A police tent is framed by police tape covering the the spot where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found critically ill Sunday following exposure to an “unknown substance” in Salisbury, England, Wednesday, March 7, 2018. Britain’s counterterrorism police took over an investigation Tuesday into the mysterious collapse of the former spy and his daughter, now fighting for their lives. The government pledged a “robust” response if suspicions of Russian state involvement are proven. Sergei Skripal and his daughter are in a critical condition after collapsing in the English city of Salisbury on Sunday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
On Sunday, a Russian emigre named Sergei Skripal was dining with his daughter at an Italian restaurant in Salisbury when they both were found collapsed on a bench in the major shopping district of that city. A police officer was quick on the scene and the pair was sped to a hospital. It was there that the story became more strange. It turned out that Skripal and his daughter were suffering from nerve agent exposure and the police officer quickly became very ill with the same symptoms.
Skripal is not just any emigre. He is a career GRU officer who was recruited as a spy by the British intelligence service. He was arrested for treason in 2004 and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. When the FBI rolled up a network of Russian illegals in 2010, Skripal was one of the Western assets in prison in Russia who was released in exchange. (I think Mueller is investigating rumors that Donald Trump had sex with Anna Chapman and I’m pretty sure Skripal is one of Christopher Steele’s sources. Just joking. Seriously.)
Vladimir Putin was not happy at the swap. Watch the whole video for background on this incident but I have the Putin quote queued up for your convenience.)
“Traitors will kick the bucket,” Putin says in the video. “Trust me. These people betrayed their friends, their brothers in arms. Whatever they got in exchange for it, those thirty pieces silver they were given, they will choke on them.”
Initially, police thought Skripal and his daughter had been sprayed with a nerve agent in a pass-by encounter but now it looks like the set up was more premeditated.
It comes as a source said investigators are understood to be moving away from the theory that a nerve agent was sprayed directly at Skripal.
They are believed to be focusing more on the possibility that poison was added to his food or drink at some point before he collapsed.
And it has now emerged that Mr Skripal was so fond of Britain that he hung a Union Jack flag in a window at his home.
Meanwhile, claims suggest Yulia may have unwittingly brought the nerve agent with her from Moscow in a gift.
Investigators are said to be probing whether Yulia could have brought the toxin with her from Russia as a present from friends for her father.
The Russians have denied involvement. I’m not sure anyone believes that but the British government looks like it will accept the excuse.
This brings me to the major point. Britain is a decidedly unhealthy place for anyone who has run afoul of the Putin regime. Not just released Russian spies but anyone. This is a list of people who have more likely than not been killed by Russian intelligence in Great Britain in the recent past.
- Stephen Moss, 2003. Moss, a British lawyer, had an apparent heart attack and died in 2003.US intelligence officials allegedly believe he may have been assassinated.
- Stephen Curtis, 2004. Curtis, a lawyer who represented an imprisoned Russian oil tycoon, was killed in a helicopter in England in 2006. Again, US intelligence suspects that Russia may have played a hand in his death.
- Igor Ponomarev, 2006. Ponomarev died shortly before Litvintenko, right before he was due to meet with someone investigating Russian activities in Italy. US intelligence may have evidence that the diplomat was assassinated, BuzzFeed reported.
- Alexander Litvinenko, 2006. Litvinenko’s death made international headlines after the defector was poisoned in 2006. It contributed to hostile relations between Russia and the UK. Polonium, a radioactive element, was slipped into a cup of tea that he drank. Russia has always denied any part in his death, despite a public inquiry formally accusing two Russians of carrying out the killing on the behalf of Putin.
- Yuri Golubev, 2007. An oil tycoon and friend to jailed political dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Golubv died in 2006 in London. An obituary at the time said he “felt unwell,” returned from a trip early, and subsequently “died peacefully,” though US intelligence suspects foul play.
- Daniel McGrory, 2007. McGrory was a foreign correspondent for the British newspaper The Times and was found dead at his North London flat. He had reported extensively on Alexander Litvinenko’s death. While his family believe he died of natural causes, British intelligence officials later asked US counterparts to investigate his death.
- Badri Patarkatsishvili, 2008. The best friend and former business partner of Boris Berezovsky, Patarkatsishvili lived close to his friend in Surrey until he died of a heart attack after a family dinner. British intelligence officials asked their counterparts in the US for information about Patarkatsishvili’s death, and any possible links to Russia.
- Gareth Williams, 2010. The body of Williams, a British spy, was found in a bag in his apartment in 2010. While police have said they think it was an accident, intelligence agencies allegedly believe he may have been assassinated.
- Paul Castle, 2010. A property dealer with flamboyant spending habits, Castle died by suicide after stepping in front of a tube train. BuzzFeed reported that he may have been threatened with a slow and painful death by people linked to the Russian (and Turkish) mafia if he didn’t kill himself.
- Alexander Perepilichnyy, 2012. Perepilichnyy was a financier who helped expose fraud by Russian government officials. He died in Surrey in 2012 after visiting Paris, and BuzzFeed News reported that there were “signs of a fatal plant poison” discovered in his stomach.
- Robbie Curtis, 2012. Curtis was a friend of Castle, and, like him, worked in property. He too killed himself, with US intelligence reportedly believing he may have been driven to suicide by Russia.
- Boris Berezovsky, 2013. Berezovsky was an expat businessman and critic of Putin. He was found dead at his home in an apparent suicide by hanging.
- Johnny Elichaoff, 2014. Elichaoff was a businessman and the former husband of TV presenter Trinny Woodall. He had battled painkiller addiction, and reportedly rolled himself off a shopping centre roof after a string of oil investments went wrong.
- Scot Young, 2014. Young was a wealthy “fixer” to the super-rich and often fronted deals for Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. He was part of a network of associates who funneled Berezovsky’s cash through offshore companies, and repeatedly worried about being targeted by the Russian mafia. He was found impaled on the railings beneath a London flat.
- Matthew Puncher, 2016. Puncher was the radiation expert who discovered that Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko had been given toxic polonium. Five months after a trip to Russia, he was found dead by multiple stab wounds. A coroner ruled suicide.
Why is this? Because Britain has ceased to be a serious nation. It could retaliate against Russia, but it won’t. The Russians know that. So they kill as they please and the British authorities wince a little and then look the other way and pretend it didn’t happen. In this case, the Russians have basically told the Brits to FOAD.
So I guess the implication is Russian intelligence is allowed to kill foreign spies in their home countries?
Fab. Great tweet guys. pic.twitter.com/RIBkC59D4w
— Molly McKew (@MollyMcKew) March 8, 2018
Can it happen here? It has:
Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was murdered in Washington, DC, on the eve of a planned meeting with the US Justice Department, according to two FBI agents whose assertions cast new doubts on the US government’s official explanation of his death.
Mikhail Lesin’s battered body was discovered in his Dupont Circle hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015, with blunt-force injuries to the head, neck, and torso. After an almost yearlong “comprehensive investigation,” a federal prosecutor announced last October that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was ruled an “accident,” and prosecutors closed the case.
But the two FBI agents — as well as a third agent and a serving US intelligence officer — said Lesin was actually bludgeoned to death. None of these officials were directly involved in the government’s investigation, but they said they learned about it from colleagues who were.
“Lesin was beaten to death,” one of the FBI agents said. “I would implore you to say as much. There seems to be an effort here to cover up that fact for reasons I can’t get into.”
The only way this is nipped in the bud is by making the cost of carrying out this kind of stunt prohibitively high. And you don’t impose that cost by expelling Russian diplomats and taking away their playgrounds.
BREAKING: UK police update total number of people treated as a result of former Russian spy's poisoning to roughly 21.
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 8, 2018