UK threatens Russia World Cup boycott
THE UK's foreign minister Boris Johnson has threatened to pull out of the soccer World Cup in Russia if Moscow is shown to be behind the "poisoning" of former spy Sergei Skripal.
Former spy Sergei Skripal, 66, was in a critical condition in Salisbury District Hospital yesterday where he was being treated for "suspected exposure" to an "unknown substance" after he and a woman, believed to be his daughter, Yulia Skripal, 33, were found unconscious on a shopping centre bench.
Mr Skripal was sentenced to 13 years' jail by Russian authorities in 2006 when he was convicted for "high treason in the form of espionage".
He was given refuge in the UK in 2010 as part a US-Russia spy swap
Mr Johnson said the incident was concerning.
"We don't know exactly what has taken place in Salisbury, but if it's as bad as it looks, it is another crime in the litany of crimes that we can lay at Russia's door," Johnson told the British parliament on Tuesday. "I think we will have to have a serious conversation about our relationship with Russia."
"I think it will be difficult to see how UK representation at the World Cup can go ahead in the normal way," he said. "It is clear that Russia, I'm afraid, is now in many respects a malign and disruptive force, and the UK is in the lead across the world in trying to counteract that activity."
Mr Johnson said the UK would consider sanctions and act "appropriately and robustly."
It came as CCTV footage believed to be of Skripal and his daughter in London may hold vital clues as to what happened moments before they were found "poisoned"
The clip captures a man and woman walking through an alleyway between Zizzi restaurant and the bench where they were discovered slumped in Salisbury, Wilts.
A previous British inquiry said President Vladimir Putin probably approved the 2006 murder of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium-210 in London. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in Litvinenko's killing.
Litvinenko widow Marina last night told media it appeared "similar".
Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium that was slipped in to his tea.
"It looks similar to what happened to my husband but we need more information. We need to know the substance. Was it radioactive?," Ms Litvinenko told Britain's Telegraph.
In a statement released yesterday Wiltshire police said it was not yet clear whether a crime had been committed in the Skripal case.
"This has not been declared as a counter-terrorism incident and we would urge people not to speculate," Constable Craig Holden said.
"However, I must emphasise that we retain an open mind and we will continue to review this position. We have access to a wide range of specialist resources and services that are helping us to understand what we are or aren't dealing with at this time.
"The focus at this moment in time is trying to establish what has caused these people to become critically ill, and we are working with partners to prioritise this diagnosis and ensure that they receive the most appropriate and timely treatment."
Const. Holden said it was believed that Mr Skripal and the woman were known to each other.
A restaurant in Salisbury City Centre, 140km southwest of London, was also closed by police yesterday in connection to the investigation.
A spokesman for Public Health England said anyone exposed to the unknown substance had been decontaminated.
"Scientists from PHE's Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, will continue to assist the response and review information as it becomes available," he said.