Russia dismisses role in poisoning
Moscow says it will cooperate only if given samples of nerve agent
LONDON — Russia on Tuesday dismissed accusations of any involvement in the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter as “nonsense” and said it would cooperate with a British investigation only if it receives samples of the nerve agent believed to have been used.
Police, meanwhile, said that the investigation of who poisoned Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, will last many weeks and that they were not ready to identify any persons of interest in the inquiry. The father and daughter remained in critical condition in a Salisbury hospital.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said Russia’s involvement is “highly likely,” and she gave the country a deadline of midnight Tuesday to explain its actions in the case. She was reviewing a range of economic and diplomatic measures in retaliation for the assault with what she identified as the military-grade nerve agent Novichok.
Her Downing Street office said that she discussed the Salisbury incident with U.S. President Donald Trump and that the U.S. was “with the U.K. all the way” in agreeing that Russia “must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used.”
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that his country’s requests to see samples of the nerve agent had been turned down. He insisted that Russia was “not to blame” for the poisoning.
“We have already made a statement to say this is nonsense,” he said. “We have nothing to do with this.”
In another development Tuesday, British counterterrorism police took charge of the investigation into the death in London of a Russian businessman with ties to a prominent Kremlin foe.
Police said there was no evidence to suggest the death of Nikolai Glushkov was linked to the March 4 poisoning of Skripal and his daughter.
Glushkov’s lawyer, Andrei Borovkov, said in Moscow that Glushkov had died but that he was unaware of the time and circumstances. British and Russian media reports said that Glushkov was found dead at his home.
Glushkov was an associate of Boris Berezovsky, a Russian oligarch and Kremlin critic who died in London in 2013.
Glushkov told The Guardian newspaper in 2013 that he didn’t believe Berezovsky’s death was suicide. “I’m definite Boris was killed,” he said.
In light of the attack on Skripal, the British government said police will look again at the deaths of more than a dozen Russians, including Berezovsky.
Investigators in forensics suits and protective masks worked at the scene Tuesday of the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.