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Kremlin says has ‘no info’ on ‘tragic’ ex-spy illness in Britain

The Kremlin and the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow pictured on March 2, 2018
AFP

Moscow (AFP) – The Kremlin said Tuesday it had no information on a former Russian double agent who fell ill in Britain after exposure to an unknown substance, calling the incident “tragic.”

“We see that such a tragic situation happened,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. “But we don’t have information about what could be the cause, what this person did.”

Peskov added that London has not made any requests for assistance in the probe which police had launched after the 66-year-old former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal was found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury.

Asked if Moscow was ready to cooperate, Peskov said that “Moscow is always ready for cooperation.”

He said he did not know whether Skripal was still a Russian citizen.

Skripal was sentenced to 13 years in prison for espionage in 2006 before being granted refuge in Britain in a high-profile US-Russian spy swap in 2010.

The case has evoked parallels with poisoning of an ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London with radioactive polonium.

Commenting on the media reports, Andrei Lugovoi, one of the prime suspects in the Litvinenko case who is an MP in Russian parliament, said that Britain “suffers from phobias” and could use the incident to harm Russia ahead of the March 18 presidential polls.

“Because of the presidential elections, our actions in Syria, the situation with Skripal could be spun into an anti-Russian provocation,” he told Interfax news agency.

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