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Russia says May’s spy statement a ‘provocation’

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May delivering a statement to members of parliament in the House of Commons on the nerve agent attack against Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury last week, in London on March 12, 2018. British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday it was “highly likely” that Moscow was behind the poisoning of a former double agent. HO / PRU / AFP

Moscow on Monday rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement to parliament that Russia was “highly likely” responsible for the poisoning of a former spy on British soil.

The statement was part of an “information and political campaign based on provocation,” said Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in comments carried by news agencies.

“This is a circus show in the British parliament,” she added.

“Rather than think up new fairytales, maybe someone in the kingdom could explain how the previous ones ended up — about Litvinenko, Berezovsky, Perepilichnyy and many others who have mysteriously died on British soil,” Zakharova said.

Former spy Alexander Litvinenko, oligarch Boris Berezovsky and whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy all died in the UK in recent years.

The Kremlin has long rejected any involvement in their deaths, despite a British judge concluding Russian President Vladimir Putin likely approved Litvinenko’s killing.

May on Monday pointed the finger at Russia for trying to kill Sergei Skripal, who sold secrets to Britain and later moved there in a 2010 spy swap.

But she stopped short of announcing retaliatory measures against Moscow and instead gave the Kremlin until the end of Tuesday to explain a nerve agents programme allegedly involved.

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