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Ex-KGB spy, daughter seriously ill after 'substance exposure'

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

London: Ex-KGB spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were in a critical condition after being exposed to an "unknown substance", British police said today, years after the Russian double agent was granted refuge in the UK after a high-profile spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010.

Skripal, 66, was found slumped on a shopping center bench in Salisbury, southern England, with his daughter Yulia Skripal, 33.

Skripal is a former Russian double agent, who was convicted in Russia after spying for the UK.

Once a colonel in Russia's GRU military intelligence service, he was given refuge in Britain after he was exchanged in 2010 for Russian spies caught in the West as part of a Cold War-style swap in Vienna.

Relatives told the BBC that Yulia was in Britain to visit her father. His son is said to have died in non-suspicious circumstances while on holiday in Russia last year.

Police said both were unconscious when they were discovered on Sunday afternoon. Both are critically ill in hospital and UK police are trying to find out what "unknown substance" harmed the pair, report said.

It has also emerged that two police officers dealing with the incident were treated for "minor symptoms", the report said.

Skripal's wife, son and older brother have all died in the past two years.

The case has drawn inevitable comparisons to the poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died a slow death after meeting a contact at a London sushi restaurant in 2006.

Litvinenko died after being poisoned with radioactive polonium-210, which was believed to have been put in his tea.

Police are looking for similarities between the cases and the modus operandi used, the Independent reported.

Meanwhile, Russia today insisted it had "no information" on what could have led to the incident, but said it was open to co-operate in the police investigation if requested.

Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, told journalists that Moscow was prepared to help with the investigation.

"We see this tragic situation but we don't have information on what could have led to this, what he was engaged in," he said.

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