Speed Reads

Things that make you go hmmm

A former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned in England, sparking theories of Moscow's involvement

A nerve agent was used to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter, who were found unconscious in Salisbury, England, over the weekend, British authorities said Wednesday. The announcement comes amid suspicions that the pair were the victims of an attempted murder sanctioned by the Russian government, The New York Times reports.

Russia has been accused of murdering critics, informants, and spies on foreign soil before; a massive BuzzFeed News investigation published last summer explored other potential Kremlin assassination plots in Britain. "This is being treated as a major incident involving attempted murder by administration of a nerve agent," confirmed Britain's chief of counterterrorism, Mark Rowley. The Telegraph writes that "the medical and chemical evidence and the effects on the victims point to a sophisticated nerve toxin. The best known are VX and sarin."

The victims, Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, are still in critical condition.

Skripal was convicted in Russia in 2006 of selling secrets to British agents, and was eventually handed over to Britain in a 2010 spy swap; his brother and son died suspiciously in the intervening years, family members told The New York Times. A number of first responders called to the scene where the Skripals were found also became sick, and one police officer is also in "serious condition."