Mystery surrounds how ex-Russian spy was poisoned in UK


Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned Moscow will expel British diplomats "soon" and suggested that the "provocation with Skripal" was an attempt to distract attention from the Brexit process.

"The Russian side has made its decisions on tit-for-tat measures, and the British side will be notified of them not in the next few hours, but in the near future", Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told Interfax on Friday.

Mr Lavrov said Russian Federation will "of course" expel British diplomats and that he hopes the Skripals recover soon so light can be shed on what happened.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also said in a statement that it would be ordering the closure of the British Council, a government organisation for cultural and scientific cooperation, and that it was ending an agreement to reopen the British consulate in St. Petersburg.

Skripal moved to Britain in a 2010 spy swap and had taken his daughter, who was on a visit, out for lunch before they both collapsed on a bench in the street on March 4.

TASS said Moscow was expected to inform Bristow about retaliatory measures after Britain's decision to expel Russian diplomats over the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said Russian Federation is guilty of attempted murder on British soil.

"It is our view that when political or diplomatic relations become hard, cultural relations and educational opportunities are vital to maintain on-going dialogue between people and institutions", it said in a statement.

Mr Putin has already warned the Prime Minister not to make threats to a "nuclear power" just days after making a speech in which he boasted Russian Federation has developed a new array of nuclear weapons that are invincible, including a cruise missile that he said could "reach anywhere in the world".

"Everything that we are being told by the TV and the media, when they say that there's Russian propaganda and so on - this is typical British propaganda, which is firing from nearly all of its weapons now".

Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko, said Britain's actions were "a provocation".

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Russian Federation denies Britain's allegations that it was involved in the poisoning of the Skripals.

Moscow refused to comply with Britain's demands that it explain how Novichok - a form of nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War - came to be used in Britain.

Britain previously accused Russian Federation of being behind what it has called the "brazen" nerve-agent attack on Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, in Salisbury, England, on March 4.

"All the responsibility for the deterioration of the Russia-UK relationship lies with the current political leadership of Britain", it said in a statement.

A Downing Street spokesman said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had been invited to come to the United Kingdom to take a sample of the nerve agent.

Britain on Friday said that it had invited the chemical weapons watchdog OPCW to take a sample of the poison for analysis, under Article 8 of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Mr Basu said investigators were making good progress but further work could take "months".

Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, who heads up the national counter-terror police network which is leading the Salisbury investigation, appealed for anyone with information about the "despicable" and "appalling" attack to come forward.

Sergei Skripal moved to Salisbury after being jailed for passing Russian state secrets to British intelligence while working for the Russian government in the 1990s.

Meanwhile new tensions have surfaced over the death this week of a London-based Russian businessman, Nikolai Glushkov.

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