On 22nd September 2021, Denis Sergeev, known in the UK as Sergey Fedotov, and currently residing in Russia, was named as the ‘the third man’, alongside Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga, responsible for the 2018 Salisbury Novichok attack. The attack saw Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer and Secret Intelligence Service (‘MI6’) informant, and his daughter Yulia, poisoned.
The news was followed by a statement from the UK Government that should Mr. Sergeev or his two colleagues travel outside Russia, every possible step would be taken ‘to detain…and extradite them’ for charges of conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, causing grievous bodily harm and the use of, and possession of, a chemical weapon.
It is considered unlikely, however, that Mr. Sergeev will ever be subject to the UK’s criminal justice system, despite charges being authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service, as the extradition of Russian citizens is prohibited under Article 61(1) of the Russian Constitution, 1993.
Nevertheless, the UK is likely to seek a Red Notice through INTERPOL, requesting law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest the defendants should they leave Russia, although, given the risk to Mr. Sergeev and his colleagues, such a prospect seems unlikely.
The stance adopted by the UK Government came a day after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia was responsible for the 2006 killing of Mr. Litvinenko in London, an ex-KGB officer who died after he was poisoned with the substance Polonium 210. As with Mr. Sergeev’s case, the UK Government at the time sought the extradition of the individuals it considered responsible and issued requests for the extradition of Andrei Lugovoy in 2007 and Dmitry Kovtun in 2011. Both requests however were denied by Russian authorities under Article 61 of the Russian Constitution, and both men remain wanted for Mr. Litvinenko’s murder.