RUSSIALINK: “Skripals Relocate to New Zealand Following Russian Poisoning Attempt – Reports” – Moscow Times

Artist Rendition of Barrel with Poison Symbol on It, Oozing Green Material

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 8, 2020)

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia have relocated to New Zealand two years after suffering a near-fatal poisoning attempt that Britain pins on Russia, The Sunday Times reported Sunday.

Sergei, 68, and Yulia, 35, were exposed to military-grade nerve agent Novichok in the British city of Salisbury in March 2018. British officials linked Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency to the assassination attempt, plunging relations between Russia and the West to their lowest point in years.

The Skripals were given new identities and support to start their new life overseas and will likely never appear publicly under their real names again, The Times reported, citing senior British officials.

No further details about the Skripals’ new life were given.

“We do not comment on intelligence matters,” The Times quoted a Home Office source as saying.

Sergei Skripal is a former GRU officer who in 2004 was convicted of treason in Moscow for his work as a double agent for British intelligence. Sentenced to 13 years in a Russian penal colony, he was freed during a spy swap between the United States and Russia. He relocated to Salisbury in 2010 and lived openly under his real identity.

He and his daughter had been taken by security services to a secret location shortly after they were discharged from the hospital in 2018.

According to The Times, Sergei continues to stay in contact with his former neighbors in Salisbury. In December, the neighbors received a Christmas card from the Skripals with no return address.

“It’s nice to know they are thinking of us. But I don’t expect we’ll ever see them again,” The Times quoted the Skripals’ neighbor Ross Cassidy as saying.

Cassidy said that Sergei was always on alert and could never fully enjoy a calm life in Salisbury.

“I’ll never for the life of me understand why they didn’t give him a pseudonym,” The Sunday Times quoted Cassidy as saying.

Moscow has repeatedly denied its involvement in the poisoning attempt.