FACTBOX-Kremlin foes who have suffered mysterious fates

LONDON, Sept 3- Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who is in intensive care in a Berlin hospital, was poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent in an attempt to murder him, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said. Russia has denied any role in the poisoning and says Britain is whipping up anti-Russian hysteria. Gary Stephens at the University of Reading.

LONDON, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny,

who is in intensive care in a Berlin hospital, was poisoned with

a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent in an attempt to murder him,

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.

That has prompted some politicians and diplomats in Germanyto suggest a European response involving the Nord Stream 2 gaspipeline.

Here are some details about previous incidents in whichopponents of the Kremlin have been victims of poisoning orsuspected poisoning, or have cried foul after suddenly fallingill.

SERGEI SKRIPAL

A former Russian double agent who passed secrets to Britishintelligence, Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, werefound unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in theEnglish cathedral city of Salisbury in March, 2018.

They were taken to hospital in a critical condition andBritish officials said they had been poisoned by Novichok, agroup of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the1970s and 1980s.

Russia has denied any role in the poisoning and says Britainis whipping up anti-Russian hysteria.

The chemical “causes a slowing of the heart and restrictionof the airways, leading to death by asphyxiation”, saidpharmacology expert Prof. Gary Stephens at the University ofReading. “One of the main reasons these agents are developed isbecause their component parts are not on the banned list.”

VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA

The Russian opposition activist says he believes attemptswere made to poison him in 2015 and 2017. A German laboratorylater found elevated levels of mercury, copper, manganese andzinc in him, according to medical reports seen by Reuters.Moscow denied involvement.

ALEXANDER LITVINENKO

The ex-KGB agent and outspoken critic of Russian PresidentVladimir Putin died aged 43 after drinking green tea laced withpolonium-210, a rare and potent radioactive isotope, at London’sMillennium Hotel, British officials have said.

Putin probably approved the killing, a British inquiryconcluded in 2016. The Kremlin has denied involvement.

An inquiry led by a senior British judge found that formerKGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoy and another Russian, Dmitry Kovtun,carried out the killing as part of an operation that he said wasprobably directed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB),the main heir to the Soviet-era KGB.

Litvinenko fled Russia for Britain six years to the daybefore he was poisoned.

ALEXANDER PEREPILICHNY

The 44-year-old Russian was found dead near his luxury homeon an exclusive gated estate outside London after he had beenout jogging in November 2012.

Perepilichny had sought refuge in Britain in 2009 afterhelping a Swiss investigation into a Russian money-launderingscheme. His sudden death raised suggestions he might have beenmurdered.

British police ruled out foul play despite suspicions hemight have been murdered with a rare poison. An inquest into hisdeath has yet to give a definitive conclusion as to how he died.

A pre-inquest hearing heard that traces of a rare and deadlypoison from the gelsemium plant had been found in his stomach.

Perepilichny had enjoyed a large bowl of soup containingsorrel, a popular Russian dish. Russia denied involvement.

VIKTOR YUSHCHENKO

Yushchenko, then a Ukrainian opposition leader, was poisonedduring the campaign for the 2004 presidential election in whichhe stood on a pro-western ticket against the pro-Moscow primeminister, Viktor Yanukovich.

He said he was poisoned while having dinner outside Kievwith officials from the Ukrainian security services. Russiadenied any involvement.

His body was found to contain 1,000 times more dioxin thanis normally present. His face and body were disfigured by thepoisoning and he had dozens of operations in the aftermath.

He won the presidency in a re-run poll after Ukraine’sSupreme Court struck down results declaring Yanukovich thewinner amid street protests dubbed the “Orange Revolution”.

GEORGI MARKOV

A Bulgarian writer, journalist and opponent of his country’sthen-communist leadership who defected to the West in 1969,Markov died on Sept. 11, 1978 after he felt a sharp sting in histhigh while he waited for a bus on London’s Waterloo Bridge.

According to accounts of the incident, Markov looked behindhim and saw a man picking up an umbrella that had fallen on theground. The man mumbled “sorry” before walking away.

Markov later died of what is believed to be poisoning fromricin, for which there is no antidote. Dissidents accused theSoviet KGB of being behind the killing.(Editing by Timothy Heritage, Philippa Fletcher and MikeCollett-White)

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