After a former Russian spy is found critically ill in England, his fellow treason convict says the Kremlin will have a hard time convincing anyone it wasn't involved
On Monday afternoon, former Russian military officer Sergey Skripal was discovered unconscious with a young woman on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury, England, after they were exposed to an unknown substance. Police are still investigating the incident and trying to determine what harm has come to the two individuals, but journalists are already drawing parallels to the death of Alexander Litvinenko, who succumbed to radiation poisoning in 2006, after moving to London and writing two books about corruption in Russia’s federal law enforcement.
Colonel Sergey Skripal was arrested in 2004 on suspicion of working with British intelligence. He later confessed to providing information about Russia’s military intelligence agents, which the West then used to blackmail and recruit Russian federal agents. The British reportedly paid Skripal $100,000 for his work. In August 2006, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for espionage, but President Dmitry Medvedev pardoned him in July 2010, along with three other treason convicts, as part of a spy swap with the United States that included Anna Chapman, the femme fatale who notoriously registered her Verizon cell phone contract at the address “99 Fake Street.”
One of the men who flew from Moscow to London in that prisoner swap was the scholar Igor Sutyagin. The television network RTVI managed to track down Sutyagin and ask him about the discovery of an apparently poisoned Skripal.
Sutyagin says he only knew the former military officer for the duration of their flight from Moscow, but he suggested that the Kremlin’s reputation for assassination means Moscow will have a hard time convincing anyone that it wasn’t involved. “If you think it’s reasonable to ask such a question [about the Kremlin poisoning Skripal], then you shouldn’t be asking me — you should be asking those whose reputation [raises the question],” Sutyagin said. “If everything points to these people, then that’s a problem for them. Moscow isn’t very interested in such things right now. The Kremlin already has too many problems going on, and it doesn’t need another one. But [the murder of Boris] Nemtsov was a defining moment, and now they’ve got this reputation,” Sutyagin told RTVI.