Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy attack

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Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy attack

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:27 pm

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,
The Times

Military personnel study a diagram of a Salisbury car park as the investigation continues a week after the poison attack
ANDREW MATTHEWS/PA

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.

yuliaskripal.jpg
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 Skripal

seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:10 pm wrote:
Critically ill man is former Russian spy
Image
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-43295134


Former 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.
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43297638


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.

Georgi Markov

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.

Alexander Litvinenko

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

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

25
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.
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.

Zizzi
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
h
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
h
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.’

AMY KNIGHT
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.”

More follows…
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/cr ... 46566.html


Who 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.html


Yulia 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.

Quick guide
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-mystery



Sergei Skripal and the 14 deaths under scrutiny

By Joel Gunter BBC News

Image
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.

Heartbreak grass

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.
Image
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.
Image
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
How will experts know if ex-spy was poisoned?
The 'quintessentially English' home of a Russian spy
Skripal case highlights UK's Russia dilemma
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.
Image
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_twitter


Russian spy: Military deployed after poisoning
s
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.

Russian spy: What we know so far
What are nerve agents?
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".
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43344725


Lessons not learned after my husband's death, warns Marina Litvinenko

Gareth Browne

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.”

__________

Read more:

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.
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:46 am

UK eyes new sanctions against Russia after Skripal attack
Ministers push Theresa May for tough response after poisoning in Salisbury

Military personnel continu to work at the scene of the poisoning in Salisbury on Sunday © PA

March 11, 2018 8:03 pm by Henry Mance in London
UK ministers are preparing to unveil new sanctions against Russia, eight days after the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal that threatens to bring relations between the two countries to crisis point.

Theresa May, prime minister, will chair a meeting of the UK’s National Security Council on Monday, with increasing pressure from inside her cabinet to name Russia as the likely source of the attack on Mr Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer and MI6 informant.

Boris Johnson, foreign secretary, and Gavin Williamson, defence secretary, who have emerged as the government’s most hawkish voices on Russia, are both in favour of financial and other sanctions against Moscow in response to Mr Skripal’s poisoning. Monday’s National Security Council meeting is “the opportunity”, said one Conservative aide.


Philip Hammond, chancellor, who has publicly clashed with Mr Johnson and Mr Williamson on other matters, backed their stance on Russia.

“I’ve been foreign and defence secretary in the past so perhaps [it’s] not that surprising that I might share the views of the current foreign and defence secretaries,” Mr Hammond told ITV.

The prime minister’s office has been wary of threatening action against Russia until a police investigation identifies the source of the attack on Mr Skripal. Downing Street declined to comment on Sunday.

If there were to be an involvement of a foreign state, evidenced by this investigation, then obviously that would be very serious indeed and the government would respond appropriately

Philip Hammond
Mr Hammond told the BBC that the police investigation should take its course, but added: “If there were to be an involvement of a foreign state, evidenced by this investigation, then obviously that would be very serious indeed and the government would respond appropriately.”

Mr Skripal and his daughter were found on Sunday last week collapsed on a park bench in Salisbury, where he lives. Police subsequently said they had been poisoned with a nerve agent.

Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

The precise nature of any London response against Moscow remains unclear, but it could include expelling Russian diplomats.

Ministers have so far resisted calls backed by Labour for the government to inject measures into its sanctions bill that would replicate the so-called Magnitsky legislation in the US, which allows visa bans and asset seizures to be imposed on Russians connected with rights abuses.



However, Mr Hammond said there could now be a compromise. “We’re seeking to reach an accommodation,” he added.

Health officials, meanwhile, advised anyone who had visited the Salisbury branch of Zizzi restaurant on the same day as Mr Skripal and his daughter to wash their clothing to avoid potential contamination.

They sought to rebut criticism that the advice had come too late, saying that they were acting on evidence as it became available, and were aiming to stop people exposing themselves to traces of the chemical in the coming weeks.

“We’re not anticipating . . . seeing new patients coming forward,” said Jenny Harries, deputy medical director of Public Health England, a government health agency.



In another sign of growing hawkishness on Russia, John McDonnell, shadow chancellor, called for fellow Labour MPs not to appear on the Kremlin-funded broadcaster RT, formerly known as Russia Today.

Mr McDonnell said that RT, which launched a dedicated UK channel in 2014, “at times goes beyond objective journalism”.

“I’ve appeared on it in the past . . . I think we have to step back now,” he added. However, his position is not Labour policy.

RT reporting on the attack on Mr Skripal and his daughter has criticised “hysteria”, echoing the Kremlin’s own line.

In the past week, MPs from the Conservative, Democratic Unionist and Labour parties have all appeared on RT. Alex Salmond, the former Scottish National party leader, hosts a show on the channel.https://amp.ft.com/content/3f783f7e-254 ... ssion=true


Salisbury spy attack: national security council meets to discuss response
PM reportedly facing pressure from some ministers to take tougher line with Russia in response to attempted murders in Salisbury

Owen Bowcott, Haroon Siddique and Peter Walker
Mon 12 Mar 2018 03.03 EDT First published on Sun 11 Mar 2018 05.42 EDT

Military personnel wearing protective suits conduct investigations in Salisbury. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images


The government’s national security council (NSC) will meet again on Monday morning to discuss the response to events in Salisbury, amid speculation that Theresa May is facing pressure from some of her ministers to take a tougher line against Russia if it is decided the country is behind the attempted murders.

Downing Street has publicly declined to say what action might be merited, if any, insisting that nothing can be decided while the police investigation is still ongoing.

But the meeting of the NSC – which brings together senior ministers with intelligence and security officials, among others – is expected to see some ministers warn the prime minister that a tougher stance is needed than that seen after the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson – who took a robust line on Russia in the Commons last week – is understood to be pushing for strong action, along with the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, and the chancellor, Philip Hammond.

A government source said the NSC meeting was expected to mark more concerted action over attributing responsibility for events in Salisbury and then deciding on a response. “We’re certainly moving into that stage,” they said. “You can probably expect more concrete decisions than last week over what will happen next.”

Meanwhile, a public health warning urging hundreds of people who visited a pub and restaurant where the Russian spy Sergei Skripal may have been poisoned to wash their clothes and possessions has triggered concerns about the speed of official responses to the Salisbury incident.

The advice from Public Health England (PHE) released on Sunday morning was aimed at as many as 500 customers who ate at the Zizzi restaurant or were in the Mill pub in the centre of Salisbury last Sunday and Monday.


The precautionary guidance reinforces suspicions that the nerve agent used on Skripal and his daughter a week ago was first administered inside the restaurant. Traces of contamination have reportedly been found on and around the table where the two Russians sat. Some of the furniture and other items are said to have been destroyed to prevent further poisonings.

Scotland Yard, which is running the investigation, would neither confirm or deny claims of contamination at the restaurant. Police activity was also visible at the nearby Mill pub, where traces of the substance have also been found.

The public health notice said that although the risk was very low, repeated contact with clothing or items exposed to the nerve agent could still be a danger.

Jenny Harries, PHE’s regional director for the south of England, told a press conference on Sunday: “We have learned that there has been a limited contamination in both the Mill pub and in Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury.”

Asked about the delay in issuing the notice, Harries insisted it had been done in a timely fashion once the contamination was known about.

“We work with our colleagues here on a continuous risk-assessment basis,” she said. “When we get new information, we continuously risk-assess groups of people who may have become exposed from the evidence we have in front of us. As new evidence becomes available, we act on that immediately.”

Harries said that most people who were at the pub would have already washed the clothes they were wearing. Anyone who suffered symptoms such as nausea or blurred vision was more likely to have flu than be a victim of chemical warfare. She declined to reveal how the Skripals had been given the nerve agent, whether it was in powdered form in their food or dispersed as a liquid spray.

Cara Charles-Barks, the chief executive of Salisbury NHS foundation trust, said the two Russians remained in a critical but stable condition. She added that DS Nick Bailey, who was taken ill after attending the scene, was in a serious but stable condition. Kier Pritchard, acting chief constable of Wiltshire police, said Bailey was conscious and engaged with visitors.

The PHE statement said: “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.”

It recommended reducing the risks in several ways. The statement said: “Wash the clothing that you were wearing in an ordinary machine using your regular detergent at the temperature recommended for the clothing. Any items which cannot be washed, and which would normally be dry cleaned, should be put in two plastic bags tied at the top and stored safely in your own home.

“Wipe personal items such as phones, handbags and other electronic items with cleansing or baby wipes and dispose of the wipes in the bin (ordinary domestic waste disposal). Other items such as jewellery and spectacles, which cannot go in the washing machine or be cleaned with cleansing or baby wipes, should be hand-washed with warm water and detergent and then rinsed with clean, cold water.”

Skripal and his daughter ate in the restaurant hours before they were found unconscious last Sunday. On Monday, Wiltshire police said the restaurant, on Castle Street, had been closed as a precaution, and it remains cordoned off.

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, said police had identified more than 240 witnesses and 200 pieces of evidence. The Ministry of Defence said armed forces personnel would return to Salisbury to assist for a third day on Sunday.

Commenting on the latest development, Alastair Hay, professor emeritus of environmental toxicology at Leeds University, said: “The sites may reveal where the agent was administered … It is important to note that nerve agents do degrade in the environment so you want to collect any evidence as soon as possible. Contact with moisture will lead to breakdown of the nerve agent: this is why people having visited the restaurant or pub in question last Sunday afternoon or Monday are being advised to wash their possessions.

“The advice to wash belongings is a precautionary measure. If no one has had physical symptoms suggestive of nerve agent contact by now it is unlikely that they are a risk.”

Different nerve agents decay at different rates, he added. Sarin breaks down more rapidly whereas VX is more persistent. Although the unusual nerve agent used in Salisbury has been identified by chemical weapons experts, its name and chemical composition has not yet been made public.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... restaurant



In Russia, suspicions over spy’s poisoning point to Britain

Military and emergency services personnel outside Bourne Hill police station in Salisbury, England, as police and members of the armed forces probe the suspected nerve agent attack on Russian double agent spy Sergei Skripal, Sunday March 11, 2018. British government security ministers held an emergency meeting Saturday to discuss the poisoning of former spy Skripal and his daughter Yulia, as police backed by soldiers continued to search the English town where he was attacked with a nerve agent. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP) (Associated Press)
By Jim Heintz | AP March 12 at 4:42 AM
MOSCOW — Since a former Russian double agent and his daughter were poisoned in Britain a week ago, suspicions about Russia’s possible handiwork have run high — except in major Russian news outlets, where fingers point in the other direction.

Sergei Skripal, a former officer in Russia’s military intelligence service GRU who was convicted in Russia of spying for Britain, and his adult daughter were found comatose on March 4 in the English town of Salisbury, where he lived after being freed in a 2010 spy swap.

While in the West, suspicions about who could be responsible have landed on Russia, in that country the response has been very different.

“If you think about it, well, the only ones for whom the poisoning of the ex-GRU colonel is advantageous are the British,” Dimtry Kiselev, one of Russia’s most powerful media figures, said during his Sunday news program.

The British motive? “Simply in order to feed their Russophobia,” Kiselev posited.

Kiselev’s weekly show on state-owned TV channel Rossiya-1, a mixture of admiring coverage of President Vladimir Putin and insinuations of Western deviousness and incompetence, is regarded here primarily as a voice of the Kremlin.

His segment about Skripal was in sync with a reflexive response of Russian officials to attribute nearly all criticism from the West to anti-Russia bias. The sense of Russia as the target of prejudice that unscrupulous politicians work to cultivate is a key element of Putin’s popularity as he seeks a fourth term in a March 4 election.


Former special services agent Mikhail Lyubimov was quoted in Komsomolskaya Pravda, one of Russia’s most popular newspapers, as suggesting Skripal wouldn’t have been worth the trouble of a hit.

“Skripal was sent to the West in a swap; that means he’s absolutely uninteresting to us. He’s a small-fry,” Lyubimov said.

Komsomolskaya Pravda struck an almost facetious tone in the story.

“In Foggy Albion, the latest spy scandal with anti-Russian tones has ripened,” it began. The article included a colorful Russian idiom for unfair accusations in a line that read, “It’s obvious that, following the old tradition, all dogs will be hung on Moscow.”

Russian media aimed at foreign readers have adopted the same tone of resentment and mockery as news outlets for domestic audiences.

“The British are well-known for their dramatic flair when it comes to stories of Cold War espionage and murder mystery. Think Ian Fleming, John Le Carre and Agatha Christie,” said a commentary on Sputnik News, a state-run English-language news site.


“But this week’s episode of a former Russian spy being poisoned on a public park bench in a quaint English town has suspiciously a tad too much drama about it.”

On Sunday, Kiselev suggested a possible connection between the poisonings in Salisbury, which British officials said resulted from exposure to an unspecified nerve agent, and international soccer’s upcoming World Cup tournament. Russia winning the right to host the competition that runs from mid-June until mid-July is one of the accomplishments Putin can point to in his re-election campaign.

Kiselev suggested the poisoning could be a “special operation” aimed at justifying a boycott of the tournament.

Skripal wasn’t much use to Britain as an exposed ex-spy, but “as someone who’s been poisoned, who is ill, he’s very useful,” Kiselev said.

The program included an on-the-ground report from Britain. The reporter noted that Salisbury, the town where Skripal was lived and fell sick, is about a 20-minute drive from the Porton Down laboratories where Britain developed chemical and bacteriological agents.


“But in the British press and special services, there is no suspicion” of any British involvement, said reporter Alexander Khabarov.

On another state television station, Channel One, anchorman Kirill Klemeinov began a report on the case balefully. He had a public service warning, Klemeinov said, for anyone who dreamed of a career that followed in Skripal’s footsteps.

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“The profession of a traitor is one of the most dangerous in the world,” he said. “It’s very rare that those who chose it have lived in peace until a ripe old age.

“Alcoholism, drug addiction, stress and depression are inevitable professional illnesses of a traitor, resulting in heart attacks and even suicide,” Klemeinov said.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/eu ... fd30c53da6
The only card he has left to play is his resignation
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:15 am

Scientists have reportedly proved 'beyond reasonable doubt' that the nerve agent used on former spy Sergei Skripal came from Russia


A composite of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned with nerve agent, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
AP/BBC Newsnight
Government scientists have concluded that a nerve agent used to poison double agent Sergei Skripal came from Russia, British media reported.
The mounting evidence could be a prelude to the British Government formally accusing Russia of mounting an assassination attempt on its soil.
Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned on March 4, and remain in critical condition.
British government scientists have reportedly concluded "beyond reasonable doubt" that the nerve agent used to poison ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia last week was made in Russia.

Specialists at Porton Down, the Ministry of Defence's chemical warfare lab, reached the conclusion last night, according to The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Tests carried out on Sunday proved "beyond reasonable doubt" that Russia made the chemical used in the attempted murder on March 4. The compound's identity has yet to be made public.

Senior government sources also told The Times newspaper that police and security officials have established "sufficient evidence" to link Russia to the attack.

The Ministry of Defence and Metropolitan Police declined to comment on the reports when contacted by Business Insider.

The Skripals collapsed in a shopping centre in Salisbury just over a week ago after being exposed to nerve agent. They were taken to hospital and have been in critical condition ever since.

The elder Skripal was convicted of passing Russian state secrets to British intelligence between 1995 and 2004, before being pardoned and sent to Britain in a spy exchange in 2010.

Sergei Skripal buying groceries near his Salisbury home five days before he collapsed.
ITV News
The gathering of scientific evidence about the attack could be a prelude to the British Government formally accusing Russia of trying to kill Skripal on its territory.

According to The Times, The Telegraph, and Sky News, Prime Minister Theresa May could take that step as soon as Monday.

She could also call for new sanctions against Russian nationals close to President Vladimir Putin, the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the UK, and the withdrawal all official representation at the World Cup in Russia this summer, The Times said.

The announcement is expected to come after a National Security Council meeting on Monday, where May will take evidence from the UK's three intelligence agencies MI5, MI6, and GCHQ.

Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, also told BBC Radio 4's "Today" programme that the attack looks like it was state-sponsored.

Investigators near the forensic tent, placed over the bench where the Skripals were found collapsed.
REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
British counterterror police are leading the investigation into the attack. They are being supported by 180 military personnel, who helped remove contaminated items from the shopping centre where the father and daughter were found.

Police also found traces of the nerve agent at a restaurant and a pub in the shopping centre, and have asked the roughly 500 people who might have been in the vicinity to wash their clothes and other belongings in case they were affected.

A police officer, Sergeant Nick Bailey, was also seriously injured after responding to the Skripals. He is now "talking and engaging," UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said.

The Kremlin has vehemently denied any involvement in the attack.
http://www.businessinsider.com/scientis ... ack-2018-3


10 possible British responses to Russia over the Sergei Skripal affair

How could the UK punish Russia effectively? Here is an escalating list of potential measures

Patrick WintourLast modified on Mon 12 Mar 2018 10.06 EDT
In a memorandum sent this month to the foreign affairs select committee, before the allegations of poisoning in Salisbury emerged, the Foreign Office said Russia was increasingly defining itself in opposition to the west.

Nevertheless the FCO said: “We want to reduce risk, talk about our differences, and ... as P5 members [permanent members of the UN security council], we want to engage constructively with Russia in the interests of security and stability, including on pressing issues such as North Korea and Iran. We are also working with Russia to ensure a safe and secure World Cup for visiting fans, with UK-Russia police cooperation under way ahead of the tournament”.

The events in Salisbury change that calculus, and in the words of the former national security adviser Lord Ricketts, the task now is to “punish Russia in a way that will make Vladimir Putin sit up and take notice”.

Q&A
Have you been affected by the events in Salisbury?

The full spectrum of options will be available to the national security committee on Monday, and in the end cabinet ministers’ decisions will be determined by how unequivocal the intelligence agencies choose to be in attributing responsibility to Russia, and agents of Putin’s government.

The question is how much the UK can achieve unilaterally, and how much requires wider EU, Nato and US support, something that will test UK diplomatic heft in a pre-Brexit era. The poisoning of a Russian double agent in a British cathedral city makes news, but many western politicians will be guided by bigger strategic choices including relations over Syria, Iran, Ukraine and commerce.

In ascending order, the UK’s potential options are:

1) Expulsion of diplomats

A minimalist option deployed by David Cameron’s government after the poisoning with polonium of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. Expulsion of the ambassador would be a major step, but leave the UK bereft of a smart high-level conduit to Moscow. Retaliation, including the expulsion of the UK ambassador from Russia, would probably follow, putting UK relations in a deep freeze.

2) Ask Ofcom to declare that Russian media outlets such as RT (formerly Russia Today) are not fit to hold a broadcasting licence

Public figures including shadow cabinet members, or football managers, such as José Mourinho, could be formally encouraged to pull out of the lucrative contracts the have signed to appear on RT. Such a move would be welcomed at least in France where strong measures have been taken against fake news after allegations of Russian interference in the French presidential elections.

3) Seek support in the EU for sports officials not to attend the World Cup

This would not involve a boycott by footballers, but, in any case, many countries are unlikely to want to follow suit.

4) Introduce amendments to the sanctions and anti-money laundering bill

The legislation could be amended to allow stronger sanctions against human rights abusers, such as the persecutors of Sergei Magnitsky a Russian tax accountant who died in jail in Russia after revealing details of a massive state-sponsored fraud.

The Foreign Office says it already has full confiscatory powers, but under pressure from Tory backbenchers such as Richard Benyon, the Europe minister, Sir Alan Duncan, said ministers were minded to support a Magnitsky clause once the bill reaches report stage and the technical legal definitions of gross human rights abuse have been resolved. But ministers see this as a symbolic act to assuage public opinion.

5) Impose asset freezes on Russian oligarchs unable to explain sources of London property wealth

This would be legally risky and might hit as many of Putin’s opponents as allies.

6) Seek further EU-wide sanctions on Russia

Russia, the most sanctioned country in the world apart from North Korea, has proved resilient to sanctions. It is often a battle to persuade Germany, Italy and Greece to maintain existing EU sanctions on Russia over Ukraine. Most experts say these sanctions reduced Russian growth by only 1% last year. In a recent report the Estonian intelligence agency said Putin “uses western sanctions to shield himself from criticism of a failed economic policy”, saying they help “to some degree to paper over the fundamental weaknesses in the economy”.

In the US, sanctions are being driven by Congress, not the White House, mainly through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act passed in August.

The law aims to punish Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

In support of the act, Congress demanded the US Treasury name and shame those who had benefited from close association with Putin and put them on notice that they could be targeted for sanctions, or more sanctions, in the future. No one on the list has been sanctioned, and it appears to have been derived from a Forbes magazine list of Russian businessmen.

7) Step up Nato presence on the Russian border

The British army already has a four-year rotational presence, but moves closer to Belarus would send a signal.

The Trump administration says it has already asked to increase funding for the European Deterrence Initiative, an Obama programme aimed at bolstering Nato’s defences against Russia, by almost $2bn. The White House says it has provided the Ukrainian military with extra arms for east Ukraine.

Nato can also step up the strategic pressure on Moscow by speeding the process of admitting Ukraine into provisional Nato membership through agreeing a membership action plan. Similar encouragement can be offered in the Balkans, a key area of conflict with Russia. The EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, is visiting Ukraine this week on the fourth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea.

8 ) Designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism

In the US, designation results in a variety of unilateral sanctions, including a ban on arms-related exports and sales, prohibitions on economic assistance, and other punitive measures.

9) Cut Russian banks off from Swift

Some Russian banks linked to Iran have been cut off from the international system for the exchange of financial data (Swift). This might weaken Russia’s ability to trade internationally, but Russian banks have switched to a Russian payment system called SPFS set up with larger non G7 countries.

10) Leak or publish classified material on the scale of money laundering by Putin and his allies

The UK intelligence services has access to a large volume of material, some open sourced, setting out where Putin, his family and business entourage have placed money abroad. It would be possible for the UK government to give an official imprimatur to such information. The downside is that it would be viewed as an attempt to interfere in the current Russian Presidential election campaign, something the West has accused the Russians of doing. Publishing personal information on rival political leaders has been seen as off limits, and might only prompt unwelcome reprisals aimed at UK politicians.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... pal-affair



Ex-Spies on Sergei Skripal Assassination Attempt: ‘There Is Always a Danger’

The danger depends on certain variables, but it’s clear, present—and could happen here.


Kommersant/Yuri Senatorov via Reuters


On Sunday, March 4, former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia ate lunch at an Italian restaurant in Salisbury, England, then walked around the corner to a pub. Less than two hours later, they were found on a bench, comatose.

Both Skripal, 66, and his daughter, 33, are now in extremely critical condition. Police say they were poisoned with a nerve agent; fingers are pointing to the FSB, Russia’s successor intelligence agency to the KGB. Skripal’s wife and son died in 2012 and 2017, respectively—she reportedly of natural causes, he on a holiday to St. Petersburg, from either liver failure or a car crash. He was 43. Two years ago, Skripal’s brother Valeri, a former Russian paratrooper, died of unknown causes after a sudden and dramatic weight loss.

“The truth of the matter is, there is always a danger to the defector and his family,” Chelsea Barsky-Dittrich, whose KGB sleeper-agent father, Jack, defected to the United States in 1988, told The Daily Beast. “You just cannot forget that the defector is a target.”

The rules of the game seem to have changed, said Joseph Wippl, a retired CIA operations officer who spent 30 years overseas as a member of the Agency’s clandestine service.

“The betrayal in the Skripal case may be a different kind of betrayal than during the Cold War,” Wippl said. “I think a lot of these people can be engaged in all kinds of things other than just being members of the Russian government, so it’s probably a little bit more ‘Russian Mafia à la Russia’ than necessarily just a critic of Putin and so on. But I can’t imagine that this assassination attempt didn’t take place without authority at the highest levels, with at least Putin winking.”

Such a brazen assassination attempt as the one on Sergei and Yulia Skripal hasn’t been carried out on a high-value defector or former intelligence officer inside the U.S. in modern memory. Could it happen here?

Of course it could, said one recent defector from the Russian intelligence services who now lives under an assumed identity in the United States.

“Russians can operate way easier here than Americans can operate in Russia,” he told the Daily Beast, adding that there is very little daylight between organized crime and the Kremlin these days. “It could happen at any moment, anywhere. Edward Snowden is way safer in Russia than any Russian defector can feel here.”

Yes, there are unwritten “rules” that have long existed within the intelligence community, and targeting retired operatives and their families was always off-limits.

But, said the former Russian spy, “There are no rules if you don’t want to follow them, and no one’s going to blame you if you don’t, that’s for sure. I have my life insurance ready to go,” he said. “My wife and son will be okay, that’s all I care about.”

You can fight an enemy and one day make peace, Vladimir Putin once said. A traitor, on the other hand, “must be destroyed, crushed.” Indeed, the Russian security services have always held a particular grudge against double agents, said Yelena Mitrokhina, who was married to the first secretary of the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C. when she defected in 1978, and Skripal did time in a Russian prison for selling secrets to MI6.

“In order to discourage other people from doing this, they go after people like that with a vengeance, truly,” she told The Daily Beast.

Mitrokhina wasn’t a professional intelligence officer, much less a double agent, but she was still in enough danger that the U.S. government changed her name to “Alexandra Costa” and helped her disappear into a network of safe houses around Washington. Although she was under close physical CIA protection, Costa was still deeply worried about being killed or kidnapped.

Costa, who was once known as the “lady in the blond wig,” after appearing on Nightline in obvious disguise, eventually settled down in Northern Virginia and remarried. Her new husband was a fellow defector named Stanislav Levchenko, a former KGB major who ran the Soviet Union’s active measures program in Japan. He had defected to the U.S. in 1979, subsequently revealing information to his handlers that crippled the KGB’s entire Japanese network. For this, Levchenko was sentenced to death in absentia for treason by a Moscow court.

“There were no people sitting in cars in front of our house, but security for defectors from the security services looks very much like the Witness Protection Program. Only, instead of the Marshal’s Service, the CIA is in charge of it and they do a decent job.”

Unlike Costa, Levchenko never legally changed his name. He has said he wasn’t afraid of being assassinated, but there was at least one known attempt by Soviet intelligence to locate and kill him. Costa personally revealed her new identity to the world in 1986 when she published her memoir, Stepping Down From the Stars: A Soviet Defector’s Story.

Although the CIA still checks in with her once in a while, Costa, who is now estranged from Levchenko, said she’s no longer worried for her safety, nor his.

“I always felt that the information Stan possessed had a finite time value, that eventually his usefulness ran out and at that point the danger to him diminished,” Costa said. “The recent defectors are probably under tighter security than us, the old guard, because we’ve been here a long time and it wouldn’t really service the Russians to do anything about us.”

That’s generally true, said retired CIA operations officer Charles Goslin. But, he added, Sergei Skripal’s value as an asset had seemingly faded, as well. An extrajudicial assassination in the West carries a tremendous risk of exposure, and the risk can far outweigh the gain if the target is not an actual intelligence threat.

To that end, retired KGB General Oleg Kalugin, who fled to the United States more than 25 years ago, insists the thought of being assassinated doesn’t weigh heavily on him anymore. (Now living openly in Maryland, Kalugin hastens to make clear that he did not defect but was granted political asylum.)

“I’m free, walking, talking, and traveling; I have no fears,” Kalugin told The Daily Beast. “I don’t maintain contact with U.S. security unless I need to, and I have no reason to call them at the moment.”

Goslin emphasizes, however, that the Russians “do not play by the same rule book we do.” Former KGB colonel Igor Prelin stated publicly in 2008 that he knows where Kalugin lives and wouldn’t rule out killing him inside the U.S. Subsequently, the U.S. apparently believes there is still good reason to keep tabs on Kalugin in certain circumstances.

“When I travel abroad, there is security provided by the local security people,” Kalugin said. “They are obviously alerted by the U.S. security services, because I don’t ask them for protection. I was in France some time ago for a speaking engagement and as I landed at the airport, a team of security guys introduced themselves and I was surrounded by them the entire time.”

In the United States, high-value defectors are typically debriefed first by the FBI and then handed over to the CIA, which is responsible, by law, for “the secure handling, adequate care, maintenance, rehabilitation, and resettlement of defectors and their families in order to ensure personal safety, encourage other defections, and discourage redefections.”

Enrique García Diaz, a former captain in Cuba’s spy services who defected to the U.S. in 1989, spent two years being debriefed by both the FBI and CIA, resulting in more than 2,000 high-value reports.

When the CIA extracted García from Quito, Ecuador, where he was posted to the Cuban Embassy under diplomatic cover, security concerns forbade him from saying goodbye to his family. A government jet flew García, under heavy guard, to Panama. He was then taken then to a military base in the continental U.S. for a stretch, after which the government installed him in a suburban Virginia safe house.

There, a team of six bodyguards watched over García 24 hours a day; two were even posted in the bedroom while he slept. He was given a new set of American identity documents, as well as a weekly stipend for food and expenses. There was a trial back in Havana, where García was convicted in absentia and sentenced to death.

García still maintains a strict security regimen, the exact details of which he declines to share. Nearly 30 years after defecting, García, who now works as a security consultant and is always armed, is just as vigilant as he was in ’89.

“I always know where all the security cameras are, I always check my car before I get in, when I’m at a restaurant, I always know who is at the tables around me,” García said. “It’s not because I’m worried, it’s because I was trained to do this. It’s automatic, it’s integrated into my life.”

But physical danger isn’t all a defector has to worry about. Many find themselves wrestling with what has been described as “deep psychological shock.” The isolation can be traumatic, and knowing you’ll never see your family or friends again can be overwhelming.

Finding meaningful work is also difficult for many defectors, a good portion of whom are, in Alexandra Costa’s words, “unemployable,” for various reasons. García, who has a law degree from the University of Havana, was lucky; others struggle mightily—past defectors with elite educations and resumes have ended up working as bellhops and dishwashers.

In the end, things turned out reasonably well for Costa, who is now a U.S. citizen. Once a professor in Moscow with a Ph.D. in social sciences and a 154 IQ, Costa’s CIA handlers recommended she enroll in secretarial school. She declined the offer, getting herself into the Wharton School of Business, where she earned an MBA and later ran her own computer consulting business.

Today, Costa lives like any other average American. She enjoys spending time on Facebook, and, is, perhaps unsurprisingly, eagerly looking forward to the final season of The Americans, her favorite TV program.

“As a person who has been there, this show is extremely accurate in their depiction of embassy life,” Costa said. “The only one thing I can fault them on that could never have happened is that FBI agents never meet with sources or targets alone—when I met with the FBI before I defected, they were always two of them. But that’s the only detail on which I can fault them, and of course, they are allowed to have some artistic freedom.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/ex-spies- ... s-a-danger
The only card he has left to play is his resignation
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Russian/Siberian Agent school girl Maria (NRA) Butina pleads guilty to CONSPIRACY against the U.S. and is cooperating with prosecutors
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby Sounder » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:45 am

Common sense suggests that this situation is similar to the way western powers supply chemical weapons to takfiri headchoppers in Syria, knowing with confidence that the, still going strong MSM, will pin the shit on Assad, thereby turning the killing of civilians to Western tactical advantage.

Making passive media consumers implicitly complicit in ongoing war crimes.

If Russians did the deed then MSM consumers are not complicit, and this produces a strong incentive to maintain the 'Russia did it" narrative.

Same with Assad and Russia-gate. Rationality has been abandoned in preference to a death promoting group-think that passionately believes itself to 'represent' humanitarian ideals.

And that dear friends, is bullshit.
All these things will continue as long as coercion remains a central element of our mentality.
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:19 pm

thanks for the measured sticking to the article on topic response Sounder, I appreciate that...

I guess £820,000 doesn't go as far as it used to these days

Ms Litvinenko has a different opinion

UK Prime Minister Theresa May says the nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal has been identified as a military-grade nerve agent of the Novichok group developed by Russia



Investigators now studying high-quality CCTV footage of Sergei Skripal

Independent.ie NewsdeskMarch 12 2018 11:40 AM
Nerve attack: Sergei Skripal pictured at his trial in Moscow. Photo: AP

High quality CCTV footage of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the moments before they collapsed has been passed to investigators probing the attack of a Russian former double agent.

The images are understood to be clear enough to see people's faces or read a car number plate.

There were fears the city's £400,000 CCTV system may not have been working after it was besieged by technical problems.

But Matthew Dean, leader of Salisbury City Council, said the issues had been resolved around a month ago.

Crucially, the coverage includes The Maltings area, where Mr Skripal, 66, and Yulia, 33, were found collapsed on a bench eight days ago.

"The CCTV system was fully functional and a great deal of footage has been shared with the enquiry," he said.

Tables and chairs remain unused inside the closed pub which Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia visited before they were found poisoned. REUTERS

"I can confirm some very high quality footage was shared on the Monday with the enquiry."

The images showing the victims in the hours and minutes before their collapse could be invaluable to investigators, who continue to scour the city for clues.

A police car being taken away by military personnel in Salisbury, as police and members of the armed forces probe the suspected nerve agent attack. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Police cordons remain in place at various locations in Salisbury, while the military have been working with counter-terror police to remove potentially contaminated vehicles and other items.

"People are used to seeing the military around," said Mr Dean.

Forensic officers in gas masks at the cemetery where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal’s wife and son were laid to rest. Photo: PA Wire

"I think we are very fortunate as we have a military presence anyway.

"It is the home of the British Army and Porton Down, the chemical weapons research facility, is located just outside of the city."

The Conservative politician also defended fresh health advice issued a week after the attack when it emerged traces of a nerve agent had been found at The Mill pub and the nearby Zizzi restaurant.

"If there is anger I haven't discerned it. People accept that this incident is unprecedented in the British Isles and it took Public Health England some days of investigative science to find out even what the cause of injury was to Mr Skripal and his daughter.

"So the advice of yesterday was following the last few days of scientific analysis."

Press Association
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/e ... 95563.html


SPY MYSTERY
Sergei Skripal’s betrayer ‘has blood on his hands’
Ben Macintyre | Graham Keeley, Madrid | Tom Parfitt, Moscow
March 12 2018, 12:01am,
The Times
Roberto Flórez García offered to sell secret information about spies
SERGIO BARRENECHEA/EFE
The man who exposed Sergei Skripal as an MI6 double-agent has been revealed as a Spanish spy who was later jailed for 12 years for handing secrets to the Russians.

Roberto Flórez García, 52, became aware that a Russian double agent based in Spain was working for British and Spanish intelligence and revealed these details to a contact in the Russian Embassy in Madrid.

Flórez, who worked for the Centre for National Intelligence (CNI), the Spanish spy agency, offered a trove of classified information to Petr Yakovlevich Melnikov, who worked at the embassy between 2000 and 2003, according to documents from his trial for treason.

During Flórez’s trial in 2010 the court was told that he wrote a letter in 2001 to Mr Melnikov identifying…

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/serg ... -d2v93gbx5


The prosecution accuses of a crime of treason to the former double spy uncovered by the CNI
The defendant, Roberto Flórez García, sold to Russia data on agents, structures and operations
Others ConéctateConéctate To print
ELPAIS.COM
AGENCIES
Madrid 24 JUL 2007 - 15:53 CEST
The Public Prosecutor has today accused the former agent of the National Intelligence Center (CNI) Roberto Flórez García, 42, of a crime of treason for selling sensitive information to the secret services of a foreign country, specifically to Russia. The accused would face a penalty of between six and twelve years in prison under article 584 of the Criminal Code. It was the CNI that two weeks ago informed the State Attorney General about the alleged illegal activities of Flórez so that he could proceed to investigate him, according to legal sources.


Documents declassified by the CNI reveal the identity of the Russian diplomat who spied on Spain
VIDEO The spy who sold information to Russia requires changing the protocol of the CNI
The director of the National Intelligence Center, Alberto Saiz, informed this morning of the first case of leaks within the Spanish intelligence services. Police arrested yesterday in Tenerife a former member of the center who acted as "double agent", selling sensitive information to the secret services of a foreign country. According to Cadena SER, the former spy, who offered information about agents and structures of the CNI between 2001 and 2004 in exchange for money, sold his data to Russia, although this country has denied it.

Saiz's press conference was the first one offered by a head of the Spanish secret services and has been to account for a "unique case in the history of Spanish intelligence services." Former CNI agent Roberto Flórez García, 42, was arrested yesterday afternoon in Tenerife for having sold classified information to a foreign intelligence service between December 2001 and February 2004. The police searched the two houses of the former agent in Tenerife and seized a large number of documents with information on the case.

According to the data of the investigation, now in the hands of a court in Tenerife, Flórez, who was removed from the CNI in January 2004 after 12 years of uninterrupted service, volunteered to a foreign intelligence service in exchange for " much money "and leaked" dozens of identities "of agents, as well as information on procedures, internal structures and counterintelligence activities. Among the data he could reveal, Saiz has mentioned the identities of the seven CNI agents killed in Iraq in November 2003, but not that his information led to the ambush they suffered.

No risk to safety

Despite this, Sáiz has guaranteed that at no time did the double agent activity jeopardize the security of Spain, its institutions, the EU or NATO. Saiz has pointed out that as far as they know he did not transmit information related to the fight against terrorism, since by his trajectory and destinies, he "never" was close to the department of international terrorism of the CNI, which was created a few months before the attacks of March 11. in Madrid. "The first element of tranquility is that national security has not been at risk," he said. Also, it has specified that the investigation was initiated in July 2005 and that it has not been until three weeks ago when it has been placed in the hands of the Office of the Prosecutor.

Saiz has not wanted to reveal the foreign service for which Flórez worked, although some sources of the investigation have revealed that it was Russia. However, the Embassy of this country in Madrid has denied any responsibility and has said to have "nothing to do" with the former agent. "The Russian Embassy has nothing to do with this news," said a Russian diplomatic spokesman, dismissing the news of "purely media" information.

Saiz has acknowledged that Flórez's espionage has caused internal damage to the CNI, which has been forced to modify structures and procedures and introduce new security measures, although he also wanted to emphasize that the organization is in constant change. However, although the data sold by Flórez were "useful" at that time for the foreign service, at present "they are of lower interest" due to the passage of time and the changes introduced in the CNI.

Suspicion of a hole

The director of the CNI ordered the internal investigation to begin in July 2005 after discovering that an "incident" that occurred in the area of ​​counterintelligence that spring could be connected to previous ones and then have "solid suspicions" that the Center could have "an security hole "and having been" infiltrated "by foreign intelligence services. Once the hole was detected, the Center's main concern was to delimit the damage caused to the organization in its procedures, structure and counterintelligence activities that were underway in those years, when the CNI Jorge Dezcallar directed.

For Saiz, it is "a failure" of the institution, which did not consider the risk of an information leak and "somehow failed", but it is also "a success" because it has been able to discover it and know many of its "aggressors" and weaknesses. "

The case has been uncovered at a particularly sensitive time for relations between Russia and the EU, following the murder in London of Aleksander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy who was poisoned with polonium 210, a radioactive substance. London accuses Moscow of this death and a diplomatic conflict has arisen between both governments. The United Kingdom has expelled four Russian diplomats from its territory, a measure that has been answered in the same way by the Russian Government.
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The only card he has left to play is his resignation
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Russian/Siberian Agent school girl Maria (NRA) Butina pleads guilty to CONSPIRACY against the U.S. and is cooperating with prosecutors
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby Grizzly » Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:06 am


Megan Kelly! Time journalist of the year!! :roll: :roll:

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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby BenDhyan » Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:44 am

It seems to me the only reason Russia would try to assassinate Skripal using a nerve gas that is sourced to Russia is that they wanted the Brits et al to know they were responsible.. Otoh, if the perp/s were anti-Putin or not Russian, using a nerve gas of Russian origin would send the hounds on the wrong scent.
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:09 am

only hours after Tillerson blamed Russia for nerve agent attack on spy in the UK.....

Rex Tillerson has been fired ...replaced by Pompeo

Trump got the call from Putin on Terrorist Chemical Attack In UK. Get rid of Tillerson. Trump: Yass Boss!



Putin 'wants everyone to know it's him' with brazen nerve agent attack in the UK, experts say

Alex Lockie
17m 154

Experts think that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind an attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal.
They told Business Insider that he likely chose a Russian-made nerve agent to brazenly claim ownership of the attempted murder while officially denying it.
Russia has been linked to 15 similar cases of poisoning, and a raft of geopolitical aggressions since Putin came to power.
There is little the UK can do to directly hit back at Russia for the attack, which may have motivated the Kremlin to push the envelope.

The UK and US said on Monday that a Russian-made nerve agent had been unleashed on the English city of Salisbury, and that either Russia's government or rogue Russian agents must have carried out the attack.

But the circumstances surrounding the attack have forced a consensus among experts — Russian President Vladimir Putin used the attack to send a deliberate message.

The attack targeted Sergei Skripal, a double agent who passed Russian state secrets to British intelligence in the 1990s and early 2000. He was later pardoned and was sent to the UK as part of a spy swap in 2010.


Skripal and his daughter were hospitalized by the attack, and hundreds of residents of the town were warned to wash their clothes to remove risk of exposure to the deadly chemical.

The chemical, as identified by British scientists, was Novichok, a family of fourth-generation nerve agent, developed from the late 1980s onwards, according to the Weapons of Mass Casualties and Terrorism Response Handbook.

Until Skripal's poisoning, many thought Novichok was a Cold War fiction, but now experts suggest it functions as a calling card for Putin.

Joshua H. Pollack, the editor of the The Nonproliferation Review tweeted that Novichok was a "signature" chemical weapon that the Kremlin likely meant as a "declaration of indifference to the suspicions of others," that amounted to Putin saying: "We don't care what you think."

"After the successful identification of VX by the Malaysian authorities, anyone using a battlefield nerve agent for a high-profile assassination has to know it will be detected," continued Pollack, referencing the murder of Kim Jong Nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half brother.

"Using such an agent just down the road from Porton Down, one of the world's centers of expertise on [chemical weapons], only amplifies the message," concluded Pollack.

Another expert questioned why anybody would use a distinctly Russian chemical agent if they did not want it to be blame Russia was to blame.

"The stunning thing about this attack is why Novichock [sic] when there are other alternatives less provocative and more deniable for Russia. But I suppose that's precisely the point.... Wants everyone to know it's him," Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT with expertise in weapons of mass destruction tweeted.

What is the UK going to do about it?
theresa may russia retaliation
Leon Neal / Getty
Russia denies involvement in the attack, even though it has been linked to 15 similar cases of poisoning in the UK alone.

But by officially denying culpability, despite its clear link to Russia, Putin presents the UK with a difficult choice.

NATO experts told Business Insider that war seems unlikely as a result of Skripal's poisoning, as it's not even Russia's worst offense in the context of its illegal annexation of Crimea, support for separatist rebels in Ukraine, and alleged role in the 2014 downing of the MH17 commercial airliner.

The UK can expel Russian diplomats on its soil and impose sanctions if it chooses, but if the experts are correct that Russia's government carried out the attack so brazenly, then the UK's real problem is in Moscow, not an embassy in London.
http://www.businessinsider.com/sergei-s ... him-2018-3





Karpichkov a Russian spy who defected claims he survived a poison attack and reveals Putin’s hit list

How can HouseGOP SenateGOP align with Putin a murderer who needs to be tried for war crimes?


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https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.mirror ... 165770.amp

Russian spy claims he was poisoned just like Sergei Skripal as Vladimir Putin wants him dead

Defector Boris Karpichkov says he became a 'walking corpse' after what he claims was poisoning and is on a hit list of eight defectors targeted by the Russian leader

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KGB defector Boris Karpichkov reckons he was viciously poisoned (Image: Nicholas Bowman/Sunday Mirror)
A Russian double agent who defected to Britain has revealed he was poisoned like stricken Sergei Skripal.

Boris Karpichkov says he and Skripal were on a hit-list of EIGHT defectors Vladimir Putin wants dead – and names the others .

The ex-KGB major claims he suffered the first of two chemical attacks in November 2006 – the week defector Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London by polonium in a cup of tea.

Karpichkov had fled to New Zealand after being warned by MI5 that an attempt on his life was imminent.

He says: “A street beggar came up and sprayed something in my face.

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Boris Karpichkov said he shed a huge amount of weight and turned into a 'walking corpse' after being poisoned (Image: Nicholas Bowman/Sunday Mirror)
"I felt the earth spin and had flu-like symptoms. In a couple of months I’d lost 66lbs and all body hair. I was a walking corpse.”

Medical records seen by the Sunday Mirror show poisoning was suspected though never proved. In March 2007 Karpichkov fell ill again after a chemical was sprayed on his carpet.

Toxicology tests in New Zealand and London could not pinpoint the cause.

Now in the wake of the Skripal poisoning, Karpichkov says he was warned last month by a secret contact in the FSB – the modern-day KGB – to look out for e-cigarettes concealing nerve gas.

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Boris Karpichkov's fake ID which he used during his days as a double agent (Image: Matt Sprake Photography)
He says: “We used burner phones. He said something bad was going to happen to me. I’m 59. But I’m not optimistic about seeing 60.”

He fears his latest death threat is the result of him posting the names of FSB agents on Latvian website Kompromat.lv
The Russian, who defected to Britain 20 years ago, spoke as police continued to investigate the attempted murder of Skripal, 66 – a former colonel in Russian military intelligence – and daughter Yulia, 33, found unconscious in a park in Salisbury, Wilts, last Sunday.

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Boris, pictured in his younger years, thinks he is now being hunted (Image: Matt Sprake Photography)
Chillingly, Karpichkov reveals: “I’ve been told the FSB Kolegia, a gathering of its high ranking officers, met the day after Skripal was attacked.

“Vladimir Putin was there and was briefed that the hit had been a success.” And he reveals other names on a hit list he has been given by his contact.


The defector reckons Putin is behind his poisoning (Image: Nicholas Bowman/Sunday Mirror)
OLEG GORDIEVSKY, 79: Britain’s top Cold War double agent spirited out of Russia in 1985 in the boot of a Ford saloon.

BILL BROWDER, 53: ­US-born Brit financier banned from Russia for fraud, but he claims it was for exposing corruption.

IGOR SUTYAGIN, 53: Russian nuclear weapons specialist accused of spying for UK. Spy-swapped in 2010 along with Skirpal.

YURI SHVETS, 65: Ex-KGB major who defected to America in 1994. A key witness in the poisoning of Litvinenko.

CHRISTOPHER STEELE, 53: Former MI6 officer who claimed Russian spies had a video of Donald Trump cavorting with prostitutes.

VLADIMIR REZUN, 70: Soviet military intelligence captain who defected to Britain in 1978.

Latvian-born Karpichkov was 24 when he was recruited by the KGB 35 years ago.

He rose to major in the spy agency’s Second Chief Directorate, specialising in counter espionage.

He recalls being issued with a pen that fired bullets and had a s­ecret compartment for poison powder.

He says: “I fancied myself as James Bond, but once I realised what the KGB/FSB was really about I got disillusioned.”

He claims to have spied on Russia for the CIA and the French. When he was rumbled in 1998 he fled to Britain with his wife and two children.

He says: “All I can do is keep looking over my shoulder. I don’t care about myself, but I do care about my family.”

Leader who is spider at centre of Russian web

Vladimir Putin is a unique world leader.

He’s not just president of Russia but its chief executive, and a supreme spymaster.

His rise from KGB agent to tyrant has amassed him a fortune estimated at £144billion. To understand how he did this means understanding how Russia works.

The state, big business, organised crime and the country’s spy apparatus are all interlinked. Putin is the spider at the centre of the web. Money laundering by crime gangs pays for the operations of the SVR and FSB, successors to the KGB.

Anyone who betrays this regime faces death. And even if Putin does not order the killings, it’s inconceivable he doesn’t approve them.

Meanwhile he has revamped the military and expanded Russia’s influence into the Ukraine and Crimea.

Russia carries out cyber attacks on the West, spreads fake news and influences elections.

Russia goes to the polls next weekend which will keep Putin in office until 2024.

The only embarrassment he faces is a low turnout as voters know the result is a certainty.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/ ... t-12165770


What you need to know about Novichok, the Russian nerve agent used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal

Rob Price and Alexandra Ma 10m 139


Double agent Sergei Skripal was poisoned with nerve agent Novichok, Theresa May has said.
Novichok nerve agents are Cold War-era chemical weapons, up to ten times more deadly than the notorious XV nerve agent used in other assassinations.
Theresa May has officially pointed the finger at Russia over the attempted assassination of double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England, saying on Monday it is "highly likely" that the country was responsible for the attack.

The British Prime Minister also provided more information on the deadly nerve agent used to target the former Russian spy — saying it was "Novichok," a family of poisons developed by the Russian government during the Cold War.

"Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down ... the Government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and [his daughter] Yulia Skripal," May said.

Novichok is a family of fourth-generation nerve agent, developed from the late 1980s onwards, according to the Weapons of Mass Casualties and Terrorism Respond Handbook by Charles Edward Stewart.

Its name roughly means "newcomer," and the chemicals can be as much as ten times more toxic than notorious nerve agent XV, Stewart wrote, while being far more resistant to antidotes. (It was XV that was used by North Korea to kill the half-brother of Kim Jong-un in 2017.)

Additionally, Novichok nerve agents "can be made with common chemicals in relatively simple pesticide factories" — making it more difficult to detect its manufacture and regulate the raw materials used to make it.

sergei skripal salisbury groceries
Sergei Skripal buying groceries near his Salisbury home on February 27, 2018.
ITV News
Nerve agents can take the form of gas, aerosol, or liquid, and enter the body through inhalation, the skin, or the consumption of liquid or food contaminated with them, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said.

It's still not clear when or how the Skripals were exposed to the chemicals and how much was administered to them.

Symptoms include restlessness, loss of consciousness, wheezing, and a running nose, according to the Centers for Disease Control. When administered in high doses, nerve agents can suffocate victims to death within a couple of minutes, the OPCW said.

A witness at Zizzi, the restaurant where the Skripals were eating before they collapsed, told the BBC that the elder Skripal "seemed to lose his temper" and "just started screaming at the top of his voice, he wanted his bill and he wanted to go."

Another witness who saw the stricken Skripals later on said Yulia "looked like she had passed out" and Sergei "was doing some strange hand movements, looking up to the sky."

The pair remain critically ill in hospital. Police officer Nick Bailey has also been hospitalised after being exposed (though it's not yet clear where), and more than 20 people have been treated.

sergei skripal grave
A forensics tent over the grave of Skripal's wife Lyudmila in in Salisbury.
Jack Taylor/Getty Images
Theresa May said that it is "clear" that Yulia and Sergei Skripal were poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent - suggesting that either Russia is behind the attack or that it has lost control of its stores of nerve agents.

"Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down; our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so; Russia's record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations; the Government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal," she said.

"Mr Speaker, there are therefore only two plausible explanations for what happened in Salisbury on the 4th of March.

"Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others."
http://www.businessinsider.com/what-is- ... ent-2018-3


Secret Soviet-Era Chemical Weapon Used on Ex-Spy in U.K.

The Prime Minister accused Russia of an unauthorized use of force against a foreign nation as British politicians called for the U.S. to step in.

LONDON—The poison used on a former spy and his daughter in South West England last week was a chemical weapon produced by a highly secretive Soviet-era program to develop a new grade of undetectable nerve agents.

Russia has never admitted that this “novichok” program even existed and the attack in Britain may be the first confirmed use of the deadly chemical weapon.

The deployment of such a distinctive nerve agent in broad daylight—where it may have affected hundreds of British citizens—underlines the increasingly brazen assassination program apparently operated by Vladimir Putin.

The Daily Beast reported last week on the unlikely but shocking possibility that novichoks could have been deployed on the streets of Britain. The London murder of Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko with the radioactive isotope Polonium-210 was the previous high-water mark for the shameless program of political killings, but this may be an even more obvious attempt by the Russian president to demonstrate his untrammelled ability to act with impunity on the world stage.

British Prime Minister Theresa May gave the Kremlin a 48-hour deadline to provide an explanation for this Russian-produced weapon of mass destruction striking down former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, as well as a British police officer who was called to help.

“Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom,” she said.



Dissident former Soviet scientists first revealed the existence of this deadly weapons program in the 1990s, saying that novichoks were developed as an alternative to traditional nerve agents like sarin. “Inspectors would have a difficult time uncovering this covert Soviet chemical weapons production program since no outsiders knew that these new chemical agents even existed,” explained a 1995 report.

Even though these claims had been made by Russian defectors, chemical weapons experts wondered if this novichok or “newcomer” agent program was anything more than a legend.

"We weren't even sure that it existed," Mark Bishop, a chemical weapons specialist in nonproliferation at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, told The Daily Beast. Last week, in a separate story looking into what nerve agent could have been used, Bishop was hesitant to even speculate that novichoks were a potential source, primarily because their existence was practically mythical: Western spy agencies were almost positive that the Soviets had developed this alternative nerve agent in the 1980s, but there was no such proof—until now.

"To know it's a novichok for sure, that's fairly easy," he told The Daily Beast, based on its unmistakable chemical signature.

The British government has challenged the Kremlin to explain whether it ordered a state-sanctioned assassination using the new chemical weapons—or if it had lost control of these banned substances.

Tom Tugendhant, chair of the foreign affairs committee, said it was now necessary to convene a global coalition to confront Putin’s aggression. “This, if not an act of war, was certainly a warlike act by the Russian Federation,” he said in the House of Commons on Monday. “Now is the time for us to call on our allies, to call on the European Union—that has worked so well with us on sanctions—on NATO, and particularly on the United States and ask what they will do to assist us in this moment when we are in need?”

President Trump has so far neglected to address Russia’s act of aggression against Washington’s supposedly close ally. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to repeat Britain’s assertion that Russian state manufactured chemical weapons had been used when questioned at the White House press briefing, saying only that the U.S. stood by Britain.

Russia’s immediate response was to dismiss the findings of Britain’s Porton Down military weapons facility as a "fairy tale" and "another information and political campaign based on provocation."

A first version of that fairy tale was told by former Soviet scientists Vil Mirzayanov and Eduard L. Sarkisian, who blew the whistle in a Baltimore Sun interview in 1992. The top-secret program to develop the agents at the State Union Scientific Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology (or GosNIIOKhT) began in 1982 and continued on despite an official promise from the Soviet Union in 1987 to stop its production of chemical weapons. The program produced substances such as Novichok No. 5, 8 and 9.

The novichoks were developed as an alternative to traditional nerve agents like sarin, “first and foremost to have chemical weapons that NATO chemical warfare detectors would not detect,” according to Dan Kaszeta, a former US Army Chemical Corps officer who has spent decades working in chemical defense.

At least one of the novichok agents reportedly exists as a solid at normal temperatures and can be deployed as a powder, rather than the traditional liquid form of many nerve agents. “A powder, depending on the size of the particle, could easily be much more slowly absorbed than liquid or vapour, therefore causing a delay between exposure and adverse effects,” Kaszeta told The Daily Beast. “This is consistent with the timelines in the Skripal case.”

Mirzayanov later wrote about an incident in the 1980s where one of his GosNIIOKhT colleagues, Andrei Zheleznyakov, was accidentally exposed to novichok ingredient, after exhaust gases at the institute began leaking inside a laboratory. Zheleznyakov reportedly became dizzy with blurred vision and collapsed outside the Moscow subway, where he was rushed to the hospital. He eventually recovered.

In a 2008 book, Mirzayanov writes that Soviet interest in developing the agents only intensified as Moscow negotiated with the West on the Chemical Weapons Convention. “The more successful were the negotiations in Geneva, the more intensive became the testing of new weapons carried out at the test site near Nukus [in Uzbekistan]. As a result, the Soviet army officially accepted ‘novichok’ as a weapon.” The novichok agents, according to Mirzayanov, represented the first chemical weapons the Soviets had invented indigenously, rather than simply copying nerve agents from other countries’ programs.

After successful weapons tests of A-230, a novichok compound, in 1987, Mirzayanov claimed that the Soviet Army approved it for use in munitions in 1990, leading to preparation for mass production at a factory in Kazakhstan.

“These achievements—in particular the success of the binary based upon Substance 33—were celebrated in 1991 by the most senior officials in the USSR. President Mikhail Gorbachev presented the Soviet Union’s highest award, the Lenin Prize, to GosNIIOKhT’s Director,” wrote Mirzayanov with other authors in a report published by the Henry L. Stimson Center.

Mirzayanov and Sarkisian were part of a handful of dissident scientists who exposed Moscow’s wavering allegiance to nonproliferation agreements banning chemical and biological weapons after the fall of the Soviet Union. In addition to skirting its chemical weapons production pledge, Moscow also cheated on its responsibilities under the Biological Weapons Convention banning bioweapons in the 1970s. A 1979 anthrax outbreak in Sverdlovsk, along with the testimony of former Soviet biowarfare expert turned American defector Ken Alibek, confirmed that the Soviet Union had kept a shadow bioweapons program going despite its commitment.

Novichoks are believed to work in a similar way to sarin, which was used in Syria in April 2017, and VX, used to assassinate Kim Jong-Nam, the half brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, at the Kuala Lampur Airport in February 2017. They are also believed to be deadlier than VX and sarin, whose survival rates are already slim. Similar to VX, the ingredients for a novichok attack were relatively safe, thereby causing no harm to the potential assassin; when combined, however, they were deadly and worked so quickly that a chemical signature would be nearly impossible to find.

Novichoks were supposedly developed at the height of the Cold War to escape detection by investigators. The chemical structure of novichoks were primed to avoid scrutiny—the opposite of which is happening now.

The structure of novichoks remains unconfirmed in Western scientific literature, but experts have guessed that it mimics typical nerve agents that inhibit neurotransmitters that control more automatic respiratory and nervous system functions, while also blocking the breakdown of a key enzyme used in this process, acetylcholinesterase. That combination leads to the frothing at the mouth, rolled-back eyes, and seizure-like symptoms, which both Skripal and his daughter displayed when they were found in a Salisbury park.

The normal antidote for a nerve agent attack is pralidoxime, which reactivates the enzyme acetylcholinesterase in the body. But pralidoxime might be ineffective against novichok, relying on different antidotes.

That the poison was a nerve agent can also explain why a local pub where the Skripals were last seen before they were found in the park, and their home, are being decontaminated.

Bishop said nerve agents can last more than a week in the air and on surfaces. That we know so little about novichoks makes aggressive decontamination especially necessary. "I don't know if any one in the Western world knows about [novichoks’] lasting stability," he said. But whether we can prove it came from Russia? "That doesn't seem unreasonable at all.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/mythical- ... d?ref=home
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Russian/Siberian Agent school girl Maria (NRA) Butina pleads guilty to CONSPIRACY against the U.S. and is cooperating with prosecutors
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby Pele'sDaughter » Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:56 pm

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/0 ... um=twitter

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Counter terrorism police have launched an investigation into the ‘unexplained’ death of a Russian business partner of Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Putin’s arch enemy.

Nikolai Grushkov, 69, was found dead at his home in New Malden in south London on Monday evening.

Grushkov was the closest aide to Berezovsky who died in mysterious circumstances in 2013 at his home in Surrey. The death of Grushkov just eight days after the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, the Russian double agent who sold state secrets to MI6, will cause alarm although Scotland yard has insisted there is no evidence to suggest the two incidents are linked.

Friends of Berezovsky insist he was murdered on president Putin’s order.

The metropolitan Police said in a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon: “An investigation is underway following the death of a man in his 60s in Kingston borough.

“Police were called by the London Ambulance Service at 10.46pm on Monday, 12 March to reports of a man found deceased at a residential address in Clarence Avenue, New Malden.

“Officers attended and next of kin have been informed. Whilst we believe we know the identity of the deceased, formal identification is yet to take place.

“A post-mortem examination will be held in due course.

“The death is currently being treated as an unexplained. If there is a change in the status of the investigation, an update will be provided.

“At this stage the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command is leading the investigation as a precaution because of associations that the man is believed to have had.

“There is no evidence to suggest a link to the incident in Salisbury.”

Mr Glushkov left Russia after a Moscow court sentenced him to a two-year suspended sentence for fraud in 2006.

In March last year, he was handed a second eight-year sentence in absentia and a one million Russian Ruble fine for allegedly defrauding Aeroflot of $122 million during his tenure as finance director there in the late 1990s.

Mr Glushkov denied all the charges against him.

In 2016, he told Russian media that Aeroflot was attempting to sue him in a civil case in the High Court in London.

Vasily Trunin, a friend and apparent former colleague, wrote on Facebook: "Every time we get on a new, up-to-date plane made by Aeroflot, one of the best airlines in Europe, we can remember Kolya (Nikolai) Glushkov, who was one of the few people who managed to pull an airline out of the Soviet backwater.

"A shame, a great shame. He was a good friend."

He told the Telegraph that he met the former Aeroflot manager in London and that he had been a close friend of Mr Berezovsky and Badri Patarkatsishvili.

"I saw Boris and Badri a lot at that time and observed their friendship with Nikolai. He really was a very good friend of theirs."

Paying tribute to Mr Glushkov, he said: "I heard many positive reviews about his organizational skills, his understanding of building production processes."

Another friend wrote that Mr Glushkov was the "best person [he] ever worked for".

Alexander Goldfarb, a Russian-American activist who has campaigned for justice for Alexander Litvinenko, wrote that he was saddened by the death.
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And at the same time,
Don't believe that they say anything without a reason.
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby Rory » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:35 pm

.
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby Sounder » Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:30 pm

The price for being a failed traitor is often death, but really who benefits here, no one but the warmongers.

Therefor the death merchant warmonger forces probably did the deed.

Only the willfully naive would rush to pin it on Russia.
All these things will continue as long as coercion remains a central element of our mentality.
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby Jerky » Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:50 pm

You're joking, right? Is this the Tankie version of the Alex Jones reflex where every school shooting MUST be a false flag to create a pretext for a gun grab? Every time Russia kills a dissident pol or journo, it's really NATO trying to start a war? You can't seriously believe this shit, Sounder.

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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby Jerky » Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:50 pm

Also, how many wars will Putin have to "monger" before he becomes a warmonger in your books?

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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby BenDhyan » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:55 pm

I don't understand why Russia, after leaving Skripal alone for the past 8 or so years, would decide just now before the Russian Presidential Election to assassinate him using what is supposed to be a very efficient nerve gas agent, and still botch it.
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:15 pm

He said the use of it on British soil was his "worst nightmare."




Spy poisoning: Novichok inventor says hundreds could be at risk for years

The forensic tent, covering the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found, is repositioned by officials in protective suits

Dozens of forensic officers have been deployed to Salisbury

By Hannah Thomas-Peter, US Correspondent

A Russian chemical weapons scientist has told Sky News that people exposed to even tiny traces of the nerve agent used to attack a spy and his daughter in Salisbury could be in danger of developing symptoms in years to come.

Dr Vil Mirzayanov is a chemist who ran the technical counter-intelligence department in Russia's chemical weapons institute.

He helped make "novichok", the class of nerve agents the British government says was used to poison defected spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The doctor said that even minuscule amounts could affect victims, and that symptoms could develop "in years".

But responding to an inquiry from Sky News, Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Medical Director at Public Health England, said: "PHE has been working very closely with the police and national experts on chemical weapons since the start of the incident and our risk assessment is based on knowledge of the chemical used.

"Our advice remains that the risk to the general public is low."

:: Public faces 'low risk' after chemical attack, health officials insist

Dr Vil Mirzayanov helped create the nerve agent Novichok before defecting
'Very small doses of novichok are dangerous'
More than two decades ago, Dr Mirzayanov became so concerned about novichok that he blew the whistle and fled to America, where he campaigned to get all chemical weapons banned.

He spoke to Sky News at his home in Princeton in New Jersey.

He said: "It's the same as nerve gas but 10 times, at least 10 times, more powerful."

The scientist emphasised that Novichok was designed to do "irreparable" damage to the human body.

He said it would leave those exposed to significant doses, like Mr Skripal and his daughter, as "invalids" who would need medical assistance for the rest of their lives.

LIVE: Deaths to be re-examined for Russia links

Nerve agents: What they are and how they kill
He spoke of a colleague who died after accidental exposure to a small amount in his lab.

"That's it," he said. "No cure."

Dr Mirzayanov also talked about the risk of trace contamination to hundreds of members of the British public who may have been in the vicinity of the attack around the time it happened.

He described "headaches, difficulty thinking, and also co-ordination (issues), a lot of problems".

When asked about the advice given by Public Health England, including washing clothes and wiping down belongings, he said: "Sure it's useful, but not enough, absolutely not."

He said that anyone who may have been exposed should be offered "permanent medical surveillance".

Novichok nerve agent: What exactly is it?


UK considering 'package of measures'

Dr Mirzayanov said that novichok, which means "newcomer", can be made from two separate compounds similar to chemicals used in agriculture, and which crucially are not on the chemical weapons convention banned list.

In that way, he said, novichok could be transported to the site of an attack in its constituent parts without detection, and once assembled the tiny micro particles could easily be deployed using an aerosol, spray, liquid or wipe.

He thinks it is likely that the attack was carried out using a spray, which maximises the chances of a victim getting the nerve agent on their skin and also inhaling it.

Dr Mirzayanov described the secret development of the powerful nerve agent as "a plot against the world" designed to maintain chemical weapons capability without having to declare it to the international community.

Russia 'highly likely' to be behind Salisbury attack




Advice for public as nerve agent trace found

The Russian government has denied any involvement in the Salisbury poisonings, but Dr Mirzayanov says that only Russia could have carried out such an attack, characterising novichok as a "fingerprint".

He said the use of it on British soil was his "worst nightmare."
https://news.sky.com/story/spy-poisonin ... s-11287880
Last edited by seemslikeadream on Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The only card he has left to play is his resignation
— Neal Katyal

Is minic a bhris béal duine a shrón

Russian/Siberian Agent school girl Maria (NRA) Butina pleads guilty to CONSPIRACY against the U.S. and is cooperating with prosecutors
seemslikeadream
 
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