UK is seen as en­emy, claims Rus­sian ex­iled in Scot­land

Rus­sian ex­ile urges min­is­ters to pre­pare for trou­ble be­cause the Krem­lin is al­ready wag­ing a new Cold War against the West

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS - By Krissy Stor­rar kSTOrrar@SUnDaYpOST.cOM

ARus­sian busi­ness­man liv­ing in ex­ile in the High­lands has warned that Bri­tain has un­der­es­ti­mated the threat posed by Moscow. Alexan­der Shapo­valov be­lieves that Rus­sia views the UK as its big­gest en­emy and UK lead­ers must un­der­stand the scale of the threat. De­scrib­ing Vladimir Putin as “very dan­ger­ous,” Dr Sha­pavalov de­liv­ered a chill­ing warn­ing to Bri­tain, say­ing: “You are the en­emy. Bri­tain is the en­emy. “You should be more care­ful with Putin. The only thing he un­der­stands is force.” Shapo­valov’s warn­ing comes amid grow­ing ten­sion be­tween Moscow and Lon­don in the wake of the Sal­is­bury Novi­chok at­tack, a se­ries of alleged at­tacks on Rus­sian disidents liv­ing here and a marked rise in Rus­sian mil­i­tary ac­tiv­ity off Bri­tain’s coast. Last week, Rus­sia launched its big­gest ever mil­i­tary ex­er­cises, in­volv­ing 300,000 sol­diers, which was de­scribed by West­ern an­a­lysts as a re­hearsal for a “large-scale con­flict”. Shapo­valov, 58, the former boss of an or­gan­i­sa­tion which made mis­sile fuel, has ap­plied for asy­lum in Bri­tain claim­ing he could be tar­geted by Rus­sian se­cret ser­vice as­sas­sins. He fled to Scot­land while on trial in Rus­sia for fraud charges, which he claims were fab­ri­cated. Shapo­valov, 58, who was di­rec­tor of the state-owned In­sti­tute of Ap­plied Chem­istry, claims he was falsely ac­cused af­ter re­fus­ing to pay a con­trac­tor linked to the FSB – Rus­sia’s Fed­eral Se­cu­rity Ser­vice – which he said had failed to com­plete a ma­jor build­ing project. He said: “I am not afraid of th­ese peo­ple. But if I had not es­caped I would be dead by now.” Shapo­valov said he backed the UK Gov­ern­ment but said: “I think they un­der­es­ti­mate the Rus­sian threat. They should put more ef­fort and more money against the Rus­sian threat.” He said Rus­sia would like to see an in­de­pen­dent Scot­land be­cause this would weaken the United King­down. “The nu­clear sub­marines are in Scot­land. Those are the most im­por­tant arms for the Rus­sian op­er­a­tion. Of course they are try­ing very hard to make another in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum hap­pen and to try to in­flu­ence the ref­er­en­dum in any pos­si­ble way,” he said. While on trial Dr Shapo­valov dodged sur­veil­lance at his home and fled with his preg­nant part­ner Regina Ima­mut­di­nova, 29, and their young son An­drew to Bal­lachul­ish House, the 17th-Cen­tury man­sion he owns near Fort Wil­liam. An at­tempt by the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion to have him ex­tra­dited failed in June. But now he faces a new le­gal chal­lenge, this time from Scot­tish au­thor­i­ties, who have launched a civil re­cov­ery ac­tion against him un­der the Pro­ceeds of Crime Act. The

ac­tion dates back to 2015 when he tried to with­draw £50,000 in cash from his RBS ac­count in In­ver­ness. He says the cash was meant to be a safety net for Regina and the chil­dren in case he was ex­tra­dited or mur­dered. He thought Scot­tish notes would be dif­fi­cult for her to spend, so he asked for the money in English £50 notes, hav­ing dis­missed the idea of re­quest­ing it in pound coins be­cause they would have weighed nearly 450kg. But the re­quest was deemed “sus­pi­cious” by the bank and when he went to col­lect the money the po­lice were wait­ing and seized it. An in­hi­bi­tion or­der was also placed on the house – which is in the name of his es­tranged wife, Galina – as part of a pro­ceeds-of-crime ac­tion be­cause of sus­pected money laun­der­ing. He had been ex­pect­ing to get it back af­ter the ex­tra­di­tion case was thrown out. He said: “The money was go­ing to go to my solic­i­tor and then to me. “But, on the day we were ex­pect­ing to re­ceive it, two peo­ple from the sher­iff of­fice came to the house and gave me pa­pers say­ing that every­thing was frozen again.” Shapo­valov’s love of Scot­land dates back to his child­hood in St Peters­burg. He bought his 17th-Cen­tury house, a former ho­tel on the banks of Loch Leven, in 2009 with­out even view­ing it be­cause it dates back to the Ja­cobean era. It be­came a bolt­hole for him, his part­ner Regina their son An­drew, six, when they es­caped from Rus­sia. The cou­ple’s youngest son James, two, who has Down’s syn­drome, was born at Raig­more Hos­pi­tal in In­ver­ness. Regina, 29, dreams of see­ing the world as an In­sta­gram blog­ger but cur­rently they can­not travel as they have no pass­ports while their asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tion is be­ing con­sid­ered. Shapo­valov said: “I want to raise my boys. I’m very happy that my life changed so dra­mat­i­cally. “It was a very dif­fi­cult life that I had in Rus­sia but now I’m re­laxed and happy. I don’t want any­thing else.” He be­lieves his in­side knowl­edge of the Rus­sian sys­tem could be a vi­tal re­source for Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence agen­cies. He said: “I don’t want to be a sec­ond-rate cit­i­zen. I feel I can be very help­ful for this coun­try. “I want to do every­thing pos­si­ble to be use­ful. “I think I would be a very good con­sul­tant for dif­fer­ent agen­cies about the situation in Rus­sia, Rus­sian pol­i­tics and the Rus­sian econ­omy.” The cou­ple now rely on hand-outs from Bri­tish friends in Lon­don which are paid to Regina’s ac­count. They get their shop­ping de­liv­ered from Asda and rely on the bus to get to Fort Wil­liam. But, de­spite every­thing, Shapo­valov in­tends to stay in Scot­land where, he says, his fam­ily have been warmly wel­comed. He said: “I see no fu­ture for my­self but to live in this coun­try. There’s no way out for me. This is my fi­nal des­ti­na­tion.” The Crown Of­fice said: “There is on­go­ing civil re­cov­ery ac­tion in re­la­tion to Alexan­der and Galina Shapo­valov and as such it would in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment fur­ther.”

‘ You should be care­ful with Putin. He only un­der­stands the use of force

Be afraid: Pres­i­dent Putin

Pic­tures An­drew Caw­ley

Alex with Regina and their sons An­drew and James, above

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