Embassy comment concerning the BBC documentary on Salisbury incident

We have studied carefully the documentary on the Salisbury incident presented on BBC One in Panorama on 22 November. We have to note that it does not contain any new information on what happened, and does not give answers to the numerous questions the Russian side has raised before the British authorities over almost nine months since the incident.

We would like to pay tribute to BBC’s Jane Corbin. Working in complicated conditions under secret services’ control over the information environment around the Salisbury case, she has tried to present as balanced picture as it was possible within the official British version. However, this attempt has only further highlighted the areas which are carefully censored by the authorities.

Thus, against the backdrop of the numerous interviews, including those with relatives of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Yaroslavl, Russia, and the chemist Vil Mirzayanov in the USA, one cannot help noting the absence of the Skripals. The film provides no information concerning the whereabouts of the Russian citizens, their wellbeing and status. Further, the attempt to restore the chronology of events of 4 March failed because of the apparent unwillingness of the investigation to share information on Skripal’s movements in the morning on that day, their contacts and the reasons why they switched off their mobile phones. Moreover, the statement that the investigation team has studied 11000 hours of CCTV records is hard to reconcile with the short clips providing no information on the poisoning circumstances.

The fact that the film was aired in parallel with the publication of the same CCTV records by the Police is also worth noting. Does this mean that the “independent” BBC coordinates its activities with the “independent” law enforcement agencies? Or is this coordination carried out at higher levels, extremely interested in distracting the public from the intense political debates on Brexit?

To sum up, instead of facts, the public is again offered insinuations and guesses aimed at keeping “Russia’s responsibility” on the agenda with no need for presenting evidence. Throughout the documentary, the audience is under pressure of the idea that Russia had a motive to kill Sergei Skripal. This is a familiar policy of the Conservative Government, which still refuses to cooperate with Russia and violates UK’s legal obligations under conventions on consular relations, mutual legal assistance, chemical weapons, and basic diplomatic norms.

Russia, as before, is determined to establish the truth on what happened in Salisbury, and open to cooperation based on mutual respect in the framework of existing international mechanisms, created precisely for this purpose.

Unfortunately, the documentary does not contain any references to Russia’s position concerning the Salisbury incident. The authors claim that we had refused to comment. This is not true. We had not received any requests. Had the crew got in touch with us, we would have challenged the arrogant behaviour of the British side and its active unwillingness to answer our uncomfortable questions.

The British authorities must realise that we will continue to push for a transparent and verifiable investigation of this incident involving Russian nationals.