Anchor claims attack was meant to fuel Russophobia and as a pretext for World Cup boycott

A leading Russian state news anchor has suggested Britain masterminded the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury.

In a nationwide broadcast watched by millions, Dmitry Kiselyov, the anchor for the flagship Russia 24 news broadcast, Vesti Nedeli, said Skripal could have been sacrificed as a pretext for an international boycott of the 2018 World Cup.

” Why not poison him ?” said Kiselyov.” Is he so valuable? And do it with his daughter to turn it into a real tear-jerker for the public .”

Russian state media broadcasts do not always perfectly reflect the opinions of the Kremlin. However, television station heads work in close collaboration with the government.

The remarks came before a meeting of the UK's national security council on Monday morning to discuss the response to events in Salisbury, amid speculation that Theresa May is facing pressure from some ministers to take a tough line if it is decided that Russia was behind the 4 March nerve agent attack in Salisbury that has left Skripal, 66, and his daughter, 33, in critical condition.

Before Monday's meeting, Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the Commons foreign affairs committee, told the BBC that the poisoning seemed” like it was state-sponsored attempted assassination “.

Kiselyov is sometimes referred to as “Putin's chief propagandist” and been rewarded for his coverage with a primetime news broadcast and the leadership of Russia's RIA Novosti news agency.

He is best known for telling viewers in March 2014 that Russia was the only country in the world that could turn the US into” radioactive ash “. Days later he was hit with EU sanctions tied to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Quick guide

Timeline: the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal

1. 30 pm

Police have confirmed that Skripal and his daughter were in Salisbury city centre by 1.30 pm. It is not known if they strolled from his house or whether the government has drove or were driven in.

Between 1.30 pm and around 4pm

Skripal and his daughter strolled around Salisbury and visited the Zizzi restaurant on Castle Street and the nearby Mill pub. They are believed to have been in Zizzi for about 40 minutes from 2.30 pm.

3. 47 pm

A CCTV camera at Snap Fitness in Market Walk captured two people initially thought to be Skripal and his daughter. The girl appeared to be carrying a red handbag. Later it became clear the pair were probably not the Russian and his daughter. Police have been keen to speak to the couple.

4. 03 pm

The same camera capture personal trainer Freya Church. She turned left out of the gym and in front of her watch Skripal and the woman on a bench at the Maltings shopping mall. She said the woman had passed out and the man was behaving strangely. Church strolled on.

4. 08 pm

Footage that emerged on Friday from a local business showed that people were still strolling casually through Market Walk.

Approx 4.15 pm

A member of the public dialled 999. The Friday footage presents an emergency vehicle racing through the pedestrianised arcade shortly after 4.15 pm. A paramedic also ran through. Police and paramedics worked on the couple at the scene for almost an hour in ordinary uniforms.

5. 11 pm

The woman was airlifted to hospital; Skripal was taken by road.

5. 13 pm

Images taken by a passerby show that officers were still clearly unaware of the severity of the situation. They did not have specialist protective attire and members of the public also strolled nearby.

5. 48 pm

Police told Salisbury Journal they were investigating a possible drug-related incident. At about this time officers identified Skripal and his daughter and by Sunday evening they were at his home- in normal uniform or street clothes. At some phase DS Nick Bailey , now seriously ill in hospital, visited the Skripal house, but it is not known where he was contaminated.

Approx 8.20 pm

Officers donned protective suits to examine the bench and surrounding areas.

By 9pm

Officers were hosing themselves down. It was not until the next day that a major incident was declared.

Photograph: Ben Stansall/ AFP

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