PRESS RELEASE ON SALISBURY INCIDENT

AKP Phnom Penh, May 16, 2018 –
On 4th of May Embassy of the Russian Federation to the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland issued the statement regarding the Salisbury Incident:
Two months since Salisbury poisoning: two Conservative myths completely destroyed.
Today marks two months since the two Russian nationals, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, were hospitalized in Salisbury over what was announced to be a nerve agent poisoning. Although Russia was quickly accused of that crime, with serious international repercussions, no evidence of Russian involvement has been presented to the public.
What we can say after two months is that the British case against Russia has been built on two myths, both of which have been totally dismantled.
Myth No.l was that the chemical agent that the British call “Novichok” had originated in Russia. Yet both the Porton Down laboratory and then the OPCW have declared that they are unable to identify the origin of the substance used. As recently as yesterday, Czech President Milos Zeman confirmed that in his country, a small quantity of Novichok had been produced and later destroyed. This is a most powerful proof of the fact that any modern chemical lab in a developed country is capable of producing this kind of nerve agents. The mere identification of the substance gives no basis whatsoever to the serious accusations voiced against Russia at the highest level.
Myth No.2 was that Britain had positive evidence pointing at Russia’s involvement. Yet after numerous inconsistent media leaks, National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedwill declared on 1 May that no suspects have been identified by the investigation. So after eight weeks of allegedly the largest criminal investigation in British history, with exclusive access to victims, witnesses, CCTV footage, air passengers lists and intelligence data, the investigation still has come up with no names and no weapon of crime. This is what happens when, due to high-level political pressure, police has to look only in one direction (or not look at all) and feed the public with misleading leaks.
Instead of tying the hands of the police and the media, British authorities should urgently ensure transparency and impartiality of the investigation and live up to its obligations under international law with regard to consular access to the two Russian citizens.
The reputation of the Government is at stake.
On 4th of May Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova issued the statements regarding the Salisbury Incident at briefing:
Latest on the Skripal case
As we said earlier, there is a piece of sensational news regarding the Skripal case. We took notice of information that appeared on social media about British Government’s use of the so-called D-notice – an official ban on covering certain facts in the media due to the high sensitivity of the information – in order to obstruct journalists’ investigation into the Sergey and Julia Skripal poisoning incident in Salisbury on March 4. In particular, the British Government has reportedly banned any mention in the media in connection with the Skripal case of Pablo Miller, a MI6 agent who is believed to be Skripal’s handler, and is also preventing the release of information about Miller’s connections with Orbis Business Intelligence, one of whose officers was the author of the so-called Trump dossier – ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele. How perfectly everything fits together.
I think that honest and independent international journalists could take part in the efforts to establish the true picture of this crime, which official London is now so painstakingly trying to hide.
We continue to pay close attention to developments related to the Skripals. We are involved in a real way, not just formally, in the fate of the Russian citizens, and are practically attacking Britain to get access to or factual information about the Skripals’ whereabouts and their current condition.
We noted that the campaign launched by Britain in the media about this incident and used by London to make groundless accusations against Russia, has subsided noticeably. Apparently, when it came to the need for official London to provide clear answers to specific questions, all interest immediately vanished. We also see that the British media, which traditionally “dig deep” in such cases in order to find every bit of information, are not even trying to interview the Skripals. For some reason, there has been no leaked photo or video of these Russian citizens. There is no information about their actual condition, whereabouts, plans for the future, etc. This kind of behaviour leads us to reflect on the harsh state censorship in the UK and the obvious attempts by London to prevent leaks this time, despite the fact that the entire previous stage was built around leaks. This time they are blocking everything. The leaks that are now being blocked, could confirm the involvement of the British authorities in this anti-Russian provocation, and that is precisely why they get blocked.
The UK population is kept in the dark regarding the key points of this case. The issue is about the use, according to Theresa May, of chemical weapons in the UK. I would like to know more. The information about the secret laboratory located near Salisbury in Porton Down is hushed up. The victims themselves, as we understand, were taken by the British special services to a safe place. To reiterate, we have no information about what is going on with the Skripals.
Today, a sensational statement was made by head of the OPCW Secretariat Ahmet Uzumcu to the effect that the amount of the agent used to allegedly poison the Skripals amounted to anywhere between 50 and 100 grams. According to experts, 50 to 100 grams of the chemical agent mentioned by the UK and inside the OPCW is enough to poison the residents of all neighbouring communities, not just two individuals. Meanwhile, the residents not only survived but function normally, at least, that’s what is claimed in a statement made on behalf of Yulia Skripal. Is this even possible? The questions are growing as to whether the statements officially released by the British Government contain at least a few of words of truth, or are just one big pack of lies.
The UK Government hasn’t provided any intelligible official answers to our reasonable and clear inquiries and refuses to maintain a dialogue with us in order to clarify the circumstances and the causes of the incident, and to identify the perpetrators. Our legitimate demands concerning consular access to these Russian citizens are being ignored. As we have been told, they fell victim to a chemical attack, but this remains to be verified. However, the fact that they have become the victims of a provocation does not need any proof. This situation is absolutely unacceptable.
As you may be aware, the Russian Embassy in London has been sending corresponding official inquiries to the Foreign Office on an almost daily basis. About 40 notes have already been sent, which contain about 60 questions. Two-thirds of them have not been answered at all, and the rest have been given formal answers, in which the British continue to distort the facts and use tough confrontational rhetoric, which only testifies to London’s desire to intentionally further damage our bilateral relations.
No political statements, even at the highest level, all the more so, the rhetoric we hear in the public space, basically everything that official London is now using cannot replace professional discourse under the related international legal mechanisms.
In this regard, we pay special attention to the fact that, in response to our official inquiry regarding Paragraph 2 of Article 9 of the CWC, Britain pointedly ignored a group of key questions. Specifically:
- Has the United Kingdom ever developed samples of a combat poisoning agent such as Novichok or the like?
Why is this such a difficult question? Everyone around the world who is following the Skripal case is interested in knowing this, isn’t it? If you do not want to provide the answer to Russia, provide it to others. The answer to this question is long overdue. Has Novichok ever been developed in the UK or not?
- What signs (markers) led to the conclusion that the agent used in Salisbury was of “Russian origin”?
- Does Britain have any control samples of the agent that the British refer to as Novichok?
These are simple questions that do not need lab tests or publication of classified information to be answered.
These questions remain unanswered. One thing is clear: London is not at all interested in finding the truth in this incident, but only seeks to inspire unsubstantiated public accusations against Russia and hide all the factual information on this issue.
I would like to believe that the UK, despite all the fundamental differences and problems that we have, will remain a civilised and responsible state capable of mustering enough strength to engage in a dialogue and cooperation on this issue, and not finally fall into an escalation and complete curtailment of bilateral relations.
We urge the UK to abandon its reckless policy with regard to Russia and move on to substantive and responsible interaction within the framework of international legal formats and mechanisms and on a bilateral basis. In particular, we expect London to maintain honest cooperation under the criminal proceedings initiated by Russia’s Investigative Committee on March 16 in connection with the Salisbury incident into the attempted murder and the corresponding requests of Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office for legal assistance sent to the British side.

Accusations by British Prime Minister Theresa May.
I would like to remind you that the accusations the Prime Minister of Great Britain Theresa May took the liberty of making against Russia were based on three supposed pieces of evidence.
First. Theresa May’s government claimed that that they had identified the country that produced the agent allegedly used to poison the Skripals. This charge was dismissed by British experts by no less than the head of the Porton Down laboratory.
Second. London claimed (Prime Minister Theresa May and her Cabinet members said it a number of times) that only Russia could have a motive for poisoning the Skripals due to the history of our country’s “bad behavior” and because Russia sees some defectors as “justified targets for murder.”
This accusation was refuted by Russia with facts in hand by presenting real evidence of the UK’s regular violations of international law, ethics and morals in the name of achieving “national interests” as well as by listing some apparent motives for that provocation that London might harbor. One such motive is obvious – to discredit the Russian Federation on so-called chemical issues in Syria. Immediately after the Skripal provocation moved into its active phase, a fake video was released by White Helmets, who are also funded by the British authorities, including indirectly. And following that, missile strikes were launched on Syria with the UK’s participation. For that reason, one can endlessly speak about motives and the need to spin this case, and about official London’s involvement. This is just one example of a huge number of them.
Third. Prime Minister May’s government claimed that Novichok was allegedly produced only in Russia.
Results of an investigation in the Czech Republic regarding the possible production of Novichok chemical warfare agent in that country.
As you may be aware, in his interview yesterday with the television channel Barrandov, Czech President Milos Zeman cited a report by Czech military intelligence and admitted that the military research institute in Brno produced and tested a small amount of the Novichok-class chemical agent.
As you may recall, following the absolutely groundless and unfounded accusations by Britain of Russia’s involvement in the Skripal incident, we immediately insisted on the need to conduct a thorough verification by recognised international and Russian experts in order to investigate this crime. Back then, we noted that chemical warfare agents of this type (to reiterate, this is the Western classification) could be produced in many countries, including NATO members with specialised military chemical laboratories. When we mentioned the Czech Republic as a country with such capabilities (I’d like to point out that nobody was accusing anyone – we do not engage in things that London engages in), we were immediately attacked with accusations of spreading supposedly “fake news.” I will by all means prepare a selection of articles in the Western, namely, European press, which referred to our statements as “fake news.” We were also accused of wanting to completely confuse everyone. As you may recall, almost all Czech leaders, the political establishment, without even conducting a more or less thoughtful analysis of the issue, categorically denied this possibility and designated the statement of the Russian side as the main reason for the decision to expel three Russian diplomats from the country.
A couple of weeks later, President of the Czech Republic Zeman announced that a military research institute in Brno used to manufacture Novichok. These statements must be followed by some other statements, in particular, by the Czech Republic.
To reiterate, only a few politicians had the courage not to yield to the general hysteria that has been deliberately whipped up and to call for a thorough investigation.
The outcome? As soon as an independent and unbiased analysis of the arguments provided by Russia is carried out, there immediately appears the truth, which is very uncomfortable for those who initiated this anti-Russian campaign. British experts admitted that they do not have evidence of the Russian origin of Novichok. Now, the Czech Republic confirms the validity of the concerns expressed by Russia. Once again, I will remind you of the epithets directed at us for the information that we openly shared. It is no coincidence that from the very outset London did its best to keep Russian experts from participating in the investigation and to deny them access to the samples of the agent which was used to commit the crime. As we understand, the only reason for that was the fear that this entire clever ploy would collapse and the truth would be discovered. And they were right to fear it. As they say in the Czech Republic, “pravda vitezi,” which means “the truth wins out.”
As you can see, the Czech Republic acted honestly and courageously by officially acknowledging and releasing this information. I want to remind everyone, including the citizens of this country, that it was London that involved the Czech Republic in this confrontation with Russia, and it was the pressure of the British authorities, which led to the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Now, it turns out that there were no grounds for this campaign. All charges, the so-called three basic pieces of evidence, did not hold up even three weeks.
Now, we are expecting an answer from other countries, which we mentioned and which had and still have the capability to produce Novichok.
There’s one more question that I would like to ask: what about NATO? It wasn’t aware that Novichok was synthesised in the Czech Republic literally a year ago? Do you believe that? Moreover, we mentioned that there are NATO laboratory specialists in the Czech Republic who deal with such matters. Does anyone believe that the North Atlantic Alliance was not aware of Novichok being synthesised in the Czech Republic? Of course, NATO was more than just aware of it. Now here is a good question: Who participated in supervising these programmes on behalf of NATO, how were they supervised and at what level? This is my first question. The second question is what other NATO member countries (I would like to get an official NATO statement) were engaged in similar research?
We noted the fact that a group of 60 European MPs sent an open letter to the governments of the EU member states urging them to follow the lead of the governments of Great Britain and Iceland and to refuse to attend official matches of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. I could have let it go unnoticed, but this letter once again stated that the “Salisbury attack” is one of the most recent “mockeries” of European values by our country’s leadership. I would like to advise the European MPs to read the news, or to play football. It helps.
On the 8th of May Press officer of the Embassy of the Russian Federation to the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland answered media question on the new announcements on the Skripals’ case:
Q: Can you comment on today’s government statements on Salisbury sites being “released” by the police?
A: According to a Downing Street spokesman, more than 400 police officers including 250 counter-terrorism specialists have been involved in the inquiry, more than 5000 hours of CCTV and more than 1350 pieces of evidence have been collected, and around 500 witnesses have been identified.
These impressive figures should not mislead. What they actually mean is that despite huge efforts the police have been unable to support the official political version of the incident with facts and proof. The immense work of the police turns out to be meaningless when they are expected not to establish the truth, but to follow the artificial script written by the Conservative government days after the attack. The serious accusations put forward by the UK government still have no basis as there is no evidence of Russia’s involvement in the case, while the myth of the exclusively Russian origin of the chemical poison used has been totally dismantled. No suspects have been identified either.
Meanwhile, Russia is still denied access to the investigation and to the Russian citizens in violation of international law, including the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. After more than two months since the alleged poisoning we have not received any verifiable information about Sergei and Yulia Skripals’ whereabouts, health and wishes.
Once again we have to urge the British side to comply with its international obligations.
On 10th of May Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Alexander Yakovenko met with the Director General, Consular and Security at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Philip Barton:
The Ambassador stated that the whole range of circumstances around the Salisbury incident involving Sergei and Yulia Skripal compel Russia to qualify the situation as a forced detention or even abduction of Russian nationals. Statements circulated by the police on behalf of Yulia Skripal are impossible to verify. There is no proof of the Russian nationals being alive and well, and not being held against their will.
The Ambassador demanded that the United Kingdom comply with its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the bilateral Consular Convention. Communication between a citizen and a consular officer is not only a right of the citizen, but also a right of the consular officer, i.e. the sending state. This is clearly stipulated by Article 36 of the bilateral Consular Convention. This right of the Russian Federation is being gravely violated by the United Kingdom.
It is surprising that the FCO now explain the non-cooperation with Russia by “independence of the police” that runs the investigation. This is something new. Let us remind that the obligations under international law are borne by the United Kingdom as a state and are subject to compliance by all state bodies, including the police. Meanwhile, the argument about the independence of the police and political authorities from each other partly explains how the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have been able to come so quickly to the “conclusion” about Russia’s “responsibility” for the incident. It is now clear that these accusations have nothing to do with facts established by the police.
In any case, the British side has denied us access to the investigation, ignored our requests with regard to legal assistance, and left unanswered our offer for a joint investigation. Their consistent refusal to cooperate with Russia in investigating the attempted murder of the Russian nationals damages our bilateral relations, creates a negative perception of the situation by the Russian and British public and undermines the international reputation of the UK authorities, whose case against Russia is rapidly falling apart.
On 11th of May Press Officer of the Embassy of the Russian Federation to the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland replied to a question concerning the situation with consular access to Sergei and Yulia Skripal:
Q. Russia has on numerous occasions accused the UK of violating consular conventions as regards access to the Russian nationals Sergei and Yulia Skripal. How does this correlate with the need to obtain their consent for such communication while, according to the British authorities, the Skripals do not want to speak to the Russian representatives?
A. The British side has informed us that Yulia Skripal is allegedly unwilling to communicate with the Embassy. It has refused consular access to Sergei Skripal citing his British citizenship. The British authorities claim that Russian nationals must absolutely provide their consent to communicate with consular officers.
We cannot accept such position. In Russia-UK bilateral relations, any communication between citizens and consular officers is regulated by the Consular Convention between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of 1965. According to its Article 36, “a consular officer shall be entitled within the consular district to communicate with, interview and advise a national of the sending State and may render him every assistance”. As one may see, Article 36 does not contain any reference to the requirement of a person’s consent for a consular visit.
In other terms, such communication is not just a right of a person, but also a right of a consular officer and, thus, a right of the sending State. This right of Russia is being grossly violated by the UK.
Such wording of the Convention is not accidental. A State violating the rights of a foreign national could have easily referred to his/her reluctance to seek protection by a consular officer. The authors of this agreement rightly determined that such reference cannot justify the refusal for communication between a citizen and a consul. The situation with Sergei and Yulia Skripal is a fine example of relevance of such logic of the Convention.
Article 36 also states that “in any case where a national of the sending state has been arrested or is held under any other form of detention… the consular officer shall have the right to visit and to communicate with him without delay”. In accordance with the official comments of the UN International Law Commission, this provision “applies also to other forms of detention (quarantine, detention in a mental institution)”. As the British authorities conceal Yulia Skripal from the public and make official statements on her behalf, such situation is obviously covered by this article.
As for the reference of the British authorities to Sergei Skripal’s British citizenship, it is also unacceptable for us, and that for the following reason. In accordance with Article 30 of the bilateral Consular Convention, “the term “national” shall mean any person whom the sending State recognises as its national”. Sergei Skripal was not stripped of his Russian citizenship (this is prohibited by the Russian Constitution) and did not withdraw from it voluntarily. He remains a Russian national and enjoys full right to communicate with Russian consular officers, and Russia enjoys full right to communicate with him as well. As we understand, the UK follows the same approach in its discussions on consular cases with dual citizens, for example in Iran.
Of course, we do not intend to impose our assistance to our citizens. They are free people. But, considering all circumstances, it is important for us to get assured of their well-being. We are not satisfied with the statements of the British officials that Yulia Skripal does not want to communicate with us. How can we be sure that she has genuinely expressed such will?
We intend to continue to demand an opportunity to communicate with the Skripals in person. If they don’t require our assistance, they can inform us directly. But if the British authorities continue to refuse to facilitate such a meeting, it will mean that the Skripals either have been forcibly isolated, or their condition is different from the one described in official statements.
On 10 May 2018 these positions were conveyed by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Dr Alexander Yakovenko, during his meeting with Director General, Consular and Security at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr Philip Barton.
On 14th of May Press Officer of the Embassy of the Russian Federation to the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland replied to a media question regarding the statement by MI5 Director General:
Question: What is your response to today’s Berlin speech by MI5 Director General Andrew Parker who called Russia a “pariah” over its “aggressive and pernicious” activities?
Answer: The British government is rallying new participants into its anti-Russian campaign. The respective statements by the political leadership have been followed by National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedwill, a number of high-ranking military officers, and now by Mr Parker.
This attests to the fact that UK’s international partners are not satisfied with British accusations against Russia, unsupported by any evidence. And since no evidence can possibly exist, civil servants’ and secret services’ high public standing are being used instead to convince allies. This shows to what lengths London is prepared to go in order to keep the Western bloc in the UK-led confrontation with Russia. Ultimately, this only aggravates the self-inflicted damage to the reputation of Britain and its state apparatus.
As regards the substance of Mr Parker’s remarks, they contain nothing new. What has impressed us is the level of cynicism and hypocrisy. To take one example, Mr Parker, seeking to support his allegation of Russia spreading “bare-faced lies”, is himself repeating the bare-faced lie regarding the so-called “thirty Russian explanations” of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury. Let us reiterate: having no access to any meaningful information on the circumstances of the incident, Russian authorities have not, and could not, come forward with any official versions. It is incumbent on the UK to produce a credible explanation, supported by facts, of what happened with the two Russian nationals on British soil.
On the same date Press Officer of the Embassy of the Russian Federation to the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland replied to a question concerning violations of rights of Sergei and Yulia Skripal by the British authorities:
Q. Does Russia plan to use international legal mechanisms to hold the UK responsible for violations of rights of Sergei and Yulia Skripal?
A. Currently it’s too early to speak of specific steps that Russia could take. It is clear though that the UK continues to blatantly violate the rights of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, who might be forcibly detained on its territory, in addition to violations of Russia’s right to communicate with them in accordance with Article 36 of the bilateral Consular convention.
In particular, the actions of the British authorities raise serious questions as regards to observance of the following rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1950:
- Right to liberty. “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the… cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law” (Article 5 of the ECHR).
- Right to respect for private and family life. “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence” (Article 8 of the ECHR).
- Freedom of movement. “Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence” (Article 2 of the Protocol № 4 to the ECHR).
Moreover, the unusually passive behaviour of the media when covering the poisoning of the Skripals leads to suspicions of violations of the rights of journalists and their audience contrary to Article 10 of the ECHR (“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom… to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authorities…”).
It is widely known that since more than two months Sergei and Yulia Skripal have disappeared from public scene, have been placed in an unknown location, deprived of opportunities to communicate with their relatives, friends, journalists and official Russian representatives, and have been unable to travel freely.
We urge the British authorities once again to follow the human rights obligations under international law and national legislation and thus to live up to the calls that they incessantly address to other countries.

Source: Embassy of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Cambodia

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