Rus­sia brushes off poi­son­ing ac­cu­sa­tions by Bri­tain


LON­DON — Rus­sia on Tues­day dis­missed ac­cu­sa­tions of any in­volve­ment in the poi­son­ing of an ex-spy and his daugh­ter as “non­sense,” say­ing it will only co-op­er­ate with a

Bri­tish in­ves­ti­ga­tion if it re­ceives sam­ples of the nerve agent be­lieved to have been used.

Po­lice said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of who poi­soned Sergei Skri­pal and his daugh­ter, Yu­lia, will last many weeks and that they are not ready to iden­tify any per­sons of in­ter­est in the in­quiry. The fa­ther and daugh­ter re­main 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 is re­view­ing a range of eco­nomic and diplo­matic mea­sures in re­tal­i­a­tion for the as­sault with what she iden­ti­fied as the mil­i­tary-grade nerve agent Novi­chok.

Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov told re­porters in Mos­cow that his coun­try’s re­quests to see sam­ples of the nerve agent have been turned down. He in­sisted that Rus­sia is “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.”

The cases of other Rus­sians who have died un­der mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances also are be­ing raised. Bri­tish Home Sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd said po­lice and the do­mes­tic se­cu­rity ser­vice will look into 14 deaths in Bri­tain that might be linked to Rus­sia.

“In the weeks to come, I will want to sat­isfy my­self that the al­le­ga­tions are noth­ing more than that,” Rudd said. “The po­lice and MI5 agree and will as­sist in that en­deav­our.”

Buz­zFeed News re­ported in 2017 that 14 deaths in Bri­tain and the U.S. dat­ing to 2006 may have been linked to Rus­sia. Among them are prom­i­nent Putin crit­ics, in­clud­ing oli­garch Boris Bere­zovsky and whistle­blower Alexan­der Perepilichny.

Skri­pal, a for­mer Rus­sian mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer, was con­victed of spy­ing for Bri­tain and then re­leased in a spy swap. He had been liv­ing in Sal­is­bury for eight years.

Po­lice are ap­peal­ing to the pub­lic to come for­ward if they saw Skri­pal and his daugh­ter driv­ing in his red BMW in the early af­ter­noon of March 4.

New coun­tert­er­ror­ism chief Neil Basu said Sal­is­bury res­i­dents would see much po­lice ac­tiv­ity in the com­ing days and they should not be alarmed.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors work in the Malt­ings shop­ping cen­tre area in Sal­is­bury, Eng­land, yes­ter­day.

SKRI­PAL In hos­pi­tal

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