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21 Sep, 2021 11:54

British cops charge third Russian national over dramatic alleged 2018 Salisbury poisoning of spy Skripal & point finger at GRU

British cops charge third Russian national over dramatic alleged 2018 Salisbury poisoning of spy Skripal & point finger at GRU

The British police have named a third person they believe had a part to play in the 2018 poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal. London has accused Moscow of being behind an “attempted murder.”

The man, who traveled to the UK on a passport with the name Sergey Fedotov, was charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, causing grievous bodily harm, and the use and possession of a chemical weapon. According to Scotland Yard, the man’s real name is Denis Sergeev.

These are the same accusations leveled at the two previously accused Russian nationals, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. Britain believes their real names to be Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga.

According to London, the three men work for the Russian GRU, the country’s foreign military intelligence agency. In March 2018, they were alleged to have come to the UK to smear a military-grade nerve agent on the handle of former GRU officer Skripal’s front door. The poison – later named by London as ‘Novichok’ – caused Skripal and his daughter to fall ill, also affecting police officer Nick Bailey. Another woman, Dawn Sturgess, allegedly died after spraying it on herself, believing it to be a perfume.

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While the British authorities initially blamed just two men, the police now say they have evidence that the three were working as a team and met multiple times over their short trip to the UK.

“All three of them have all previously worked with each other on behalf of the Russian state as part of ops carried on outside Russia,” said Dean Haydon, the Metropolitan police’s deputy assistant commissioner. “All three of them are dangerous individuals.”

The new development is also the first time that the police have explicitly blamed the GRU, three years after former British Prime Minister Theresa May pointed the finger at the organization.

Moscow has consistently denied its involvement in the alleged poisoning, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov insisting that the authorities had nothing to do with it. President Vladimir Putin has also claimed that the suspects fingered by London are simply innocent civilians.

Skripal was arrested in Russia in 2004 and was convicted of passing secrets to MI6, the British foreign intelligence service. The double-agent later confessed and cooperated, before being pardoned and sent to the UK as part of a spy swap for ten Russians convicted as part of the so-called illegals program, including the infamous Anna Chapman.

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In 2018, Putin dubbed Skripal a “traitor to his country,” accusing some media outlets of talking about him as if he was a human rights defender.

“He is just scum,” the president said.

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