‘One should not threaten a nu­clear power’


LON­DON • Rus­sia told Bri­tain not to “threaten a nu­clear power” in an ex­tra­or­di­nary provoca­tive state­ment Tues­day as the two coun­tries bat­tled over the at­tempted as­sas­si­na­tion of a for­mer spy.

Mean­while, the death of an­other en­emy in Lon­don of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin was the fo­cus of a new in­ves­ti­ga­tion by spe­cial coun­tert­er­ror­ism de­tec­tives.

Niko­lai Glushkov, 68, the right-hand man of the de­ceased oli­garch Boris Bere­zovsky — once Putin’s fiercest ri­val — was found dead Mon­day in “un­ex­plained” cir­cum­stances, said po­lice. A Rus­sian me­dia source said Glushkov, the for­mer boss of the state air­line Aeroflot who said he be­lieved he was on a Krem­lin hit-list, was found with “stran­gu­la­tion marks” on his neck.

The new in­ves­ti­ga­tion comes a day af­ter Bri­tain or­dered a re­view of up to 14 deaths in the coun­try that may have con­nec­tions to Rus­sia.

Am­ber Rudd, the Home Sec­re­tary, said, “I will want to sat­isfy my­self that the al­le­ga­tions are noth­ing more than that.”

Bri­tain gave Rus­sia un­til mid­night Tues­day to ex­plain how a Rus­sian-made nerve agent came to be used in an English city, or face re­tal­ia­tory mea­sures. Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May has said Rus­sia’s in­volve­ment in the March 4 poi­son­ing of Sergei Skri­pal, a Rus­sian who spied for Bri­tain, and his 33-year-old daugh­ter, Yu­lia, was “highly likely.”

But Maria Zakharova, the Rus­sian For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman, gave a com­bat­ive tele­vi­sion in­ter­view say­ing, “No one can come to par­lia­ment and say, ‘I give Rus­sia 24 hours’.”

Zakharova said Bri­tain should not try to scare Rus­sia and pointed to Putin’s re­cent speech in which he pre­sented a range of new nu­clear weapons.

“One should not threaten a nu­clear power,” she said, ac­cord­ing to some Bri­tish press re­ports.

The New Scots­man re­ported her as say­ing, “Who does Bri­tain think it is, is­su­ing ul­ti­ma­tums to a nu­clear power?”

Rus­sia also threat­ened to re­tal­i­ate against sanc­tions, which May is ex­pected to an­nounce Wed­nes­day.

Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov told re­porters in Mos­cow that his coun­try’s re­quests to see sam­ples of the nerve agent have been turned down.

He in­sisted that Rus­sia is “not to blame” for the poi­son­ing.

“We have al­ready made a state­ment to say this is non­sense,” he said. “We have noth­ing to do with this.”

But May has gained the sup­port of Western lead­ers in­clud­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, for reprisals against the Putin regime that will in­clude sanc­tions and the ex­pul­sion of spies based in the Rus­sian em­bassy in Lon­don.

The White House is­sued a state­ment say­ing the U.S. “stands in sol­i­dar­ity with its clos­est ally.”

The Sal­is­bury in­quiry into the at­tempted mur­der of the Skri­pals widened Tues­day as po­lice said 38 peo­ple had been treated, prompt­ing fears the Novi­chok nerve agent could have spread across the city.

Mean­while, two foren­sic tents stood out­side the house where Glushkov lived alone with his dog for the past three years.

An anony­mous ac­quain­tance of Glushkov told Rus­sia’s Kom­m­er­sant news­pa­per that signs of stran­gu­la­tion had been found on the body, which was found by his daugh­ter. It was un­clear whether the death was a re­sult of sui­cide or mur­der, the pa­per’s source said.

Alex Gold­farb, a Rus­sian dis­si­dent and friend of Glushkov, said: “It looks sus­pi­cious in the wake of the poi­son­ing of Mr. Skri­pal. He (Glushkov) was a pub­lic fig­ure in Rus­sia and he was one of the clos­est part­ners of Mr. Bere­zovsky.”

Glushkov had said Bere­zovsky, who was found hanged, had been mur­dered on Putin’s or­ders. Glushkov had claimed to have seen a scarf close to Bere­zovsky’s body, and said in one in­ter­view: “There were traces of him be­ing stran­gled around the neck.”

Sus­pi­cions also sur­round the death of an­other of Glushkov and Bere­zovsky’s friends, Badri Patarkat­sishvili, 52, a Ge­or­gian who died at his home in Sur­rey of an ap­par­ent heart at­tack in 2008. An­drey Lu­govoi, who is blamed for the mur­der of Litvi­nenko, was at one time Patarkat­sishvili’s chauf­feur and se­cu­rity ad­viser to Glushkov.

He is now an MP and sup­porter of Putin.

Niko­lai Glushkov


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