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Kremlin says 'absurd' to link Russia to Novichok death

AFP logoAFP 7/9/2018

SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 09: Police stand guard on a cordon outside the John Baker House Sanctuary Supported Living in Salisbury on July 9, 2018 in Wiltshire, England. Police have launched a murder enquiry after Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok.  In March, Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Russian-made Novichok in the town of Salisbury. 
(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images) © Matt Cardy/Getty Images SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 09: Police stand guard on a cordon outside the John Baker House Sanctuary Supported Living in Salisbury on July 9, 2018 in Wiltshire, England. Police have launched a murder enquiry after Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok. In March, Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Russian-made Novichok in the town of Salisbury. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The Kremlin on Monday said it would be "absurd" to suggest Russia was involved in the death of a British woman exposed to the Novichok nerve agent.

"We don't know that Russia has been mentioned or associated with this," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

"We consider that in any case it would be quite absurd."

It was the Kremlin's first reaction to the poisoning of two British citizens exposed to Novichok near Salisbury in England, where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in March.

That poisoning sparked a tense diplomatic row between London and Moscow.

Peskov added that "we of course very much regret the death of the British citizen."

Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley were taken to hospital last weekend from a house in the town of Amesbury, around 12 kilometres (eight miles) from Salisbury, and were found to have been exposed to Novichok.

Police announced Sturgess's death on Sunday.

Russia is "deeply concerned by the continuing appearance of these poisonous substances on British territory," which "present a danger not just for the British but for all Europeans," Peskov said.

Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a nerve agent that was developed in the Soviet Union.

Both the Skripals have now been released from hospital and are living in a secret location.

Putin has said that if a military-grade nerve agent had been used against them, the victims would have died.

Peskov on Monday denied a suggestion by Russia's representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Alexander Shulgin that the incident appeared to be designed to damage preparations for a meeting between Putin and US President Donald Trump in Helsinki this month.

"It has nothing to do with the summit," Peskov said.

"It's more Britain's problem and the problem of how much Britain is interested in a real investigation."

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