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RUSSIAN spy critically ill in UK from undisclosed substance exposure

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BLOOMBERG – A critically ill man hospitalized in southern England is a Russian national convicted in his home country of spying for the U.K.

The man is Sergei Skripal, 66, who was granted refuge in the U.K. in 2010 after a spy-swap with Russia, according to a person familiar with the case. He and a woman in her thirties were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping mall in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon after exposure to an unknown substance. Doctors and toxicologists are still examining what made the pair so ill.

Police declared a major incident and said a number of areas of the city have been cordoned off while they investigate if a crime has been committed.

Skripal was jailed in Russia for 13 years in 2006 after being convicted of passing the identities of Russian agents in Europe to the U.K.’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, the person said.

The incident has uncomfortable echoes of the case of Alexander Litvinenko, a dissident Russian ex-spy who was murdered in 2006 after having his tea spiked with radioactive polonium. In 2016 a judge ruled that President Vladimir Putin probably approved the murder. Russia dismissed the U.K. inquiry at the time as a “politicized farce.”

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