#AceNewsReport – Sept.22: With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the announcement today by Counter Terrorism Policing that the Crown Prosecution Service has authorised charges against a third individual in relation to the 2018 Salisbury attack – an appalling event which shook the whole country and united our allies in condemnation.
GOVUK: The new Salisbury charging decision: Home Secretary Priti Patel’s statement to Parliament about a further charge relating to the Salisbury poisonings.
Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the opposition for their courtesy and support in allowing some of their Parliamentary time to be used for this statement and the House will of course understand that this is an ongoing investigation and so we are limited in terms of what can be said about these 3 individuals.
In March 2018, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia, commonly known as ‘Novichok’.
Two police officers from Wiltshire Police involved in searching the victims’ home were also poisoned with the same agent.
In July 2018, a further 2 members of the public were found unwell in Amesbury, both of whom had been exposed to Novichok. And tragically, one of them died and this is Dawn Sturgess.
An inquest into her death is ongoing. I know that the thoughts of the whole House will be with the loved ones of Dawn today.
Mr Speaker, This House has profound differences with Russia.
By annexing Crimea in 2014, igniting the flames of conflict in eastern Ukraine and threatening western democracies, including by interfering in their elections, Russia has challenged the fundamental basis of international order.
Although attacks like this are uncommon, this is not the first time Russia has committed a brazen attack in the UK.
Today the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia was responsible for the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko. This supports the findings of the independent Litvinenko Inquiry.
However, as the then-government made clear in 2018 and I reiterate today – we will not tolerate such malign activity here in the UK.
The United Kingdom, under successive governments, has responded with strength and determination,
As my Rt Hon Friend the member for Maidenhead, then Prime Minister, announced in 2018, 250 detectives were involved in the Salisbury murder investigation, working around the clock to discover who was responsible.
On 5 September 2018, the independent Director of Public Prosecutions announced there was sufficient evidence to bring charges against 2 Russian nationals for:
- conspiracy to murder Sergei Skripal
- the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal and Nick Bailey
- causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Yulia Skripal and Nick Bailey
- possession and use of a chemical weapon, contrary to the Chemical Weapons Act 1996
The 2 Russian nationals were known as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, but the police believed these to be aliases.
The then-Prime Minister announced that the government had concluded the 2 men were members of the Russian Military Intelligence Service, the GRU – and that the operation was almost certainly approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state.
I want to recognise the exemplary work of our emergency services, our intelligence agencies, armed forces, and law enforcement staff who led the initial response to this despicable attack.
I also pay tribute to the ongoing work to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous attack to justice. We will not let this go.
As Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon has said, this investigation has been extraordinarily complex and our country is very fortunate that so many brave people do such outstanding work to keep us safe.
As a result of these efforts, the police can now evidence that Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are aliases for Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga, and that both are members of the GRU.
The CPS has now authorised charges against a third individual, known as Sergey Fedotov.
The CT Policing investigation identified that Fedotov entered the UK on a flight from Moscow to London Heathrow and stayed at a hotel in central London between the 2nd and 4th of March 2018, before returning to Moscow.
While in the UK, he met with Petrov and Boshirov on more than one occasion in central London.
The CT Policing investigation has established that Fedotov is in fact Denis Sergeev, that he is also a member of the GRU, and that all 3 individuals previously worked together for the GRU as part of additional operations outside Russia.
All 3 men are now wanted by UK police. Arrest warrants are in place for all 3. The police have applied for an Interpol Notice against Fedotov, mirroring those already in place against the other 2 suspects.
Russia has repeatedly refused to allow its nationals to stand trial overseas. This was also the case following the murder of Alexander Litvinenko when a UK extradition request was refused. This has only added to the heartache of those hurt by these attacks and, Mr Speaker, inevitably further damaged our relations with Russia.
As was made clear in 2018, should any of these individuals ever travel outside Russia, we will work with our international partners and take every possible step to detain them and extradite them to face justice.
Mr Speaker, after the attack in Salisbury, my Rt Hon Friends the Members for Maidenhead and Uxbridge and South Ruislip put in place the toughest measures the UK has levied against another state for more than 30 years, comprising of diplomatic, legislative, and economic measures.
We continue to take robust steps to counter the threat posed by the Russian state.
In 2018, 23 undeclared Russian intelligence officers were immediately expelled from the UK. In solidarity, 28 other countries and NATO joined us, resulting in the largest collective expulsion ever – of over 150 Russian intelligence officers.
This fundamentally degraded Russian intelligence capability for years to come.
The government will continue to provide the security services and law enforcement agencies with all the additional tools they need to deal with the full range of state threats, which continue to evolve.
In direct response to the Salisbury attack, we introduced new powers to enable the police to stop, question, search, and detain individuals at the UK border to determine whether they are a spy or otherwise involved in hostile activity.
These vital powers are already helping the security services and law enforcement agencies to protect the UK from very real and serious threat posed by states who seek to undermine and destabilise our country.
In July 2020, we published a full and comprehensive response to Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee’s Russia report. This addressed point by point all the key themes and recommendations raised by the Committee.
But we are going even further and have committed to introducing new legislation to counter state threats to protect the United Kingdom.
Earlier this summer, we held a public consultation on the government’s proposals, to improve our ability to detect, respond to, and prevent state threats, keep our citizens safe, and protect sensitive data and intellectual property.
Responses to that consultation are currently being considered and we will return with comprehensive legislation.
Another crucial strand of this work is combatting illicit finance. Squeezing out the dirty money and money launderers out of the UK to secure our global prosperity is our priority.
We are at the forefront of the international fight against illicit finance, combatting the threat from source to destination.
We have introduced a new Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime and a Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regime.
The National Crime Agency continues to lead UK effort to bring the full power of law enforcement to bear against serious criminals, corrupt elites, and their assets, including through increased checks on private flights, customs, and freight travel.
In July and September 2020, working in tandem with the EU, we announced sanctions against the Russian Intelligence Services for cyberattacks against the UK and her allies.
We have also taken robust action in response to the poisoning and attempted murder of Alexei Navalny – enforcing asset freezes and travel bans against 13 individuals and a Russian research institute involved in the case.
The government will continue to respond extremely robustly to the enduring and significant threat from the Russian state.
We continue to make huge strides to counter this threat and to increase our resilience and that of our allies to Russian malign activity.
Mr Speaker, we respect the people of Russia, but we will do whatever it takes, everything it takes, to keep our country safe. We will actively work to deter and defend against the full spectrum of threats emanating from Russia until relations with its government improve.
Mr Speaker, I would like to end by paying tribute to the resilience of the people of Salisbury, who suffered a sickening and despicable act in their community, and to the people of Amesbury, who lost one of their own in the most dreadful of circumstances.
Our government will be relentless in our pursuit of justice for the victims of these attacks and continue to do whatever is necessary to keep our people safe.
I commend this statement to the House.
REUTERS RELATED: The European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) ‘ has ruled that Russia was responsible for the 2006 killing of ex-KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who died an agonising death after he was poisoned in London with Polonium 210, a rare radioactive isotope.
Kremlin critic Litvinenko died at age 43, three weeks after drinking green tea laced with polonium-210 at London’s plush Millennium hotel in an attack Britain has long blamed on Russia.
In its ruling, the EHCR concluded Russia was responsible for the killing.
“Mr Litvinenko’s assassination was imputable to Russia,” its statement said.
The court ordered Russia to pay Litvinenko’s widow, Marina Litvinenko, 100,000 euros ($161,600) in damages.
The Kremlin rejected the verdict in its entirety.
“The ECHR hardly has the authority or technological capacity to possess information on the matter. There are still no results from this investigation, and making such claims is at the very least unsubstantiated,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
From his deathbed, Litvinenko told detectives he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin, also a former KGB spy, had directly ordered his killing.
Russia has always denied any involvement in Litvinenko’s death.
A lengthy British inquiry concluded in 2016 that Mr Putin probably approved a Russian intelligence operation to murder Litvinenko.
The judge who oversaw the British inquiry said there were several reasons why the Russian state would have wanted to kill Litvinenko, who was granted British citizenship a month before his death on November 23, 2006.
They included information that he had likely started working for MI6 and accusing Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) of carrying out apartment block bombings in Russia in 1999 that killed more than 200 people, which the Kremlin blamed on Chechen rebels.
He was also close to other leading Russian dissidents and had accused Mr Putin’s administration of collusion with organised crime.
The British inquiry also found that former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoy and another Russian, Dmitry Kovtun, carried out the killing as part of an operation probably directed by the FSB.
The ECHR agreed, despite both men having always denied involvement.
“The court found it established, beyond reasonable doubt, that the assassination had been carried out by Mr Lugovoy and Mr Kovtun,” the ruling said.
“The planned and complex operation involving the procurement of a rare deadly poison, the travel arrangements for the pair, and repeated and sustained attempts to administer the poison indicated that Mr Litvinenko had been the target of the operation.”
It concluded that the Russian state was to blame and that had the men been carrying out a “rogue operation”, Moscow would have the information to prove that theory.
“However, the government had made no serious attempt to provide such information or to counter the findings of the UK authorities,” the ruling said.
‘Extremely idiotic’ ruling
A Russian judge sitting on the ruling panel, Dmitry Dedov, disagreed with his six colleagues on the court’s main finding.
“I found many deficiencies in the analysis by the British inquiry and by the court which raise reasonable doubts as to the involvement of the suspects in the poisoning and whether they were acting as agents of the state,” he said.
Since the ruling Mr Lugovoy, who is a member of Russian Parliament, said the EHCR ruling was politically motivated and damaged the credibility of the court.
“I think this decision is absolutely politically motivated,” Mr Lugovoy said in an audio message shared by his assistant.
“I am very sceptical about it. I think it is extremely idiotic and damaging to the reputation of the European Court of Human Rights.”
British authorities charge third Russian over Skripal attack
On the same day as Russia was found guilty of the murder of Litvinenko, British police said a third Russian had been charged in absentia with the 2018 Novichok murder attempt on former double agent Sergei Skripal.
Police said they could also now confirm the three suspects were military intelligence operatives.What is Novichok?Germany says Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was “without doubt” poisoned with Novichok.
The attack on Skripal, who sold Russian secrets to Britain, caused the biggest row between Russia and the West since the Cold War, leading to the tit-for-tat expulsion of dozens of diplomats after Britain pointed the finger of blame at Moscow.
Russia has rejected any involvement, casting the accusations as anti-Russian propaganda.
Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious, slumped on a public bench in the southern English city of Salisbury in March 2018. They, along with a police officer who went to Skripal’s house, were left critically ill in hospital from exposure to the military-grade nerve agent.
A woman later also died from Novichok poisoning after her partner found a counterfeit perfume bottle in which police believe it had been smuggled into the country.
In September 2018, British prosecutors charged two Russians, then identified by the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with conspiracy to murder Skripal and the attempted murder of Yulia and the officer, Nick Bailey.
Dean Haydon, the UK’s senior national coordinator for counter terrorism policing, said prosecutors had now authorised them to charge a third man, Sergey Fedotov, who was aged about 50, with the same offences.
Mr Haydon also said Petrov and Boshirov were really named Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga, and that Fedotov’s true identity was Denis Sergeev.
“We can’t go into the detail of how, but we have the evidence that links them to the GRU,” Mr Haydon told reporters, describing them as highly trained.
“All three of them are dangerous individuals.”
As with the other two Russians, British police had obtained an arrest warrant for Fedotov and they were applying for Interpol notices against him, he said.
All three men were now believed to be in Russia, with whom Britain has no extradition treaty and the Russian authorities had so far offered no co-operation.
#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Sept.22: 2021:
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