19:37 GMT26 January 2021
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    The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied reports on Saturday that former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal sent a letter to President Vladimir Putin in 2012 asking for permission to return to Russia.

    "No. That's not true," Peskov said after Skripal's classmate Vladimir Timoshkov told the BBC broadcaster earlier that the former spy had sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking for permission to come back to Russia.

    "[During a phone conversation in 2012 he told me] he wrote to Vladimir Putin asking to be fully pardoned and to be allowed to visit Russia," Vladimir Timoshkov, the classmate of Skripal, told the BBC broadcaster.

    Skripal was convicted in Russia in 2006 for passing sensitive information to UK’s MI6. He was allowed to move to the United Kingdom in 2010 as part of a spy swap and has lived there for eight years.

    On March 4, he and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury and are currently being treated for exposure to what UK experts believe to be the A234 nerve agent.

    The UK side claimed that this substance was related to the Novichok-class nerve agents developed in the Soviet Union. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Russia of orchestrating the attack and expelled 23 Russian diplomats as a punitive measure.

    READ MORE: Macron: London Shared "Proof" of Russian Involvement in Skripal Poisoning

    The Russian side has strongly rejected the accusations and offered assistance in the investigation. However, Moscow's request for samples of the chemical substance used to poison Skripal was denied. Moscow also expelled UK diplomats and ordered the British Council to stop its activities in Russia in response to the UK move.

    On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry organized a briefing for foreign ambassadors accredited in Russia to inform them of Russia's official position on the Skripal case. During the briefing, the senior officials of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry and Industry and Trade Ministry dismissed unfounded allegations against Russia and stressed that all chemical weapons stockpiles in Russia had been completely destroyed in September 2017, which had been then confirmed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).


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