Monday, 14 October, 2019

Czech foreign minister rejects Russia's nerve toxin origin claim

Russell Knight | 18 March, 2018, 21:43

Britain has said that Russia used the Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok (Russian for "newcomer") to attack Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the first known offensive use of such a weapon on European soil since World War II.

But Russian presidential contender Ksenia Sobchak, a former television star who is the only candidate to openly criticise Putin, said blame did not lie entirely with Britain.

"That is exactly the tactics we've come to expect from Russian Federation over the last few years", he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show. Theresa May has said Porton Down has found the nerve agent used was part of a group developed by Russian Federation.

When asked about how the chemical may have wound up in Salisbury, Chizhov said: "When you have a nerve agent or whatever, you check it against certain samples that you retain in your laboratories". She said that in post-Soviet times it is countries such as the UK, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and possibly the USA, that studied the substance with keen interest and could have been the origin for the toxin used in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. He told Marr: "I don't have evidence of anything being used". He added that "if you appeal to this organization, you must comply with the provisions of the convention that stipulate filing a request to us, because we are suspected of being a country of origin and even the country which had used this poisoning agent, and, providing us with samples of this agent, so we, together with OPCW experts, can analyze it".

Czech foreign minister Martin Stropnicky said the claims were "unsubstantiated" and "a classic way of manipulating information in the public space", while Sweden also "forcefully" rejected the suggestion.

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Chemist Vil Mirzayanov, who revealed the existence of Novichok in the 1990s and later defected to the United States, said he was convinced Russian Federation created the substance used in the attack.

Russia expelled 23 British diplomats on Saturday in a retaliatory move against London, which has accused the Kremlin of orchestrating the nerve toxin attack and has ordered the expulsion of the same number of Russian diplomats.

He told the BBC: "Russia is the country that invented it, has the experience, turned it into a weapon".

Theresa May said the United Kingdom government would consider its next steps "in the coming days, alongside our allies and partners".

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