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Moscow insists on participation in ex-spy poisoning investigation

Staff Writer |
Moscow denied involvement in the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Britain and insisted on direct participation in the investigation of the incident.

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"Russia firmly insists on a comprehensive investigation of what has happened in Salisbury. We are ready to take most active part in it," Vladimir Yermakov, head of the Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said at a briefing for foreign diplomats.

Former Russian double agent Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in Britain's southwestern city of Salisbury on March 4. They remain in critical condition in hospital.

Britain claims the pair was exposed to a nerve agent and holds Russia responsible. The Russian government has denied any role in the incident.

For Russia, such a "shady undertaking" is "simply unacceptable," Yermakov said at the briefing, adding that it was "a terrorist attack against two Russian citizens."

He said Britain provided no proof of Russian involvement and denied Russia access to the investigation.

Yermakov said that Russia will not accept conclusions of foreign experts, including representatives of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) invited by Britain to participate in the investigation.

He said Russia needs to carry out its own investigation to make conclusions.

Following the incident, Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced freezing of Russian state assets in Britain, suspension of all planned high-level bilateral contacts, and a boycott of this year's World Cup in Russia by ministers and royal family members.

Moscow expelled an equal number of British diplomats in response.

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