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British police charge third Russian national in Salisbury poisoning case

According to the Met Police, a man named Sergey Fedotov "is charged with conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, possession and use of a chemical weapon"
Denis Sergeev Reuters
Denis Sergeev
© Reuters

LONDON, September 21. /TASS/. British police have identified a third Russian national allegedly involved in the poisoning of Sergey and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March 2018, London's Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday.

According to the Met Police, a man named Sergey Fedotov "is charged with conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, possession and use of a chemical weapon."

The UK Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP), in turn, confirmed that on September 21, charges had been "authorized against a third person in relation to the ongoing investigation into the Salisbury Novichok attack." The CTP noted that detectives "have continued to investigate the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey in March 2018, as well as the murder of Dawn Sturgess and poisoning of Charlie Rowley in Amesbury in June 2018."

According to the CTP, "as a result of these continued enquiries, a third man known as ‘Sergey Fedotov’ was identified." "Prosecutors from the CPS Counter Terrorism Division considered the evidence and they have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction." "Police enquiries uncovered evidence to show that ‘Sergey Fedotov’ is an alias for ‘Denis Sergeev’ and that he is a member of the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU. Evidence gathered also shows that ‘Ruslan Boshirov’ and ‘Alexander Petrov’ are aliases for ‘Anatoliy Chepiga’ and ‘Alexander Mishkin’ respectively and that these individuals are members of the GRU," the CTP pointed out.

According to police, Sergeev entered the UK on March 2, 2018, and left on March 4, when the poisoning attack allegedly took place. "Detectives identified that Fedotov stayed at a hotel in central London between March 2 and March 4, 2018. Tests were carried out in the room Fedotov is believed to have stayed in, but no traces of Novichok and no risk to the public were identified from these. Evidence gathered by the investigation team suggests that Fedotov met with Petrov and Boshirov on more than one occasion in central London over the course of the weekend," the UK Counter Terrorism Policing noted.

Salisbury and Amesbury incidents

According to London, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4, 2018. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations. Chief Executive of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down Gary Aitkenhead said later that British experts had been unable to identify the origin of the nerve agent used in the attack on the Skripals.

On June 30, 2018, 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess and 45-year-old Charles Rowley were hospitalized in critical condition in the British town of Amesbury. The Metropolitan Police went on to claim that the two had been exposed to Novichok, the same nerve agent that was allegedly used in the Skripal poisoning. After being mysteriously exposed to a nerve agent and falling into a coma, Sturgess died on July 8 and Rowley was discharged from the hospital on July 20. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a report on September 4 that Sturgess’ death was due to a contact with the same chemical that had earlier affected the Skripals.

On September 5, 2018, then British Prime Minister Theresa May briefed parliament on the results of the investigation, saying that two Russians, who carried passports in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov and allegedly were GRU agents, were suspected of the attempt on the Skripals’ lives. Petrov and Boshirov later dismissed the allegations in an interview with the RT TV channel.