- Sky News
- Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, is in critical condition after being exposed to a mystery substance.
- A prominent Putin critic says he believes Skripal was a victim of a Kremlin assassination plot.
- Bill Browder was deported from Russia after trying to expose corruption in the country. Putin has ordered his arrest.
- British police have not linked Skripal’s suspected poisoning to the Kremlin, and Russia has denied any knowledge of the matter.
- Browder said the Kremlin lies about everything.
The man named “Putin’s number one enemy” says he believes the former Russian spy, who was taken ill over the weekend after being exposed to a mystery substance, was targeted by the Kremlin.
Bill Browder, who was deported from Russia after exposing corruption in the country, said his “operating theory” is that Sergei Skripal, the ex-spy found collapsed in Salisbury on Sunday, is a victim of a Kremlin assassination plot.
Browder told Sky News on Tuesday:
“We don’t know for sure what’s happened in Salisbury. We know that an enemy of the Kremlin, an enemy of Russia, turned cold in their opinion, came on the UK, was here in the UK, and collapsed on Sunday.
“My first suspicion and operating theory is that this man was a victim of a Kremlin plot to assassinate him. That would be the working assumption until we have information otherwise.”
Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, who was also found collapsed in Salisbury, are currently fighting for their lives in hospital. British counterterrorism police are helping investigate the case.
The Kremlin has denied any knowledge of the case, and said it would be ready to cooperate with the investigation if asked. Browder doesn’t buy any of that. He said:
“If that [an assassination plot] is what happened – and again, this is a big if – then I wouldn’t expect the Kremlin to do anything but lie.
“They lied about Litvinenko, they lied about shooting down the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, they lied about troops in Crimea, they lie about the Olympics.
“We can’t trust what they say.”
Alexander Litvinenko was a former KGB spy who was poisoned in London in 2006. He accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his murder on his deathbed.
Browder was at one point the largest foreign investor in Russia, but was barred from entering the country in 2005 after he attempted to expose corruption in the country. Russian authorities called him a threat to national security.
His lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was put in pretrial detention, tortured, and killed in Russian custody in November 2009. Browder wrote about Magnitsky’s imprisonment and death in his 2015 book, “Red Notice: How I Became Putin’s No. 1 Enemy.”
Putin has routinely issued requests to Interpol to arrest and extradite Browder.