6 Mar 2018 15:05

Speculations similar to Litvinenko case may follow incident involving defector Skripal in UK - businessman Kovtun

MOSCOW. March 6 (Interfax) - In looking for a "Russian trace" in the incident involving Sergei Skripal, a former colonel of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU, military intelligence), in the United Kingdom, British investigative agencies might follow the pattern used in investigating the death of former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Alexander Litvinenko in London, businessman Dmitry Kovtun (whom British investigators identified, along with State Duma deputy Andrei Lugovoi, as the people responsible for Litvinenko's death) told Interfax.

"If someone did poison Skripal, if this is not just an accident, then, of course, this is a provocation by British security services aimed primarily at discrediting Russian government bodies in the run-up to the presidential election," Kovtun said on Tuesday.

He suggested that "the way an anti-Russian scenario is going to be pursued" may be reminiscent of the investigation into the death of Litvinenko, who was granted asylum in the UK in 2000 and who died in London on November 24, 2006. Following his death, the radioactive element polonium-210 was discovered in his body.

"As far as is known from the media, Skripal is currently in intensive care. Anything might be found in his blood. If he dies, then the trace of 'bloody Russians' will be pursued, and if he stays alive owing to British medical specialists, then the 'Russian trace' in the assassination attempt will remain in place as well," Kovtun said.

British media reported earlier that Skripal, a former colonel of the Main Intelligence Directorate, was staying at a hospital in Salisbury in critical condition after being exposed to an unknown substance.

According to the local police, two persons were exposed to an unknown dangerous substance in a Salisbury shopping center on Sunday. They were rushed to a nearby hospital.

Skripal served time in a Russian prison on counts of spying for London and was pardoned by the Russian president in 2010. He was one of the people exchanged for Russian citizens arrested in the West on similar counts.

The UK granted Skripal asylum.

Kovtun said that the investigation into Litvinenko's death was not completed.

"I officially stated a number of facts in this case, suggesting in particular that Litvinenko could have been poisoned 15 hours before Lugovoi and I met him. I asked that the time the doctor was called be indicated, and I insist that a doctor was indeed called. Receiving this information, the British justice system classified it. This may suggest that it's too early to say that the investigation into the Litvinenko case is over. But perhaps London is not interested in that," Kovtun said.