Sergei Skripal: Russia connects attempted slaying to deaths of Kremlin adversaries

Embassy issues provocative tweet as Cobra meeting hears that case involves 250 counter-terror police and 200 witnesses

Russia stepped up its war of words with Britain on Saturday as its embassy in London connected the attempted murder of double agent Sergei Skripal to the deaths of three exiled adversaries of the Kremlin.

The provocative move came as the home secretary, Amber Rudd, chaired a meeting of emergency situations Cobra committee into how the investigation into the attack on Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, was progressing.

The committee heard that 250 counter-terrorism police have identified more than 240 witnesses and are looking at more than 200 pieces of evidence.

Earlier in the day, in a typically sarcastic observation, the Russian embassy tweeted:” What a coincidence! Both Litvinenko and Skripal worked for MI6. Berezovsky and Perepilichny were linked to UK special services. Investigation details classified on grounds of national security .”

Alexander Litvinenko was a former officer with Russia’s FSB security service who was poisoned with polonium in 2006. An official report indicated the assassination had been carried out by two Russian agents with a “strong possibility” that they were acting on behalf of the FSB.

Boris Berezovsky was the exiled Russian oligarch and chief critic of Putin who was find hanged in 2013. A coroner recorded an open verdict.

” All those who knew him believe it is difficult to think he would have committed suicide ,” said Yuri Felshtinsky, who co-wrote a book with Litvinenko, Blowing Up Russia.

Alexander Perepilichny collapsed after jogging near his home in Surrey in 2012. He had been helping a Swiss investigation into a Russian money-laundering scheme linked to the Kremlin, and there is speculation that he might have been murdered.

Berezovsky and Litvinenko are alleged to have introduced scores of Russian agents to the former MI6 agent who turned Skripal and is understood to still fulfill him regularly.

The explicit relate of the Salisbury attack to three critics of the Kremlin, all of whom are dead, represents a further low phase in relations between London and Moscow.


Poisoned umbrellas and polonium: Russian-linked UK deaths

September 1978

Georgi Markov

In one of the most chilling episodes of the cold war, the Bulgarian protester was poisoned with a specially adapted umbrella on Waterloo Bridge. As he waited for a bus, Markov felt a sharp pricking in his leg. The opponent activist, who was an irritant to the communist government of Bulgaria, succumbed three days later. A deadly pellet containing ricin was found in his skin. His unknown assassin is thought to have been from the secret services in Bulgaria.

November 2006

Alexander Litvinenko

The fatal poisoning of the former FSB officer triggered an international incident. Litvinenko fell ill after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium. He fulfilled his killers in a bar of the Millennium hotel in Mayfair. The pair were Andrei Lugovoi- a former KGB officer turned tycoon, who is now a deputy in Russia’s state Duma- and Dmitry Kovtun, a childhood friend of Lugovoi’s from a Soviet military family. Putin denied all involvement and refused to extradite either of the killers.

March 2012

German Gorbuntsov

The exiled Russian banker survived an endeavor on their own lives as he got out of a cab in east London. He was shot four times with a silenced handgun. He had been involved in a bitter dispute with two former business partners.

November 2012

Alexander Perepilichnyy

The businessman collapsed while running near his home in Surrey. Tracings of a chemical that can be found in the poison plant gelsemium were later found in his stomach. Before his death, Perepilichnyy was helping functional specialists investment firm uncover a $230 m Russian money-laundering operation, a pre-inquest hearing was tell. Hermitage Capital Management claimed that Perepilichnyy could have been deliberately killed for helping it uncover the swindle involving Russian officials. He may have eaten a popular Russian dish containing the herb sorrel on the day of his death, which could have been poisoned.

March 2013

Boris Berezovsky

The exiled billionaire was received hanged in an apparent suicide after he had spent more than decade waging a high-profile media battle against his one-time protege Putin. A coroner recorded an open verdict after hearing conflicting expert proof about the route he died. A pathologist who conducted a postmortem examination on the businessman’s body said he could not rule in murder.

December 2014

Scot Young

An associate of Berezovsky whom he helped to launder money, he was determined impaled on railings after he fell from a fourth-floor flat in central London. A coroner ruled that there was insufficient evidence of suicide. But Young, who was sent to prison in January 2013 for repeatedly refusing to disclose his finances during a divorce row, told his partner he was going to jump out of the window moments before he was found.

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