I am sure that many of your readers were as surprised as I was by your editorial yesterday (“World Cup Soccer in Russia and Novichok in Britain”). May I suggest that they can expect better of your newspaper than to publish as its own views Russian State disinformation about the use of deadly nerve agents on the streets of the United Kingdom? One innocent woman died as a result of her exposure to the Russian ‘Novichok’ nerve agent while your paper was being printed. No good end will be served by trivialising her murder.
In March this year, two people were attacked in England in what has been described as the first chemical weapons attack on European soil since the Second World War. Analysis by international experts confirmed that a Russian military grade nerve agent had been used. There was and is no plausible alternative explanation of the events other than that the Russian State was responsible. The attacks were followed by a wave of disinformation by Russian officials who put out dozens of alternative narratives. The allegations you set out in your editorial are among the many conspiracy theories that have been promoted in order to distract attention from what was done. Around the world, the same has been happening again since last week’s poisonings.
In my article in your paper published on June 24, I set out my hope that Sri Lanka would join countries from every continent in condemning unequivocally chemical weapons attacks wherever they take place at a meeting of parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague that week. Though many countries were the subjects of intensive Russian lobbying to vote against, the international community voted overwhelmingly in favour of strengthening international safeguards against the use of chemical weapons. The result is one we should all celebrate.
I share the welcome you give in your editorial to the success of the World Cup being hosted in Russia. We will all have been touched by the warmth of the reception that Russian citizens in their hundreds of thousands have been giving to football fans from across the world. We must hope that the Russian Government will in future choose to show the same goodwill by preventing, and giving its support to measures to control, the use of chemical weapons everywhere.
British High Commissioner