From Alexander Litvinenko to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, Russia back on the dock

A third Russian intelligence agent has been indicted in the investigation into the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury (south-west England) in 2018, British police said on Tuesday September 21st. .

Sergei Fedotov, also known under the name of Denis Sergeyev, was notably charged with conspiracy to assassinate Mr. Skripal, attempted murder on Mr. Skripal, his daughter Youlia and the police officer Nick Bailey, who had been contaminated while intervening on the scene , and possession and use of a chemical weapon.

Read the survey: In the footsteps of Sergei Skripal, the poisoned Russian spy at Novichok in London

London accuses Moscow of being behind the poisoning

Assistant Deputy Commissioner Dean Haydon said in a statement that it was a “Important new development in [cette] investigation “, launched after the poisoning of the former Russian spy on March 4, 2018. Mr Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury and hospitalized in serious condition. They survived and now live in hiding under protection.

London accuses Moscow of being behind this poisoning and has previously issued a European arrest warrant against two Russians, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Bochirov – possible pseudonyms -, suspected of having carried out the attack and presented as members of military intelligence (GRU).

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Mr Fedotov is the third man identified by British police and arrest warrants have been issued for all three men. According to the police, Mr Fedotov arrived in the UK at around 11 a.m. on March 2, 2018 on a Moscow-London flight, about four hours before the arrival in London, also from Moscow, of MM. Petrov and Bochirov.

ECHR condemns Russia in Litvinenko case

In a completely different case, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Tuesday Russia ” responsible “ of the assassination of ex-spy in exile Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned with polonium 210 in London in 2006.

Seized by the widow of Mr. Litvinenko, the ECHR is based in particular on the content of the British public inquiry. It concluded in 2016 that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “Probably approved” murder.

Read on the subject: Alexander Litvinenko was a British secret agent

In a press release, the court which sits in Strasbourg believes that there is “A strong presumption” that the perpetrators of the poisoning designated by the British investigation, Dmitri Kovtoun and Andreï Lougovoi, “Acted as agents of the Russian state”. The ECHR stresses that “If the Russian authorities were foreign to the actions of the duo, they would be the only ones to have the information required to prove it”.

But Moscow did not provide an alternative explanation “Satisfactory and convincing”, “Nor refuted the conclusions of the British public inquiry”. So the court “Considers that the assassination of Mr. Litvinenko is attributable to Russia”. European magistrates also stress that the Russian authorities have “Not carried out an effective internal investigation” which would have made it possible to identify and judge people “Responsible for the murder”. They also deplore the fact that Russia “Refrained, without justification, from providing the documents requested from him”.

They therefore found Russia guilty of violations of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to life, and of Article 38, which obliges states to provide the ECHR with all the documents necessary for the examination of a case. Russia was ordered to pay 100,000 euros for non-pecuniary damage to Mr Litvinenko’s widow, a particularly high sum in view of the court’s case law.

“Making such allegations is unfounded”, criticizes Russia

Moscow was quick to criticize the judges’ decision. “So far, the investigation has brought no results, so making such allegations is at least unfounded”Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “We are not ready to recognize such a decision”.

A former KGB and then FSB agent, Mr. Litvinenko was dismissed from the Russian security services after having reported on a study on the possibility of murdering a wealthy businessman, recalls the ECHR. He was granted asylum in the United Kingdom in 2001 and then denounced corruption and the alleged links of Russian intelligence services to organized crime.

Mr. Litvinenko died on November 23, 2006 after ingesting polonium 210, an extremely toxic radioactive substance. A few days earlier, he had shared tea with MM. Kovtoun and Lougovoi in a London hotel, where significant traces of the poison were later found. While he was dying, Mr. Litvinenko had pointed to the responsibility of Mr. Putin.

In an investigation report published in 2016, the British authorities appointed MM. Kovtoun and Lougovoï as the perpetrators of his assassination. Moscow has always refused to extradite them, believing the report to be akin to a ” joke “ and did not have concrete evidence.

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Traces of polonium had been found in hotel rooms and airplanes borrowed by MM. Lougovoi and Kovtoun. After the case, the two men were themselves infected with polonium and hospitalized.

The assassination of Mr Litvinenko had seriously dampened relations between London and Moscow. As a result of this affair, the United Kingdom had restricted visas for Russian officials and expelled four Russian diplomats. In response, Moscow also expelled four British diplomats and cut off cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

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The World with AFP

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