British authorities will investigate serious allegations that Russia was involved in more than a dozen suspicious deaths in the United Kingdom in recent years, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd revealed Tuesday.
U.K. police and British secret service MI5 are re-investigating the deaths of a total of 14 people identified by a 2017 BuzzFeed investigative report as potential Kremlin victims. The decision comes in the wake of a mysterious nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The Russians have denied any involvement, but the prevailing view is that Moscow was behind the attack.
Yvette Cooper, the chairman of British parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, sent a letter last week to Rudd asking her to re-open suspicious cases that authorities called suicides or natural deaths. The alleged victims include Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy and Boris Berezovsky, an associate of Alexander Litvinenko, who Russia murdered with polonium, a highly radioactive isotope, a little over a decade ago.
U.S. intelligence sources reportedly believe Moscow murdered the 14 people in question. In the case of Perepilichnyy, police ruled out foul play, but an expert botanist later suggested that he was killed with a very rare and deadly plant toxin.
“I will want to satisfy myself that the allegations are nothing more than that,” Rudd said in a letter responding to Cooper Tuesday. “The police and MI5 agree and will assist in that endeavor.”
“I will write to you again with my conclusions,” she added.
Rudd reportedly suspects that it is unlikely that all of the deaths can be attributed to Russia, but it is possible that “one or two or three or four” might be tied to Moscow.
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“As the home secretary has said in her letter, the government must satisfy itself that the correct finding was reached in each case and the public need to know that relevant questions about wider Russia links have been investigated and answered,” Cooper said in a response to Rudd’s letter.
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