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Russia rejects as 'circus show' British claims on ex-spy case

Russia has denounced as a “circus show” British Prime Minister Theresa May's allegations that Moscow was highly likely behind a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in England.

"It is a circus show in the British parliament," Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the country’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying on Monday. "The conclusion is obvious: It's another political information campaign, based on a provocation."

Zakharova made the remarks shortly after the British premier said it was "highly likely" that Moscow was responsible for poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4.

The 66-year-old former spy and his 33-year-old daughter have been hospitalized since then after they were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in the southern English city of Salisbury.

Both Skripal and his daughter remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition, according to a Reuters report.

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 a nerve agent attack against Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury last week, in London on March 12, 2018. (Via AFP)

May also said the poisoning had occurred "against a backdrop of a well-established pattern of Russian state aggression," and that London was ready to take "much more extensive measures" against Moscow than in the past.

Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed off a question about Moscow’s involvement in the case, saying British authorities should first "get to the bottom of things.”

UK playing 'dangerous game' over spy poisoning

Also on Monday, Russia's embassy in London accused the British government of playing a "dangerous game" by linking the attacks to Moscow, warning it risked harming bilateral relations.

"Current policy of the UK government towards Russia is a very dangerous game played with the British public opinion, which not only sends the investigation upon an unhelpful political track but also bears the risk of more serious long-term consequences for our relations," the mission's press secretary said in a statement.

The statement added that from the first reports of the poisoning, the Russian embassy had requested from the UK Foreign Office information about Skripal and his daughter, and the investigation.

"British officials don't provide any additional information and don't distance themselves from the media campaign," it said.

"We would like to stress once again that we are outraged by the anti-Russian media campaign, condoned by the government, that influences the investigation and has a psychological effect on British residents,” the statement added.

Skripal was found guilty by a Russian tribunal of selling classified information to UK’s spy agency MI6 and was imprisoned in Russia in 2006. He was exchanged in a spy swap in 2010. 

Britain’s National counter-terrorism police have taken over the investigation on the attack and they are treating the case as attempted murder.

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