Life and career
Sergei Skripal was born in Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblast on 23 June 1951. His father worked for a land improvement contractor, while his mother was employed with the local Council of Deputies. He grew up in the town of Ozyorsk, also in Kaliningrad Oblast.
In 1972, Skripal completed the military engineering school in Kaliningrad named Zhdanov, located in the village of Borisovo with the qualification of a sapper-paratrooper. He then studied at the Moscow Military Engineering Academy. He then served in the Soviet Airborne Troops and was deployed to Afghanistan during the Soviet–Afghan War under the command of Boris Gromov.
Skripal was co-opted to the military intelligence (GRU) from the Airborne Troops. In the early 1990s, he was posted as a GRU officer at the embassy in Malta. In 1994, he landed a position in the military attaché′s office in Madrid, Spain. According to the FSB and other sources, in 1995, in Spain, he was recruited to British intelligence by British intelligence agent Pablo Miller, who was posing as Antonio Alvarez de Hidalgo. According to intelligence sources cited by The Times in March 2018, Skripal was first spotted for potential development as an asset by Spanish intelligence but was approached by the British recruiter around July 1995 and was given the codename 'Forthwith'. According to the FSB, Pablo Miller was also involved in efforts to recruit other Russian assets and was in contact with Alexander Litvinenko.
In 1996, due to his diabetes, Skripal was sent back to Moscow, where he went on to work in the GRU headquarters and for a while was acting director of the GRU personnel department. Skripal held the rank of colonel when he retired, due to his inadequate health condition, in 1999. He continued to make trips to Spain, where he had a house near Málaga at his disposal, provided by his handlers.
According to Russian prosecutors, he began working for the United Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in 1995 and passed on state secrets, such as the identities of Russian intelligence agents. After his retirement, he worked in the Household Department of the Russian foreign ministry, while continuing to work for MI6. He was alleged to have blown the cover of 300 Russian agents.
From 2001, Skripal worked in the Ministry of Municipalities of the Government of Moscow Oblast.
Arrest and conviction
In December 2004, Skripal was arrested outside his house in Moscow′s Krylatskoye District shortly after returning from Britain. In August 2006, he was convicted under Article 275 of the Russian Criminal Code (high treason in the form of espionage) by the Moscow Regional Military Court in the trial conducted behind closed doors. Prosecution, which was represented personally by Chief Military Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky, argued for a 15-year sentence – instead of the 20-year maximum under Article 275 – in recognition of mitigating circumstances such as his co-operation with investigators. Skripal was sentenced to thirteen years in a high-security detention facility; he was also stripped of his military rank and decorations. The affair was not revealed to the public until after he was sentenced in August 2006. Skripal's lawyers appealed the sentence, which was upheld by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court on 30 November 2006.