Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko addresses the media at a news conference in the official Russian Ambassador's residence in central London, Britain, April 5, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Ambassador criticizes Britain for its not joining 'dialogue into case'
Russia's Ambassador to Britain Alexander Yakovenko has urged "transparency" from the British authorities over the investigation into the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury in March.
The incident has pushed relations between Russia and Britain to a historic low. Yakovenko made his comment when speaking to international media, one day after the international chemical weapons watchdog Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, also known as OPCW, turned down Russia's proposal for a joint investigation into the affair.
"We regret that the UK and the member states of the EU and NATO once again refused to cooperate (to conduct) further investigation in the most transparent way," Yakovenko said.
Russia's proposal at the OPCW executive council meeting in The Hague was rejected by 15 votes to six, with 17 member states abstaining. China, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Algeria and Iran were among the countries that backed Russia.
Former double agent Sergei Skripal, who has lived in Britain since he was part of a spy swap in 2010, and his daughter Yulia were hospitalized on March 4 after being poisoned in Salisbury, Southern England.
The poison has been identified by the UK's Porton Down defense laboratory as Novichok. Britain and some other countries have blamed Russia for the act, but Russia denies any involvement.
Yakovenko said Britain's refusal to publicly release any specific details relating to the investigation violates its obligations under international conventions.
"We are not allowed to see our citizens, talk to doctors, have no idea about the treatment the Russian nationals receive. Moreover, we have absolutely no access to the investigation," said Yakovenko. "We need international assistance to bring Britain to dialogue, which they are continuously avoiding."
On Twitter, the Russian embassy highlighted a now-deleted tweet by the UK Foreign Office that suggested Porton Down had said the nerve agent had been produced in Russia.
However, on Tuesday, Porton Down's chief executive, Gary Aitkenhead, told Britain's Sky News that while analysts had identified the poison as Novichok, the laboratory could not confirm where it had been manufactured.
Britain's Foreign Office confirmed that it had taken down the tweet, but still insisted Russia should be held accountable.
"No other country has a combination of the capability, the intent, and the motive to carry out such an act," said a Foreign Office spokesman.
In the aftermath of the incident, last month Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats, with Russia doing the same in reply.
More than two dozen countries and NATO have expelled Russian diplomats in solidarity with Britain. In total, more than 150 Russian diplomats have now been ordered out of the US, EU member states, NATO countries and other nations.
Last month, Britain invited a group of OPCW experts to independently verify the analysis carried out at Porton Down. OPCW said the results of its analysis will be ready next week. Yakovenko said Russia will only accept the results if the processes are transparent.
Russia has already submitted a list of questions to OPCW that include asking what sort of assistance Britain requested from the agency, and which sampling procedures were used to collect the substance that made the Skripals ill.