German police probe poisoning of ex-KGB colonel

KGB seal

KGB seal

Police in Berlin are investigating a possible attempt to assassinate a Russian former KGB operative and his wife, through mercury poisoning. According to German newsmagazine Focus, Viktor Kalashnikov, a former colonel and authority on military matters for the Soviet KGB, was taken in critical condition to a Berlin hospital along with his wife, Marina. The two were found to have over ten times the highest permissible level of mercury in their blood, which, according to medical experts, points to a deliberate poisoning attempt. Colonel Kalashnikov, who arrived in Germany three months ago, is known as one of the Russian government’s harshest critics. He became famous in the 1990s, when he joined other former KGB operatives —most notably the late Alexander Litvinenko, who was assassinated in 2007, and whose widow is also named Marina— in accusing the Russian administration of Vladimir Putin of manipulating the separatist Chechen movement in order to solidify his vision of “a national security state” in Russia. Focus reports that the Berlin State Police has opened a formal investigation into the incident, and has provided the Kalashnikovs with 24-hour security protection. But when contacted by a reported from French news agency Agence France Presse, a police representative refused to comment on the reports on the alleged poisoning attempt against the couple.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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