Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova on the incident in Salisbury
Question: Do you still have questions after the interview that Petrov and Boshirov gave to Editor-in-Chief of RT TV Channel Margarita Simonyan?
Answer: This is a good question. At last, someone asked me this. In what context was I supposed to watch this interview? I watched an interview with two people whose names did not leave the television screens or the front pages of the newspapers for two weeks. If it were an interrogation, then different questions would have been asked, and the conversation itself would have been different. It was not an interrogation, but an interview with two people who found themselves in trouble on a global scale, in their words.
Question: Personally, did you find Petrov and Boshirov convincing?
They convinced me only of the fact that they actually exist, which they confirmed. This was the most important thing, since Britain tried to convince everyone otherwise.
I think we need to remember that the world created civilised forms of living based on law, so that we can operate on the basis of the presumption of innocence rather than follow primitive instincts, like someone is trying to whip up. I must be convinced that someone is guilty, not the other way round. Individuals who have not been formally charged with anything in a civilised manner shouldn’t have to justify themselves and prove their innocence. What London is doing is beyond this legal premise and common sense. This is a return to the most abject medieval practices.
There’s another important point. Almost every day, we ask Britain to provide at least some evidence or information about the circumstances of the incident, any evidence of us being involved in the Skripal poisoning or any suspicious actions committed by anyone, using either closed and open channels. What we get in response is nothing. Zero. Moreover, Russia’s investigative or law enforcement agencies have not received any inquiries from the British authorities.
Why should we trust or distrust Petrov and Boshirov when there’s zero evidence on the table that would in any way link their very existence to the Salisbury incident? Just because these people were there? Then, can Britain provide a list of all the foreigners who were in Salisbury on those days? On top of that, no one has seen Sergey Skripal since the incident. No one has even talked with Julia Skripal. The whole thing is absurd, because these two individuals came in, talked with Simonyan, provided answers to the counts that the UK publicly accused them of, and, for some reason, everyone is now saying, “We do not believe them.” However, when Yulia Skripal spoke before a camera, which was operated by no one knows who, and didn’t answer any question, but instead read a text apparently written for her by someone, and before that published a text similarly written for her by someone, everyone said, “Yes, of course, we trust her.”
Question: Well, we know Julia Skripal’s background. At least we know who her father is. However, these two men came from nowhere.
This is even worse; someone lived an ordinary life in Russia, then went to the UK and simply disappeared. What we have is just virtual communication with the world in the form of statements. We need to focus on the most important things. For six months now, we have been demanding, asking, and providing legal grounds in order to get consular access to Russian citizen Yulia Skripal. They have prevented us from doing so in various forms, using various clearly far-fetched rationales. This is how total mistrust is born. Even stranger, more suspicious and crazy is the fact that they don’t allow contact with Julia Skripal not only to the embassy’s consular department, but even to a relative who was denied a visa. Viktoria Skripal was not allowed to visit her cousin or even to enter the UK and talk with the people who are in contact with Julia Skripal. And the world swallowed it. I believe that talking about trust or mistrust is beyond my scope of responsibility. This is something to be tackled by law enforcement agencies in Russia and the UK, which must remain in contact, share information, conduct investigative actions, exchange evidence and use all of the above to arrive at certain conclusions. I believe that the British should return to a civilised legal course of action when addressing these issues. So far, it has been just an open manipulation of the public mind and international law on the part of London. What they are doing on the venues of international organisations leaves no doubt about it.