7 crazy stories of Russia's enemies mysteriously getting poisoned — like when a Cold War dissident was hit with a poison-tipped umbrella

sergei skripal trial 2006

Britain has warned of a robust response if it finds evidence of Russian involvement in the collapse of a former Russian agent convicted of betraying dozens of spies to British intelligence.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, are critically ill after being exposed to what police called an unknown substance. Russia’s embassy in London has expressed concern about British media reporting of the incident, which has included suggestions that Skripal and his daughter were poisoned.

Interestingly, if Russia is behind some or all of these poisonings, it is technically legal under Russian law. In 2006, the Russian Parliament passed a law allowing the Russian President to eliminate enemies of the state overseas, according to BuzzFeed News and BBC.

Below is a list of some previous incidents in which critics or enemies of Moscow have been victims of poisoning or suspected poisoning, or have cried foul after suddenly falling ill:

SEE ALSO: Russia is reportedly behind a disturbing number of assassinations outside its borders

SEE ALSO: Russian ambassadors keep dying in mysterious ways

A Russian colonel and his daughter hit with an unidentified substance.

Skripal, 66, was once a colonel in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service.

He and his 33-year-old daughter were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in the English city of Salisbury on Sunday. Police are investigating what made them ill.

The Kremlin says it is ready to cooperate if Britain asks it for help investigating the incident, and that it has no information about it. Asked about British media speculation that Russia had poisoned Skripal, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said: “It didn’t take them long.”

A Bulgarian dissident stung with a poison-tipped umbrella.

During the Cold War, Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident, was killed with a poison-tipped umbrella. Markov, a writer, journalist and opponent of Bulgaria’s then communist leadership, died on Sept. 11, 1978 after someone fired a ricin-laced pellet into his leg on London’s Waterloo Bridge.

According to accounts of the incident, Markov, who defected to the West in 1969, was waiting for a bus when he felt a sharp sting in his thigh. A stranger fumbled behind him with an umbrella he had dropped and mumbled “sorry” before walking away.

Markov later died of what is believed to be ricin poisoning, for which there is no antidote. Dissidents accused the Soviet KGB of being behind the killing.

An ex-KGB agent drunk green tea laced with polonium-210.

In 2016, ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, 43, died after drinking green tea laced with polonium-210, a rare and potent radioactive isotope, at London’s Millennium Hotel.

Putin probably approved the killing, a British inquiry concluded in 2016. The Kremlin has denied involvement.

An inquiry led by a senior British judge found that former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoy and another Russian, Dmitry Kovtun, carried out the killing as part of an operation that he said was probably directed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main heir to the Soviet-era KGB.

An outspoken critic of Putin, Litvinenko fled Russia for Britain six years to the day before he was poisoned.

Later that year, Matthew Puncher, the British scientist who later found traces of polonium-210 all over London, was later found stabbed to death, according to BuzzFeed News. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Kirsten Vangsness: 'This Is The Greatest Time To Watch Criminal … – CBS Los Angeles

Even though she didn’t always know it, Kirsten Vangsness was destined for a career in the arts. She’s always embraced the weird in her life and that started when she was listening to David Bowie and reading C.S. Lewis as a kid. Her imaginative spirit has taken her to the stage as an actress and playwright and the small screen as Penelope Garcia on “Criminal Minds.”

“Criminal Minds” returns to CBS this week and Kirsten chatted with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about her early influences, the challenges of playing Garcia and what to expect on the new season of the show.

DJ Sixsmith: You grew up in California. Who was most responsible for leading you down the acting road?

Kirsten Vangsness: I started doing it because I was shy. My mom kind of pushed me into it. She said you are going to take acting or you are going to take shop. I didn’t want to build stuff, so I was like I’ll take acting. My sister and my dad were more of the performers and I was sort of weird looking. I got bullied a lot and this is not the kind of thing that you want to put yourself out there for because that happens. I had a big imagination and was always weird, but I didn’t know how to really translate that. Then I started to do it and I got good grades. I had never gotten good grades at something that was hard, but I was so in love with it. I wanted to be better at it so badly. That passion has always been there for me. I love doing it, I love making stuff up and I love trying to figure out why people do things.

DS: Once you started your career, who were some people that influenced your artistic style at an early age?

KV: I was influenced by C.S. Lewis, Harriet the Spy, David Bowie, Duran Duran and Neil Gaiman. I wasn’t allowed to watch television. I was in to really weird stuff like PBS mysteries because that’s what my grandma would have on television. I would say I’ve always been more influenced by painters, imaginary people and music.

DS: Let’s talk about “Criminal Minds.” You’ve played Penelope Garcia for over a decade. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in playing this character?

KV: It’s been amazing. I’ve never been able to be one person that much. I put on her shoes or hold certain things and I’m like that’s her, that’s how she walks and that’s how she stands. You don’t have to think about it. I know all of that about her. In addition, what’s so cool is that I know all this about her, yet there’s a whole team of people that write all these words and I don’t know what they are going to say. I don’t know what they’re going to say about her, so I’m always learning new stuff about her because she is a creation born entirely from a community of people including me. She wasn’t what she was until I started to make her what she was and then everybody else from the costume department to the makeup department started to play this extended game of yes and. Yes, and she does this and yes, and she does this. I love that. The challenge is that you have to do other things. I love acting and I love creating things. Garcia does not exist unless I go and do other things that are not Garcia. Otherwise, there is no difference or contrast. There is a big difference between Kirsten and Garcia. It means that I have to always diversify other stuff I make. I have to be really dedicated to my other things. I do plays, write other things and I perform so I can keep training.

DS: You’ve written a few episodes of “Criminal Minds.” How do you see your character compared to the other writers in the room?

KV: I’m primarily a playwright. Writing for television is so different. I’m good for the weird, I bring in the strange. The episodes I’ve written have been half written by me and the other half was written by our showrunner Erica Messer and then we mush it together. I’ve noticed that that kind of writing is very hard and that linear structure is hard for me. There’s stuff that’s super easy for me because I rewrite a lot of Garcia’s phone calls with other people. The writers expect me to do that. Phone calls and expositions are easy. When Derek Morgan left and we did the thing where Shemar Moore’s character was leaving, I wrote the scene between Morgan and Garcia. I was tasked to write those last two acts. I wrote the scene and I liked it and stand by it. We go to shoot the scene that day and we ran lines once. We ran the lines and then I started to get this weird panic feeling and then we were doing the scene and it occurred to me right then that Garcia has been thinking this whole time she’s got a chance with Morgan, even though he got married and had a baby. I promise you that it had never come into my mind.

DS: What can old fans and new fans of the show expect when it returns this week to CBS?

KV: This is the greatest time to start watching “Criminal Minds.” We just started this experience we’re having with Linda Barnes and she is creating some big problems within the team. What’s going to happen in the first episode is she is coming in, taking over and trying to be apart of the team. It is incredibly distracting and really hard to do our jobs with this critical eye staring at us and then that just builds. The episode the week of March 14th is one of my top five favorite episodes ever. Things are really going to start ramping up and when we did the table read, all of our jaws were on the floor. The whole deck of cards is coming down and you have to figure out how it’s going to get rearranged.

Criminal Minds” returns to CBS on Wednesday, March 7 at 10pm EST/PST.

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Lawyer accuses governor's legal team of 'slut-shaming' – Jefferson City News Tribune

St. Louis attorney Albert Watkins on Friday accused Gov. Eric Greitens and his “shills or surrogates” of “slut-shaming” the governor’s former mistress, and of the “malicious maligning, with racial undertones” of the St. Louis circuit attorney, who is prosecuting the criminal case against Greitens.

In a 27-minute news conference outside Jefferson City’s police station — where the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight was holding a closed hearing for the second time this week — Watkins said Greitens’ lawyers and supporters “have been tone-deaf to the reality that victimizing the victim, after the victim has already been victimized, is nothing short of another crime. It may not be violating a statute or it won’t constitute a felony.”

Greitens’ lawyers did not respond Friday evening to a request for comment.

Watkins represents the woman’s former husband, and was not speaking for the wife. He confirmed the husband was scheduled to testify to the committee at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Although the committee’s meeting had been scheduled to end at 4 p.m., the panel members didn’t leave the police station until 4:45 p.m.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, formed the committee to investigate Greitens following his recent indictment by a St. Louis grand jury on a felony invasion-of-privacy charge.

Chairman Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, has said the panel’s job is only to determine facts — but others, including some lawmakers, have said the committee’s findings could lead to the House approving impeachment articles against the governor.

“For whatever reason, there has been an alarmingly increased number of statements and references by shills of the governor who are trying to intimidate — and who are effectuating another act of victimization,” Watkins said.

He said one former lawmaker, a Greitens supporter, speculated in a St. Louis radio interview that “this woman is going to have to talk about her other liaisons, her other sexual exploitations.”

And that, Watkins said, was “slut-shaming her. We’re talking about intimidating a victim and, worse yet, intimidating many other victims who may be subjected to the same public ridicule and shame. And it’s that type of action that keeps other victims from coming forward.”

A St. Louis grand jury last month indicted Greitens on a charge of invasion of privacy — a Class D felony that, if he’s convicted, could result in a prison sentence of up to four years.

The indictment charges Greitens with taking a photograph of the woman in the basement of his west-end St. Louis home in March 2015 — before he had launched his race for governor — while she was at least partly nude, without her knowledge or consent, and when she had an expectation of privacy.

The woman has been identified as Greitens’ hairdresser, but hasn’t been named.

The indictment also says the picture was taken in such a way it could be uploaded to a computer, which is part of what makes the action a possible crime.

Greitens has admitted to the affair but denied committing any crime.

The Associated Press reported Friday that the governor, who was in New Madrid announcing the start-up of a new aluminum smelter, took no questions from reporters.

In a motion filed with the St. Louis court Thursday, Greitens’ attorneys argued there’s reason to believe prosecutors enticed reluctant witnesses to testify by offering leniency or warning of possible charges or adverse actions if they didn’t testify.

A spokeswoman for Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the motion contained “baseless and false allegations.”

Watkins told reporters outside the Jefferson City police station: “When you’re maligning the circuit attorney and saying or asserting, ‘There’s intimidation going on,’ my client stated publicly beforehand that he was going to be continuing his full cooperation with state, local and federal law enforcement authorities and prosecutors.

“He has not been promised anything. He has not been maligned (or) intimidated (or) threatened — nor, would I venture to guess — has anyone (else).”

He also said Greitens’ lawyers were maligning Gardner by comparing “the Ivy League pedigree of the recent acquisitions of the defense team for the governor (with) the night school law school background and pedigree of the first African-American circuit attorney (Gardner) in the City of St. Louis.”

Watkins said that Greitens, facing the criminal charge, “is entitled to all the rights of any criminally accused defendant (and) the process has to be respected. But our tone-deaf governor and his tone-deaf shills need to understand that there’s backlash, if they’re going to hurt innocent minors, family members and victims.

“There needs to be a reprisal — and people need to wake up. This is not to be tolerated.”

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