Russian Officials Say Dawn Sturgess Poisoning Was 'Anti-Russian Provocation' by British Government

The Amesbury poisoning incident that killed a woman was an "anti-Russian provocation" likely conducted by British government officials, according to the Russian Embassy.

Both the Russian Embassy to the U.K. and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are rejecting U.K. government officials' claims blaming them for the Sunday death of 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess. Russia's official Foreign Affairs Twitter account called the accusations an absurd part of the "Russians did it" mantra.

According to the U.K.'s top anti-terrorism official, the A-234 Novichok nerve agent is the same chemical used in March on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia just a few miles away in southwestern England.

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Emergency workers in protective suits search around John Baker House Sanctuary Supported Living after a major incident was declared when a man and woman were exposed to the Novichok nerve agent on July 6 in Salisbury, England. The couple, named locally as Dawn Sturgess 44, and Charlie Rowley, 45 were taken to Salisbury District Hospital on Saturday. Jack Taylor | Getty Images

British police told Reuters they believe Sturgess and partner Charlie Rowley handled an item contaminated with the Novichok nerve agent poison this weekend. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson blamed Russia for the "Novichok death" but police said they have no evidence to connect the Salisbury poisoning in March and the Sturgess poisoning Sunday. Police are investigating the death of Sturgess, a mother of three children, as a homicide.

"As I've said before, there is no evidence that either Dawn or Charlie visited any of the sites that were decontaminated following the attempted murders of Sergei and Yulia Skripal," Scotland Yard's counterterrorism chief Neil Basu announced Monday. "The investigation must be led by the evidence available and the facts alone. Our focus and priority at this time is to identify and locate any container that we believe may be the source of the contamination."

The Russian Embassy in the Netherlands issued a response to claims they were tied to the poisoning in a statement Monday. "Without access to the investigation files and to our two citizens (the Skripals), we will consider the incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury as an irresponsible anti-Russian provocation by official London."

The statement added that blame on the Russian government for either the Skripal or Sturgess poisonings are "quite absurd...we continue to be deeply worried by the continuing presence of these poisonous substances on British territory. We consider that it is a danger not only for the British, but for other Europeans," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday.

The Russians condemned Williamson's comments. "Gavin Williamson's claim that Russia has something to do with death of Dawn Sturgess is just the same old mantra #russiansdidit. Could you perhaps come up with something new? A proper and careful investigation for instance?" the country's official Ministry of Foreign Affairs account tweeted.

The Russian government previously accused British intelligence officials of carrying out the Skripal poisoning as a way to stir up anti-Moscow sentiment. Kremlin officials issued a statement earlier Monday noting the proximity of the Porton Down Laboratory to the poisonings. The statement squarely pointed blame back at British intelligence and called for a joint investigation to be conducted by both governments. The Russian Embassy in the U.K. also offered their condolences at the loss of Sturgess.

"What can be said in this regard? After the hell visited upon Russia by official London after the international hate campaign launched by the UK Government against our country and our people in the past months, there is much which could be said today," the Foreign Affairs Ministry statement read. Maria Zakharova, the Foreign Affairs Ministry's director of information and author of the statement, repeatedly cited evidence they are being unfairly persecuted before adding several times, "but I am not going to get into that."

Russian Officials Say Dawn Sturgess Poisoning Was 'Anti-Russian Provocation' by British Government | World