Moscow slams UK ‘Russophobia’ and ‘island mentality’ over spy attack

Poland’s Ambassador to Russia Wlodzimierz Marciniak arrives at the Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters to attend a meeting with the ministry’s experts on the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in an English city this month, Mar 21, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Moscow slams UK ‘Russophobia’ and ‘island mentality’ over spy attack

SALISBURY: Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have begun work at the scene of the nerve agent attack on former Russian agent Sergei Skripal in the English city of Salisbury, a Reuters photographer said.
The inspectors were seen arriving at the Mill pub in Salisbury where Skripal and his daughter Yulia had a drink on March 4.
The pair were later found unconscious on a bench outside The Maltings shopping center. They remain critically ill in hospital.

But a senior Foreign Ministry official indicated that Russia won’t recognize results of the OPCW investigation.
Vladimir Yermakov, deputy head of the Foreign Ministry’s department for non-proliferation, was asked during a briefing whether Moscow would accept the results of the OPCW probe.
Yermakov said that “unscrupulous efforts” to investigate the attack without sharing the case files with Moscow “is not going to work for us.”
Yermakov went on to slam Britain for refusing to cooperate in a probe into the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy on English soil, criticizing its “Russophobia” and “island mentality.”
“Pull yourselves away a little bit from your Russophobia, your island mentality,” Vladimir Yermakov, told a briefing of representatives of foreign diplomatic missions.

Britain said Wednesday that its ambassador in Moscow has snubbed the meeting.
The Kremlin slammed the absence of British ambassador Laurie Bristow, saying it showed London’s unwillingness to cooperate.
On Tuesday, Moscow had invited all ambassadors to Russia to a meeting with foreign ministry experts to hear its views on the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in an English city earlier this month. Several western diplomatic missions said their chiefs did not attend the meeting in solidarity with the UK.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has called for “transparency from Russia” over the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.
Merkel emphasized Germany’s solidarity with Britain in a speech to lawmakers in Berlin on Wednesday. She said that “a lot of evidence points to Russia and so transparency from Russia is required to quell the suspicion.”
Merkel added: “I would be happy if I didn’t have to name Russia here, but we can’t disregard evidence because we don’t want to name Russia.”


Macron fires bodyguard filmed beating protester; critics say too late

Updated 14 min 58 sec ago
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Macron fires bodyguard filmed beating protester; critics say too late

  • Alexandre Benalla, who as Macron’s top bodyguard has long been a fixture by his side, was taken into custody for police questioning over the incident, which took place when Benalla appeared at May Day protests in a riot helmet and police tags.
  • Lawmakers have launched a parliamentary inquiry into the incident itself, the lenient initial punishment and the failure of the authorities to report Benalla promptly to the judiciary.

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron fired the head of his personal security detail on Friday but faced criticism for failing to act sooner, after a video was released showing the man posing as a police officer and beating a protester while off duty in May.
Alexandre Benalla, who as Macron’s top bodyguard has long been a fixture by his side, was taken into custody for police questioning over the incident, which took place when Benalla appeared at May Day protests in a riot helmet and police tags.
He had initially been suspended for just 15 days and allowed to return to work. Just days ago he was seen in public helping to organize security for celebrations for the return of France’s World Cup champion soccer team.
Lawmakers have launched a parliamentary inquiry into the incident itself, the lenient initial punishment and the failure of the authorities to report Benalla promptly to the judiciary.
In the footage, which was released on Wednesday by Le Monde newspaper, Benalla can be seen dragging a woman away from a protest and later beating a male demonstrator. On Friday, French media released a second video which showed Benalla also manhandling the woman.
He had been given permission by the president’s office to attend the protests as an observer of the security operation, but had no authorization to take part in police work.
The president’s office brushed off accusations that it had responded only because the nearly three-month-old videos had become public. It said the decision had now been taken to fire Benalla because the bodyguard had improperly obtained a document while trying to make his case over the accusations.
“New facts that could constitute a misdemeanour by Alexandre Benalla were brought to the president’s attention,” an official at the presidential palace told Reuters. “As a result ... the presidency has decided to start Alexandre Benalla’s dismissal procedure.”
Critics of Macron called the president’s delayed response a characteristic sign that he is out of touch. It follows controversies over government spending on official crockery, a swimming pool at a presidential retreat and cutting remarks by the president about the costs of welfare.
After hours of debate in the lower house on Thursday, lawmakers agreed to launch a parliamentary inquiry.
“Why did he protect this person? Does he head up a parallel police force? Refusing to answer makes (Macron) complicit in these acts of violence,” Eric Ciotti, a senior member of the conservative Republicans party, said on Twitter.