Russia dismisses British arson allegations as provocation

Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov holds annual press conference in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - British allegations of Russian involvement in an arson attack in Britain are absurd and part of an information war against Moscow, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

Zakharova said Russia considered such allegations provocative and never carried out sabotage attacks against civilian targets.

She was referring to a case in which Britain last month charged a man over alleged hostile state activity intended to benefit Russia, including by allegedly recruiting others for an arson attack on a Ukrainian-linked commercial property in London.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron has voiced deep concern about the allegations, and his ministry last month summoned Russia's ambassador to London to express its concern about "Russian orchestrated malign activity on UK soil".

Zakharova told reporters at her weekly briefing: "We consider the appearance of such provocative materials as the latest salvo in an information war that Downing Street has unleashed against our country."

"These attempts are pathetic... The accusations made are not only absurd, but also not supported by any facts," she said, urging Britain to halt its "anti-Russian hysteria".

Relations between Russia and Britain were in a dire state even before the Ukraine war and have declined further as London has played a prominent role in arming Ukraine and imposing sanctions against Moscow.

(Reporting by Dmitry Antonov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov and Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)