No Novichok B&B for you: Authorities may buy Skripal house to prevent it from becoming a business
The plans to purchase the property were confirmed by officials with Wiltshire county council to the British media on Sunday. The idea to buy the house from the former double agent Sergei Skripal emerged after his neighbors expressed fears that it might be turned into a busy – and rather grim – business, like a B&B hotel.
“The council has committed to ensuring that the property is not used to trade on its history … and is prepared to purchase it should the owner wish to sell,” the director of the council, Alistair Cunningham said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.
Such a purchase by the council would ensure that the property would be used solely for residential purposes, the official added. It remains unclear whether anyone has sought to purchase the property, said to be worth at least £200,000, and actually live in it, given all the Novichok scare surrounding it.
The house has become the centerpiece of the whole Skripal saga, which has been dragging on for over a year already. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were last March allegedly poisoned by the substance said to be the so-called military-grade Novichok nerve agent. British authorities squarely pinned the blame on Moscow within hours after the incident, yet failed to provide any solid proof of its involvement beyond the “highly likely” formula since then.
Russia firmly denied all the accusations and offered the UK help with the investigation, which was rejected. The whereabouts of the Skripals themselves and the conditions of their health also remain unknown.
According to the UK, the house was the ground zero of the Novichok contamination, after the alleged ‘Russian agents’ smeared – or maybe sprayed – its door handle with the dreaded nerve-agent. Forensics and military teams have been working at it for months, examining and decontaminating the property – and ultimately even dismantling its roof, which apparently absorbed the majority of the Novichok – as if it was raining from the sky.
The extremely slow decontamination process caused some questions – and ridicule, given that other locations across Salisbury, supposedly affected by the ‘nerve agent’ were largely disregarded.
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