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Moscow says UK using spy poisoning to undermine Russia's World Cup

AFP  |  Moscow 

today accused Britain of trying to "undermine trust" ahead of the football Cup to be held in Russia, after called it "highly likely" that was behind the poisoning of a former on British soil.

"We have repeatedly warned: before the Cup starts in (this summer), Western media would launch a full-scale campaign with the aim of discrediting and undermine trust in it as the host of this sporting event," the ministry said.

"As we assumed, the English have been especially active, unable to forgive Russia that it was our country that was chosen in an honest contest to host the 2018 tournament," it said in the statement on its official page.

The poisoning of former double agent along with his daughter was being used as a pretext to call for a boycott despite an investigation "not only not yet being completed but, in fact, not yet begun," it said.

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

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

The British had already suggested a boycott of the Cup by officials and dignitaries.

Russian said the allegations were part of an "information and political campaign based on provocation", in comments carried by agencies.

"This is a circus show in the British parliament," she said.

"Rather than think up new fairy tales, maybe someone in the kingdom could explain how the previous ones ended up -- about Litvinenko, Berezovsky, Perepilichny and many others who have mysteriously died on British soil," Zakharova added.

Former Alexander Litvinenko, oligarch and whistleblower all died in the UK in recent years.

The Kremlin has long rejected any involvement in their deaths, despite a British concluding Russian likely approved Litvinenko's killing.

Leonid Slutsky, the of the Duma's foreign affairs committee, said was "following the latest Western trends" in its investigation into the former spy's poisoning.

"There is no evidence, but Russia is to blame for everything," he said.

The investigation could be aimed at influencing Russia's at the weekend, he told agencies.

Andrei Lugovoi, a prime suspect in Litvinenko's 2006 killing who has never been extradited and is now a member of the Russian parliament, called May's speech "irresponsible".

"The hasty statements of Theresa May, especially in connection to the nerve agent, allegedly made in Russia, are irresponsible to say the least," he told the agency.

"Soon everything will be classified, as this is the only way to make sure the public has no access to the case materials, as was the case in the Litvinenko affair," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 13 2018. 03:40 IST