Sergei Skripal, 66, was one of four Russians swapped for 10 deep covering “sleeper” agents planted by Moscow in the US. He is critically ill in hospital after being found unconscious on a bench in a shopping centre in the small Wiltshire city. A female in her 30 s who was saw alongside Skripal was also taken to hospital in a critical condition.
” We don't possess any information about what could have been the cause[ of Skripal's illness ], and what this could be connected to ,” said Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman. He said Russia had not been contacted by Britain but it was ready to assist in any investigation.” Moscow is always open to cooperation ,” Peskov said, yell the incident ” tragic “.
Peskov appeared to mock British media suggestions that Skripal could have been poisoned by Russian agents, saying:” It didn't take them long .” He said he did not know whether Skripal was still a Russian citizen.
Skripal's mysterious illness has invited comparisons with the poisoning in London in 2006 of another Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, whose demise plunged British-Russian relations to a post-cold war low. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, denied any Russian participation and refused to extradite the two Russians accused by the British authorities of killing Litvinenko.
However, speaking in 2010, Putin, a former KGB officer, said ” traitors always aim badly “.” Secret services live by their own laws and these laws are very well known to anyone who works for a secret service ,” he said.
Some Russians insured the incident involving Skripal as a British attempt to discredit Putin, who is all but certain to win a new six-year term of office in presidential elections this month.
” The Anglo-Saxons have arranged Litvinenko 2.0 ahead of the elections ,” Alexander Kots, a journalist for the pro-Kremlin Komsolskaya Pravda newspaper, wrote on Twitter. Argumenti i Fakti, a popular tabloid, said ” western propaganda” would exploit Skripal's illness” to the full “.