UK charges 2 Russians in nerve agent poisoning case

The United Kingdom’s Crown Prosecution Service has charged two Russians for their involvement in the attempted poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England.

The two men, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, have been charged in absentia with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and the use of nerve agent Novichok.

One of the most powerful toxic nerve compounds ever developed, Novichok attacks the nervous system, rendering the victim’s heart and diaphragm muscles ineffective.  Victims often succumb to cardiac arrest or suffocation.

Prosecutors believe the men, both of whom likely used aliases, are members of Russia’s Main Directorate, the intelligence arm of the Russian Armed Forces.

Based on closed-circuit camera footage, U.K. officials theorize the pair entered the country on March 2, traveled twice to Sailsbury and during their second visit to the city, sprayed the military-grade nerve agent on Mr. Skripal’s door.  The men returned to London and departed from Heathrow Airport.

Prosecutors contend the men were able to smuggle the nerve agent through customs in a modified perfume container, which was later discovered in Salisbury.

Police searching the hotel room in which the pair stayed during their March visit say traces of the nerve agent were found.

Prime Minister Theresa May described the attack as “not a rogue operation” and almost certainly a mission carried out with the approval of senior-level Russian officials.

According to the indictment, the British government does not ask Russia to extradite the men, but a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for the suspect.  Under a EAW, EU member states would be required to detain and transfer the men if they enter their country.

A former member of Russian military intelligence, Mr. Skripal and his daughter survived the March attack and have since recovered.

Despite their recovery, the reckless discarding of the Novichok in Salisbury by the Russian men later claimed the life of a local resident, Dawn Sturgess, who along with acquaintance Charlie Rowley, were exposed to the nerve agent in June.

 

[The Telegraph] [BBC] [Photo courtesy Metropolitan Police via NPR]