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Spy poisoning is latest in string of suspicious cases in UK
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Leroy N. Soetoro
2018-03-10 23:48:46 UTC
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https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/spy-poisoning-is-latest-in-
string-of-suspicious-cases-in-uk/2018/03/10/38b1983c-2460-11e8-946c-
9420060cb7bd_story.html?utm_term=.d389bc548e03

LONDON — Britain offers wealthy Russians many attractions: the great city
of London, the bucolic countryside, exclusive schools, and a global
financial hub. But for some former spies and other foes of President
Vladimir Putin, it has become lethal.

The latest victims near death’s door are 66-year-old Sergei Skripal — a
former colonel in Russia’s military intelligence service, then a turncoat
helping British agents who was convicted in Russia before being freed in a
spy swap— and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia. Both were found comatose on
a public bench Sunday in the medieval English city of Salisbury.

British officials say they were exposed to a rare nerve agent of
undetermined origin. Their prognosis is unclear; officials have not said
if they have suffered irreversible damage.

Some lawmakers and a former top law enforcement official say the nerve
agent attack fits a pattern of suspicious deaths in the U.K. and in the
United States. They are calling for a high-level police investigation into
whether Britain has become a killing ground for the state-sanctioned
elimination of enemies of the Russian government.

The deaths that have caused qualms include a man who was impaled through
the chest by the spikes of an iron fence; a former Putin aide found dead
in a Washington hotel room with blunt force injuries; and an ex-spy
poisoned by radioactive tea.

British officials have not openly blamed the Russian government for the
brazen assault of the Skripals, but it is raising hard questions on how to
deal with Russian aggression — even as officials in the U.S. are trying to
determine how to respond to Russian interference in U.S. elections.

Several politicians, analysts and intelligence agencies believe the case
of Skripal, who moved to Britain after he was freed in a 2010 spy swap,
may prove to be the work of the Russian government, Russian organized
crime groups, or a fluid alliance of the two.

“Russian leaders seem to go out of their way to get rid of anybody that
seems to be in their way, someone who’s betrayed them, someone who’s
interrupting the money flow, and they don’t seem to care about borders.
They just go wherever they have to go to get their guy,” said Joe Serio,
the American author of “Investigating the Russian Mafia,” who spent nearly
ten years with the anti-organized crime unit of Moscow’s police.

“Britain happens to be one of the central places where Russians flee. It’s
the gateway to the West, the seat of the language, the seat of the empire,
the seat of major finance,” Serio said.

Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the U.K. Parliament committee that reviews
police and intelligence matters, and Ian Blair, the former head of
London’s Metropolitan Police, both said this week that a string of
unexplained deaths must be investigated in light of what happened to
Skripal and his daughter.

Cooper cited a 2017 BuzzFeed News investigation of 14 deaths that may have
been the result of foul play — including the case of Scot Young. He worked
with Putin’s critics before his body was found impaled on railings outside
his London apartment in 2014. Police said the case not suspicious at the
time and treated Young’s death as an apparent suicide, although the
coroner said the evidence was inconclusive.

The Home Affairs committee chairwoman called for the National Crime Agency
to scrutinize the 14 deaths in light of reports that U.S. intelligence
officials believe they may be linked to Russia — even though British
police have not reached the same conclusion in most cases.

“No attempt on an innocent life on British soil should go uninvestigated
or unpunished,” Cooper said.

There was also a chilling message from Moscow in the days after the attack
on Skripal. A Russian state television news anchorman warned potential
double agents they should expect a shortened life span in Britain.

“Alcoholism, drug addiction, stress and depression are inevitable
professional illnesses of a traitor resulting in heart attacks and even
suicide,” Kirill Kleimenov said.

He didn’t mention nerve agents — or radioactive poisons, like the one used
against former spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 — as other possible risk
factors.

The Litvinenko case is the best documented. The former KGB agent who had
defected to Britain and publicly criticized Putin died in November 2006,
three weeks after drinking tea containing the radioactive isotope
polonium-210.

Litvinenko died slowly, with the poison transforming him into a stick-thin
figure wasting away on a hospital bed, and he blamed Putin shortly before
he died. A decade later, a laborious public inquiry concluded he had been
killed by Russia’s security service, “probably” with Putin’s approval.

Less clear is the 2013 demise of Boris Berezovsky, an affluent Russian
businessman who moved to Britain in the early 2000s after breaking with
Putin.

He was an outspoken critic of Putin’s policies, and at times was allied
with Litvinenko, until he was found dead on a bathroom floor at his home
in southern England. He had a scarf around his neck, leading many to think
he had taken his own life, but after an inquest the coroner concluded it
was not possible to establish beyond a reasonable doubt whether the
oligarch was killed or committed suicide.

There are also serious doubts about the 2012 death of Alexander
Perepilichny, a Russian businessman who provided vital testimony against
Russian officials accused of stealing $230 million from a London hedge
fund.

He died near his rented home while jogging. Two autopsies were
inconclusive, with no obvious signs of foul play, but colleagues suspect
he may have been poisoned with a rare, difficult-to-detect plant. A
coroner’s inquest is underway but no cause of death has been established.

Unusual deaths have also taken place outside of Britain. The 2015 death of
former Putin aide Mikhail Lesin in a Washington hotel room was officially
blamed by the District of Columbia’s chief medical examiner on accidental
injuries suffered after days of heavy drinking, but officials never
explained how he got the blunt force injuries to his head and body.

The military-backed investigation of the Skripal case has transformed the
pleasant city of Salisbury into a major crime scene. Specialist police in
oversize yellow hazardous material gear are searching for clues, and
forensics tents have been erected over suspicious areas — including the
gravesite of Skripal’s son, who died last year.

The goals are to remove any vestiges of the nerve agent that might
threaten the public, determine what specific nerve agent was used and —
even more important — where it might have been manufactured.

That could go a long way toward determining if the crime indeed has
Russian origins or if the early speculation is off base.

Serio, who worked with Moscow police, said it may turn out that the
Russian government was not directly involved.

“I’ve seen many dramatic situations like these where, after the dust
settles, it comes down to business interests, whether that business is
contracts and money or information and spying,” he said. “I’d start with
Skripal’s activities. Was he involved in business, private security,
intelligence-related matters? Was he doing private consulting for
companies? It’s either betrayal, politics, or you’re messing with my
money,” he said. “These guys are relentless.”

If the forensic evidence provides indisputable proof of Russian government
involvement, Britain will have to make good on public vows to punish
Russia made by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and other senior figures.

But the arsenal at Prime Minister Theresa May’s disposal is limited, in
part because promising relations between the two countries soured after
the Litvinenko case and Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

“I’m not sure there are a lot of clear options for the U.K. government on
this,” said Robin Niblett, director of the Chatham House think tank.
“Expulsion of diplomats. No Prince William at the World Cup in Russia.
Some lobbying with the European Union, making political capital, saying
this is why you need sanctions in place.”

He does not believe British police and courts have been lax. Instead, he
said the Russians have been effective in a crackdown on former agents who
cooperate with British intelligence.

“The Russian have been very good at covering their tracks,” he said. “A
lot of this stuff is really difficult to prove. And if you don’t have
clear evidence, what’s the point of going into court?
--
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Siri Cruise
2018-03-11 02:41:03 UTC
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Post by Leroy N. Soetoro
LONDON — Britain offers wealthy Russians many attractions: the great city
of London, the bucolic countryside, exclusive schools, and a global
financial hub. But for some former spies and other foes of President
Vladimir Putin, it has become lethal.
Was that Meuller spotted in Stonehenge?
--
:-<> Siri Seal of Disavowal #000-001. Disavowed. Denied. Deleted. @
'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' /|\
I'm saving up to buy the Donald a blue stone This post / \
from Metebelis 3. All praise the Great Don! insults Islam. Mohammed
benj
2018-03-11 03:45:12 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by Siri Cruise
LONDON — Britain offers wealthy Russians many attractions: the great city
of London, the bucolic countryside, exclusive schools, and a global
financial hub. But for some former spies and other foes of President
Vladimir Putin, it has become lethal.
Was that Meuller spotted in Stonehenge?
I heard that several caddies at the Trump golf courses over there are
spilling their guts to Meuller about Trump! Hillary is as good as in the
White House!
abelard
2018-03-11 11:48:53 UTC
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Post by benj
Post by Siri Cruise
Post by Leroy N. Soetoro
LONDON — Britain offers wealthy Russians many attractions: the great city
of London, the bucolic countryside, exclusive schools, and a global
financial hub. But for some former spies and other foes of President
Vladimir Putin, it has become lethal.
Was that Meuller spotted in Stonehenge?
I heard that several caddies at the Trump golf courses over there are
spilling their guts to Meuller about Trump! Hillary is as good as in the
White House!
or the nut house
--
www.abelard.org
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