Conspiracy theories rife in Russia over Sergei Skripal poisoning

Conspiracy theories rife in Russia over Sergei Skripal poisoning
From Al Jazeera - March 13, 2018

Many Russians believe a Western provocation was behind the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom, analysts say, as conspiracy theories about the attempted assassination flourish in the country.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's allegation that the Russian government's involvement was "highly likely" in the attempt to kill Sergei Skripal, 66, with the Novichok nerve agent on March 4caused outrage in Russia, Dmitri Babich, a political analyst based in Moscow, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

"[The Russian public] simply does not believe that President [Vladimir] Putin or anyone in the Russian intelligence would order such a murky way of getting rid of this person - poisoning him in a public place with a highly dangerous substance," said Babich.

Skripal's poisoning was widely seen in Russia as a secret plan carried out by the British or American intelligence services in order to make Moscow look bad, he said.

Skripal and his daughter Yulia, 33, were discovered unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in Salisbury, in southern England.

Both are fighting for their lives in critical condition in a hospital.

According to the Tass news agency, the speaker of Russia's parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, put the responsibility for the attack on the UK.

"The British Prime Minister Theresa May is very clumsy in trying to cast the suspicions away from the British side... All the responsibility for the situation that involves our nationals who have left our country is on Britain," Volodintold reporters on Tuesday.

Sergei Markov, director of the Moscow-based Institute of Political Studies, was more direct and accused May of using the scandal to deflect public attention from the internal problems her government is facing, including Brexit.

"Theresa May has a lot of problems because of the failure in the parliamentary elections, Brexit, and the complicated situation with the border between Ireland and the Northern Ireland," MarkovtoldAl Jazeera.

"So the British intelligence service probably organised the killing of Mr Skripal, sacrificing the guy who they do not need any more."

"Novichok had been produced in Uzbekistan in the Soviet times and after the fall of the Soviet Union, as we know, the American intelligence services had access to this factory."

British ultimatum


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