Number of anti-Russian articles in British media grows as Brexit nears — Russian embassy

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LONDON, February 15. /TASS/. The number of anti-Russian articles in the British media will grow as Brexit nears, an official from the Russian embassy in London said, commenting on media reports, which claimed that Russian intelligence agencies were involved in the alleged poisoning of Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev in 2015.

“We have seen many of such bogus stories that combine intelligence data and fake news. We are confident that as Brexit nears, the number of such anti-Russian articles will only grow,” the embassy official said.

“At the same time, we would like to reiterate that the allegedly ‘independent’ organization Bellingcat, on whose publications media reports are based, is clearly linked to western intelligence services. There is enough evidence of that. The fact that the results of its investigation concerning a Russian citizen named Sergey Fedotov, who visited Bulgaria at the time when Elimian Gebrev was poisoned, were made public through British media outlets only confirms our observations,” the embassy official noted.

What happened in Bulgaria

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said in an interview with the Guardian earlier that “a team of British investigators is in Bulgaria looking into whether the 2015 suspected poisoning of a local arms dealer has links to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter last year in Salisbury.”

The Daily Telegraph reported earlier, citing a source, that “a Russian military intelligence officer – using the false name Sergey Fedotov – travelled to the UK on the same day as two hitmen who carried out the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal.” According to the newspaper, “Fedotov was then booked on to the same flight back to Moscow with” the two others but he “checked himself and his baggage off the plane before departure.” “He could still have been running around Britain,” the paper quoted the source as saying.

The Times, in turn, said that “the Metropolitan Police and MI5 are understood to be examining the 2015 episode in which Emiliyan Gebrev, a Bulgarian arms dealer, was reportedly poisoned in an attack that he survived.” The newspaper added that Fedotov could have been involved in the poisoning incident.

Third suspect

Bellingcat alleged on Thursday that the third suspect in the Skripal poisoning was a Russian military intelligence (GRU) “officer, who operated internationally under the cover persona of Sergey Vyachaeslavovich Fedotov.” However, the Met Police declined to comment on this to TASS.

Skripal saga

According to London, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4, 2018. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia ever had any program aimed at developing such a substance.

On September 5, 2018, British Prime Minister Theresa May informed the country’s parliament about the conclusions that investigators looking into the Salisbury incident had come to, saying that two Russians, believed to be GRU agents, were suspected of conspiracy to murder the Skripals. The Metropolitan Police said their names were Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

In an interview with Russia’s RT TV channel, Petrov and Boshirov said they had visited Great Britain for tourist purposes. According to them, they are businessmen with no links to the GRU and have nothing to do with the Skripal case.

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