Sergeev travelled to the UK under the alias Sergey Fedotov and met the two GRU agents who carried out the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in London
A third Russian spy has been charged with involvement in the 2018 Salisbury novichok attack.
He flew from Moscow to Heathrow Airport on 2 Mars 2018, arriving around four hours before his colleagues, and stayed at a hotel in Paddington for two nights.
British counter-terror police said Sergeev met the two agents who then travelled to Salisbury “on more than one occasion” over the weekend of the attack, but that no traces of novichok were found at his hotel.
Sergueïev, aged around 50, flew back to Moscow from Heathrow at 1.45pm on 4 Mars, less than two hours after the nerve agent was applied to Sergueï Skripal’s door.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has authorised the same charges against him as the two previous suspects, y compris la tentative de meurtre de M. Skripal et de sa fille Yulia, les lésions corporelles graves du policier Nick Bailey et l'utilisation du novichok comme arme chimique.
The Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing said Sergeev “operated as a team” with Alexander Petrov, alias Alexander Mishkin, and Ruslan Boshirov, alias Anatoliy Chepiga.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, a déclaré lors d'une conférence de presse: “They came here separately in two groups, Petrov and Boshirov together, Fedotov by himself, met, and without a doubt they’ve operated as a small team with a view to deploying novichok to kill people in this country.
“There is other intelligence that suggests they’ve been here before, but in other countries as well working as a threesome and likely with others … in relation to similar attacks.”
British police are working with their counterparts in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, in relation to attacks linked to the same suspects. Invetigators said there was no evidence that they have been involved in previous attacks in the UK.
The charges announced on Tuesday do not cover the death of Dawn Sturgess, a 44-year-old mother, who died in July 2018 after her boyfriend found a counterfeit perfume bottle containing the nerve agent.
Charlie Rowley gave Ms Sturgess what he believed to be a present in Amesbury, near Salisbury, not knowing it contained enough novichok to kill “thousands of people”, la police a dit.
He survived being poisoned after quickly washing the substance off, but Ms Sturgess died days after applying it to her skin in the belief it was perfume.
Mr Haydon said the investigation into how Mr Rowley found the bottle in June 2018, and where it had been following the Skripal attack almost four months earlier, was still ongoing.
“ There are still parts of the picture we have not been able to piece together," il ajouta. “We remain as determined as ever to bring those responsible for Dawn’s murder and Charlie’s poisoning to justice.”
The CPS is not applying to Russia for an extradition warrant because the country’s constitution does not permit the extradition of its own nationals.
Au lieu, Interpol red notices have been issued meaning the suspects can be arrested if they leave Russia – where all three men are believed to remain.
Mr Haydon said British authorities had seen “very little cooperation from Russia” since 2018, or in previous cases such as the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that Russia was responsible for the 2006 killing of the ex-KGB officer Litvinenko who died an agonising death after he was poisoned in London with Polonium 210.
Mr Haydon added: “The Foreign Office will be talking on diplomatic channels to Russia but from the police investigation side, our due process is to seek arrest warrants and circulate those through Interpol.
“If there is an opportunity to arrest those individuals and put them in front of a UK court to seek justice for those individuals mentioned or the people of Salisbury, Nous le ferons."
Sergeev’s identity and other details of the attack were previously revealed by the investigative website Bellingcat, but Mr Haydon said it had taken time to gather evidence that reached the threshold for a criminal charge.
The investigation is still live, and police are investigating other suspects who may have been part of the poisoning operation targeting Mr Skripal, a former double agent who gave information to MI6.
“We have to follow due process and follow the evidence,” Mr Haydon added. “We are investigating a number of people. We can only evidentially prove [involvement by] the three we have announced but we continue to investigate others as well and if we reach the evidential standard to charge them we will.”
Police are appealing for anyone who saw Sergeev in the UK, or may have information on the whereabouts of the counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle between March and June 2018 to call the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321 or email email@example.com.