On his birthday, a former Russian double agent learned he was on the Kremiln hit list. Sergei Skripal was also on the list and weeks later was found ill, along with his daughter. They had been poisoned with a nerve agent. Britain blames Vladimir Putin.
Boris Karpichkov was warned by a friend who told him to stay alert, be vigilant, because something is most likely going to happen. He said it was a serious situation and he was not alone.
Skripal and his daughter were poisoned on March 4, 2018. They are both still hospitalized. Yulia is rapidly improving, however Skripal is in critical condition.
There are several other ex-KGB agents, including Christopher Steele, who wrote the 35-page dossier that is evidence of the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Bill Browder was also on the Russian hit list. He was the force behind U.S. sanctions against Masnitsky Act, a group of Russian individuals.
Karpichkov believed that the phone call was a joke, not a threat. However, the poisoning of Skripal made him think differently and he has been extra vigilant. The poisoning was “Trademark FSB,” according to Karpichkov. FSB stands for the Federal Security Service, the Russian security agency, successor to the former KGB.
NBC News interviewed Karpichkov at a studio in London. He does not want anyone to know where he lives.
Putin denies having anything to do with the Skripal case. He referred to the allegations as nonsense. However, the poisoning as caused an international incident.
Russia and London were on shaky ground and now the tension has increased, and several governments have chosen to eject several Russian diplomats from their countries.
On March 19, the U.S. said it was going to expel 60 Russians, followed by the U.K., who said it would be ejected 23. On March 22, Russian’s foreign minister said they would throw out the same number of diplomats from each nation, if the foreign governments choose to expel Russian diplomats.
If the attack was not approved by Putin, it was authorized from the highest levels of the FSB, according to Karpichkov. It was well planned, organized, and performed operation, he said.
The nerve agent used to poison Skirpal was called Novichok. The fact that it was the poison used has rattled the large Russian expatriate community in the U.K., defectors and Kremlin critics.
Skripal is not the only former Russian spy to be poisoned in the U.K. Alexander Litvinenko was an FSB officer-turned-dissident. He died in November 2006, after drinking tea laced with polonium-210. It is an extremely radioactive substance. British investigators determined that his death was caused by Russia and most likely with the approval of Putin.
Another former KGB agent, Victor Makarov, is also in fear for his life and he does not live the same guarded existence as Karpichkov. Makarov invited NBC News into his apartment in Haltwhistle. He believes that he is safe under the watchful eye of his neighbors and close-knit community.
He said that if a stranger appears in his community, it will be noticed immediately. He states, “I have two people on my side: God and the local community.”
Makarov lives a modest life on his state pension. It is the U.S. equivalent of $1,124 a month. However, it seemed at one time, he was destined for greater things. He overlapped Putin at the academy for those who wanted to become KGB agents, according to NBC News. Nonetheless, he has not memory of Putin.
When Makarov graduated, he worked as a translator for Soviet Intelligence. He translated Greek to Russian. He defected after the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.
He said he defected because he realized he was doing wrong serving the Russian regime.
When he was Moscow, he approached a British spy through an intermediary and over two years, he served the U.K. with Russian secrets. Markov was caught and sentences to 10 years in a forced labor camp. After the collapse of the Soviet Union he was freed in February 1992.
After he was released, Markov’s defection was facilitated by a British official in Latvia. Makarov believes that Putin feels ignored by the West and is resentful. Makarov says that Putin “adores brinkmanship and intimidation. Brinkmanship is dangerous by definition.”
By Jeanette Smith
NBC News: Russian ex-spy says he was on Kremlin ‘hit list’ along with poisoned Skripal
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