Skripal Novichok Poisoning: Russia Says Video Evidence Is Beyond Absurd, Wants Fingerprints as Proof

After months of bemoaning the lack of proof that its agents poisoned a man on British soil, Russia has dismissed U.K. video recordings and images of the suspects and demanded further information and the men's fingerprints.

The reaction is the latest twist in a saga that commenced with the chemical attack on ex-Soviet double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in southern England earlier this year. British and international experts concluded that the Skripals were exposed to the Novichok nerve agent produced in the late Soviet Union,  pointing the answer to who might be behind the attack in the direction of Russia.

This week, the U.K. Metropolitan Police released images of the two Russian nationals suspected of carrying out the attack, tracing their steps in, across and out of the country on closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras. British authorities also found the Novichok dispenser used to taint the Skripals’ door in the form of a Nina Ricci perfume bottle.

“This is not just a theater of the absurd,” Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs said on the air of state broadcaster Rossiya 1’s 60 Minut (“60 Minutes”). “This is a real merry-go-round from hell, without a beginning or end.”

The new body of evidence from the police were more “endless, baseless allegations,” a bullish Zakharova said, accusing the U.K. of refusing Russia’s assistance with the investigation, and complaining that British police were able to progress this far without briefing Moscow.

Zakharova began her attack on the evidence by casting doubt over the veracity of the video stills, which show each of the two men arriving at London’s Gatwick airport.

“This is a still shot from the camera, right?” Zakharova said, pointing to the two images on top of one another. “Now look, it is the same place, the very same corridor, the time is the very same,” she said, as one of the hosts burst out laughing. The date and time on both stills reads “02/03/2018, 16:22:43,” though each only shows the suspects individually.

“Either this date and exact time are superimposed on the photographs or the officials of Russia’s GRU have learned to walk simultaneously, but their images are captured in two separate photographs,” Zakharova said, as one of the anchors giddily completed her sentence. “This is trolling on a godlike level.”

The footage does not actually show any discrepancy, according to Gatwick Airport’s press office, as a spokesperson for the airport told Newsweek that the two men were passing two individual passageways between the North Terminal’s airside and landside areas.

“Passengers who have flown into Gatwick exit into our arrivals area through individual gates,” she said. “This means multiple passengers can pass through this area at the same time—as per the images released by the police.”

The two men are pictured in the “same area, (but) different individual gates,” the spokesperson explained.

Zakharova dismissed the images that showed the two men making their way to the town of Salisbury, where the poisoning took place, and returning two days later to London, where they were photographed together at Heathrow Airport. She called for the men’s fingerprints.

"If, according to the British, these people traveled from the territory of Russia, then they must have received British visas,” she said. “Therefore, if you can be so kind, fingers on the table.”

The Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs has officially requested that the U.K. provides Moscow with the men’s fingerprints, state news agency Itar-Tass reported, citing Zakharova.

GettyImages-1027065696 Novichok poisoning suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are shown on closed-circuit TV at Salisbury train station, in Salisbury, England, on March 4. The two Russian nationals have been named as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Metropolitan Police/Getty Images

The British police said it suspected the passport details of the two men, including their names, to be false. It has not commented on the possibility that other details provided in their official documents were also unreliable.

The U.K. has also made clear that it does not intend to give Russia direct access to the ongoing investigation. British Ambassador to the United Nations Karen Pierce said that this "would be like Scotland Yard inviting in Professor Moriarty," referring to the nemesis of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.

A  Metropolitan Police spokesman asked by Newsweek to respond on Russia’s new demands and Zakharova’s media appearance said the service would not be reacting to Russian commentary. 

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