Russia is broadcasting 21 separate conspiracy theories over the Salisbury spy poisoning, according to Boris Johnson.
The Foreign Secretary said that the Kremlin have been ‘pumping out a deluge of lies’ ever since spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia were taken to intensive care following the nerve agent attack.
He wrote: ‘So far, my colleagues at the Foreign Office have identified 21 theories broadcast by the Russian state media, ranging from the sublime (Skripal overdosed because he was addicted to novichok) to the absurd (America did it to “destabilise the world”) to the offensive (the UK poisoned its own city to spoil the World Cup).’
Mr Johnson said that multiple expulsions of Russian diplomats from Britain’s allies was ‘a moment when the cynicism of the propaganda machine was exposed for all to see’.
He added: ‘There was a time when this tactic of sowing doubt might have been effective, but no one is fooled any more.’
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Russia said the claims of multiple conspiracy theories were designed to ‘try and confuse the picture’.
A statement posted on the Russian Embassy website read: ‘This only confirms the openness of the Russian society and the independence of Russian media, which Prime Minister May wrongly confuses with the Russian state.
‘Given the lack of official information, every Russian, just like every Briton, is entitled to their own version of events.
‘Let’s also not forget that at least five different versions of the poisoning have been ‘leaked’ by the police to British media: the Skripals were either poisoned in a pub, or in a restaurant, or in their car, or by putting the chemical into Ms Skripal’s suitcase, or by smearing their door handle.
‘To see Russia being accused of spreading false rumours in this context is rather surprising.’
Sergei and Yulia Skripal remain in intensive care and the spy’s niece said her uncle and cousin have only a slim chance of surviving.
Viktoria Skripal said the prognosis for the pair ‘really isn’t good’, as the pair remain in a critical condition following the attack on 4 March.
She also revealed that Mr Skripal’s mother had not been told of the incident.
She told the BBC: ‘Out of 99% I have maybe 1% of hope. Whatever it was has given them a very small chance of survival. But they’re going to be invalids for the rest of their lives.’
She added: ‘The first priority was to protect our granny so that she wouldn’t hear or find out anything.’