This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 26 °C Sunday 22 July, 2018
Advertisement

Chemical weapons experts heading to UK in Russia spy case

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are in a critical condition.

Police officers in forensics suits and protective masks work at the scene of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
Police officers in forensics suits and protective masks work at the scene of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
Image: Christopher Furlong

BRITAIN IS TO target wealth linked to the Kremlin in response to the poisoning of a former spy, foreign minister Boris Johnson said today ahead of a visit by international chemical weapons experts.

“Where people have obtained wealth by corruption and where we can see a link with the Kremlin, with Vladimir Putin, it may be possible to have unexplained wealth orders and other sanctions on those individuals,” Johnson told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are in a critical condition after being exposed to a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury on March 4, leading Britain to expel 23 Kremlin diplomats.

Technical experts from Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will visit Britain tomorrow to collect samples of the nerve agent used in the attack.

“These will then be despatched to highly reputable international laboratories selected by the OPCW for testing with results expected to take a minimum of two weeks,” said a Foreign Office statement.

Johnson said the government was considering something similar to the US “Magnitsky Act” which was adopted in 2012 to punish Russian officials accused of human rights violations.

The act imposed a visa ban and froze the assets of Russian officials implicated in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, a tax fraud whistleblower who died in Russian custody in 2009.

Johnson accused the Russians of “smug sarcasm and denial” in response to the accusations, and said the international community was behind Britain.

Moscow’s “malign, disruptive behaviour” internationally was the reason why allies were “inclined not to give Russia the benefit of the doubt,” he added.

However, the minister faced awkward questions over a tennis match he played with the wife of former Kremlin minister Vladimir Chernukhin, in return for a £160,000 donation to his Conservative Party.

Russia points at Porton Down

931017202 Police officers erect a barrier on the upper level of a Sainsbury's supermarket car park as it is cordoned off, opposite the park bench where Sergei Skripal was found. Source: Chris J Ratcliffe

Also yesterday, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said Moscow “had nothing to do” with the attack, accusing Johnson of “acting in an inappropriate manner” by pointing the finger at Putin.

“Russia has stopped production of any chemical agents back in 1992,” he told Marr, the day after Moscow expelled 23 British diplomats in a tit-for-tat measure.

But the Foreign Office dismissed the claim, saying it had “information indicating that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents likely for assassination.

“And part of this programme has involved producing and stockpiling quantities of Novichok,” a statement said.

Chizhov also appeared to suggest that Britain itself may have been the source of the chemical agent.

“When you have a nerve agent, you check it against certain samples you have in your laboratories,” he said.

“And Porton Down, as we now all know, is the largest military facility in the UK that has been dealing with chemical weapons research — and it’s actually only eight miles from Salisbury.”

© – AFP 2018

Read: ‘More human remains found hidden in large planters in Canada serial killer case’

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (38)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

Leave a commentcancel