Russian state television has warned “traitors” and Kremlin critics that they should not settle in England because of an increased risk of dying in mysterious circumstances.
“Don’t choose England as a place to live. Whatever the reasons, whether you’re a professional traitor to the motherland or you just hate your country in your spare time, I repeat, no matter, don’t move to England,” the presenter Kirill Kleymenov said during a news programme on Channel One, state TV’s flagship station.
“Something is not right there. Maybe it’s the climate. But in recent years there have been too many strange incidents with a grave outcome. People get hanged, poisoned, they die in helicopter crashes and fall out of windows in industrial quantities,” Kleymenov said.
The stark warning comes as the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, remain critically ill in hospital after being poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury. Moscow has labelled speculation that they were targeted by the Kremlin security services as an “anti-Russian campaign”.
A number of Kremlin critics have met grisly ends in Britain in recent years. Boris Berezovsky, an oligarch turned government critic, was found hanged at his home in Berkshire in March 2013. The coroner delivered an open verdict. Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB security service officer, died in 2006 after being poisoned with polonium-210 in the lobby of a Mayfair hotel, allegedly by Russian hitmen. Vladimir Putin dismissed accusations of Russian involvement.
In 2012, Alexander Perepilichnyy, a former banker who was helping Swiss prosecutors investigate a Russian-linked money-laundering scheme, died after collapsing in Surrey. A pre-inquest hearing heard that traces of a chemical that can be found in the poisonous plant gelsemium were later found in his stomach. The inquest is due to resume next month.
Stephen Curtis, a millionaire lawyer with close ties to the exiled Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, died when his helicopter crashed close to Bournemouth airport in 2004. Curtis is reported to have told a close relative that if he were to die, it would not be an accident. One of Curtis’s associates, Scot Young, who had business links to Berezovsky, was found impaled on railings after falling from his apartment in Marylebone, central London, in 2014. The coroner found insufficient evidence to rule it a suicide, and his family suspect he was murdered.