A new case of poisoning in the UK is the same poison that is believed to have poisoned the former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter. The main questions and answers are with DW. In the UK, a second case of novice poisoning by the Novichok group was recorded, the Scotland Yard Counter-Terrorism Authority made a statement on July 4. The poison developed in the USSR caused the poisoning of two people in the British city of Amesbury – 12 kilometers from Salisbury, where the former GRU colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia were poisoned on March 4, 2018. DW formulated the main questions and collected facts known to date.
Who was the victim of the Novice?
The victims of the poisoning were a British couple – 44-year-old Salisbury resident Don S. and 45-year-old Charlie R. from Amesbury (the full names of the victims are not accepted in the German press). It is known about them that they were unemployed, came together a few months ago, everyone had a child by the time they met.
With symptoms of poisoning, the victims were hospitalized on Saturday, June 30th. The first was bad Don, a few hours later sharply deteriorated Charlie’s condition. At first, the doctors assumed that both low-quality drugs or an overdose caused the patient to enter the hospital. The injured are being treated in the same clinic where they treated Sergei and Julia Skripaley. Their condition is described as critical.
Where did the poison come from in the UK?
After the doctors concluded that the symptoms of poisoning of the injured couple resemble those known for the Skripals poisoning, chemists from the laboratory of the Ministry of Defense Porton Down joined in the case. They confirmed that two new victims were poisoned as a result of a substance called “Novice”.
How exactly they poisoned is still unknown. An unofficial working version of the investigation is that they could fall into the hands of a syringe or other container in which the poison previously used against the Skripals was stored.
The search for a source of poisonous substance is intensely carried out by the counterterrorism agency of Scotland Yard. Police have so far refrained from making statements “whether the nerve agent is part of the same party that was used against the Skripals.”
How is the new case related to the poisoning of the Skripals?
So far, there are two obvious linkages: the territorial proximity of two events and the type of poisonous substance. According to the British police, there is no evidence that in the days before the poisoning the victims were in the territory on which traces of the nerve agent of the Novichok group had previously been recorded and where Skripals had been poisoned. There is also no evidence of any connection between the victims and the Skripals.
According to police, an unemployed couple did not cooperate with special services. Scotland Yard emphasizes that there is no evidence indicating the intentional nature of the crime. “The working version is that they were the victims of the consequences of a previous attack (on Skripals. – Ed.) Or something else, but were not a direct target,” said British Deputy Interior Minister Ben Wallace in an interview with the BBC.
Nevertheless, the investigation is checking the possible connection between the two poisonings, police said.
Are there any progress in the investigation of the Skripals?
Officially, no. Scotland Yard made the latest statement on the progress of the investigation back in June. But it spoke only of the enormous amount of work done by the investigation. Nevertheless, on July 2, the British newspaper The Sun published an article in which, referring to its sources in the police, it stated that in the case of the poisoning of the former double agent of Russian and British special services Sergey Skripal and his daughter, suspects appeared – two men who allegedly “ probably have a close relationship with Russia. ”
The newspaper clarifies that both left the UK within 24 hours after the assassination attempt and are now in Russia. Scotland Yard neither confirmed nor denied the information in this publication. So far, British police have not reported identifying suspects. After the treatment, which lasted several weeks, the injured Sergey and Julia Skripal were discharged from the hospital. Their location is kept secret by the British authorities.
London again suspects poisoning Russia?
In the case of the poisoning of the British couple, no new allegations from the British authorities were sent to Moscow. London, however, called on the Kremlin to assist in the investigation.
At the same time, Britain continues to hold Russia responsible for the attack on the Skripals. Evidence supporting these allegations has not yet been submitted. The Russian authorities categorically reject all allegations against them.
This is not the first time London has accused Moscow of crimes against Russian citizens on British soil. The most notorious case that led to a sharp aggravation of bilateral relations was the poisoning by radioactive polonium in 2006 of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who fled from Russia.
Is there a risk that other people will suffer from Novice?
The inhabitants of Amesbury, especially the neighbors of a British couple who had been poisoned, according to Scotland Yard, by the Novice, are very scared, according to reporters. Police cordoned off five districts of the city, including the local park (Don S. and Charlie R. walked there a day before the poisoning), asking local residents not to pick up suspicious objects from the ground.
Authorities reassure the population that “the risk of new infections is low.” Nevertheless, the townspeople are recommended to wash their clothes or to clean.