The influential head of Russia’s RT news network has hinted at Russia’s role in the poisoning of the former spy Sergei Skripal, in a remarkable post that contradicts the Kremlin’s official position on the incident.
In a post on her Telegram channel on Monday, Margarita Simonyan appeared to acknowledge Russia’s part in the Skripal poisoning when she wrote that Russian “professionals who want to admire spires” should travel to Estonia to go after the alleged killer of Darya Dugina, the daughter of an ultra-nationalist Russian ideologue who was killed in a car bomb on Saturday night.
Russia has accused Ukraine’s intelligence services of carrying out the murder of Dugina, and said the allegedly perpetrator fled across the Russian border into Estonia shortly after committing the murder.
“Dasha’s killers are already in Estonia. Estonia, of course, will not extradite them. I am sure we have professionals who want to admire the spires in the vicinity of Tallinn,” Simonyan wrote, a clear reference to the two Russian GRU agents – Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – accused of poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal on UK soil in March 2018.
The two men, who have since been charged by the UK over the poisoning in Wiltshire, famously told Simonyan in an interview with RT in 2018 that they were travelling to the “wonderful” Salisbury as tourists to visit the city’s “world-famous 123-metre spire”.
Russia has always vehemently denied any involvement in the poisoning, although Vladimir Putin has previously called the double agent Skripal a “scumbag” and a “traitor”.
Simonyan is said to have a direct line to the Kremlin on her desk and was given an award by Putin for “objectivity” after the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
It would not be the first time that Russia has changed its official line on a major development. Weeks after Russia annexed Crimea, Putin admitted he had “of course” deployed troops to the peninsula, having earlier insisted that the troops were “local self-defence forces”.