DID YOUR COUNTRY KILL MY GIRLFRIEND?
» Dramatic moment novichok victim confronts Putin’s ambassador to UK » Russians deny blame, saying their nerve agent would’ve killed everyone
POISONED Charlie Rowley was yesterday told by Vladimir Putin’s man in London that Russia wasn’t behind the novichok attacks in Salisbury – because people SURVIVED.
Charlie said Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko told him Russian novichok “would have killed everyone”.
Their 90-minute meeting at the £15million Russian Embassy in Kensington came after Mr Yakovenko agreed to answer Charlie’s questions over the death of his partner Dawn Sturgess, 44.
She handled novichok disguised as scent and died seven days later. Charlie, 45, handled the nerve agent too but survived – after 10 days in a coma.
Charlie told the Sunday Mirror: “I went along to ask them ‘Why did your country kill my girlfriend?’
“But I didn’t really get any answers. I just got Russian propaganda. I liked the ambassador, but I thought some of what he said trying to justify Russia not being responsible was ridiculous.
“I’m glad I met him and feel I did find out some things I didn’t know before. But I still think Russia carried out the attack.
“The ambassador kept saying the substance definitely wasn’t the novichok they had made because if it was it would have killed everyone.
“I said, ‘Well, my girlfriend did die, it’s only because I washed it off that I’m still here’. He didn’t know what to say to that. He said Russia only have small amounts of novichok because they use it as an antidote and don’t produce it any more.
“He said the only countries that produce it now are the Czech Republic and America. I asked if he really thought Britain had carried out the attack.
“He said he doesn’t know because the British Government won’t tell him anything, but America is the only place he thinks the novichok could have come from.
“He said Porton Down (Britain’s military testing base) have it too.”
Dawn died on July 8, a week after Charlie gave her what he thought was a bottle of scent, found in a charity bin in Salisbury, Wilts.
It turned out to be novichok, first produced in the 1970s – by Russia.
Two suspects, Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga, both 39 and from Russian intelligence unit the GRU, are believed to have dumped the bottle.
They were caught on CCTV in Salisbury last March – when ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 67, and his daughter Yulia, 34, were poisoned. The Skripals survived and the UK has charged Mishkin and Chepiga in their absence.
Charlie added: “I asked why the suspects haven’t spoken to police and the ambassador said ‘the
British police never asked to interview them’. I think he’s very good at talking, but he was speaking a lot of Russian propaganda. He said, ‘If you’ve got a lab and the materials you could make it anywhere’.
“He kept on saying the British won’t talk to him so he can’t tell us anything that he hasn’t read in the media, so he can only give his view. He’s promised to email me after he speaks to President Putin and if he hears any new information.” Charlie also asked if he could meet directly with Putin, left. The ambassador said he would pass
the request on,
He was trying to say Russia was not responsible for the attack but I don’t believe him
CHARLIE ROWLEY AFTER MEETING RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR YESTERDAY
adding: “Where would you like to meet him?”
Charlie was left in a coma for 10 days, suffered strokes, contracted meningitis and now has a pacemaker.
He has loss of eyesight, fears he will be left totally blind and has had awful flashbacks which left him suicidal.
Charlie said Mr Yakovenko “seemed genuinely concerned” about him, but added: “He hasn’t changed my view that Russia are responsible.
“I told him how my health is deteriorating. He was trying to tell me Russia wasn’t responsible, but I don’t believe him.
“He said it was a bit strange Dawn was cremated and so was Sergei Skripal’s cat, as it stopped tests being carried out on the bodies. But I said to him, ‘It was a toxic poison’. He seemed to find that hard to take in.”
Charlie, 45, was accompanied at the embassy by his brother Matthew, 47 – after the Sunday Mirror helped arrange the meeting.
As they sat across a table in the opulent meeting room Mr Yakovenko handed Charlie a 51-page dossier titled Salisbury: Unanswered Questions.
The document accuses Britain of failing to provide information and cites supposed inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the UK Government’s version of events.
The dossier offers “sincere condolences over the tragic death of Dawn Sturgess, who has become an innocent victim of political games”. The Sunday Mirror told previously how Dawn’s son Ewan Hope, 20, had written to President Putin asking him to give up his mother’s suspected killers for questioning.
Charlie added: “I asked the ambassador more than a dozen questions in all, including why the suspects aren’t speaking to British police, if he acknowledges they’re GRU officers and how he can deny Russia are responsible when they produced the novichok – and if he really thinks Britain carried out the attacks.
“He answered every question, but at times he gave me some stupid answers really.
“I would like to place on record that I am appreciative to him for meeting me and I thought he was very pleasant. I just think he has to say what he has to say in his position in the Russian government.”
Mr Yakovenko spoke to the Mirror and Russian media after the meeting.
He said: “Thank you for arranging this. I was able to answer all of their questions to the best of my ability. The only one I had difficulty with was the results of the investigation because the British Government will not answer our questions.
“It was quite a friendly event and I enjoyed the conversation. It was an ordinary conversation between friends. There were no bad feelings. He just wanted to know the truth.
“We were on the same page, that the investigation report needs to be published. It is important for Russia, but also for Charlie Rowley.
“I’ve seen a normal person who has really suffered a lot and who has suffered a tragedy in his life. If he asked for it I would give him support.”
I’m grateful for the meeting but some of the answers he gave were ridiculous
VICTIM CHARLIE SPEAKING TO THE MIRROR AFTER SEEING AMBASSADOR
TODAY we salute the courage of Novichok victim Charlie Rowley. It took a lot for him to go to the Russian Embassy yesterday.
He was among people whose countrymen killed Charlie’s girlfriend Dawn Sturgess and damn near killed him.
And the man he went to meet, Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko, is a slick diplomat trained to lie for his country.
All Charlie wants is the truth. Answers to the questions which have been tormenting him ever since he and Dawn were poisoned nine months ago.
But most of all, Charlie wants the men who did this brought to book. He wants the Russians to allow British police to interview them. Charlie accepts that’s never likely to happen. But we applaud him for trying.
Mr Yakovenko denied Russian responsibility. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? He suggested America may have been behind the killing. Or the Czech Republic. Or Porton Down.
Pull the other one, Mr Ambassador.
Charlie would now like to speak to Mr Yakovenko’s line manager, Vladimir Putin himself.
Astonishingly, Mr Yakovenko said he would talk to the President personally to see if it could be arranged. Mr Yakovenko, we will take you at your word.
POISONED Dawn Sturgess FACE TO FACE Novichok victim Charlie Rowley meets Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko yesterday
AT EMBASSY Charlie with his brother Matthew
TARGETED Sergei Skripal & daughter Yulia
Mr Yakovenko meets Charlie and his brother Matthew, centre, yesterday THE VICTIM FACE TO FACE LOCKDOWN Forensic squad in Salisbury probe Contact with novichok killed Dawn
SUSPECTS GRU officers Mishkin and Chepiga