Statement by Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on the case of Sergey Skripal, Vienna, March 15, 2018
We have listened to a flurry of irresponsible accusations and speculation in what has become the trademark British “highly likely” style. The UK acts in an openly provocative manner. On March 6 already, head of the Foreign Office, Boris Johnson, spoke in the parliament as if the investigation was over, and Russia was to blame for what happened in Salisbury. The haste is stunning.
As you may recall, the information about the incident appeared in the media on March 4. There wasn’t even the slightest attempt to contact us in order to figure out what happened, despite the fact that Russia immediately expressed its willingness to do so. We have not received any information through the official channels regarding the circumstances of the case despite repeated requests and the fact that Yulia Skripal is a Russian citizen. Our Embassy in the UK sent several diplomatic notes to the Foreign Office, in which it indicated that Russia was not involved in this incident, and asked to provide samples of the agent used in the attack and to start a joint investigation. These requests were declined. What we got in exchange were ultimatums in the spirit of neo-colonialism. And not a single piece of evidence of the alleged “Russian trace” was provided. The presumption of innocence was forgotten by London altogether.
Notably, when discussing this matter in the British Parliament, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested making the results of the investigation available at least to MPs, but this was rejected as well.
We expected the United Kingdom to file an official request and to avail itself of the procedures of the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. As is known, Article 9, paragraph 2 of this Convention provides for seeking clarification and providing a response to the requesting State as soon as possible, but in any case no later than 10 days after filing such a request. Failing to receive such a request, we pro-actively did this in the Hague on March 13 at the 87th session of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). However, there’s still been no properly formulated request in accordance with the Convention, which we were willing to answer from the very beginning. The British also failed to use the tools available under the Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.
A few words about the toxic agents that are allegedly part of this story. After chemical weapons had been destroyed in Russia (this was confirmed by the OPCW in 2017), their development continued in the UK, as well as in the United States, the Czech Republic and Sweden. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, laboratories for the production of toxic agents of the above category remained in a number of other states, including the Baltic countries. By the way, there is a government laboratory for weapons of mass destruction in Porton Down, not far from Salisbury. If London is so confident that this is Novichok gas, it means they have its formula and samples, and maybe are even making it. Vil Mirzayanov, gas inventor, has been living in the United States for a long time now, where he was taken together with the technical documentation about this agent. Meanwhile, no research work under the name of Novichok has ever been conducted in Russia.
The main question − who needs this scandal and why − is taken off the table altogether. In jurisprudence, there is a principle − you look for the person who benefits (cui prodest). Who benefits from this incident in the run-up to the presidential election and the World Cup in Russia? Most importantly, why would Russia dispatch of Skripal who posed no threat to our country? However, I can name several states which would benefit greatly at this particular point from this incident and from accusing Russia of it.
As always, the context is important. What is happening now in the political life of Great Britain? First, just like the Conservative Party, the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Theresa May is split on the subject of Brexit. There’s no doubt that spinning the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter is nothing more than an attempt to divert public attention from the problems arising from Brexit.
Another scandal, from which the authorities are trying to divert the attention of UK residents with the poisoning of the Skripals, is much more frustrating. The issue is about a network of pedophiles in the town of Telford, which was active for as long as 40 years. Over 1,000 children were abused while police and local authorities looked the other way. We will provide more information about this flagrant violation of the rights of children in the United Kingdom at the next meeting of the Permanent Council.
Just yesterday, speaking at the UN Security Council, Russia’s representative proposed adopting a statement of its President calling for cooperation of all parties to establish the truth. Britain blocked this initiative. We are forced to conclude that the British authorities are least of all interested in establishing the truth, and are driven by other motives entirely. As they say on your islands, it is not cricket.
Even in this room, we can see that all the attempts to start a professional discussion are re-directed by our British colleagues and many participating states which have shown solidarity with London in the form of political rhetoric and Russophobia in hope that the Western world will customarily fall into line and snap a salute without giving it a second thought for the sake of questionable solidarity. You don’t need the truth. It is even hazardous to you.
Thank you. Please attach our statement to the daily log of this session of the Permanent Council.