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Foreign Minister dismisses Russian claim Novichok may be Czech

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Prague, March 21 (CTK) – Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky dismissed again the Russian claim that the Novichok nerve agent that was used against a former Russian spy in Britain may have come from the Czech Republic as absurd after Russian Ambassador Alexander Zmeyevsky was summoned to the office on Wednesday.

Stropnicky said Zmeyevsky had not come up with any evidence supporting Moscow’s allegations.

If some measures are to be taken against Russia over the incident, the reaction should be coordinated within the whole of the EU, Stropnicky said.

In early March, former agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by Novichok, a combat substance. Britain has blamed Russia for the attack.

Dismissing the accusation, Moscow said the poison might have come from the Czech Republic, Slovakia or Sweden.

“The claim is absolutely beyond reality,” Stropnicky said, adding that Zmeyevsky had confirmed that the statements were based on the Czech Republic having at its disposal a chemical warfare unit for long.

“This has nothing in common with the gas in question,” Stropnicky said.

In its press release, the Foreign Ministry denoted the Russian statements as offensive and absolutely unsubstantiated.

“We regret it that Russia does not take into consideration the high price and considerable damage such statements cause in bilateral relations,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Zmeyevsky was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Ivo Sramek, which shows that the Czech authorities believe the affair is of major importance, Stropnicky said.

He added that if the situation escalated, he would meet the ambassador in person.

Stropnicky said he still hoped the situation would calm down.

It is crucial that Russia should accept the British demand that the chemical attack should be investigated and that it cooperate with the investigators, which has been rejected by Moscow.

Stropnicky declined to speak about the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

He said exaggerated reactions should be avoided.

It is vital for all EU countries to agree on a concerted and coordinated strategy, Stropnicky said. He presumed that European heads of state would make a strong appeal to Russia to cooperate with Britain at the EU summit on Thursday and Friday.

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