In 2010, he was one of four spies released by Russia in a “spy swap” for 10 Russian agents.