Russia Retracts Claim Nerve Agent Originated In Czech RepublicČTK
Prague, April 4 (CTK) – Russia has never blamed the Czech Republic for any involvement in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and only said Czechs are able to work on the development of poisonous substances, the Russian ambassador to Prague, Alexander Zmeyevsky, said today.
“No accusations against the Czech Republic have ever been raised from the Russian side. We only stated the facts,” Zmeyevsky told a press conference.
In a statement sent to CTK, the Czech Foreign Ministry expressed regret that Russian diplomacy repeatedly and manipulatively connects the Czech Republic with the use of the Novichok nerve agent. “These statements are unacceptable, they are made to avert attention from the possible Russian involvement in the incident and they threaten to further worsen our relations,” the ministry said.
The political leaders of EU member states supported Britain which concluded that Russia is behind the poisoning of former double agent Skripal and his daughter in the English town of Salisbury. Most EU countries, including the Czech Republic, the USA and their allies expelled Russian diplomats in reaction to the case. Moscow rejected the accusations and said two weeks ago that Novichok used to poison Skripal might come from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Britain or Sweden.
Zmeyevsky said today open Czech sources declared that Czech experts were capable of working on the research into nerve agents such as Sarin and that they were developing antidotes for the Czech military and NATO based on this research.
It is known that the Czech Republic is allowed to produce up to ten kilogrammes of such substances under its agreement with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from 2011, Zmeyevsky said.
He said Russia would propose “a civilised solution” to the incident over the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter at a special meeting of the OPCW council in The Hague today.
Zmeyevsky said Britain refused to directly cooperate with Russia in the investigation of the case, but it may do so through the OPCW.
He dismissed the British claim that Russia is responsible for Skripal’s poisoning as absolutely unsubstantiated, unfounded and inadmissible and said it may have unpredictable consequences in international relations.
The Novichok nerve agent used to poison Skripal has never been developed or produced in the Soviet Union and later Russia, Zmeyevsky said. Only researchers living in the West claim the opposite, which is similar to the doping scandal which was started by an exiled Russian official, he added.
Most Russian athletes were not allowed to take part in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games held in February after it was proved that Russia organised doping and ways to hide it at the Sochi Olympics four years ago. At the end of 2017, Russia was stripped of 13 Olympic medals from Sochi.
Zmeyevsky also expressed indignation and disappointment over the Czech decision to extradite Russian alleged hacker Yevgenyi Nikulin to the United States.
“Those who decided on the extradition preferred allied pledges without taking into account all the facts on the case. It is sad that all legal opportunities were not used and that allied loyalty won over legal pledges,” he said.
The USA accused Nikulin of hacking related to the social media firms LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring in 2012. Russia asked for Nikulin’s extradition, too, based on a suspected online theft.
Zmeyevsky said it is noteworthy that a U.S. aircraft was waiting for Nikulin at the Prague airport even before a Czech court and the Czech justice minister decided on his extradition last week.
The Constitutional Court rejected Nikulin’s complaint on March 27. Justice Minister Robert Pelikan decided on the extradition after the court sent its verdict to the participants in the proceedings. The plane with Nikulin took off from Prague on Friday shortly after midnight. According to the flightaware.com website, the Gulfstream V aircraft landed in Prague on March 24.
The Foreign Ministry said today the Czech Republic made a sovereign decision based on independent courts in Nikulin’s case. “It is unacceptable to look for any conspiratory background of the standard and transparent processes of the Czech judiciary and government,” the ministry said.