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Friday 20 July 2018

Russian ambassador says Government should 'use common sense' in relation to spy poisoning case

RUSSIAN: Ambassador Yury Filtov. Photo: David Conachy
RUSSIAN: Ambassador Yury Filtov. Photo: David Conachy
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The Russian Ambassador to Ireland has said the Government should put the interests of the public first when responding to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England.

Yury Filatov urged the Government to "use common sense" following the expulsion of Russian diplomats from a number of European countries and the United States today.

Independent.ie revealed earlier that it is "highly likely" the Government will announce the expulsion of a Russian diplomat tomorrow.

Speaking to The Claire Byrne Show on RTÉ, Mr Filatov called for "common sense" to be deployed.

"It’s a real world. Every government is well within its own right to take actions, whichever it might want to do. But, my point and my concern is, whatever happens tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, we should be concerned about the best interests of the Irish public, and the best interests of the Russian public – the Irish-Russian relationship," he said.

"We have a huge amount of goodwill, we’ve had a very nice relationship – positive, constructive, stable, open dialogue, good business, and I don’t see anything which would really point to the necessity to ruin it. It’s a common sense approach."

Russia has continuously denied it was behind an attack on former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, in Salisbury earlier this month.

The pair were found unconscious on a public bench and it is believed they may have suffered brain damage due to the use of a Soviet-era military-grade nerve agent.

"My job is to be prepared in any case, but I don’t have any crystal ball, and I don’t know what will happen tomorrow," Mr Filatov said.

"I don’t want to talk about hypotheticals. The only thing I know for sure, from the onset of the whole incident on March 4th in Salisbury – the British Government has moved away from dealing with that in a responsible manner. So, they preferred to wage a propaganda campaign, unprecedented, surely."

When asked if Russia is particularly interested in Ireland because we host the headquarters of large tech companies, he slammed that as "complete rubbish".

"I’ve been reading those kinds of reports for two weeks now, and I am really amazed at the level of fantasy that people engage in, because what is the point of keeping an embassy to monitor an international company that is spread all over the world, you can do that from your home laptop computer, I mean it’s nonsense. We maintain business relationships – open, transparent, we assist businesses to establish contacts."

He said it "wouldn't be a good idea" to give advice to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, but urged for him to "use common sense" and "put the interests of our people first".

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