Interview with Maria Zakharova on the Russian Channel 24 about the conflict with the Great Britain over the Skripal Case, March 17th, 2018.
Maria Zakharova is the Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
Translated by Eugenia Gurevich (Youtube)
Maria Zakharova: This is a really quite scary and very dangerous game that the West started. It is not just British action; clearly, the resources of many players are involved.
Let me explain why I am saying this. All of us and the whole world
learned a new Russian word: “Novichok”. The most interesting thing is that this word is perceived as a Russian word everywhere in the world. Just listen how it sounds to a foreigner: “Novichok”. This must be connected to Russia.
But as far as we, the native Russian speakers, are concerned, it sounds similar to the toast that Westerners say when we drink with them in company: Your health! It sounds Russian, but we know that we never say this toast this particular way – we always say something else. But in the West it is a cliche about the Russians that for a toast, they’d say “For your health”, even with some emphasis. It’s the same concept.
Let me explain. Never on the territory of the USSR, in the Soviet times or in the times of the Russian Federation on its territory, were studies conducted under the code name “Novichok”. It was neither patented, nor used as a symbol or a code.
Once more, as this is the key thing: the word “Novichok” has never been used in the USSR or in Russia as something related to the chemical weapons research. This word was introduced and used for poisonous materials in the West.
In the early to mid-1990s, a lot of Soviet scientists and, later, scientists with Russian citizenship, who had worked in this area, left for Western countries. They didn’t just leave – they were expected in the West. Among other things, they took with them the technologies they were working on. After that, in Western countries, according to various sources, including the open ones, this work was continued in the West with the participation of former Soviet scientists: in the US, in Great Britain, in Slovakia, in Sweden, and a few other countries. I repeat, this info is openly available on the Internet. I read it, it is open info. Yes, this info is totally open. One can study it if one wishes… Completely open information.
Right at that time, this surprising name appears: “Novichok”. It does not sound right to us, but it fits Western cliches about Russia. Very interesting: the British PM is speaking in the Parliament (not to some student gathering; not to not an NGO; not even to journalists). These are the people making decisions that affect the fate of the country. These are people who’d want to know the facts.
But the British PM does not mention the chemical formula. Instead, the British PM uses this cliche name immediately associated with the Russian Federation, or with something Russian. Everything is designed to focus the attention on Russia. Very theatrical. She gets an ovation. Yes, she gets an applause. Immediately this name is circulated in all media. But that’s not the only falsification of this magnitude.
Open British newspapers. Or listen to British journalists. Who is Skripal? What is he called in British media? He is called “Russian spy”. How come he is a Russian spy? He is exactly the opposite. Yes, he is the opposite. He is a British spy. We don’t have customary consulate access to the Skripals, who, as we are told, are in critical condition, but we have no information about their state, their whereabouts, nor about what is happening to them.
Well, an important point is that Skripal worked for the British intelligence services. He never was a Russian spy. He was a British spy. He was transferred to the UK because he worked for the UK government.
Another important point. This person, when he was caught, was tried according to the Russian law. The court decided on a term of incarceration. He was serving his time in jail. When the time came to return him to the UK, the country, for which he worked as a spy, he was alive and well. He was handed to Britain in good shape. Nobody knows what state he is in now or where he is, except the people in the UK who made it top-secret. The British side received him from Russia in good health.
This story will involve additional mystifications, but I believe the truth will come to light, one step at a time.
Journalist: London never gave us any information?
Maria Zakharova: None whatsoever. This is the next point: total mystery around this created by Great Britain.
Journalist: As I understand, they shared the data with the US and some European countries?
Maria Zakharova: Nobody knows that. According to international
treaties, particularly the Chemical Weapons Convention, of which both Russia and UK are members, the UK had an obligation to share all data with Russia.
What’s more, this is the obligation of any country that is a signatory
to this Convention, even if there is no suspicions that one of the countries-signatories is implicated in any banned actions. This is an obligation of all signatories if the compound used is suspected to come from a particular source in any country-signatory. This applies to transit, origin, storage, anything. I.e., the country possessing any information has an obligation to share it. Among other things, this is an issue of safety.
If there are any traces of a banned substance we need to be informed (as you know, by 2018 Russia destroyed all stocks of its chemical weapons). So, what could be an issue with Russia? The decision to destroy all chemical weapons was made in 1992, if I am not mistaken. Thus, this is an issue of our safety, as well.
So, the Russian Federation immediately asked the UK to share the info. We received no info whatsoever. It is interesting as a part of the overall picture of global international cheating. We ask a question having heard that Britain is closely cooperating with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Brits proclaim they won’t deal with Moscow, but only with OPCW. There are many mechanisms that can be used, but all of them presuppose the participation of the party concerned in the matter. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the country is suspected of having done something illegal, but means any connection of the substance used with that country’s territory.
Not once, via any channel, diplomatic or OPCW, did Russia receive any information from London. This is all public rhetoric, a part of a large play or show, a scary show destabilizing the international order. It is very important to keep in mind that we are talking about a nuclear power. The UK has nukes. So, when the British PM Theresa May makes statements that her country was a victim of aggression, it should be a responsible statement of a leader of a nuclear power.
After that, there is silence and pause, when no information is presented, including the chemical formula of the substance they allegedly found. Why am I saying “allegedly”? Because nobody except the British special services have access. A very convenient position.
Another important aspect. Based on the British statements to the international organizations, the UK conducted tests, all of which took less than 10 days. Apparently, these tests were conducted by brilliant agents 007, as this could not have happened in reality. We all know that even when you do blood lab tests, it takes time, but this is presumably an unknown chemical compound.
Journalist: I want to ask you about our response.
Maria Zakharova: As far as the response is concerned: I want first to remind about something important, which has been completely ignored by the media.
In 2016, Russia (the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talked about that) initiated the development of a treaty to fight acts of chemical and biological terrorism. That was Russian initiative. Now guess who is blocking it? The UK! Ever since 2016. Isn’t it interesting?
Let’s continue. I tried to explain why the word “Novichok” was introduced. It is important to note that a concept of a word associated with Russia draws attention away from the chemical formula of the substance. Why is this done? Very simple. If the British PM and British so-called experts reveals the chemical formula, that would make clear which countries developed the compounds of this type. Yes, it is an open info.
Then one can via Internet or research institutions figure out what the talk is about. I repeat, no information was given regarding the compound that was allegedly used. Too secret?
Another important issue. In the international organizations, including OPCW, the British side stated that they have all the proofs that the Russian Federation is involved, and that these proofs were obtained by lab tests in the UK. The lab was named: it’s a center belonging to the British Ministry of Defense in Porton Down. This is the center that played a key role in the development and production of chemical weapons, including substances of that type. You understand? Somewhat dubious.
You see, the tests were conducted in the same center that manufactured compounds of that type. The question is how the sample was connected specifically with Russia, considering that they did not share the samples with Russia. Presumably they don’t have that compound, they should’t have it, so what did they compare it to? What did they have to compare it to in the UK to come to that conclusion?
An idea comes to mind (maybe not a conclusion, but a question): This means that either they have samples, which they conceal, or the whole thing is a lie from start to finish.
Thus, with every new piece of information there are more and more questions, and they become more and more revealing regarding this very dangerous mystification.
I want to state once more today, on live TV in your studio, that the most likely source of this compound is one of the countries that since the late 1990s have been actively studying compounds of the project “Novichok”. As we already stated, it was developed neither by the Russian Federation, nor by the USSR. I listed these countries, but I will do so again: the UK, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Sweden, possibly the US. The data showing this are on the Internet. How do you like this story? Lose ends are sticking out all over.
Most importantly, I want to say to all foreign colleagues demonstrating today their solidarity with the UK position: Remember Tony Blair, who made a decision about the UK participation in the Iraq war. He also made statements: these statements are available on the Internet, they are on British government websites, they are on the UN websites. With a straight face, he declared that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. The weapons that make the whole world worry, chemical weapons. All sorts of things were named, all sorts of theories were advanced. Based on that, the UK decided to join the anti-Iraq coalition. Iraq was a sovereign state, it was a state where no international terrorism ever existed. Naturally, Iraq had its own problems, its internal development problems. But because of London, this country lost hundreds of thousands of civilians, not counting the military personnel.
More than 10 years have passed. The same Tony Blair, with the same highly intellectual facial expression, is now saying that the data, on the basis of which the UK decided to join the Iraq war, turned out to be wrong. According to him, the politicians who made the decision were fooled by the British special services. Shame on them.
The difference with the Skripal situation, where the victims are (although I would like to repeat, as stated by the UK) Skripal, his daughter, and a British cop, is that in Iraq hundreds of thousands of civilians perished. But the mode of decision-making was exactly the same: based on some briefings and secret materials. In the end, all they say is “we are so sorry”. It just so happened. Yes, it just happened. “Highly likely”. The same style.
Journalist: Let’s talk about what comes next in this – I don’t even know what to call it – maybe standoff, diplomatic and otherwise, between the UK and Russia. We had to respond, so we also expelled 23 British diplomats. Ours are returning later this month with their families, I understand. What do you think would come next? Britain, having expelled Russian diplomats, followed in its traditions, when diplomats have always been the first victims. However, what is going to happen next? There are many inconsistencies, you mentioned them all. The situation in Syria, where we hear threats of strikes on Damascus and new fakes about chemical attacks precisely when the humanitarian mission achieved certain success. Plus, there are Russian elections. All of these situations are cooking in the same pot, so to speak. What do you think could happen next? At least, on the diplomatic front.
Maria Zakharova: Unfortunately, this question should be addressed not to politicians or official representatives. It should be addressed to political analysts, historians, maybe even philosophers. They can give a comprehensive evaluation, or, at least, start working on it, regarding the crisis of the political systems and the democratic foundations of the modern Western world.
The reason is simple: Everything we see, the circus, the show, the scary, bloody show, when people are dying, but all information is made secret, is needed to keep the internal economy grow. Generally speaking, in the modern post-colonial world, such performances ensure the forward movement for many Western political systems. It is a philosophical question.
Whether the UK will back away from its favorite way of solving problems by provocations, which reveal all the dirty side of the intrigues leading to such scary, tragic events, I can’t say. However, in the last 15 years we witnessed numerous lies coming from the official London, which were eventually unmasked by the international community, by human rights campaigners. This is a fact. It is a well-established fact.
Yes, there are events and critical points in the development of the states, countries, and nations, when secret operations must be conducted and the info must be kept secret. But there comes a time when the government representatives or officials responsible for public relations have to explain those secret acts to the public, and they do.
Here, on the other hand, we see intentional lies, and then cover up of these lies, just like it was in the story with Iraq. Just recall the history of the Iraq-related events. Not a mere representative, but the US Secretary of State brought a tube purported to contain the Iraqi chemical weapon, or something that can be a component of a chemical weapon, to the UN Security Council, and tried to make it the basis for the decision of this UN Security Council.
Who was against legitimizing this criminal ideology back then? I’ll remind you – it was Russia. And it was similarly subjected to information attacks. Unlike today, back then France and Germany had enough political courage to oppose the legitimization of the fabricated “information”. Thanks to this, the UN Security Council did not vote for the decision, and neither France nor Germany joined the anti-Iraq coalition. Whereas the UK joined it.
Moreover, the UK fabricated “proof” just like it does today or did in other cases. In the Litvinenko case everything was made secret; the same in the case of Berezovsky as well as in the case of Perepelichny.
When I talk to British journalists – and as you can imagine, in the last few days I talk to them daily and more than once a day – I ask them why all of that was kept secret? They tell me that many Russians died on UK territory. I say, yes, it is so, and we worry about it. We sent you numerous requests for information, so we ask why all of it is kept secret? They say, it is a National Security issue.
Now, like in the past, everything will be kept secret. As we see in the case of Skripals, even the state of their health is kept secret, even their whereabouts. The Russian side does not get any information, despite the fact that Skripal’s daughter is a citizen of the Russian federation.
Translated by Eugenia Gurevich (Youtube).