It looks as if any Russians involved with the British or M16 are in danger of their lives.'Poisoned' Russian secret agent 'begged NOT to be exchanged in spy swap and asked to see out his prison term in Russia'
- Sergei Skripal and his daughter, 33, collapsed in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on Sunday
- The 66-year-old had been brought to Britain in a Cold War-style spy swap in 2010
- But a 2014 documentary claimed that he had in fact begged not to be exchanged
- Film said he wanted to remain in Russia and serve out his sentence, hoping for early release
7 March, 2018
Sergei Skripal begged not to be exchanged in a spy swap and asked to see out his prison term in Russia, a documentary claimed.
The former spy was rushed to hospital on Sunday after collapsing on a bench outside a shopping centre in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
The 66-year-old, who had recently told police he feared for his life, was found with his daughter Yulia, 33, who is also in a critical condition. Health chiefs said the pair had been exposed to an 'unknown substance'.
Mr Skripal had been brought to Britain in a Cold War-style spy swap in 2010 after he was caught passing Russian secrets to MI6.
But a 2014 TV documentary - called 'A Mole in the Aquarium', referring to the name given to GRU headquarters in Moscow - claimed that he had in fact begged not to be swapped.
Sergei Skripal is fighting for his life after being exposed to an unknown substance. He had been brought to Britain in a spy swap in 2010 after he was caught passing Russian secrets to MI6. But a documentary claimed that he had in fact begged not to be swapped.
Instead, he wanted to remain in Russia and serve the rest of his sentence, hoping for early release, the documentary said.
'It is quite unbelievable, but Skripal was begging not to be exchanged and asked to be left in Russia,' said the film.
Andrey Sharov, counter intelligence veteran, said: 'His dossier and notes from his colleagues gave not a hint that he could grow into a traitor. He had good records at school and military college - and successfully started his military career.'
His GRU service started with a dream post in Malta, where he performed well and was seen as an 'energetic' officer with good potential.
He returned to the motherland in the 1990s; he served as a paratrooper in military conflict zones, working later in Spain - where he was recruited by MI6.
In 1997 he had to retire as an serving GRU officer.
Andrey Sharov added: 'He developed severe diabetes which he tried to cure for a long while; finally he was called to a medical commission which found him to be unfit for intelligence service.'
After retirement Skripal had a down period when he tried to apply for several jobs and didn't keep any of them for a long while. Then suddenly a suspicious period - with regular visits abroad - began.
Sharov said: 'Why did Sergey Skripal go to Malta, or to Turkey in October when the tourist season was over? Why did he call his former colleagues out so often?
'I think this was the moment when he got under the radar of both counter intelligence and FSB.'
Secret services historian Nikolay Luzan said: 'He was a pensioner with a very, very small pension.
'But he bought his son a flat in Moscow, which wasn't expensive, did an expensive repair in his flat, then he bought a dacha in Kaluga region, and a car.'
Sharov said: 'Counter intelligence got interested in his sources of income and found a bank account in Spain which received monthly payments of $3,000 USD, from an unrecognised source. This was an iron-cast sign of him being into spying.'
The FSB and military counter intelligence shut all his links to former colleagues, who one-by-one were either too busy to meet, or unavailable, or away, the documentary explains.
The group of FSB and counter intelligence has been working on GRU colonel for four years, watching his every step, recording and analysing his every call, according to the documentary.
Sharov said: 'When he got back to Russia at the beginning of the 1990s after the Soviet Union collapsed, the country was in pieces.
'And he, a veteran military, found himself to be at a salary level of a train engine driver's aide.'
In 1993, Skripal found himself to be an intelligence officer with two higher educations and a meagre salary.
Luzan said: 'At this time my salary was hardly enough to live for a month, and I think he was in exactly the same situation. I think this must have been the time when his metamorphosis began.'
In 1993 he struck lucky, as his chief took into account his spotless reputation and experience, and sent him to work in Spain.
Sharov said: 'I think he came to Spain being morally prepared for adventures, and his thirst for money has been spotted by MI6.'
He encountered a Spanish 'friend', an MI6 agent called Luis who offered a trade deal on importing Spanish wines into Russia.
They became friends in 1994, started business, got first deal in February 1995 by selling wine barrels. It brought them profit of $6,000 each.
'Luis' passed Skripal to another agent called Antonio Alvarez De Idalgo; he was asked to do an analytical note on Russia and its market, took a classified analytical data to create the report and passed it on to Idalgo.
This earned him a bonus of $10,000, and a mobile phone as a present.
Idalgo tried to get extra 'kompromat' on Skripal by taking him to a strip club, with a dedicated girl ready to have fun with him. But Skripal literally ran away from the strip club back to his wife, the documentary says.
A formal offer was made by Idalgo who said that his intelligence was ready to generously pay for information.
Luzan said: 'They discussed the conditions of the deal. 3,000 dollars to his bank account monthly.
'They made a point of saying let's not deal with cash, but have your account in one of the British banks.'
At first Skripal described all he knew about the GRU structure, like surnames and characteristics of undercover agents, the documentary says.
He was giving away everyone, his colleagues, his school mates, his subordinates and chiefs. Next he wrote down all foreign agents he knew about.
The damage he caused is hard to evaluate until now, said the documentary.
Andrey Sharov: 'In both intelligence and counter intelligence the sacred thing is security of agents, those people who trusted their life.'
After falling sick in 1997 he returned to Russia, where all those whom he betrayed actually helped him to get better, the documentary said. For a couple of years he lived quietly, spending money he earned earlier.
In 1999 he called Idalgo for new money again, but at this point he wasn't too interesting for MI6. Idalgo stopped working with Skripal and a much more junior person was assigned to him.
A new deal was made that for $10,000 a year, the documentary said.
After 1999 Skripal became very active with taking his family to Madrid and Malta, the documentary says. In October 2004 he also went to Izmir, Turkey.
There he met his MI6 curator, passed information and got his last fee of $20,000, the documentary says.
This piece from Russia's Vesti does not reveal very much except mystery