A Russian politician has accused UK officials of using the nerve agent poisoning of two people in Amesbury to stoke “anti-Russian hysteria”.
Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley fell ill on Saturday in Amesbury, Wiltshire, just eight miles from where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury in March.
Security minister Ben Wallace has said the “working assumption” is that the pair were exposed to the deadly nerve agent either as a result of that attack or “something else”.
But Russian politician Sergei Zheleznyak said the incident was being used to stoke ‘anti-Russian hysteria’ to ruin the World Cup.
Mr Zheleznyak, an MP on the Duma’s foreign affairs committee, told the Russia24 news channel that the pair “have been chosen to create this strange and unpleasant incident”.
He said: “Their friend called the police and an ambulance and when the story became known to British officials and the secret services, they decided to use it as another case in this wild story about Russian spies, toxic substances and anti-Russian hysteria.
He added: “It’s not a planned incident but an opportunity which British officials are trying to use.”
Mr Zheleznyak is also reported to have added: “This is happening amid a quite strong positive emotional wave from British fans who came to Russia to support their team during the World Cup.”
The Kremlin described the Amesbury poisoning as “disturbing” and said Russia wished the victims a speedy recovery but spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow that Russia had so far received no “appeal” from the UK in relation to the incident.
UK reaction to Amesbury incident puzzling. Russia proposed a joint investigation into Salisbury from the very outset, proposal remains valid. Instead of cooperating, London prefers to muddy the waters, confuse and intimidate its own citizens.
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) July 5, 2018
But meanwhile, Russian Embassy twitter accounts accused the UK of ‘confusing and intimidating its own citizens’ and questioned why Russia would do something to affect the World Cup.
A tweet from the Russian Embassy in the UK said: “UK reaction to Amesbury incident puzzling. Russia proposed a joint investigation into Salisbury from the very outset, proposal remains valid. Instead of cooperating, London prefers to muddy the waters, confuse and intimidate its own citizens.”
How dumb they think 🇷🇺 is to use “again” so-called “Novichok” in the middle of the FIFA World Cup and after the special session of the CSP (convened by the way by 🇬🇧) that gave the #OPCW attribution functions. The show must go on? pic.twitter.com/a9FdJceWIv
— Russian Embassy in NL🇷🇺🇳🇱 (@rusembassynl) July 5, 2018
And a message on the account for the Russian Embassy in the Netherlands said: “How dumb they think [Russia] is to use ‘again’ so-called ‘Novichok’ in the middle of the FIFA World Cup and after the special session of the CSP (convened by the way by [Britain]) that gave the OPCW attribution functions. The show must go on?”