Russian spy chief accuses UK of lies

Alexander MarrowAAP
Russian foreign intelligence head Sergei Naryshkin says UK claims are to "distract the public".
Camera IconRussian foreign intelligence head Sergei Naryshkin says UK claims are to "distract the public". Credit: AP

A Russian spy chief has accused the United Kingdom of lies and trying to divert attention from other issues after British police said a third Russian suspect had been identified in the 2018 Novichok murder attempt on a former double agent.

The attack on Sergei Skripal, who sold Russian secrets to the UK, lead to the tit-for-tat expulsion of dozens of diplomats after officials in London blamed the Russian government.

In 2018, UK prosecutors charged two Russians with conspiracy to murder Skripal and the attempted murder of his daughter Yulia and a British police officer.

The UK on Tuesday said another Russian had been charged in absentia with the attack, which led to the death of a woman from Novichok poisoning, and said the three suspects were Russian military intelligence operatives.

Russian officials have rejected any involvement, casting the accusations as anti-Russian propaganda.

“This is an attempt to cover up another lie or to support a previous lie,” the Interfax news agency cited Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), as saying.

Naryshkin said the UK’s move sought to “distract the public from the shameful exit from Afghanistan, primarily by the United States and its allies”.

The Taliban rapidly seized power in Afghanistan in August amid the chaotic withdrawal of foreign forces.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said the UK was using the poisoning case to deliberately sabotage UK-Russia ties.

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