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Russia uses World Cup defence to preempt new poisoning accusations

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By Anastassia Gliadkovskaya
Russia uses World Cup defence to preempt new poisoning accusations

Russian politicians respond to the poisoning of a couple by exposure to Novichok, an extremely powerful nerve agent, in Amesbury, England.

Speaking to BBC's Radio 4, British Security Minister Ben Wallace called on Russia to assist with the investigation:

“The Russian state could [make the Skripal case] right. They could tell us what happened, what they did and fill in some of the significant gaps we are trying to pursue. We have said they can come and tell us what happened. I’m waiting for the phone call from the Russian state. The offer is there.”

In response, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Alexei Kondratiev announced that Russia has been ready and willing to disclose this information from the beginning of the Salisbury incident and that President Putin has repeatedly offered to assist Britain in its investigations.

Vladimir Shapovalov, political scientist and deputy director of the Institute of History and Politics of Moscow State Pedagogical University, told Sputnik radio he didn't expect any respite in the UK's accusations against Moscow:

“I think it’s out of the question given the absolutely biased position of British media and politicians. It’s obvious that in this situation only one version of the story will be spun: the absolutely ludicrous idea of Russia’s involvement in this incident as well [as the Skripal case]. Even though, obviously, if two identical incidents have occurred within four months of each other in the vicinity of one laboratory [Porton Down], which works with chemical weapons, any logical person would understand, that the traces should be sought in Porton Down, not in Russia.”

The Russian Embassy in the Netherlands suggested that the latest incident was a "false flag" attempt to smear Russia during the World Cup asking "How dumb [do they think] Russia is to us 'again' so-called 'Novichok' in the middle of the FIFA World Cup....?"

Sergei Zheleznyak, deputy speaker of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, told state TV that the incident in Britain looked like an attempt to spoil England soccer fans’ positive perception of Russia.

"This is much more of a PR story than a story of poisoning. It’s understandable that British authorities need to continue their anti-Russian rhetoric amidst the positive feelings of British fans toward Russia in light of the World Cup," he said on the Russia 24 channel.

He also reiterated claims made by Moscow after the poisoning of the Skripals that the chemical weapons could have come from the nearby Ministry of Defence laboratory of Porton Down and questioned why those who found the victims had not also fallen ill.