“Has Serco framed Putin with nerve agent stolen from false-flag Toxic Dagger drill?”

Source: The Spectator

Vladimir Putin is innocent until proven guilty in the Russian spy case

CCTV footage believed to show Sergei Skripal (image: Getty)
The Spectator

10 March 2018

The apparent chemical attack on a former Russian double-agent and his daughter in an English cathedral city could be straight from a cold war thriller. Unfortunately, though, the case is not going to be solved in 500 pages — nor will it be solved by July, when the Foreign Secretary has threatened to withdraw a British delegation of dignitaries, if not the English team, from the opening ceremony of the World Cup.

It was inevitable, as soon as Sergei Skripal was taken acutely ill on a bench in Salisbury, that fingers would point at Vladimir Putin. He did, after all, pass a law to give the FSB, the successor organisation to the KGB, powers to execute enemies of the Russian state on foreign soil. As Robert Service says on page 20, this form of assassination is entirely in keeping with his foreign policy.

And of course there is the case of the Russian dissident and former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 after being poisoned with polonium at a London hotel. The nature of the poison — a substance which would be extremely difficult for ordinary criminals to obtain — was widely interpreted as a deliberate calling card of the Russian state.

Yet there are reasons for caution in the government’s reaction to the Skripal case. It took years for an official inquiry to investigate Litvinenko’s death, and even then the best it could say was that the Kremlin was ‘probably’ involved. This time, the circumstances are even less clear. There is no obvious motive. Litvinenko was an active dissident who was making trouble for Putin at the time of his death. Skripal, as far as we can tell, has lived a quiet life in Wiltshire since 2010, when he was one of the parties in a ‘spy swap’ between Britain and Russia. Four years earlier he had been convicted of spying for Britain and sentenced to 13 years in a Russian prison.

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