British Investigators Visit Graves of Russian Ex-Spy’s Wife and Son


On Friday, army weapons experts and scores of troops were deployed to Salisbury to assist in the investigation. The 180 military personnel dispatched included the Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Marines, and chemical weapons specialists and bomb disposal units.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei V. Lavrov, on Friday denied that the government was involved in the poisonings, but offered assistance in the investigation.

“We have not heard a single fact; we only watch footage on TV, where our colleagues say with serious faces and with gusto that if it is Russia, then a response will follow that Russia will remember forever,” he said, according to Interfax. He added: “It is not serious. It is pure propaganda and the whipping up of hysteria.”

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The police said they had not exhumed any bodies from the cemetery in Salisbury.

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Neil Hall/EPA, via Shutterstock

But a day earlier, a presenter on Russia’s Channel One news program struck a different note, saying — without mentioning names — that the poisonings should serve as a warning to Russians considering betraying their country.

“The profession of a traitor is one of the most dangerous in the world,” said the presenter, Kirill Kleimenov, adding: “Don’t choose Britain as a place to live.”

In 2006, Mr. Skripal was convicted in Russia of being a double agent and secretly passing classified information to British intelligence. In 2010, he was released from prison and sent to Britain as part of a spy exchange with Western agencies.

Mr. Skripal and his daughter were both found in a catatonic state on a bench outside a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

The poisonings also affected some investigators, officials said. A police officer, Detective Sgt. Nick Bailey, remains in the hospital in stable condition. Ian Blair, a former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told the BBC that Sergeant Bailey appeared to have been sickened when he went to Mr. Skripal’s house, suggesting that the nerve agent may have been released there.

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