Kremlin says linking Russian Federation with new Novichok poisoning is 'absurd'

Clay Curtis
July 12, 2018

Police said tests showed the pair were exposed to Novichok, the same type of nerve agent used to poison the Skripals. Despite being rushed to intensive care, Sturgess died on Sunday evening, and police have now launched a murder inquiry.

"This latest horrendous turn of events has only served to strengthen the resolve of our investigation team as we work to identify those responsible for this outrageous, reckless and barbaric act", Neil Basu, Britain's most senior counter-terrorism officer, said.

The man who became sick is still critically ill and in the hospital.

The UK's top counter-terrorism officer says police are unable to confirm whether the Novichok nerve agent to which a couple was exposed in Amesbury was from the same batch used to poison the Skripals in Salisbury last March.

Britain blames the Russian state for the attack on Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter - an allegation Moscow has repeatedly denied.

Earlier on Monday, the Kremlin said it would be "absurd" to suggest that Russian Federation was involved in Sturgess's death.

The Skripals have been released from hospital but the investigation into the attack on them continues.

Sturgess originally collapsed at an address in Amesbury on June 30 and was taken to the hospital, police said.

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'It's not looking good for Charlie either, ' Ms Sturgess's mother Caroline said. They say the poison could remain potent for months, particularly in a closed container. They had been exposed to an agent known as Novichok.

Skripal was a former Russian spy who became a double-agent for the United Kingdom intelligence services.

Novichok, which the Soviets developed in the 1970s and 1980s as a next-generation nerve agent deadlier than others like VX or sarin, was the chemical authorities identified as the substance behind the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal, his daugher Yulia, and a police officer in Salisbury in March.

Britain has not directly pointed the finger at Russian Federation in the case involving Sturgess and Rowley, saying the investigation, led by the Counter Terrorism Policing Network, is ongoing.

"We have told our British colleagues that they are playing with fire and they will be sorry", he said.

Public Health England is advising people in the area not to pick up items including needles, syringes or unusual containers. According to Reuters, the non-profit Nuclear Threat Initiative believes that at one point, Russian Federation had stockpiled "thousands of tonnes" of the nerve agent.

Mr Deputy Speaker, it is with profound sadness that I must inform the House that one of the patients - Dawn Sturgess - died last night at Salisbury District Hospital. Police suspect Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley were exposed to novichok through a contaminated item left over from the first attack.

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