UK nerve agent victim meets Russia’s envoy in London: reports
A British man poisoned along with his partner with a nerve agent, amid an assassination attempt on a Russian ex-spy in England blamed on Moscow, met its top UK envoy on Saturday, according to reports.
Charlie Rowley, 45, whose partner Dawn Sturgess died after exposure to the toxin, held a 90-minute meeting with Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko at Russia’s embassy in London, Britain’s Sunday Mirror said.
“I went along to ask them ‘why did your country kill my girlfriend?’” he told the tabloid newspaper.
“But I didn’t really get any answers. I just got Russian propaganda,” Rowley added, saying Yakovenko’s explanations of Russian innocence in the plot were “ridiculous”.
Rowley and Sturgess, a 44-year-old mother of three children, who lived near the southwestern English city of Salisbury, fell ill on June 30 last year.
Authorities determined they had been exposed to Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the latter days of the Cold War.
The poison was contained in a perfume bottle that Rowley had found in Salisbury and given to Sturgess.
She died eight days later but after two weeks in an induced coma, he was discharged from hospital.
It followed former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia being left in critical condition after they were targeted with Novichok in Salisbury three months earlier.
The pair survived and have made full recoveries, according to British authorities.
Western allies accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being ultimately responsible for the poisoning, which sparked dozens of diplomatic expulsions by both sides.
British prosecutors in September issued arrest warrants for two alleged officers of Russia’s military intelligence service, known as the GRU.
But the Kremlin has repeatedly denounced the accusations as “unacceptable.”
“The ambassador kept saying the substance definitely wasn’t the novichok they had made because if it was it would have killed everyone,” Rowley told the Mirror.
“He (Yakovenko) kept on saying the British won’t talk to him so he can’t tell us anything that he hasn’t read in the media, so he can only give his view.”
A Russian TV station also reported Saturday’s meeting, saying Rowley was eager for answers that Britain had failed to provide.
Yakovenko gave him a book on the “unanswered questions” concerning the events in Salisbury and a tour of Russia’s grand west London embassy on one of its most exclusive streets, it added.