Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning The Guardian article concerning the investigation of the Salisbury incident

Question: How would you comment on the article published by the online edition of The Guardian on 6 August, according to which the UK government is poised to submit an extradition request to Moscow for two Russians suspected of carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack?

Answer: We have taken note of that article too. The Embassy has not received any official requests to that effect. Moreover, we have to note once again that there have been at least a hundred media leaks citing unidentified sources since the Salisbury incident. With this in mind that information should not to be taken into consideration. We have no confidence in such unconfirmed media leaks.

As to the matter, the Russian side has been constantly pressing the British authorities to provide an answer to the key questions raised by us, including as to what really happened in Salisbury.

A criminal case on the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal has been opened in Russia. The Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, which has already forwarded two requests for legal assistance in this case, has repeatedly confirmed its readiness to cooperate with the British law enforcement agencies. However, the British authorities have not yet responded.

In line with the best traditions of British journalism, the article makes a connection between the mentioned unconfirmed extradition request and UK’s similar requests relating to the “Litvinenko case”. However, important details are being left out. Taking advantage of the fact that under the Constitution of the Russian Federation Russian citizens may not be subject to extradition, the British authorities refused to ask their questions using the existing bilateral and multilateral legal assistance mechanisms and preferred to portray Russia as if it were harbouring criminals.

All this looks like political trickery. This is why The Guardian draws a parallel between the Salisbury incident and the “Litvinenko case”, which was classified out of national security concerns as Alexander Litvinenko had worked for the British intelligence.

In the case of the Salisbury incident we also have to deal with an absolutely non-transparent investigation. The Embassy has received no substantial answers to any of the questions it raised with regard to the Russian nationals Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Until official information on the Salisbury incident is presented, we will consider the mentioned article as another leak aimed at filling the information pause and as an attempt to further obfuscate the situation and conceal UK’s non-compliance with its obligations under international law in the context of the Salisbury incident investigation.