World The long, terrifying history of Russian dissidents being poisoned abroad
My life is 'in danger,' North Korea leader's half-brother quoted as saying months before poisoning
<p>Kim Jong Nam told a friend his life was in danger six months before he was killed, a police official told a court on Tuesday.</p>Two women, Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, have been charged with murdering Kim by smearing his face with VX, a banned chemical poison, at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13 last year.
This weekend, 66-year-old Sergei Skripal in the British city of Salisbury.
He is now in the intensive care unit of the city's hospital, being treated for “suspected exposure to an unknown substance.” In other words, officials think he may have been poisoned.
Skripal, a former Russian spy, was jailed in Moscow for sharing the names of undercover Russian intelligence agents working overseas with European authorities. He was released to Britain as part of a prisoner swap. Officials believe Skripal may have been attacked by Russian operatives.
Russian cargo plane crashes in Syria; 32 dead
<p>A military cargo plane crashed as it was descending to land at a Russian air base in Syria on Tuesday, killing all 32 people onboard, the Russian Defense Ministry said.</p>The Russian military said an An-26, with 26 passengers and six crew members onboard, crashed just 500 meters (1,600 feet) from the runway. The military blamed the crash on a technical error.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, denied any Russian involvement in the attack. “We know that this tragic situation has happened, yet we have no information about its probable causes, what this man has been doing, and what this is about,” Peskov.
If the investigation does, in fact, reveal that Skripal was poisoned by his fellow Russians, it wouldn't be the first time such an incident has occurred.
Russian intelligence officials have turned political poisonings into something of an art form. Experts have worked for many years to develop colorless and odorless poisons. Some testing was done on living prisoners, according to a 1954 interview with a KGB defector.
Spy and Spy: Where Litvinenko and Skripal Diverge
Both hailed from the dark, bare-knuckles world of Russian intelligence, but their backgrounds soon reveal significant differences.LONDON — Both men hailed from the dark, bare-knuckles world of Russian intelligence. Both fell prey, in varying degrees, to toxins — a long-favored tool of the Kremlin’s assassins.
Some poisons of choice, such as the nerve agent sarin, are fatal if inhaled even in low doses. Others, notably cadmium, are lethal to the touch. A Russian banker, Ivan K. Kivelidi, died of cadmium poisoning in 1995. Authorities say the drug had been spread on his office telephone.
In 2008, a Russian human rights lawyer was felled by mercury found in her car. In one famous case, from 1978, a Bulgarian dissident was killed after being stabbed with an umbrella tipped with ricin on Waterloo Bridge. Other substances cause the victim to suffer a heart attack.
: “No other major power employs murder as systematically and ruthlessly as Russia does against those seen as betraying its interests abroad. Killings outside Russia were even given legal sanction by the nation’s Parliament in 2006.”
These attacks happen in Russia and abroad. Poison wasjournalist Anna Politkovskaya on a flight to the Caucasus. She survived, but was later gunned down in Moscow. Politkovskaya was a fierce critic of Putin and a celebrated correspondent of the Chechen conflict.
UK home secretary visits city where ex-Russian spy poisoned
The British official in charge of public safety is visiting the area in the English city of Salisbury where a former Russian spy collapsed after he was targeted with an undisclosed nerve agent. Home Secretary Amber Rudd is in Salisbury on Friday following the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, who were found slumped on a park bench. Both remain in critical condition at a local hospital.The U.K. has vowed to take strong action against whoever was responsible for the "brazen and reckless" attack.Wiltshire County police say that "around 21 people," including the Skripals, have received treatment following the attack.
But Russian emigres in Britain seem particularly vulnerable. Russia is suspected of having organized the killings of at least 14 other people on British soil over the past two decades, according to an extensive BuzzFeed investigation. That is thanks in part to geography: London is a hub for the Russian diaspora.
But there are other reasons, too. Until recently, Britain has struggled to investigate suspicious deaths as assassinations. As BuzzFeed: “The reasons for Britain’s reticence, they said, include fear of retaliation, police incompetence, and a desire to preserve the billions of pounds of Russian money that pour into British banks and properties each year. As a result, Russia is making what one source called increasingly 'bold moves' in the UK without fear of reprisals.”
Here are some of the most famous cases of Russians killed in Britain under mysterious circumstances:
Boris Berezovsky: Berezovsky wasapparently hanged in his bathroom in 2013. Police ruled it a suicide, but U.S. intelligence officials suspected an assassination.
UK home secretary: 'Too early' to pin blame in spy case
British government security ministers held an emergency meeting Saturday to discuss the poisoning of a Russian who spied for Britain.Home Secretary Amber Rudd said after the meeting it was still "too early" to say with certainty who was behind the poisoning that left former Russian military intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in critical condition.
Many of his associates were also targeted over the years, including:
Scot Young: Young, a multimillionaire fixer to the world’s super-rich, worried for years that he was being targeted by a team of Russian hit men. In 2014, he was found dead, impaled on an iron fence after a fall from a window in his home. At the time, police ruled the death a suicide and did not pursue a criminal investigation. But experts, including U.S. intelligence sources, suspect he may have been murdered.
A trio of Young’s business partners — Paul Castle, Robbie Curtis and Johnny Elichaoff — all died in apparentin the four years before Young. According to BuzzFeed, U.S. intelligence agencies considered their deaths suspicious.
Badri Patarkatsishvili: A Georgian oligarch and business partner of Berezovsky's, hein 2008, possibly caused by a poison.
Yuri Golubev: Another associate of Berezovsky, Golubev wasin 2007 in London. The oil oligarch and outspoken Putin critic was a known enemy of the Kremlin.
Other suspicious deaths include those of Stephen Moss, a 46-year-old who died of a sudden heart attack in 2003, and Stephen Curtis,in a 2004 helicopter crash. As BuzzFeed explained, the pair were suspected of helping Russian oligarchs funnel money into Britain.
Cleanup and concern after attack on Russian ex-spy
Military personnel in hazmat suits spent the weekend in Salisbury, England, on decontamination after nerve agent attackSergei Skripal, the Russian who spied for Britain, and his 33-year old daughter Yulia remained in critical condition on Monday.
As BuzzFeed put it, “The story of this ring of death illuminates one of the most disturbing geopolitical trends of our time — the use of assassinations by Russia’s secret services and powerful mafia groups to wipe out opponents around the globe — and the failure of British authorities to confront it.”
Alexander Litvinenko: An outspoken critic of Putin, Livinenko died in 2006 three weeks after drinking tea laced with some kind of radioactive substance. A 2016 British public inquiry found that Putin “of the former KGB operative. The two men accused of the attack, Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun, denied involvement in the killing and suggested that Britain was trying to stir up opposition to the government in Moscow ahead of elections.
Alexander Perepilichny: In 2009, Perepilichny fled Russia for London, where he provided evidence of high-level corruption to Swiss authorities, in the form of wire-transfer records. In 2012, the 44-year-old suffered a heart attack while on a jog. By all accounts, he was in excellent health. In 2015, his death was linked to gelsemium, a rare, poisonous plant grown in the Himalayas and known to have been used in Chinese assassinations.
Nerve agent planted in luggage of Russian agent's daughter: The Telegraph .
The military-grade nerve toxin that poisoned former Russian agent Sergei Skripal was planted in his daughter's suitcase before she left Moscow, The Telegraph newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources. Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found slumped unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in the genteel southern English city of Salisbury on March 4. They have been in a critical condition in hospital ever since.Yulia Skripal flew to London from Russia on March 3, according to counter-terrorism police.
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