President says London has not provided evidence to back up claims that Moscow was behind poisoning of four people – one fatally
Agence France Presse
Vladimir Putin has accused Britain of making baseless allegations against Russia over the former Soviet spy and three other people poisoned, one fatally, with the novichok nerve agent in Salisbury.
Asked in a Fox News interview about the British government’s assertion that Moscow was behind the novichok attack on the former spy Sergei Skripal, Putin said London had not provided any evidence to back up the claim.
“We would like to get documentary evidence but nobody gives it to us,” Putin, speaking through a translator, told the US network after a summit with Donald Trump in Finland.
“It’s the same thing with the accusations of meddling in the election process in America,” he added in reference to claims that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election which was won by Trump.
Putin suggested the case could be driven by domestic issues in Britain, saying: “Nobody wants to look into these.”
“We just see the ungrounded accusations – why is it done this way? Why should our relationship be made worse by this?”
The former Russian double agent Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed in Salisbury on 4 March after being exposed to novichok. Both have since recovered.
Sturgess’s son, Ewan Hope, had called on Donald Trump to raise his mother’s death with Vladimir Putin.
Russia has denied poisoning the Skripals, sparking a diplomatic row that has led to tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions between Britain and its allies and Russia.
Police are investigating whether the novichok that Rowley and Sturgess were exposed to was from the same batch used against the Skripals.
Rowley remains seriously ill in hospital but his brother has told the BBC that the 45-year-old fell ill after picking up a discarded perfume bottle.
“What kind of bottle? What is the chemical formula? Who’s got it?” Putin asked in his interview.