Death of sec­ond Rus­sian ex­ile trig­gers new probe

Waikato Times - - World -

BRI­TAIN: Bri­tish coun­tert­er­ror­ism po­lice have opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the ‘‘un­ex­plained’’ death on Bri­tish soil of an arch en­emy of Vladimir Putin, just eight days af­ter the nerve gas as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt on a Rus­sian dou­ble agent.

Niko­lai Glushkov, 68, the right­hand man of the de­ceased oli­garch Boris Bere­zovsky, Putin’s one time fiercest ri­val, was found dead at his Lon­don home on Tues­day. A Rus­sian me­dia source said Glushkov, the for­mer boss of the state air­line Aeroflot who said he feared he was on a Krem­lin hit-list, was found with ‘‘stran­gu­la­tion marks’’ on his neck.

The in­quiry into Glushkov’s death was an­nounced hours be­fore a mid­night dead­line for the Krem­lin to ex­plain how Rus­sian­made nerve agent came to be de­ployed in the as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt on the dou­ble agent Sergei Skri­pal in Sal­is­bury.

Rus­sia ap­peared to sug­gest it would be un­wise for Bri­tain to pro­voke a fel­low nu­clear power and threat­ened to re­tal­i­ate against sanc­tions, which Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May was to an­nounce yes­ter­day. A for­eign min­istry spokesman said: ‘‘Any threats to take ‘sanc­tions’ against Rus­sia will not be left with­out a re­sponse. The Bri­tish side should un­der­stand that.’’

May has gained the sup­port of West­ern lead­ers in­clud­ing US 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 US ‘‘stands in sol­i­dar­ity with its clos­est ally’’ and con­demn­ing the use of ‘‘heinous weapons in fla­grant vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional norms’’.

Trump’s un­equiv­o­cal sup­port will have been wel­comed, the White House pre­vi­ously hav­ing re­fused to blame Rus­sia.

Ear­lier in the day, Trump had sacked Rex Tiller­son, his sec­re­tary of state, a day af­ter the US diplo­mat had said the Novi­chok nerve agent ‘‘clearly came from Rus­sia’’.

The Sal­is­bury in­quiry has widened as po­lice said 38 peo­ple had been treated, prompt­ing fears the Novi­chok nerve agent could have spread across the city. Col Skri­pal, 66, and his 33-year-old daugh­ter Yu­lia Skri­pal re­main crit­i­cal in in­ten­sive care while Nick Bai­ley, the Wilt­shire po­lice de­tec­tive who went to the scene, is se­ri­ously ill but sta­ble.

Boris John­son, the For­eign Sec­re­tary, warned Rus­sia not to un­der­es­ti­mate Bri­tish out­rage at the at­tack and re­fused to rule out a re­tal­ia­tory cy­ber strike.

The death of Glushkov came as Am­ber Rudd, the Home Sec­re­tary, an­nounced a joint MI5 and po­lice in­quiry into the deaths in the UK of at least 14 peo­ple, in­clud­ing Bere­zovsky, said to have fallen foul of Putin and Rus­sian crime gangs linked to the Krem­lin.


Bri­tish po­lice have sealed off the house of Rus­sian busi­ness­man Niko­lai Glushkov, in­set, af­ter he was found dead on Tues­day.

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