The investigation into the case of Skripal: the remaining “Novichok” could poison thousands more people

The nerve agent which was left in the bottle in Salisbury would be enough to poison several thousand more people, said BBC police officer Dean Haydon, who leads the investigation into the poisoning of former GRU officer Sergei Skripal.

In an interview for the BBC program “Panorama” Haydon showed an exact copy of the bottle with a poisonous substance.

We are talking about a counterfeit bottle with a label Nina Ricci, which the British Charlie Rowley picked up in the Park in Salisbury in June 2018.Then he gave it to his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess, believing that there are spirits in it. On 30 June both were hospitalized from their home in the nearby town of Amesbury, but the doctors were unable to save the woman. Rowley has now been discharged from the hospital.

“As you can see, the size of the bottle is very small. She had a sealed cap, which contained a “Novichok.” The attackers opened the container, inserted the dispenser, and then placed the sprinkler on top,” Haydon explained.

According to the British police, the bottle was specially designed so that it can be easily carried through the inspection system at the airport, and then collected and used without endangering the health of the perpetrators of poisoning.

“When we found the bottle, it still contained a substantial amount of ‘Novichok’,” Haydon said. To clarify the question correspondent BBC officer said that the substance could be enough to poison a few thousand people.

Yulia and Sergei Skripal was poisoned nervously-paralytic substance “Novichok” on March 4, 2018.

British prosecutors have accused of poisoning Russian citizens traveling on passports in the name of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Bashirov. At the same time, the British authorities believe that these are not their real names, and call the attackers GRU officers.

Later, the media reported that Petrov and Bashirov for many years serve in the GRU, and their real names — Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin.
Moscow denies all British the charges and calls are unfounded.

The poisoning of Skripal led to a serious deterioration of relations between Britain and Russia: London sent 23 Russian diplomats, Moscow responded in the same way, and later reduced the maximum number of British diplomatic institutions in Russia. Soon dozens of countries supported Britain, announcing the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

However, many questions were also addressed to the British special services. British intelligence MI6 was reproached for not being able to properly protect its former agent.
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n 2004, Skripal was convicted in Russia for espionage in favor of the UK. And six years later, the former Colonel of the GRU and three other people were exchanged for 10 Russian intelligence officers arrested in the United States.

“I think the question of what level of protection to provide to someone who has been released and exchanged in this way varies from case to case,” former MI6 head John Sowers said in an interview with the BBC. He was the head of British intelligence from 2009 to 2016.

“It is now clear that we were wrong in our assessments and that the danger that threatened Skripal was much greater than we thought. But we did not expect that the Russians will roll back the presidential decision on pardon,” says the former head of British intelligence.

“Before the formal exchange [spies] both sides are always treated with respect,” he adds.