States That Abstained From Voting for Giving Russia Access to Skripal Case Docs Were 'Pressured'
The Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, stated that the countries which abstained from voting in favor of providing Russia access to Skripal case documents "had been pressured." The envoy stressed that those that abstained were "all Latin America, all Asia and all Africa, with 2 exceptions," which means that the international community on the whole is not ready to associate itself with the UK.
He added that states that voted against Russia in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are mostly the countries of the EU and NATO.
Voting against this decision, the OPCW "voted against transparency," he noted.
Moscow has called on the UK to jointly conduct a probe into the Salisbury incident, which includes full access to the case's materials, the ambassador said.
"The British do not believe that this investigation would be opened," the ambassador said, referring to a quiz on the Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in London, according to which 68 percent have voted in favor of the move.
"We want transparency and international presence in this investigation," he said, adding that Russia wants, for example, not just its national experts to take part in the probe, but also specialists from China, India, etc.
"A month has passed since the time when two Russian citizens had been poisoned," he noted, adding that London refuses to cooperate with Moscow on the case.
A criminal case has been opened in Russia into the poisoning, he said, emphasizing that the Skripals are Russian citizens.
When asked about the next possible step of the Russian government regarding the case, the ambassador said that he doesn't know, however, "we'll eventually get the answers."
'Novichok Has Nothing to Do With Russia'
Сommenting on UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's statement concerning the origin of the so-called "Novichok" nerve gas, which he claims was made in Russia, the diplomat stated that Moscow has called for giving it samples of the substance. Answering the relevant question, Yakovenko stressed that "we [Russia] didn't produce any Novichok," adding that it has "nothing to do with Russia."
According to the envoy, quite advanced countries have the capability of producing such weapons, emphasizing that Moscow isn't pointing fingers at any country, but is just saying that other nations have such a potential.
Since 1992, Russia had been eliminating chemical weapons and completed its destruction in 2017, he emphasized, adding that there are no such substances produced in Russia.
He also added that Russia still hasn't received any information on the kind of antidote that was given to the Skripals.
The ambassador said that the UK authorities claim that Moscow had allegedly failed to respond to their questions regarding whether Russia had deliberately made the poison or lost control of the substance are false, as Moscow sent an official note.
The Russian Federation has repeatedly said that it was "not involved in any way," Yakovenko emphasized.
"We're surprised why this cooperation isn't happening, it reminds me of the Litvinenko case," Yakovenko said.
"What we hear is just the leaks from the press, every day a new version, every day a new story," the envoy pointed out.
The ambassador stated that Russia would accept the results of the OPCW tests on the nerve agent used for poisoning in the city of Salisbury, but wants to know who experts conducting the probe are.
"Don't take something for granted," he said, telling a journalist why he isn't asking Prime Minister Theresa May to release the evidence.
"I urge the British side, as soon as the OPCW gets the results, [to] just let us have these results, be transparent, be honest," Yakovenko told reporters.
On Skripal's Niece UK Visit
"Secrecy is all about this story," he said, noting that Russia is waiting for the visit of Skripal's niece Victoria to the UK, who is waiting for a British visa. The ambassador has expressed hope that London will issue a visa for her and will help organize Victoria's visit to the hospital where the Skripals are being treated.
When asked whether the recording of the phone call, which Victoria claimed she had had with Yulia Skripal, is genuine, the official said that he has no official information about this, however, this gives Russia an opportunity to ask the British side related questions.
The ambassador said that he is happy that Yulia Skripal's health is improving and hopes that Sergei Skripal will soon recover too.
On Upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia
Russia is cooperating with FIFA on the participation of the qualified countries in the upcoming World Cup and hopes that all the teams will come to the tournament, the Russian Ambassador said.
“Of course we are waiting for everybody. We are cooperating with FIFA, and I hope that all the teams will come… But if somebody is not going to come, this is their personal decision,” Yakovenko said at a media conference, adding that the tournament will be a “celebration of sport.”
The ambassador also stressed that a lot of countries did not support the UK government's decision to boycott the World Cup in Russia over the Skripal case.
Russia will host the FIFA World Cup for the first time this summer, with the games set to take place in 11 cities. In the wake of the alleged poisoning attack against Skripal, London said that high-ranking UK officials or members of the royal family would not attend the World Cup in Russia. Iceland also announced that its top officials would not attend the tournament.
The British side has blamed Moscow for the incident, with the UK authorities claiming that the toxin used for the poisoning was produced in the Soviet Union. However, on April 3, scientists at the Porton Down chemical weapons laboratory concluded that the toxin used in the Skripal poisoning was a military-grade nerve agent, but they could not precisely determine its source. Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning and consistently offered assistance to conduct a joint investigation, but has been rejected.