Sergei Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back at Russia over spy attack
• Ministers prepare to announce sanctions • Health experts upgrade contamination warnings
Oliver Wright, Policy Editor | Fiona Hamilton, Crime & Security Editor
March 12 2018, 12:01am,
Military personnel study a diagram of a Salisbury car park as the investigation continues a week after the poison attack
Theresa May is on the verge of publicly blaming Russia for the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and ordering expulsions and sanctions against President Putin’s regime.
An announcement could come as early as today after a meeting of the government’s National Security Council at which ministers will be presented with the latest intelligence on the Salisbury attack.
Senior government sources suggested that the police and security services had established sufficient evidence to link Moscow with the nerve agent used to try to kill the former Russian double agent and his 33-year-old daughter. One said that ministers were preparing to take a “hard line on early action”.
Police and public health experts have upgraded their warnings about possible contamination, saying that hundreds of people…
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/serg ... -tbwfvhfhh
Nerve agent used to 'poison' Russian spy Sergei Skripal found at Zizzi
1 hour ago
ES News Email
Police have discovered traces of the nerve agent used against the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the restaurant where they ate before they were found collapsed on a bench.
During an ongoing forensic examination, the substance was found at Zizzi in Salisbury.
The pair are currently in critical condition in hospital.
No-one else who was at the restaurant at the time is thought to be at risk, nor has it been suggested that their fellow diners had anything to do with the suspected attack, the BBC reported.
Amber Rudd confirms Sergei Skripal and daughter remain in critical condition
Zizzi is one of five sites that are currently being scoured for evidence by police.
Other areas that are under investigation are Mr Skripal’s home, the Mill pub which was visited by the Skripals, the bench where the father and daughter were found and the cemetery where Mr Skripal’s wife and son are buried.
A police vehicle near the Zizzi restaurant which has been cordoned off by police in Salisbury (EPA)
Armed forces personnel were assisting the police with the probe for the third day on Sunday.
Soldiers were seen at the South Western Ambulance Service station on Saturday as a vehicle was winched on to the back of an Army low-loader and taken away.
It comes as Home Secretary Amber Rudd said police investigating the suspected nerve agent attack in Salisbury have identified more than 240 witnesses and 200 pieces of evidence.
There was further police activity at the London Road cemetery on Saturday, where officers in hazmat suits had removed items and covered his son's memorial stone with a forensic tent.
Police cordoned off the memorial stone of Mr Skripal's son (PA)
Scotland Yard said no exhumations had taken place.
Speaking following a meeting of the government's Cobra emergencies committee, Ms Rudd said there were more than 250 officers from eight out of 11 of the country's counter-terrorism units involved in the investigation.
She said: "I want to stress that they are proceeding with speed and professionalism. We are putting in enormous resources to ensure that they have all the support that they need to do that."
Ms Rudd said it was still too early to say who was responsible for the attack.
Yulia Scripal: The former Russian spy's daughter may have been poisoned over an anti-Vladimir Putin social media post (Facebook)
She said: "This investigation is focused on making sure that we keep people safe and also that we collect all the evidence so that when it comes to attribution (of the attack) we will be absolutely clear where it should be," she said.
"The police have said that if anybody thinks they have any additional information they would welcome them coming forward.
"There is also substantial amounts of CCTV they have to go through. This is a painstaking, detailed investigation and the police need to be given the space and time to get on with it."
Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia are still fighting for their lives after being exposed to a toxic substance in the Wiltshire city.
Mr Bailey, who was part of the initial response by authorities, also remains in hospital, although he released a statement thanking people for their support.
Double agent: Sergei Skripal was found unconscious in Salisbury, where he has been living a quiet retirement
The statement read: "Nick would like us to say on his behalf that he and his family are hugely grateful for all the messages of support from the public, and colleagues from the police family. People have been so kind and he has expressed that he will never forget that kindness.
"He also wishes to say that he was part of a group of officers and other emergency service colleagues who dealt with the initial incident.
"He wants to say that he does not consider himself a 'hero', he states he was merely doing his job - a job he loves and is immensely proud of - just like all of his other dedicated colleagues do, day in day out, in order to protect the public and keep people safe.
"He would like to thank everyone once again for all of their kind thoughts and best wishes, they are truly appreciated.
"He asks respectfully that the media allow his family privacy at this difficult time."
Sergei Skripal: What we know so far
Police said 21 people had been seen for medical treatment since the incident.
The figure includes members of the public and emergency staff, some of whom have had blood tests as well as receiving support and advice.
The attack is being treated as attempted murder.
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/nerv ... 86846.html
Russian spy latest: Britain to raise Sergei Skripal poisoning case with Nato allies
Adam LusherSaturday 10 March 2018 19:25 GMT
Development comes as Home Secretary Amber Rudd reveals the investigation now involves more than 250 counter terrorism police officers.
Britain is to discuss the poisoning of Sergei Skripal with its Nato allies, British Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood has said Getty
Britain is to raise the Sergei Skripal poisoning case with its Nato allies, a defence minister has revealed.
With military chemical weapons experts now investigating the suspected nerve agent attack and Home Secretary Amber Rudd chairing an emergency Cobra meeting on Saturday afternoon, Tobias Ellwood said the Government intended to discuss the case at Nato level.
“We mustn’t get ahead of ourselves, but we must have a robust response and it’s something that we’ll be discussing with our Nato partners,” the defence minister said.
“Some big questions arise, as to how do you stand up to a clandestine and sinister attack deliberately done to play havoc in our society?”
His firm line appeared to be backed by the security minister Ben Wallace, who mentioned Britain’s “powerful allies” as he said the Government was ready to respond with “the full force of the United Kingdom’s resources” once investigators had established who was behind the attack.
Mr Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Once we have established the facts and the attribution, the Government and law enforcement and others will respond appropriately.
“We will respond with the full force of the United Kingdom’s resources if that is the appropriate and proportionate thing to do.”
“There are lots of things that the United Kingdom can do,” Mr Wallace added. “It is a powerful country with a powerful economy, powerful allies, powerful military and powerful other capabilities – and we shall look at all those.”
Sergei Skripal: Forensic police inspect cemetery in Salisbury in connection with Russian spy poisoning case
After Saturday’s Cobra meeting, Ms Rudd revealed that the investigation of the suspected nerve agent attack on Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia had now become a massive operation involving more than 250 counter terrorism police officers.
Investigators have now identified over 240 witnesses and are looking at more than 200 pieces of evidence.
Mr Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter remain seriously ill in hospital. Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, one of the first to come to their assistance when they collapsed on Sunday, is also still in hospital.
He was, however, able to release a statement via Wiltshire Police on Saturday, saying he was not a hero and had only been doing his job.
The mention of Nato suggests a potential further hardening of Government attitudes towards Russia, from a point where tensions were already high even before the events in Salisbury.
On Monday, hours before it became clear that Mr Skripal had been poisoned, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson was telling MPs: “Vladimir Putin has made it quite clear that he has hostile intent towards this country. We have to wake up to that threat and we have to respond to it.”
If the investigation does prove Russian state involvement, the Government will face intense pressure to produce a strong response.
It has already been accused of emboldening Russia with a “weak” reaction to the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, who had radioactive polonium slipped into his tea at a London hotel in 2006.
In 2016 a public inquiry found there was a “strong probability” that Mr Litvinenko’s killers were acting on behalf of the Russian secret service in an operation “probably approved” by Mr Putin.
Theresa May, then the Home Secretary, told MPs she would be seeking European arrest warrants for the two suspected killers, and said there would be a Treasury freeze on the pair’s assets.
UK news in pictures
She added that the UK had been “leading” on EU sanctions that were already in place against Russia as a result of the Ukraine crisis.
But she and then Prime Minister David Cameron were accused of going soft on Moscow and taking only symbolic action. The inquiry reported a month after Mr Cameron and Mr Putin had pledged to “work together” to defeat Isis in Syria.
Some MPs and Mr Litvinenko’s widow Marina had been calling for the expulsion of all Russian security service officers from Britain, for action against “dirty money” invested in London and for Britain to reconsider its involvement in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
At the time, Ms Litvinenko’s lawyer Ben Emmerson said Government inaction would be “craven”.
After Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned, Bill Browder, a British businessman who has campaigned to expose high-level corruption in Russia, told MPs: “The consequences of the Litvinenko inquiry were laughably inadequate, and have basically given the Russian government and Putin a green light to do more hits on UK soil.”
A similar argument was advanced by Tory MP John Whittingdale, the former Culture Secretary, who told Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Tuesday that it was “two years since the public inquiry concluded that President Putin almost certainly approved the murder of Mr Litvinenko.”
“Is it not therefore clear,” Mr Whittingdale demanded, “that existing sanctions are failing to deter Russia, possibly even from carrying out further assassinations on British soil, and that the time has come to impose far tougher sanctions against targeted individuals associated with President Putin’s regime?”
In reply, Mr Johnson said: “If the suspicions of members on all sides of this House are indeed confirmed, then that is going to have to be one of the options we look at.”
It is unclear what collective action – if any – Nato might take if investigators were able to confirm widespread suspicions that Russia is behind the poisoning of Mr Skripal and his daughter.
The first time that Nato invoked the collective defence principle enshrined in Article 5 of its founding treaty was in response to the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.
Nato also announced collective defence measures in 2014 in response to what was seen as Russia’s annexation of the Crimea from Ukraine.
The measures adopted consisted largely of increased military presences and shows of strength. Nato increased its presence in the south east of the alliance area, which is centred on a multinational brigade in Romania.
The alliance also stepped up its policing of airspace over the Black Sea and bolstered the defences of eastern European Nato members by deploying multinational battalions in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Yulia Skripal and her father were found unconscious on a Salisbury park bench (Yulia Skripal/Facebook)
Russia has vehemently denied involvement in the nerve agent attack and accused British politicians of engaging in “pure propaganda”.
Security officials, however, have said the specific chemical used would have been difficult to obtain and could only have come from a state run or state-licensed laboratory.
This, though, does not rule out the possibility of freelance action by aggrieved Russian agents still bitter at the way Mr Skripal betrayed his comrades by passing on the identities of operatives to the British.
A senior British diplomat who had served in Moscow told The Independent: “Skripal was an MI6 agent who was highly successful and who passed on the identities of Russian spies, supposedly in return for money. So he had betrayed lots of his comrades, he had made lots of enemies. Maybe this was payback.”
It has been reported that Mr Skripal, codenamed “Forthwith” by his British handlers, was even able to hand over the entire telephone directory of the GRU, Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency.
It was said the double agent spent nearly ten years handing over secrets after MI6 first made contact with him when he was spying for Russia in Spain in July 1995.
MI6 reportedly ended up buying Mr Skripal a timeshare holiday home near Malaga, and his case officer would allegedly fly out to see him, paying between $5,000 and $6,000 in cash at the end of every visit.
But in December 2004 Mr Skripal was arrested by the Russians. He was jailed for treason in 2006 but freed in 2010, in what is thought to have been the biggest spy swap since the Cold War.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/cr ... 49771.html
If the case against Russia is proved, charge Putin with the attempted murder of Sergei Skripalseemslikeadream » Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:10 pm wrote:Critically ill man is former Russian spy
Sergei Skripal speaks to his lawyer from behind bars seen on a screen of a monitor outside a courtroom in Moscow.Associated Press
Sergei Skripal, pictured here on the day of his sentencing in August 2006, was jailed for 13 years
A man who is critically ill after being exposed to an unknown substance in Wiltshire is a Russian national convicted of spying for Britain, the BBC understands.
Sergei Skripal, who is 66, was granted refuge in the UK following a "spy swap" between the US and Russia in 2010.
He and a woman in her 30s were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping centre in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon.
The substance has not been identified.
Police are investigating whether a crime has been committed, following the incident at the Maltings shopping centre.
Col Skripal, who is a retired Russian military intelligence officer, was jailed for 13 years in 2006 for spying for Britain.
Sergei Skripal: Who is the former Russian colonel?
He was convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.
Russia said Col Skripal had been paid $100,000 for the information, which he had been supplying from the 1990s.
He was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in exchange for 10 US spies in 2010, as part of a swap. Col Skripal was later flown to the UK.
He and a woman, aged in her 30s, are both in intensive care at Salisbury District Hospital.
Witness: "They looked like they'd been taking something quite strong"
A number of locations in the city centre were cordoned off and the A&E department was closed as teams in full protective gear used hoses to decontaminate the street.
Neighbours at Sergei Skripal's home in Salisbury say police arrived around 17:00 GMT on Sunday and have been there ever since.
They said he was friendly and in recent years had lost his wife.
Eyewitness Freya Church told the BBC it looked like the two people had taken "something quite strong".
She said: "On the bench there was a couple, an older guy and a younger girl. She was sort of leant in on him, it looked like she had passed out maybe.
"He was doing some strange hand movements, looking up to the sky."
Decontamination work at Salisbury Hospital
Public Health England has not confirmed what the substance was
Decontamination work at Salisbury Hospital
The hospital's A&E was closed on Monday while two people were treated
In a statement on Monday evening, Wiltshire Police said the pair had no visible injuries but were found unconscious.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said: "Because we are still at the very early stages of the investigation, we are unable to ascertain whether or not a crime has taken place."
The force is appealing for anyone with information to call them immediately on 999, adding officers do not believe there is any risk to the wider public.
Public Health England said in an updated statement that its specialists would be joining a "specially-convened group" to consider the Salisbury incident.
What were the charges against Col Skripal?
Col Skripal was convicted of "high treason in the form of espionage" by Moscow's military court in August 2006. He was stripped off all his titles and awards.
He was alleged by the Russian security service (FSB) to have begun working for the British secret services while serving in the army in the 1990s.
He had been passing information classified as state secrets and been paid for the work by MI6, the FSB claimed.
Col Skripal pleaded guilty at his trial and co-operated with investigators, reports said at the time.
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43295134Former Russian double agent ill in U.K. after exposure to unknown substance
The Red Square on the anniversary of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's death. Photo: Mladen Antonov / AFP / Getty Images
A Russian who was jailed in 2006 for spying for Britain has been hospitalized in Salisbury, England, after being exposed to an unknown substance Sunday, the BBC reports. Police declared it a major incident, and the former spy and his girlfriend, who were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping mall, are both in critical condition, per The Guardian.
Other Russians have died in England under suspicious circumstances: In 2006, former KGB officer and whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium in London. In 2012, whistleblower Alexander Perepilichny died from a toxin while jogging in England.
The spying backdrop: Sergei Skripal, 66, is a retired Russian military intelligence colonel.
He was convicted for sharing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover operations in Europe with MI6, Britain’s intelligence service. Russia’s intelligence service, the FSB, claimed that Skripal had been passing the information on since the 1990s and had been paid $100,000 for it. Skripal pleaded guilty in 2006 and cooperated with investigators, per the BBC.
The Russian government pardoned him in 2010, and he was later released in exchange for 10 deep cover Russian spies arrested by the FBI in a U.S.-Russian prisoner swap. After the swap in Vienna, Skripal went to Britain and “kept a low profile," according to the BBC.
https://www.axios.com/former-russian-sp ... 30377.html
Simon TisdallSat 10 Mar 2018 16.01 EST
The Salisbury poisoning is a brazen attack on a sovereign country and cannot go unpunished
Military personnel in protective suits
Military personnel wearing protective suits cover two ambulances with tarpaulin. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
The attempted murder of Sergei Skripal has shed uncomfortable light on Britain’s vulnerability to foreign threats, some potentially emanating from foreign governments, against its sovereignty, security, citizens’ safety and laws.
The brazen nature and public execution of the plot to kill Skripal is disturbing for many reasons. It suggests respect for Britain, its values and its law enforcement capabilities is so diminished that it is seen as an easy venue for score-settling.
Or was the plot intended, at least in part, to deliberately discredit and humiliate the British government? A handful of countries might have cause to do that. But only one or two possess the rare nerve agent, the sheer malice and the ruthless audacity evident in this case.
In 1850 Lord Palmerston, then foreign secretary, stood before the House of Commons and enunciated the principle of universal protection for British citizens everywhere, in the teeth of continental and Ottoman absolutism.
“As the Roman, in days of old, held himself free from indignity, when he could say civis Romanus sum [I am a Roman citizen]; so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him against injustice and wrong,” he said.
Nowadays not only is Britain incapable of protecting its citizens abroad – just look at the shameful case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, unjustly jailed in Tehran – it also struggles to protect British citizens on home soil, including foreign nationals taking refuge here. One cause of vulnerability is the widely held perception that Britain is little more than a US satrapy, faithfully following Washington’s lead. When politicians extol the “special relationship”, they compound the damage to Britain’s reputation as an independent actor. Even so, don’t look for help from Donald Trump.
In dealing with modern-day authoritarian regimes, Britain is at an even greater disadvantage. At least the US broadly shares its democratic values. Chinese and Russian leaders suffer no such constraints. Today Xi Jinping will be consecrated de facto president for life. Vladimir Putin, in effect, already holds that position in Russia. Such unchecked power affords enormous freedom of action that British politicians lack.
Past British bluster and prevarication weaken this country’s hand. After Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian defector, was murdered in London in 2006, politicians such as Theresa May, then home secretary, failed forcefully to pursue the state-sponsored Russian perpetrators, even after their identity was known.
The people who attacked Skripal may calculate the response now will be similarly weak-kneed. They may also assume that, as with Litvinenko, Britain will again feebly shy away from open confrontation and hope the problem fades from view.
May says that if Russia is proved culpable in Salisbury, “full-spectrum” counter-measures will be applied. But she is badly short of ammo. Diplomatic expulsions are a two-edged sword. Sanctions are already being applied, related to Ukraine, without much effect.
Further action of that kind can only happen via the EU, where May is busy burning bridges. To pretend that bad feeling caused by Brexit will have no impact on future European cooperation in such cases is delusional. May could appeal to the UN. But there she faces a Russian veto.
Targeting financial dealings, including alleged money laundering, might be a more promising avenue. But if the Kremlin really is to blame for this latest outrage, the best response is also the simplest: charge Putin with attempted murder.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... ted-murder
seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:40 am wrote:Russian spy: Sergei Skripal collapsed alongside daughter
Police are looking at CCTV footage of a man and woman walking near the bench where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found
The woman found slumped on a shopping centre bench alongside a former Russian agent convicted of spying for Britain is his daughter, it has emerged.
Yulia Skripal, in her 30s, and father Sergei, 66, are critically ill in hospital after being found unconscious in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on Sunday.
UK police are trying to find out what "unknown substance" harmed the pair.
A number of emergency services workers were assessed immediately after the incident - and one remains in hospital.
Russia insists it has "no information" on what could have led to the incident, but says it is open to co-operate in the police investigation if requested.
Police officers near a forensic tent in SalisburyGetty Images
A forensic tent covers the area where the couple were found
Former agent Mr Skripal, whose wife, son and older brother have all died in the past two years, was granted refuge in the UK following a "spy swap" in 2010.
Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, told journalists that Moscow was prepared to help with the investigation.
"We see this tragic situation but we don't have information on what could have led to this, what he was engaged in," he said.
Police are currently examining CCTV footage, filmed by a Salisbury gym, showing an unidentified man and woman walking near to the location where Mr Skripal and his daughter were found.
Map showing Salisbury incident areas
Wiltshire Police said the pair, found at The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, had no visible injuries - but that officers were investigating whether a crime had been committed.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said the police's "major incident" response was not a counter-terrorism investigation - but that multiple agencies were involved and they were keeping an "open mind".
Meanwhile, police have cordoned off a nearby Zizzi restaurant and The Bishop's Mill pub "as a precaution".
Presentational grey line
Who is Sergei Skripal?
Sergei Skripal speaks to his lawyer from behind bars seen on a screen of a monitor outside a courtroom in Moscow.Associated Press
Sergei Skripal, pictured here on the day of his sentencing in August 2006, was jailed for 13 years
Col Skripal, a retired Russian military intelligence officer, was jailed for 13 years by Russia in 2006.
He was convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.
In July 2010, he was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in exchange for 10 Russian spies arrested by the FBI as part of a swap. He was later flown to the UK.
Read more about Sergei Skripal's background here.
Putin, power and poison: Russia’s elite FSB spy club
Presentational grey line
An eyewitness, Freya Church, told the BBC she saw the pair sitting on the bench: "An older guy and a younger girl. She was sort of leant in on him, it looked like she had passed out maybe.
"He was doing some strange hand movements, looking up to the sky...
"They looked so out of it I thought even if I did step in I wasn't sure how I could help."
Witness: "They looked like they'd been taking something quite strong"
The possibility of an unexplained substance being involved has drawn comparisons with the 2006 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.
The Russian dissident and former intelligence officer died in London after drinking tea laced with a radioactive substance.
A public inquiry concluded that his killing had probably been carried out with the approval of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
Mr Litvinenko's widow, Marina Litvinenko, told BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight the latest incident felt like "deja vu" - and called for those receiving political asylum to be "completely safe".
She said: "It just shows how we need to take it seriously, all of these people asking for security and for safety in the UK."
A police officer stands outside a restaurant which was closed after former Russian inteligence officer Sergei Skripal, and a woman were found unconscious on a bench nearbyReuters
Zizzi restaurant remains closed, with a police presence outside
The parallels are striking with the 2006 Litvinenko case. He, too, was a former Russian intelligence officer who had come to the UK and was taken ill for reasons that were initially unclear.
In that case, it took weeks to establish that the cause was deliberate poisoning, and it took close to a decade before a public inquiry pointed the finger of blame at the Russian state.
Officials are stressing that it is too early this time to speculate on what happened here or why.
The police are not even yet saying a crime has been committed, but if the similarities do firm up and Moscow is once again found to be in the frame there will be questions about what kind of response might be required - and whether enough was done in the past to deter such activity being repeated.
seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:42 am wrote:Sergei Skripal Is Latest Russian Dissident Attacked in U.K. | Time
Pictured in this file image dated August 9, 2006, is retired colonel Sergei Skripal during a hearing at the Moscow District Court.
The news coverage reads like the beginning of an Ian Fleming novel.
Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent convicted of spying for Britain, is lying critically ill in a U.K. hospital, after he and his daughter were exposed to an “unknown substance” on Sunday.
Skripal, 66, a retired colonel who was convicted by Russian authorities in 2006 of spying for MI6, was part of a 2010 “spy swap” between the U.S. and Russia, similar to the one depicted in the 2015 film Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance.
Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia Skripal, are now both fighting for their lives, after they were discovered unconscious on a bench at a shopping centre in Salisbury, England. Skripal’s wife, son and older brother have all died in the past two years, the BBC reports.
The incident is just the latest in a series of Russian-linked deaths or apparent assassination attempts that have taken place on British soil. The weapons of choice often seem straight out of a spy thriller; one man was poisoned with a cup of tea, another with the tip of an umbrella. Here are more famous cases.
People attend a commemoration service marking 35 years of the dead of Georgi Markov, a bulgarian disident killed in London in 1978, in a church in Sofia on September 11, 2013. Bulgaria is set to close a 35-year probe into the spectacular "umbrella killing" of dissident Georgy Markov in London in 1978, the prosecution in Sofia said Monday. Markov's murder has gone down as one of the most daring and extraordinary crimes of the Cold War. The prominent journalist and playwright fled communist Bulgaria in 1969 for Britain but continued to lambast the regime in reports for the BBC and Radio Free Europe.
In September 1978, Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident and a journalist for the BBC World Service, was waiting for a bus on Waterloo Bridge in London, England, when he was jabbed in the back of a leg with an umbrella. He quickly fell ill and was admitted to hospital, where he tried to tell members of staff that he had been poisoned by the KGB, the Soviet Union’s main security agency.
The tip of the umbrella had been laced with ricin, a deadly poison, and Markov later died. Decades later, similarities were drawn between Markov’s murder and the assassination of a man in Hannover, Germany, who was stabbed with an umbrella tip coated with mercury in 2012.
In this image made available on November 25, 2006, Alexander Litvinenko is pictured at the Intensive Care Unit of University College Hospital on November 20, 2006 in London, England. The 43-year-old former KGB spy who died on Thursday 23rd November, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin in the involvement of his death. Mr Litvinenko died following the presence of the radioactive polonium-210 in his body. Russia's foreign intelligence service has denied any involvement in the case.
Natasja Weitsz—Getty Images
A cup of English tea may seem innocent enough. But in 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy, met his downfall after reportedly sipping on tea laced with a rare radioactive isotope, polonium-210.
Litvinenko, 43, had been living in Britain after criticizing the Kremlin, and, it later emerged, had been on the MI6 payroll. On Nov. 1, he took tea at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair, central London, with two former Russian agents, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun.
He died a few weeks later in a London hospital. In an interview with the BBC, his widow said he blamed the Kremlin, and claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally responsible for “everything that happened to him.”
British police also found traces of radioactive polonium at his home in north London, a sushi bar, and the hotel. A 2016 inquiry later found Lugovoi and Kovtun responsible for the poisoning of Litvinenko.
Boris Berezovsky addresses the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice after losing his lawsuit against Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich on August 31, 2012 in London, England. Berezovsky sued Abramovich for billions of pounds, claiming he was "intimidated" into selling shares in oil group Sibneft at below market value.
Warrick Page—Getty Images
An associate of Alexander Litvinenko, Boris Berezovsky met a similarly grisly – and mysterious – end.
Berezovsky, a Russian power broker and former mathematics professor who accumulated great wealth during the breakup of the Soviet Union, fled to Britain in 2000 after criticizing Vladimir Putin. He became a popular figure in British society, finding friends among the House of Lords, The Independent reports.
However, Berezovsky continued his campaign against his one-time friend, Putin. He was a patron of emigres like Litvinenko, whom he paid to gather evidence of Russian corruption.
In March 2013, Berezovsky’s campaign came to an abrupt end when he was found hanged in the locked bathroom of his former wife’s mansion in Berkshire, England.
The 2014 British inquest into Berezovsky’s death was ultimately inconclusive, as the coroner unable to confirm whether it was suicide or murder. However, Bernd Brinkmann, a German professor whose specialized in hanging and asphyxiation cases, told the inquest he believed that two people would have had to have been involved in the hanging, and suggested that Berezovsky may have been attacked prior to his death, The New York Times reports.
http://time.com/5187333/sergei-skripal- ... ations-uk/
seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:42 pm wrote:Russian ex-spy and daughter were attacked with nerve agent, U.K. police say
By Associated Press
Russian ex-spy and daughter were attacked with nerve agent, U.K. police say
A police tent covers the spot in Salisbury, England, where former Russian spy double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious. (Frank Augstein / Associated Press)
A Russian ex-spy and his daughter were attacked with a nerve agent in a targeted murder attempt and now are fighting for their lives in an English hospital, British police said Wednesday.
Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found unconscious on a bench in the southwest England city of Salisbury on Sunday, triggering a police investigation led by counterterrorism detectives. Baffled police initially said the pair had come into contact with an unknown substance.
"Having established that a nerve agent is the cause of the symptoms leading us to treat this as attempted murder, I can also confirm that we believe that the two people who became unwell were targeted specifically," Metropolitan Police counterterrorism Chief Mark Rowley said.
Rowley said a police officer who treated the pair at the scene was in serious condition.
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Rowley didn't say what nerve agent was suspected in the attack on Skripal, a former Russian agent who served jail time in his homeland for spying for Britain.
Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, said there was a low risk to the public.
Police and forensics officers continued to scour several sites in and around the cathedral city Wednesday, three days after the attack. Police kept residents away from an Italian restaurant and a pub in the city, and cordoned off part of a business park about nine miles away near the ancient stone monument of Stonehenge. Detectives appealed for information from anyone who visited either the Zizzi restaurant or the Bishop's Mill pub in Salisbury on Sunday.
A policeman stands outside the Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury, England, on March 7, 2018. (Andrew Matthews / Associated Press)
Bemused residents saw their usually placid town, famed for its 13th-century Gothic cathedral, turned into the center of a criminal probe with Cold War echoes.
With nerves still on edge, ambulances and emergency vehicles rushed to a building beside the Zizzi restaurant, which remains cordoned off. Witness Toni Walker said emergency services escorted two women from the building. Police and ambulance services declined to comment, and it wasn't immediately clear whether the incident had anything to do with the ongoing investigation.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd chaired a meeting of the government's emergency committee, known as Cobra, to discuss the investigation, which is now in the hands of counterterrorism police.
"We need to keep a cool head and make sure we collect all the evidence we can," Rudd said. "And then we need to decide what action to take."
Moscow accused Britain of using the case to fuel an "anti-Russian campaign" and further strain ties with Britain.
"What happened to Skripal has been immediately used to further incite an anti-Russian campaign in Western media," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Skripal, a former colonel in Russia's GRU military intelligence service, was convicted in 2006 of spying for Britain and imprisoned. He was freed in 2010 as part of a widely publicized spy swap in which the U.S. agreed to hand over 10 members of a Russian sleeper cell found operating in America in return for four Russians convicted of spying for the West.
He and his daughter were found collapsed on a bench near a shopping mall Sunday in Salisbury, 90 miles southwest of London. Police think they were exposed to a substance, and a British military research facility is thought to be conducting tests to determine what it is.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told lawmakers Tuesday that if Moscow is shown to have been involved in the Skripal case, the government would act — possibly downgrading England's participation in this year's soccer World Cup in Russia.
While police say they are keeping an open mind about the case, it has reminded Britain of the 2006 poisoning of former spy Alexander Litvinenko.
A British inquiry into his death found that Russian agents poisoned him by lacing his tea with radioactive polonium-210 and that the killing was probably approved by President Vladimir Putin. Russia has denied any involvement in Litvinenko's death, and this week said it wasn't involved in Skripal's collapse.
Litvinenko's widow, Marina, wrote Wednesday in the Times of London that her husband's case made clear to Britain's emergency services that they need to act quickly when "someone suddenly falls mysteriously ill."
"I am happy my story has raised awareness about the potential danger posed by Moscow, and this could help to save somebody's life," she wrote in an opinion piece.
http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-form ... story.html
seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:34 pm wrote:Poisoned Russian spy Sergei Skripal was close to consultant who was linked to the Trump dossier
Sergei Skripal, left, and Christopher Steele, right, who compiled the notorious dossier on President Trump that detailed his allegedly corrupt dealings with Vladimir Putin
Robert Mendick, chief reporter Hayley Dixon Patrick Sawer, senior reporter
7 MARCH 2018 • 10:24PM
A security consultant who has worked for the company that compiled the controversial dossier on Donald Trump was close to the Russian double agent poisoned last weekend, it has been claimed.
The consultant, who The Telegraph is declining to identify, lived close to Col Skripal and is understood to have known him for some time.
Col Skripal, who is in intensive care and fighting for his life after an assassination attempt on Sunday, was recruited by MI6 when he worked for the British embassy in Estonia, according to the FSB, the Russian intelligence agency.
The Telegraph understands that Col Skripal moved to Salisbury in 2010 in a spy swap and became close to a security consultant employed by Christopher...
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/0 ... nt-linked/The ex-Kremlin spy apparently poisoned in Britain has links to the man who wrote the explosive Trump-Russia dossier
Mar. 6, 2018, 11:38 AM 12,357
Footage of Sergei Skripal's 2006 trial, obtained by Sky News.
Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy at the centre of an apparent attempted assassination plot in Britain, had links to Christopher Steele.
Skripal passed intelligence to British officials at the same time Steele became MI6's Kremlin specialist.
But experts think Skripal's sudden illness is unrelated to his connection to Steele, who penned the explosive dossier on US President Donald Trump's Russia connections.
The ex-Kremlin spy found unconscious on a bench in Britain almost certainly has links to Christopher Steele, the man who penned the explosive Russia dossier on US President Donald Trump, experts told Business Insider.
Sergei Skripal, who is critically ill in hospital after being exposed to a mystery substance on Sunday, turned double agent in 1995 when he was recruited by the UK's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.
Skripal passed information to MI6 agents between 1995 and December 2004, when he was arrested. That was the verdict of a Moscow military court, which sentenced him to 13 years in prison for spying for Britain.
Skripal's time handing intelligence to Britain overlapped with Steele's meteoric rise at MI6, where he became the agency's preeminent expert on Russia. Steele was posted to Moscow for three years from 1990, working undercover as a British diplomat. After returning to London, he continued to work on Russia and "moved in a small world of Kremlin specialists," according to The Guardian. By 2006, he was head of MI6's Russia desk.
"It is beyond doubt that he would have known Steele and Steele would have known him," said Professor Anthony Glees, the director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham.
Jonathan Eyal, international director at think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, agreed that "it is likely" Steele and Skripal were linked. But he told Business Insider it was a "good headline" rather than information of any significance.
If Russia was to blame for Skripal's sudden illness it is not likely to be connected to Steele, Eyal said.
He said Vladimir Putin's regime would only have attempted an assassination if they had evidence that Skripal was still revealing state secrets or information on Kremlin operatives. "The idea that they would do it for fun or anything less serious is to be discounted," he added.
Russia specialist Glees also did not draw any particular significance from the connection, but did offer this theory: Trump supporters in Russia could have taken matters into their own hands in an attempt to embarrass Steele.
"If Steele was running Skripal in Russia, then it [an assassination attempt] could be a way of getting back at him. It could have come from Trump's Russian chums in America," he speculated.
Steele had an intricate web of Kremlin associates, and he used these contacts to compile his bombshell allegations against Trump. His 35-page report described Trump as engaging in compromising activities in Russia and his campaign officials coordinating with Kremlin operatives during his presidential campaign.
There is no suggestion either way that Skripal was one of Steele's sources, but it is likely that the two men would have been aware of each other's work.
http://www.businessinsider.com/sergei-s ... ele-2018-3
seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:51 am wrote:Telegraph News
Spy poisoning: 'Russia attempting to push Britain around', Gavin Williamson says
8 MARCH 2018 • 10:34AM
Britain must put up a stronger front against Russian military aggression, the Defence Secretary has said as he warned that "we are being pushed around" by the Kremlin.
As suspicions deepen over Russia's potential involvement in the poisoning of a former double agent, Sergei Skripal, Gavin Williamson said that Vladimir Putin's regime posed an "ever-greater threat".
His warning comes after a police officer poisoned by a "very rare" nerve agent in Salisbury while going to the aid of Mr Skripal and his daughter was said to be "talking and engaging" in hospital, according to the Home Secretary.
The targets of the attempted murder - Mr Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia - remain in a serious condition in intensive care, Amber Rudd added. They are understood to both be in comas.
Ms Rudd, who is is expected to make a statement in the Commons about the incident on Thursday, said she is "more optimistic" for the unnamed police officer. He was among the first to go to the aid of the pair, who were found slumped on a bench on Sunday afternoon.
The disclosure of the officer’s poisoning will add to growing pressure on the Government to take a hardline approach against Russia if state involvement is confirmed.
Emergency workers wear protective equipment in Salisbury at one of the scenes of investigation of the nerve agent attack
Listing examples of Russian aggression in eastern Europe and its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, Mr Williamson added that there was an urgent need to counter the Kremlin's "increasingly aggressive stance".
"Russia's changing the way they actually fight and raise the level of conflict," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "We are seeing this in the north Atlantic as well - the amount of submarines that are operating, there's a 10-fold increase in the last seven years.
"Russia's being assertive, Russia's being more aggressive, and we have to change the way that we deal with it because we can't be in a situation in these areas of conflict where we are being pushed around by another nation."
While Mr Williamson refused to say if he held Russia responsible for the attack in Salisbury, he described the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter as "absolutely disgusting".
Police on Wednesday said government scientists had identified the nerve agent used by would-be assassins at a shopping arcade in the Wiltshire city centre. The chemical used is "likely to be rarer than Sarin or VX nerve agents", a source told the BBC.
Sergei and Yulia Skripal remain in a serious condition in intensive care after being poisoned in Salisbury
Ms Rudd said more details about the nerve agent would not yet be made public, but told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that it was "very rare".
Poisoned police officer 'talking and engaging'
The poisoned police officer was initially treated in hospital as a precaution and then discharged, but his condition deteriorated and he was readmitted on Tuesday and taken into intensive care.
On Thursday morning, Ms Rudd disclosed that the officer is no longer critically ill.
She told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "I've spoken to Mark Rowley this morning. The two targets are still in very serious condition, the policeman is talking and is engaging so I'm more optimistic for him, but it's too early to say. This is a nerve agent, we are still treating it as very serious."
Asked if she was hopeful for the police officer, she said: "Indeed, hopeful, but it's still very serious." She added: "He is not in intensive care, but it's a serious situation."
Investigators at the back of Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury
Investigators continue to work at ones of the scenes in Salisbury on Wednesday CREDIT: PAUL GROVER FOR THE TELEGRAPH
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, earlier described the events as “very troubling”. He said: “If this does turn out to be in any way the result of hostile activity by another government, or directed, led, by another government, then the people of this country can be absolutely sure that the UK will respond robustly.”
Ms Rudd declined to say whether she regarded Russia as responsible for the Salisbury attack, but said the Government will put a plan in place to respond when the culprit is identified.
Investigators outside the Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury, where the pair are believed to have dined before falling ill CREDIT: EDDIE MULHOLLAND FOR THE TELEGRAPH
"When we have all the evidence of what took place, we will - if it is appropriate - attribute it to somebody," the Home Secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"If that is the case then we will have a plan in place. We need to be very methodical, keep a cool head and be based on the facts, not rumour."
Video: Sergei Skripal days before he was poisoned
New CCTV footage emerges of Russian ex-spy
Ms Rudd added: "Let me be clear, we are absolutely robust about any crimes committed on these streets of the UK. There is nothing soft about the UK's response to any sort of state activity in this country.
"You may not hear about it all, but when we do see that there is action to be taken, we will take it."
Nerve agent 'rarer than Sarin or VX'
Hundreds of detectives, forensic officers and analysts are working on the case, which has drawn comparisons to the poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko on British soil in 2006.
A key focus will be working to uncover the origin of the nerve agent.
The BBC reported that a source familiar with the investigation said it was "likely to be rarer than Sarin or VX nerve agents".
Nerve agents, which are chemical weapons, have been used in assassinations and attacks in war zones in recent years.
Kim Jong-un's half-brother Kim Jong-nam was killed at an international airport in Malaysia last year in an attack using a nerve agent known as VX.
Another well-known nerve agent, Sarin gas, killed more than 90 people in a rebel-held area in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, drawing international condemnation of the Bashar Assad regime.
Access to such toxins are tightly regulated, meaning the Salisbury plot would have taken considerable planning to execute.
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of Britain's Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Regiment, told The Times: "This is not the stuff you can knock up in your back shed.
"It is quite challenging to make. The inference is that this has probably come from a major laboratory, probably state-run."
Police: Spy and daughter 'targeted specifically'
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the head of counter-terrorism policing, revealed on Wednesday that the incident was being treated as attempted murder and the pair had been "targeted specifically".
He declined to specify the nerve agent or how it was administered.
Mr Rowley said: "Having established that a nerve agent was the cause of the symptoms, leading us to treat this as attempted murder, I can also confirm that we believe the two people who originally became unwell were targeted specifically.
"Our role now of course is to establish who is behind this and why they carried out this act."
Video: Mark Rowley's statement outside Scotland Yard
Police officer hospitalised as Scotland Yard reveals nerve agent was used in Russian spy case
Mr Rowley reiterated his appeal for anyone who was in Salisbury city centre on Sunday to come forward to help with the "missing pieces" in the case.
Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said the incident posed a "low risk" to the public and advised that all the sites the pair were known to have visited had been "secured".
Russia denies responsibility for Salisbury attack
Russia has denied responsibility for the attack, which comes seven years after Mr Skripal was released from the country as part of a spy swap with the US.
He had been convicted in his home country in 2006 for passing state secrets to MI6.
The investigation has triggered a diplomatic row and prompted crisis talks in Whitehall, but Ms Rudd said police must respond to "evidence, not to rumour".
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/0 ... rve-agent/NERVE AGENT
Vladimir Putin’s Re-Election Strategy: Nukes and Assassins
Emboldened by Trump’s weak response, Putin and his cronies are saying: ‘You know we did it, and you know and we know you’re not going to do anything about it.’
03.08.18 5:15 AM ET
Now that British police have announced that Sunday’s poisoning in Salisbury of a former Russian intelligence officer turned MI6 asset, Col. Sergei Skripal, “is being treated as a major incident involving attempted murder by administration of a nerve agent,” Kremlin involvement in the crime seems almost certain. But what was the motivation, aside from reminding Russian spies what could happen to them if they betrayed their country?
It is significant that the poisoning occurred just two weeks before Russia’s presidential elections, with Putin displaying hyped-up belligerence toward the West.
In an address last week to Russia’s Federal Assembly, Putin bragged about Russia’s new nuclear missiles, which he claimed could evade anti-missile defenses and deal a devastating blow to the United States.
And on Monday, Putin gave a rousing speech to officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB), praising them for their success in thwarting foreign espionage plots and reminding them that “the life, rights and security of our citizens must be steadfastly protected from both domestic and foreign threats, from any efforts to hinder us in solving the tasks of our country’s strategic development.”
This iron-fisted image is Putin’s strong card with the increasingly nationalistic, patriotic Russian electorate, who are fed a steady diet of anti-Western propaganda on state-controlled television. Putin of course will win the presidential election, but the Kremlin may be worried that the turnout will be low because of Aleksei Navalny’s vigorous campaign for a boycott of the elections. (Navalny is barred from participating.)
If Russians think that the Kremlin has stood up to the West by killing a Russian traitor, so much the better. And judging from their favorable reaction to the 2006 poisoning in London of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, this week’s attempted killing in Britain could give Putin’s candidacy some much-needed enthusiasm.
As British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested Monday, the attack on Skripal has clear parallels with the Litvinenko murder. Both Litvinenko and Skripal had been officers in the Russian security services (Skripal served in the Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU) and both were later granted asylum in the U.K., where they cooperated with Britain’s MI6.
Litvinenko had received numerous death threats before he was murdered, while Skripal reportedly told police recently that his life had been threatened. Litvinenko died after sipping tea laced with lethal radioactive polonium at the Pine Bar of London’s Millenium Hotel. Skripal and his grown daughter Yulia, who also fell victim, had drinks at a local pub in Salisbury before collapsing later on a bench on a shopping street. In both cases, it appears the poisons were those manufactured at special government laboratories and thus extremely difficult to obtain.
Skripal, age 66, had worked for the GRU for most of his career. After retiring in 1999 with the rank of colonel, he took up a position with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he remained until 2003. The next year Skripal was arrested by the FSB for treason. He pleaded guilty, admitting that in 1995 he had begun working with British intelligence and provided them with names of undercover GRU agents in exchange for $100,000. By his own acknowledgement, he continued to work for the British even after he left the GRU.
Skripal’s espionage was reportedly so damaging to the GRU that he was compared to infamous Oleg Penkovsky, a GRU officer who was charged with treason for collaborating with the British and the Americans and shot in 1963.
In 2006, Skripal was sentenced to 13 years in a strict regime labor camp, but he was released in 2010 as part of a swap for 10 Russians who were under arrest for espionage in the United States.
Interestingly, retired FSB Maj. Gen. Alexander Mikhailov, a member of the Russian Intelligence and Defense Policy Committee, claimed that Skripal was suffering from a persecution complex and self-injected too many sedatives: “I believe that this is a maniac syndrome that he’s been suffering from. After immigrating, he’s constantly looked back, worried that somebody could hit him on the head. To calm down he overdosed on sedatives,” the general told the RIA news agency.
How would Mikhailov know details about Skripal’s state of mind? Was this just speculation? Or did he blurt out something he shouldn’t have? There’s a hint here that the Russians had had Skripal under surveillance for a while and might have tried to kill him any time, but they chose now.
Russian law today does not permit the death penalty, even for treason. But, as Russian political commentator Anton Orekh observes: “We are ruled by Chekists, and they have their own code of honor.” (He is referring to the name of the original Soviet secret police that has been used for a century now as the organization changed names and initials to become the Soviet KGB and now the Russian FSB.) “It is better," Orekh says, "to be a real enemy of the regime, a fighter for democracy, than a defector and a traitor to the [Chekist] corporation. The corporation does not forget such things and avenges them whenever possible.”
In 2006, the Russian parliament passed a law that basically authorized the FSB to hunt down and kill Russian enemies abroad. This paved the way for accused FSB assassins Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun to murder Litvinenko, who had become one of Putin’s fiercest critics. And there may have been other murders as well. Sergei Tretyakov, the former deputy chief of station for the Russian foreign intelligence service (SVR) in New York, defected to the U.S. in 2000. His sudden death in 2010 of a reported heart attack at age 53 was viewed as suspicious by many spy watchers.
British authorities are now likely to review 14 suspicious cases. As the BBC reports, the Skripal incident has revived allegations that several deaths "amount to a pattern of state-sponsored murder on British streets," although previously found to have been "heart attacks, suicides, accidents, and death by natural causes."
One victim, banker Alexander Perepilichnyyy, eventually was found to have traces of a rare plant toxin in his system. Another, oligargh Boris Berezovksky, was found hanged and deemed a suicide, but the marks on his neck suggested he may have been strangled by someone else.
The BBC lists as other cases: "Gareth Williams, the so-called 'spy in the bag,' whose badly decomposed body was found locked inside a holdall in his bath; Dr. Matthew Puncher, a British scientist involved in the Litvinenko case who was found in his kitchen with multiple stab wounds from two separate knives; and Scot Young, a business associate of Berezovsky, who was found impaled on railings outside his London flat after falling from a fourth-floor window."
British police have said that they found no evidence of Russian involvement in any of those cases, apart from Litvinenko.
In Soviet KGB days Russian spies who defected to the West generally were allowed to live out their lives in peace as an implicit agreement between Russian and Western spy services. Under Putin, the FSB, an independent agency whose main job is domestic counterintelligence, is used to mete out the Kremlin’s vengeance against them. As Putin himself warned when speaking about the spy swap that freed Skripal in 2010: “Traitors always come to a bad end.”
In Litvinenko’s case, the apparent plan was to have him die without anyone discovering the polonium in his body. But Litvinenko, who was exceptionally fit, lived longer than expected. This gave specialists time finally, on the day he died in 2006, to discover that the substance was polonium, a rare radioactive substance that is produced at only one Russian plant, heavily guarded by the FSB.
“The Skripal poisoning has revived allegations that several deaths amount to a pattern of state-sponsored murder on British streets.”
A subsequent, exhaustive British High Court inquiry concluded in January 2016 that Lugovoy and Kovtun had administered the poison to Litvinenko and that the FSB operation was “probably” approved by the then-FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev and “also President Putin.”
The word “probably” said a lot. Although everyone knew that such an audacious crime on British soil would not have been committed without authorization from Putin and his FSB chief, there was no smoking gun and never would be. Thus, the British response to the inquiry’s findings was a half-hearted gesture: an announcement that the assets of Lugovoy and Kovtun in Britain, which in all probability did not exist, had been frozen.
The British foreign policy group Chatham House predicted: “A weak response or one consisting only of words will merely encourage Russia [to believe] that these acts go unpunished. British and Russian citizens alike who have offended President Putin should therefore continue to live in fear in London.” As the Skripal case suggests, this prediction was accurate.
At home in Russia, Litvinenko’s killers were celebrated. In March 2015, just as the ongoing British Litvinenko inquiry was citing repeated evidence of Lugovoy’s guilt, Putin granted him an award for “services to the fatherland.” A Russian journalist observed at the time: “Public opinion in Russia is the complete opposite of that in Britain. The view here is that these guys [Lugovoy and Kovtun] are heroes because they punished a traitor.”
“Traitors always come to a bad end.”
— Vladimir Putin, speaking about 2010 spy swap that freed Col. Skripal
The Guardian stated the obvious in this latest case: “The biggest question about Sergei Skripal’s suspected poisoning is the timing. Skripal had spent several years in a Russian jail after being convicted of espionage and had presumably been thoroughly debriefed by his former spy bosses. If the Russian security services had wanted him to have an ‘accident’ during those years it would have been very easy to organise.”
But the Kremlin’s apparent goal was not just to kill Skripal or warn potential traitors of the fate that could befall them; it was also to send a message to the West and to the Russian people before the election. As Orekh puts it: “Putin can show videos of superweapons, and they can pour polonium or fentanyl on someone. These are just different parts of the overall plan. And if this is somehow connected with the elections, it is only because it shows that there are tough guys in power here and they will not give up that power for anything.”
Emboldened by the Trump administration’s lack of response to Russia’s aggressive interference in the U.S. presidential elections, and Trump’s repeated denials, in the face of vast evidence, that Putin orchestrates killings of his political opponents, Putin and his Kremlin cronies are telling the West: “You know we did it, and you know and we know you’re not going to do anything about it.”
Interviewed yesterday about the Skripal poisoning on radio Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow), Litvinenko’s killer Lugovoy, since 2007 a prominent member of the Russian parliament, summed up bluntly the Kremlin’s in-your-face attitude: “Something constantly happens to Russian citizens who either run away from Russian justice, or for some reason choose for themselves a way of life they call a change of their Motherland. So the more Britain accepts on its territory every good-for-nothing, every scum from all over the world, the more problems they will have.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/vladimir- ... -assassins
seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:23 pm wrote:21 people have been treated following Russia spy poisoning, police say
Chris BaynesThursday 8 March 2018 19:10 GMT
A total of 21 people have received medical treatment after falling ill following the poisoning of Russian spy Sergei Skripal, police have said.
Kier Pritchard, temporary Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, said number of people were taken to hospital after exposure to the nerve agent which has left Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia fighting for life.
Several police officers are among those who have been treated, he said.
He told Sky News: “We’ve had multiple officers involved. There’s been around 21 people including the main two index patients – the man and the woman that were located a bench.
“A number of those have been through the hospital treatment process. They’re having blood tests, they’ve having treatment in terms of support and advice provided.”
His remarks are the first public disclosure of further victims beyond the Skripals and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, a Wiltshire Police officer who was among the first to give help to the spy.
Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter, 33, remain critically ill in intensive care after they were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury in Sunday. Detectives believe they were targeted in an assassination attempt.
Mr Bailey is the only police officer who remains in hospital in connection to the poisoning, said Mr Pritchard, who said it was too soon to say if he would make a full recovery.
The Chief Constable said: “He’s well, he’s sat up. He is not the Nick that I know but of course he’s receiving a high level of treatment. He’s very anxious, he’s very concerned. He did his very best on that night.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said earlier on Thursday: “The officer was one of the first responders on Sunday, acting selflessly to help others. The latest update from the hospital is that the officer remains serious but stable and is conscious, talking and engaging.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/cr ... 46566.htmlWho poisoned ex-Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter?
British officials say a 'very rare' nerve agent used to poison former Russian spy and his daughter.
08 Mar 2018 19:15 GMT
A "very rare" nerve agent". That is what the UK's interior minister says was used to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a park bench in the British city of Salisbury on Sunday.
It follows several other mysterious deaths of Russians in the UK over the past few years.
Some had defected to Britain and had made allegations against President Vladimir Putin or his country's security services.
Those accusations often involved political assassinations, killings of civilians in bombings and running multi-million-dollar corruption rackets.
So, what will be the implications of this latest attack? And what steps will Britain take to prevent such killings in the future?
https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/in ... 51310.htmlYulia Skripal: from suburban Moscow life to nerve agent mystery
The Moscow estate where the Skripals lived is a long way from Wiltshire – and some locals are tight-lipped about their former neighbours
Marc BennettsLast modified on Thu 8 Mar 2018 12.44 EST
The Moscow estate where the Skripals lived is a long way from Wiltshire – and some locals are tight-lipped about their former neighbours
The skyline of the west Moscow housing estate where Yulia Skripal grew up is a long way from the green fields and quiet streets of Salisbury, where she remains critically ill in hospital after she and her father, Sergei, were targeted with a nerve agent.
The Skripals lived in an apartment in a 17-floor Soviet-era residential tower constructed out of prefabricated concrete blocks in the Krylatskoye district, a few stops from the end of the metro line. There are over 1,000 flats in the building, with lists of tenants’ public utilities debts pinned up by the lifts. Just around the corner is the school that Yulia attended from the age of six to 16.
Krylatskoye is a typical Moscow district, and by all accounts the family lived modestly. But reminders of wealth and influence are all around. Visible from the local children’s playground are the soaring towers of Moscow City, the Russian capital’s financial centre. On a nearby busy three-lane road, buses shuttle to and from some of Moscow’s most expensive addresses, including the Rublyovka residential area, home to some of the city’s wealthiest residents.
The Moscow housing estate where Yulia Skripal grew up.
The Moscow housing estate where Yulia Skripal grew up. Photograph: Marc Bennetts/the Guardian
Sergei Skripal spent much of his adult life here, marrying a local woman, Lyudmila, and raising two children. It is unclear if Yulia even knew that her father was a colonel in Russian military intelligence: she would have been just 15 when he retired and went to work in the foreign ministry. Those who knew him say Sergei was a friendly man, who was always welcoming when Yulia’s friends visited the family home.
Through conversations with Yulia’s friends, the Guardian has been able to put together a picture of an intelligent young woman, fluent in English and Spanish as well as Russian, whose comfortable life in Moscow was destroyed when her father was jailed on charges of spying for MI6.
Born in 1984, Yulia spent some of her early childhood in Malta, before starting at school in Moscow in 1990, as the Soviet system began to crumble. If she was aware of her father’s profession, she didn’t let on, friends say.
Irina Petrova, who has known Yulia most of her life, recalls teenage years filled with study and music. “Yulia didn’t say anything at all about her father’s work when we were young. We were just studying and hanging out. Her parents were often at their dacha, and we used to meet at her house a lot when they were away. She loved the Backstreet Boys and Five. After that, Yulia got into Goth, and went around dressed all in black for a while.”
A top student both at school and later at the Russian State University for the Humanities, where she studied geography, Yulia Skripal was 20 when her father was arrested in December 2004. In August 2006, he was sentenced to 13 years in jail and sent to a penal colony in Mordovia, more than 300 miles south-east of Moscow. His imprisonment reportedly put the family into financial difficulties.
“We were all totally shocked when her father was jailed,” said Petrova. “These were very tough years for Yulia. She was deeply affected by her father’s sentence.”
After university, Yulia went to work at Nike’s Moscow branch, leaving in 2010, after Sergei was released from prison as part of a high-profile prisoner swap involving 10 deep-cover sleeper agents planted in the US by Moscow, including Anna Chapman, a diplomat’s daughter. After serving five and a half years of his sentence, Sergei was plucked from prison and flown to Britain to start a new life. His family soon joined him.
Yulia appeared to love life in England, posting a photograph of Salisbury cathedral to her Facebook page. A video on one of her social media accounts shows the family’s back garden in Salisbury. “Little rascal,” Yulia says, as a squirrel munches on primroses in the well-cared-for flowerbed. She passed her driving test while in England and bought a car. She worked for a while at the Holiday Inn in Southampton, where she appears to have been popular with her colleagues.
How hard is it to make a nerve agent?
“She took to England like a fish to water. Yulia isn’t a typical Russian. She reminds me more of an Englishwoman or an American. Always smiling and waving. Her mother was the same. She was always in a good mood. Never discussed any problems,” said Petrova.
The family was hit by tragedy in 2012, when Yulia’s mother, Lyudmila, died in England of cancer. Last year, her older brother, Alexander, died of liver failure while on holiday in St Petersburg at the age of 43. He was buried in Salisbury, near his mother. The BBC cited relatives who say the circumstances of his death were suspicious. Yulia removed family photographs from her social media account last year, according to friends. It remains unclear why. She returned to Russia in 2014, but continued to visit England often.
Specialist officers in protective suits secure the police forensic tent covering the bench where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found critically
Specialist officers in protective suits secure the police forensic tent covering the bench where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found critically ill. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
At Krylatskoye, locals were tight-lipped about their former neighbours. Some claimed not to have heard about the Skripals’ poisoning, while others simply declined to comment.
“After we heard the news about what had happened, we were all hoping that it wasn’t our friend, Yulia,” said Petrova. “She is completely innocent of anything and she has her whole life ahead of her. I’m praying that she and her father survive this.”
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... nt-mysterySergei Skripal and the 14 deaths under scrutiny
By Joel Gunter BBC News
Former Russian Agent Poisoned In London: Alexander Litvinenko is pictured at the Intensive Care Unit , ICU of University College Hospital, UCHGetty Images
Alexander Litvinenko lies in a hospital bed in London, shortly before his death in 2006
When Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, collapsed suddenly on Sunday in the sleepy cathedral city of Salisbury, there were unavoidable echoes of a messy, high-profile death in London a little over a decade before.
In 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, another former Russian agent, was rushed to hospital after collapsing in London. As the world watched, a rare and highly radioactive isotope destroyed Litvinenko's organs one by one, and he died three weeks later.
A British public inquiry found that the former Russian agent had ingested Polonium 210, and that his assassination was likely ordered directly by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Skripal, 66, who was imprisoned in Russia for working for British intelligence and later came to the UK as part of a spy swap, is currently in critical condition, along with his 33-year-old daughter who was also taken ill. Authorities say they are trying to determine if he was poisoned.
Russia has denied any involvement, but the case has put renewed scrutiny on a string of deaths in the UK in the past two decades. The chair of the home affairs select committee, Yvette Cooper MP, wrote to Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Tuesday calling for a review of 14 other cases.
Those cases were variously found to have been heart attacks, suicides, accidents, and deaths by natural causes, but some allege that they amount to a pattern of state-sponsored murder on British streets.
Security guard Neil St Clair-Ford was driving through Weybridge in Surrey in November 2012 when he saw something lying in the road ahead of him. He pulled over and found Alexander Perepilichnyy, an exiled Russian banker, in the foetal position, pale, cold, and displaying "very faint" signs of life.
Mr St Clair-Ford called a local former Navy colleague, Liam Walsh, to help administer first aid. Mr Walsh told an inquest that Perepilichnyy vomited "greeny-yellow" bile during mouth-to-mouth resuscitation with a strange taste, like "licking a battery".
Perepilichnyy was born in Ukraine and made his fortune as a financier in Russia, allegedly helping government-connected Russians launder money. In 2010 he fled to Britain and began to co-operate with British authorities. He collapsed during a run near his home, the day he returned from a short trip to Paris.
Undated family handout photo of Alexander PerepilichnyyPA
An expert botanist said tests suggested the presence of a rare plant toxin in Perepilichnyy's stomach
Initial toxicology tests on Perepilichnyy's body revealed nothing suspicious and police said they had no evidence of foul play. But later tests performed by an expert botanist at Kew Gardens suggested the presence of a rare and deadly plant toxin in Perepilichnyy's stomach.
Gelsemium, a flowering plant native to China and South East Asia, is known as "heartbreak grass", because its leaves, if swallowed, cause cardiac arrest. Further tests of the compound found in Perepilichnyy could not definitively identify it as gelsemium, and an inquest into his death was suspended last year pending yet more tests. The inquest resumes next month.
US intelligence sources told the BBC in 2016 that they believed Perepilichnyy was murdered. An extensive investigation by Buzzfeed News claimed that the businessman was one of at least 14 deaths in the UK that US officials suspected were connected to Russia.
'The highest level of risk'
The following year, 2013, Boris Berezovsky, a one-time oligarch and close friend of Vladimir Putin, was found hanged in his bathroom. All the evidence seemed to point to a suicide. He had been suffering from depression and was in debt. According to police there was no sign of a struggle. A Home Office pathologist concluded that his injuries were consistent with hanging.
But he had also made himself a sworn enemy of Mr Putin, having fled Russia for exile in Britain and fiercely criticised the regime from afar.
Berezovsky's family arranged for an asphyxiation expert to examine photographs of his body. Dr Bernd Brinkmann testified that the ligature mark on Berezovsky's neck did not share the typical V-shape created by a hanging, and instead suggested strangling. The dead man also had a broken rib and a cut on the back of his head. It was enough to persuade the coroner to record an open verdict.
File photo dated 13/10/11of Boris BerezovskyPA
Boris Berezovsky was found hanged in a bathroom at home in 2013
"Anyone Putin deems to have betrayed Russia is at the highest level of risk," said Bill Browder, a former Moscow-based financier who led a campaign to impose sanctions on top Russian officials accused of corruption - sanctions that enraged Mr Putin.
"And Russia can get away with brazenness in the UK because there have never been any consequences to Russian assassinations here," he said. "The British government either ignores the crimes completely, as they did in the Perepilichnyy case, or they recognise the crime and don't do anything about it."
Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said any evidence of Russian involvement with Mr Skripal's condition would be dealt with "appropriately and robustly".
"I say to governments around the world that no attempt to take innocent life on UK soil will go unsanctioned or unpunished," he said.
Presentational grey line
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Presentational grey line
Among the other deaths flagged to the home secretary on Tuesday are those of Gareth Williams, the so-called "spy in the bag", whose badly decomposed body was found locked inside a holdall in his bath; Dr Matthew Puncher, a British scientist involved in the Litvinenko case who was found in his kitchen with multiple stab wounds from two separate knives; and Scot Young, a business associate of Berezovsky, who was found impaled on railings outside his London flat after falling from a fourth-floor window.
Williams' death was ruled to be "probably an accident" and Puncher's and Young's both suicides, and British police say they have found no evidence of Russian involvement in any of the cases barring Litvinenko's.
"British police are under no sort of political pressure whatsoever," Tony Brenton, the British ambassador to Moscow at the time of Litvinenko's death, told the BBC. "If they had found evidence of Russian involvement in those cases, we would have followed it up."
But the UK government has faced criticism over a perceived lack of action. In the wake of Litvinenko's death, the UK tried and failed to extradite two Russian agents alleged to have carried out the hit. Instead, several Russian diplomats were expelled, provoking a tit for tat response from Russia.
A still image taken from an undated video shows Sergei SkripalReuters
A video still shows Sergei Skripal being detained by Russian security services in 2004
The problem facing the UK government now, said Mr Brenton, is that ministers have already levied significant sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine and Syria, and diplomatic relations are already very poor.
"If it is proven that this was an attack with Russian state involvement we will of course do something, there will be lots of anger and probably more sanctions. But we have already used up an awful lot of our ammunition. The locker is quite bare," he said.
In a statement, the Russian embassy in London said: "Media reports create an impression of a planned operation by the Russian special services, which is completely untrue."
In Salisbury, counter-terror police have taken over the investigation. The park bench where Mr Skripal collapsed has been cordoned off and a restaurant where he ate lunch has been temporarily closed.
If it turns out to have been a Russian attack, part of the purpose will have been to warn those in Russia against betrayal, and those in exile that they are never safe, said Mr Browder. "It sends a message to the rank and file that terrible things can befall you and your family," he said.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43 ... ow_twitterRussian spy: Military deployed after poisoning
About 180 military personnel have been deployed to Salisbury to help in the investigation into the attempted murder of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter.
They will include Royal Marines and military personnel who have specialist training in chemical warfare and decontamination, the BBC understands.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed on Sunday afternoon after being exposed to a nerve agent.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has described the attack as "outrageous".
The military personnel are experts in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear warfare.
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State TV anchor warns 'traitors'
The Metropolitan Police said the counter-terrorism unit has requested the military's assistance "to remove a number of vehicles and objects from the scene", including ambulances that may have been contaminated while assisting the victims.
The public should not be alarmed and there is no evidence to suggest a wide public health risk at this time, the police added.
Valery Morozov, a Russian exile, told BBC News that Mr Skripal was working in cyber security.
The former Russian military security colonel and his daughter remain in a critical condition at Salisbury District Hospital.
Det Sgt Nick Bailey - who attended the scene on Sunday - is conscious but "very anxious" about being exposed to a nerve agent.
Director of nursing Lorna Wilkinson said Mr Bailey was in a serious but stable condition.
Yulia Skripal and Sergei SkripalRex Features
Former Russian military security colonel Sergei Skripal, right, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious in Salisbury on Sunday
Specialist investigators wearing protective suits have been seen examining the bench that Mr Skripal and his daughter collapsed on.
Mr Skripal's house and his car have also been cordoned off.
It is known that Mr Skripal and his daughter had visited the Mill pub and Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon, before they were found near the Maltings shopping centre.
Ms Rudd visited some of the sites cordoned off by counter-terrorism police in Salisbury on Friday.
She also visited Salisbury District Hospital where Mr Skripal, his daughter, and Mr Bailey are being treated.
The home secretary, who met Mr Bailey in hospital, would not give any further details of the nerve agent used or how it was administered.
Amber Rudd praises Salisbury police response
The graves of Mr Skripal's wife and son at a Salisbury cemetery have also been taped off.
Mr Skripal, 66, was convicted by the Russian government of passing secrets to MI6, but given refuge in the UK in 2010 as part of a "spy swap".
Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Blair said the "extraordinary attack in Salisbury" is a good reason to investigate whether there is a pattern of former British intelligence collaborators dying in the UK.
Former First Sea Lord and security minister Lord West said: "If it is a nation which has done it, it is completely unacceptable. It's almost like an act of war.
"To actually allow something like a nerve agent to be used in another country for some reason is outrageous."
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has denied his country's involvement in the attempted murder of the ex-spy.
BBC Rewind looks back at cases of high profile Russians targeted on foreign soil
The attempted murder of Mr Skripal has drawn comparisons to the 2006 assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, who ingested the rare and highly radioactive Polonium 210 in London.
On Tuesday Labour MP Yvette Cooper asked the home secretary to review 14 other deaths that had not been treated as suspicious by UK police, but have reportedly been identified by US intelligence sources as being connected to the Russian state.
Ms Rudd has refused to speculate on whether the Russian state might have been involved in the attack, saying the police investigation should be based on "facts, not rumour".
Lessons not learned after my husband's death, warns Marina Litvinenko
The UK government did not learn lessons from the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, his widow said on Sunday as investigations continue into the use of a nerve agent against another former Russian intelligence agent.
Litvinenko is widely believed to have been killed with radioactive polonium by Russian agents in London. In a television interview on Sunday, Marina Litvinenko made public a letter from then home secretary Theresa May, now the prime minister, promising that the UK would do everything in its power to stop such an incident happening again.
However, she said, "It has happened again. It means something was not done."
Mrs Litvinenko appeared on TV exactly a week after the attempted murder of former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, in Salisbury, England.
“Lessons haven’t been learned," she said.
She also took aim at Russian money in British politics. "When you allow people with money to come to your country to make a business, you need to make sure where the money has come from."
The interview came as Public Health England warned hundreds of people to wash their clothing after traces of nerve agent were discovered at a restaurant and a pub visited by Mr Skripal and his daughter last Sunday.
The two were later found slumped on a park bench and remain in critical condition.
The statement, aimed at up to 500 people, read: “While there is no immediate health risk to anyone who may have been in either of these locations, it is possible, but unlikely, that any of the substance which has come into contact with clothing or belongings could still be present in minute amounts and therefore contaminate your skin. Over time, repeated skin contact with contaminated items may pose a small risk to health.”
British government urged to expel Russians over poisoning of former spy
Russian spy poisoning: nerve agent traces found at pizza restaurant – report
Police said they had identified more than 240 witnesses, and large parts of Salisbury remain cordoned off as the investigation continues. On Friday, almost 200 military personnel were deployed to the city in order assist in the investigation.
Meanwhile, in Westminster, a war of words is mounting over suspected Russian involvement in the poisoning. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell announced he was no longer going to appear on the Russian state TV station Russia Today, and urged his Labour party colleagues to do the same. He said the Kremlin-backed channel's coverage "goes beyond objective journalism" and a boycott was "right".
Chancellor Philip Hammond suggested that a deal might be in the works with Labour to levy fresh sanctions against Russia in the wake of the poisoning. However, he rejected Mrs Litvinenko's suggestion that the Conservative Party give back more than £800,000 (Dh4 million) in funding received from Russian oligarchs, insisting there were very strict rules on political donations in the UK.
“There are people in this country who are British citizens who are of Russian origin. I don’t think we should taint them, or should tar them with Putin’s brush,” he said.
On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested England could pull out of the World Cup scheduled to be held in Russia later this year.
https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe ... o-1.712190