U.K. Police Charge 3rd Man in Effort to Kill Russian Dissident Skripal

The authorities added a suspect in the attempted assassination of Sergei V. Skripal in 2018. Separately, a European court blamed Russia for Alexander V. Litvinenko’s murder in 2006.


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The British authorities said on Tuesday that they were charging a third man in connection with the attempted murder of the former Russian spy Sergei V. Skripal, who was poisoned in England in 2018.

The new developments in that case came on the same day that the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia was responsible for the 2006 killing of Alexander V. Litvinenko, who was poisoned with a radioactive isotope at a London hotel.

In the 2018 case, the British police said they had charged Denis Sergeev in the attempted assassination of Mr. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. The pair were found slumped on a bench in the city of Salisbury in southern England, and it was later determined that they had been poisoned with a nerve agent, Novichok.

Two other men — who traveled under aliases — have already been charged. The British police for the first time confirmed their real names as Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin.

None of the suspects have been taken into custody. And after the first two men were charged, they appeared on Russian television to deny any role in the attack. They claimed to have been visiting England as tourists eager to see the cathedral in Salisbury.

Dean Haydon, assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and senior national coordinator for counterterrorism policing, told reporters that “the three operated as a small team with a view to deploying Novichok to kill individuals in this country.”

“I can prove they were here operating as a unit linked to the G.R.U.,” he said, referring to the Russian spy agency. “We remain as determined as ever to bring those responsible to justice.”

There were ominous similarities between the assassination of Mr. Litvinenko with a radioactive isotope and the nerve-agent attack that killed Mr. Skripal more than a decade later. For many critical of the Kremlin, the attacks underscored the lengths President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would go to exact revenge against critics.

Mr. Skripal’s poisoning led to a Cold War-style confrontation between Russia and the West, as British officials accused Russia of sending two hit men to smear Mr. Skripal’s front door handle with a nerve agent, an accusation vigorously denied by Moscow.

At the time, British intelligence chiefs said they had identified the men as members of the G.R.U., the same Russian military intelligence unit where Mr. Skripal once worked.

The new charges came on the same day that Europe’s court of human rights concluded that Mr. Litvinenko’s assassins in 2006 were acting as “agents of the Russian state.” The ruling bolstered a separate inquiry by Britain that found “strong circumstantial evidence” that Mr. Putin and his spy chief at the time, Nikolai Patrushev, had approved an operation to kill Mr. Litvinenko, using a dangerous and rare isotope, polonium 210.

Mr. Litvinenko was a former colonel in the F.S.B., the domestic successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B., who fled Russia via Georgia and Turkey in 2000 to seek asylum in Britain, where he became a whistle-blower and a vitriolic critic of Mr. Putin.

He died in November 2006, weeks after drinking green tea laced with polonium 210 at London’s Millennium Hotel.

A lengthy British inquiry concluded in 2016 that Andrei K. Lugovoi, a former K.G.B. bodyguard, and Dmitri V. Kovtun, a Red Army deserter, poisoned Mr. Litvinenko.

While the 328-page report was scathing, it cited no hard evidence that Mr. Putin or Mr. Patrushev had been aware of the plot to kill Mr. Litvinenko or had sanctioned it.

Russia has denied any involvement in the murder of Mr. Litvinenko.

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