Sergei Skripal

Sergei Skripal
Native nameСергей Викторович Скрипаль
BornSergei Viktorovich Skripal
(1951-06-23) 23 June 1951 (age 66)
Kaliningrad Oblast, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union[1]
Spouse(s)Lyudmila Skripal (c. 1952/1953–2012), née Koshelnik[2]
Children
  • Alexandr Skripal (1974–2017);[3]
  • Yulia Skripal (c. 1985–)[2]

Sergei Viktorovich Skripal (Russian: Серге́й Ви́кторович Скрипаль, IPA: [sʲɪrˈɡʲej ˈvʲiktərəvʲɪtɕ skrʲɪˈpalʲ], born 23 June 1951) is a former Russian military intelligence officer who acted as a double agent for the UK's intelligence services during the 1990s and early 2000s.[4] In December 2004, he was arrested by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) and later tried, convicted of high treason, and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He settled in the UK in 2010 following the Illegals Program spy swap.

On 4 March 2018, he and his daughter Yulia, who was visiting him from Moscow, were poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.[5][6] As of 15 March 2018,[7] they were in a critical condition at Salisbury District Hospital. The poisoning is being investigated as an attempted murder.[6] He holds both Russian and British citizenship.[8] Shortly after the poisoning incident, Russian officials said they had no information as to Sergei Skripal’s nationality;[9][10] however, on 21 March 2018 Russian ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko said that Sergei Skripal is also a Russian citizen.[11][12] [7]

On 29 March, Yulia was reported to be out of critical condition, 'conscious and talking'.[13] A week later, on 6 April, Skripal was said to no longer be in a critical state.[14] He was eventually discharged on 18 May.[15]

Life and career

Sergei Skripal was born in Kaliningrad,[16] Kaliningrad Oblast on 23 June 1951.[17] His father worked for a land improvement contractor, while his mother was employed with the local Council of Deputies.[18] He grew up in the town of Ozyorsk, also in Kaliningrad Oblast.[16]

In 1972, Skripal completed the military engineering school in Kaliningrad named Zhdanov, located in the village of Borisovo[18] with the qualification of a sapper-paratrooper.[19] 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.[20]

Skripal was co-opted to the military intelligence (GRU) from the Airborne Troops.[19] In the early 1990s, he was posted as a GRU officer at the embassy in Malta.[17] In 1994, he landed a position in the military attaché′s office in Madrid, Spain.[17][19] 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.[21][22] 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'.[23] According to the FSB, Pablo Miller was also involved in efforts to recruit other Russian assets and was in contact with Alexander Litvinenko.[24]

In 1996, due to his diabetes,[17] 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.[19] Skripal held the rank of colonel when he retired, due to his inadequate health condition, in 1999.[17] He continued to make trips to Spain, where he had a house near Málaga at his disposal, provided by his handlers.[23]

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.[25][26][27] He was alleged to have blown the cover of 300 Russian agents.[28]

From 2001, Skripal worked in the Ministry of Municipalities of the Government of Moscow Oblast.[19]

Arrest and conviction

In December 2004, Skripal was arrested outside his house in Moscow′s Krylatskoye District shortly after returning from Britain.[29] 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.[29] 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.[30][29] 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.[31] Skripal's lawyers appealed the sentence,[32] which was upheld by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court on 30 November 2006.[33]

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