In an exclusive interview with Channel 4 News, Russia’s top diplomat said he would not rule out the possibility that the UK was engaged in a cover-up. Sergey Lavrov also claimed that “all kinds of tricks” had been used to change the rules of the OPCW, the international chemical watchdog.
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has accused Britain of an “extermination of the evidence” in the Skripal poisoning case.
In an exclusive interview with Channel 4 News, Russia’s top diplomat said he would not rule out the possibility that the UK was engaged in a cover-up.
Speaking in Moscow this morning, he also claimed that “all kinds of tricks” had been used to change the rules of the OPCW, the international chemical watchdog.
Mr Lavrov claimed there had been a “violation” of the chemical weapons convention, and said that if the OPCW was not repaired then “the days of the OPCW would be counted, at least it would not remain as a universal organisation”.
Accusing the US, Britain and EU of always believing that Russia was guilty without the evidence, he said: “In my view, rule of law means that unless proven guilty, you cannot sentence people. And that’s what’s happening with Skripal.”
A senior Foreign Office source responded to Mr Lavrov’s claims about the Skripal case, saying: “This is so blatantly concocted, it’s on the verge of being stupid.”
Discussing the nerve agent attack in England on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, earlier this year, Mr Lavrov said the situation was “looks very weird”.
“The inconsistencies in the situation with Skripals are very troubling,” he said. “We never managed to get consular access to our citizen – in violation of all international conventions, diplomatic and consular relations. We never got any credible explanation why the nephew – or aunt – of this Yulia Skripal is not given visa.
“It all looks like consistent physical extermination of the evidence. Like the benches in the park were removed immediately and of course the video images when the policeman or special forces in special attire go to take a look at this bench there’s people without any protection moving around.”
Asked whether he was accusing the British government of a cover-up, he said: “I don’t exclude this, as long as they don’t give us information.”
He added: “Certainly, the UK has benefited politically from what is going on and it’s an interesting situation whereby a country that is leaving the EU is determining the EU policy on Russia.”
Allegations that Russia interfered in the last US presidential elections were being “used to ruin the Russia-America relations,” Mr Lavrov said.
He said the way that Rex Tillerson, the former US Secretary of State, dealt with the situation was “not mature” and “very childish”, because he refused to share evidence apparently uncovered by investigators.
He also dismissed the idea that his country may hold compromising material on President Trump, saying that – without proof – the accusations were “shameful”.
“I don’t know what people can invent,” he said, adding that claims about Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections were “a manifestation of deep domestic controversy because the losers don’t have the guts to accept that they lost the elections.”