Poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal
Forensic tent at The Maltings, Salisbury (cropped).jpg
A forensics tent covers the bench where Sergei and Yulia Skripal fell unconscious
LocationSalisbury, Wiltshire, England
Date4 March 2018
TargetSergei Viktorovich Skripal
Yulia Skripal
WeaponsA-234 (suspected chemical weapon used)
Victims3 admitted to hospital
(subsequently discharged):
The Skripals
Det Sgt Nick Bailey, Wilts Police.
Two other people were poisoned later, one died
Suspected perpetrators
(The Russian state, through the GRU, the Russian military intelligence)
AccusedRussian nationals "Alexander Petrov" (alleged alias of Dr. Alexander Mishkin[1])
and "Ruslan Boshirov"[2] (alleged alias of Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga)[3]

On 4 March 2018, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the UK's intelligence services, and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned in Salisbury, England, with a Novichok nerve agent known as A-234, according to official UK sources[4][5] and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).[6] After three weeks in a critical condition, Yulia regained consciousness and was able to speak. She was discharged on 9 April 2018.[7][8] Sergei was also in a critical condition until he regained consciousness one month after the attack. He was discharged from hospital on 18 May 2018.[9][10]

A police officer was also taken into intensive care after being contaminated when he went to Sergei Skripal's house. By 22 March he had recovered enough to leave the hospital.[11] An additional 48 people sought medical advice after the attack, but none required treatment.[12][a]

In the 1990s, Sergei Skripal was an officer for Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and worked as a double agent for the UK's Secret Intelligence Service from 1995 until his arrest in Moscow in December 2004. In August 2006, he was convicted of high treason and sentenced to 13 years in a penal colony by a Russian court.[14] He settled in the UK in 2010 following the Illegals Program spy swap.[15] Sergei holds dual Russian and British citizenship; Yulia is a Russian citizen, and was visiting her father from Moscow.[16]

Later in March, the British government accused Russia of attempted murder and announced a series of punitive measures against Russia, including the expulsion of diplomats. The UK's official assessment of the incident was supported by 28 other countries which responded similarly. Altogether, an unprecedented 153 Russian diplomats were expelled.[17] Russia denied the accusations and responded similarly to the expulsions and "accused Britain of the poisoning."[18]

On 30 June 2018 a similar poisoning of two British nationals in Amesbury, seven miles from Salisbury, involved the same nerve agent.[19][20] A man found the nerve agent in a perfume bottle and gave it to a woman who sprayed it on her wrist.[21] The woman, Dawn Sturgess, fell ill within 15 minutes and died on 8 July, but the man who also came into contact with the poison survived.[22] British police believe this incident was not a targeted attack, but a result of the way the nerve agent was disposed of after the poisoning in Salisbury.[23]

On 5 September 2018, British authorities identified two Russian nationals, using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, as suspected of the Skripals' poisoning,[2] and alleged that they were active officers in Russian military intelligence.[24] In response, on 13 September the two men were interviewed on Russian television where they claimed they were businessmen and tourists visiting the city. The media commented afterwards upon inconsistencies in their descriptions. For example the claim to have planned a holiday long in advance whereas their flights were actually booked "at the last minute", and the brevity of their visit. Their passports were also described as being false covers, issued for the first time in 2009 with very similar numbers, no previous record of existence, and in one case, markings indicating military or other undercover or secret service use.

On 26 September 2018, investigative website Bellingcat published a statement that it had positively identified the man known as Ruslan Boshirov as the highly decorated GRU Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga.[25] It noted that there had been unusually little published information on Chepiga, given that he had received a rarely bestowed award of Hero of the Russian Federation, an award personally given by president Vladimir Putin, and that the evidence available suggested Chepiga was active in covert operations.[26][27] The statement also provided details of Chepiga's previous service and awards, and concluded that the use of a full colonel on the Salisbury mission, whom Putin knew personally, indicated that the assassination had been ordered "at the highest level".[26]

On 8 October 2018, Bellingcat revealed the real identity of the suspect named by police as Alexander Petrov to be Dr. Alexander Mishkin,[28] following up with a more detailed report the following day.[29]


  • At 14:40 GMT on 3 March 2018 Yulia Skripal flew to Heathrow Airport from Russia.
  • At 9:15 on 4 March the car of Sergei Skripal was seen in the area of London Road, Churchill Way North and Wilton Road at Salisbury.
  • At 13:30 Sergei's car was seen on Devizes Road on the way towards the town centre.
  • At 13:40 Sergei and Yulia arrived in the upper level car park at the Maltings, Salisbury and then went to the Bishops Mill Pub in the town centre.
  • At 14:20 they dined at Zizzi Restaurant.
  • At 15:35 they left Zizzi Restaurant.[30]
  • At 16:15 an emergency services call reported that Sergei Skripal, a 66-year-old resident of Salisbury, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia had been found unconscious on a public bench in the centre of Salisbury by a passing doctor and nurse.[31][32][33] An eyewitness saw Yulia foaming at the mouth with her eyes wide open but completely white.[34] According to a later British government statement they were "slipping in and out of consciousness on a public bench".[35]
  • At 17:10, they were taken separately to Salisbury District Hospital by an ambulance and an air ambulance.[36]

According to the UK government, the two were poisoned with a nerve agent.[37] The police declared a major incident as multiple agencies were involved.[38] Following the incident, health authorities checked 21 members of the emergency services and the public for possible symptoms;[39][40] two police officers were treated for possible minor symptoms, said to be itchy eyes and wheezing, while one, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who had been sent to Sergei Skripal's house, had been in a serious condition.[41][42]

On 22 March 2018, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was discharged from the hospital. In a statement he said "normal life for me will probably never be the same" and also thanked the hospital staff.[11] As of 26 March 2018, Skripal and his daughter remained critically ill.[43][44] On 29 March 2018 it was announced that Yulia Skripal's condition was improving and she was no longer in a critical condition.[45] On 5 April 2018 doctors said that Sergei Skripal was no longer in critical condition and was responding well to treatment.[46] On 9 April 2018, Yulia Skripal was discharged from hospital and taken to a secure location.[47][48] On 18 May 2018, Sergei Skripal was discharged from the hospital too.[49] On 23 May 2018, a handwritten letter and a video statement by Yulia Skripal were released to the Reuters news agency for the first time after the poisoning. She stated that she was lucky to be alive after the poisoning and thanked the staff of the Salisbury hospital. She described her treatment as slow, heavy and extremely painful and she had a scar on her neck, apparently from a tracheotomy. She expressed her hope that someday she would return to Russia. She thanked the Russian embassy for its offer of assistance but said she and her father were "not ready to take it".[50]

On 17 March 2018, The Sun reported that the Skripals' vet had contacted the police on 4 March regarding the Skripals' pet cat and two guinea pigs and said the "cat and the guinea pigs were removed from the house and taken away to be assessed."[51] On 5 April 2018, British authorities said that inside Sergey Skripal's house, which had been sealed by the police, two guinea pigs were found dead by vets, when they were allowed in, along with a cat in a distressed state.[52] The guinea pigs were reported to have died of dehydration; the cat was taken for testing to the Porton Down chemical weapons facility, where all three bodies were incinerated.[citation needed]

On 22 November the first interview with DS Bailey was released in which he reported that he had been poisoned, despite the fact that he inspected the Scripals house using a forensic suit. In addition to the poisoning, Bailey and his family had lost their home and all their possessions, because of contamination. Investigators said that the perfume bottle containing Novichok, which was later found in a bin, had contained enough of the nerve agent to potentially kill thousands of people.[53]

Other Languages