Viktoria Skripal, the limelight-hungry niece of Salisbury’s poisoned double agent, is in Russia’s headlines again, this time claiming that she knows “through her sources” that the spy suspects identified by British officials are in fact “ordinary people.” Alexander Petrov’s work, she insists, “isn’t even tied to the civil service.”
Skripal also says the photo circulated by English police doesn’t bear any resemblance to the real Petrov. (British authorities have stated that they believe the names on their suspects’ identification documents were pseudonyms for military intelligence agents.) Viktoria says the real Petrov wasn’t even in Britain when the Novichok attack took place, and she claims both Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, as well as their families, “are shocked” by the allegations against them.
Since the nerve-agent attack in Salisbury, Viktoria Skripal has appeared repeatedly on Russian television, and she apparently has an “exclusive contract” with Pervyi Kanal, which she later denied, despite producing evidence of the arrangement in an interview. She has claimed on TV that she doesn’t believe Sergey and Yulia Skripal were targeted in a nerve-agent attack, saying that it was most likely food poisoning from bad fish. On September 9, Viktoria Skripal lost a bid for a seat on Yaroslavl’s regional legislative assembly.
Hours before Viktoria Skripal’s revelations, Vladimir Putin said Russian officials have located the two suspects, and he says they’re both civilians. Speaking on the phone to a correspondent from the television network Rossiya 24, Petrov reportedly agreed to be interviewed by the station some time next week. The news outlet identifies him as an employee at a pharmaceutical company in Tomsk.