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UK 'Knows More About' Substance That May Have Felled Spy

Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia remain in critical condition
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2018 6:03 AM CST

(Newser) – As former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia remain in critical condition after being found slumped unconscious on a bench in Salisbury on Sunday, UK authorities are issuing an appeal. "The weather was poor that day so there were not as many people out and about," says the head of counter terrorism policing in asking anyone who did brave the weather—particularly those who went to the nearby Zizzi restaurant or Bishop's Mill pub, where Reuters reports the two were thought to have stopped—to come forward with any details they can recall from that afternoon. "Every statement we can take is important."

  • For now, the two are being treated for "symptoms rather than causes," as scientists at Porton Down, the country's military research facility, are trying to identify an unknown substance the pair are suspected to have been exposed to, the BBC reports. Reuters suggests progress has been made on that front, and quotes the country's interior minister as saying, "We do know more about the substance and the police will be making a further statement this afternoon in order to share some of that."

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  • Some eyes are now circling back to the July 2017 death of Skripal's son, Alexander, who the BBC reports was hastily taken to a St. Petersburg hospital with liver failure. The BBC suggests Yulia's visit to see her father—she currently lives in Russia—may have synced with Alexander's birthday.
  • In comments Tuesday, the Guardian reports Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson didn't explicitly blame Russia for the suspected poisoning, but he danced around it, saying, "I know members will have their suspicions. If those suspicions prove to be well-founded then this government will ... respond appropriately and robustly." He suggested that if Russia was involved, UK officials may not attend the World Cup being held there in a few months.
  • CNN has Russia's "acerbic" response to Johnson, which came from the Russian embassy in London: It said it "looks like the script of yet another anti-Russian campaign has already been written" and described Johnson as speaking "in such a manner as if the investigation was already over and Russia was found responsible for what had happened in Salisbury. We regret that instead of a proper official clarification on the issue the foreign secretary chose to threaten Russia with retribution."
  • By way of background, the Washington Post writes that "Russian intelligence officials have turned political poisonings into something of an art form." It details standout examples of Russians who died in Britain under murky circumstances, among them five deaths ruled suicides that some suspect were something else. Scot Young, for instance, was found impaled on an iron fence after an apparent fall from one of his home's windows.
  • For a much deeper dive into Young's death and others, read this June 2017 BuzzFeed investigation: "From Russia With Blood."
(Read more Sergei Skripal stories.)

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