‘Unusual activity’ at Russian embassy before novichok attack

Intelligence services investigated unusual activity at the Russian embassy in London in the days before and after the novichok poisoning, it has been reported.

MI5, MI6 and GCHQ looked into “frantic comings and goings” at the building in Kensington in the days leading up to the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, a source with knowledge of the investigation told the Press Association.

The source was quoted as saying: “The intelligence agencies have been investigating unusual and increased activity at the Russian embassy in Kensington in the days leading up to and after the attack on the Skripals.”

The lines of inquiry included “frantic and unprecedented” movement around the embassy at the time. “As would be expected, the UK security services have eyes on known and undeclared foreign intelligence operatives,” the source said.

Britain has accused Russia of being behind the attack. In March last year, Theresa May expelled 23 suspected Russian spies from the London embassy, the largest mass expulsion of diplomats since the cold war.

In September, Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service said there was sufficient evidence to charge two Russians, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with offences including conspiracy to murder after they were caught on CCTV in Salisbury the day before the attack. They are thought to be from Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement, with Vladimir Putin claiming the two suspects are civilians. During a TV interview, Petrov and Boshirov said they had been visiting Salisbury to see its famous cathedral.

In February a high-ranking Russian military intelligence service officer, Denis Sergeev, was reported by the website Bellingcat to have been in Britain during the poisoning. He also reportedly visited Bulgaria in the days before a Bulgarian arms trader and his son were attacked with an unidentified poison.



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