A Russian MP has claimed the UK government is behind the attack on Sergei Skripal and compared Theresa May to Adolf Hitler.
In an astonishing outburst on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, Vitaly Milonov said the nerve agent attack in Salisbury was “fake news” and called the former Polish foreign minister with whom he was discussing the issue a “prostitute”.
The MP for the ruling United Russia party said of Theresa May’s government: ‘They had to make this fantasy, they had to kill or to try to kill this poor pensioner.
‘This is a drama for British TV.
‘It is the behaviour of Hitler. Of Hitler when he blames someone.’
Discussing last week’s nerve agent attack, which left former Russian double agent Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, in hospital, Mr Milonov said: “It’s nothing to do with Russia.
“How can we respond to fake news? It’s nothing to do with Russian reality.
“We’ve been told that you think that a guy was imprisoned in Russia and was sent as a useless fake agent to you as an exchange in some spy drama, was killed, actually poisoned by some 50 years old Soviet-made gas.
“It’s not a story to discuss because we don’t have any agents that are not under the control of the special services.”
Vitaly Milanov, Russian MP, playing to every spy thriller villain stereotype on #r4today dismissing Ukraine as a ‘fake’ country, calls Poland ‘small’, compares a Polish politician to a prostitute & says Theresa May is behaving ‘like Hitler’
— Joel Taylor (@JoelTaylorhack) March 13, 2018
Russian MP Vitaly Milonov says Russia being involved with posioning is 'fake news' and 'nothing to do with reality'. Says Skripal is a 'useless' agent and the poison is available in Ukraine #r4today
— Natasha Clark (@NatashaC) March 13, 2018
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“This poison is 50 years old. It’s not modern stuff. You can create this poison from any laboratory in Ukraine or other fake countries that are happy to help you. I think this is something to deal with in theatre or a James Bond movie.”
Former Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski, who was also part of the interview, said Mr Milonov is “not a real MP” because “there are no democratic elections in Russia”.
In response, Mr Milonov said: “I would like to give all my greetings to a former Polish politician and I should say that it’s not the deal of any Polish prostitute to make comments on Russian elections.
“We don’t need any comments from Poland or any other small countries dependent on United States about our elections.”
He added: “Theresa May and her colleagues have created a fake story because they need an explanation to the British people and British business why they are going to perform some anti-British steps in favour of United States policy against Russia.”
It isn’t the first time Mr Milonov has caused controversy with his views.
In 2013, he said gay athletes should be arrested at the Sochi Winter Olympics and criticised Apple chief executive Tim Cook for his homosexuality.
An architect of Russia’s anti-gay laws, he said broadcaster Stephen Fry was “a sick person” because he tried to commit suicide.
Mr Fry interviewed the Russian politician in 2013. Mr Milonov said of homosexuality: “It is a shame and it is a sin but it is a personal choice.
“It is not normal but a person cannot be punished in Russia for being homosexual, or to live with a dog, with a horse, with a sheep, whatever.”
At Russia's National Grain Centre, I ask Vladimir Putin: "Is Russia behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal?" pic.twitter.com/5ve7U82Hwa
— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) March 13, 2018
Mrs May has given the Russian government until the end of Tuesday to provide an explanation about the nerve agent attack.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has so far dismissed questions about the Skripals.
When he was confronted during an election campaign visit, he told the BBC: “Get to the bottom of things there, then we’ll discuss this.”
Russia’s foreign ministry mocked Mrs May over her conclusion that it was “highly likely” Moscow was responsible for the nerve agent attack.
In a post on Twitter, the ministry’s official account used the hashtag #HighlyLikelyRussia – which has been used on social media as the basis of jokes for things to blame Moscow for.
The ministry of foreign affairs’ message said “sincere thanks to Mrs May for #HighlyLikelyRussia” along with a video suggesting the country was to blame for the recent snow to fall in the UK.
The message came as the ministry – through its ambassador in London Alexander Yakovenko – faced a midnight deadline to explain how military-grade Russian nerve agent came to be used in the Salisbury incident.
— MFA Russia (@mfa_russia) March 12, 2018
The Kremlin has denied responsibility and Moscow’s response has been to appear to taunt the UK.
Kirill Kleymenov, a presenter on Russian state TV, advised “traitors” against moving to Britain, adding: “Something is wrong there. Maybe it’s the climate, but in recent years there have been too many strange incidents with grave outcomes there.”
And another prominent broadcaster, Dmitry Kiselyov, suggested that the UK may have been behind the poisoning of the former double agent.
As a source, Mr Skripal was of little value, but “as a poisoning victim he is very useful” to harden British attitudes against Russia, he said.