Exposure to an unidentified substance has put Sergei Skripal, a former Russian Spy, in a critical state, sources have claimed. Skripal was convicted for selling out Russian agents to the British agencies and was declared seriously ill on Monday.
On Sunday, the British police said in a statement that it had found two people unconscious on a bench in a shopping mall. One was a 33 year-old woman and another, a 66 year-old man, both of whom had been knocked out after exposure to an unknown organic substance. They were found in Salisbury, a southern English city, and the police declared it a significant event as both of the victims were taken into intensive care.
In 2010, exchanges were made on the apron of Vienna airport, and the 66 year-old Skripal, was part of the Cold War-style spy swap. He had been declared guilty of treason in 2006, and once held the post of a colonel in the GRU military intelligence service of Russia.
Sources close to the investigation of the matter have said that the 66 year-old man is indeed Skripal, even though British police refused to give out names of both the victims at this stage. The police were also unaware of what the substance was.
People have been urged not to speculate by Craig Holden, Temporary Assistant Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police. He also said that the incident has not yet been deemed an act of counter-terrorism, and that they would continue to review and update the press if that was the case.
A similar event occurred back in 2006 when Polonium-210, a radioactive material, was used to kill Alexander Litvinenko, an ex-KGB agent in London. Russia and Britain have been at odds since then, as the latter claimed that it was probable that the murder was approved by President Vladimir Putin, something the Russian authorities denied.
Before being poisoned with the dangerous radioactive material, Litveneko had publically criticized Putin, and had fled to Britain six years prior to the incident. He was 43 years-old, when he was killed at the Millennium Hotel in London. The British doctors had some trouble in figuring out the cause of death back then.
Skirpal was sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2006, after being found guilty of sharing information with the British intelligence, relating to Russian agents. In 2010, however, in order to bring back ten Russian agents from the United States to Moscow, Dmitry Medvedev who was the President, pardoned him.
It was one of the biggest swaps since 1991, when the Cold War ended and included Anna Chapman, who pretended to be an American citizen, whilst getting close to powerful officials, and learning state secrets. Patriotic songs were sung with the returning agents by Putin, a former KGB agent.