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Russia has a penchant for death by poison

The Honorable Newt Gingrich

In March 2018, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with an insidious, Soviet-developed nerve agent called A-234.

Skripal was a former Russian intelligence officer who had been living in the United Kingdom since 2010. He had previously worked as a double agent for the country’s intelligence service from 1995 until he was arrested in Moscow in 2004.

Skripal and his daughter survived the attack – although just barely.

Six years earlier, Alexander Perepilichnyy, a businessman who had been investigating a $230-million Russian money laundering operation, collapsed while running outside his home in Weybridge, Surrey. His death was original ruled natural, but traces of poison were later found in his stomach. An inquest will resume next month.

Thirty-three-year-old Anti-Putin activist Vladimir Kara-Murza has survived two poisoning attempts, once in 2015 and again in 2017. Both times he had to undergo total blood transfusions to survive.

These are only the most recent examples of the Russian system attempting to silence its opponents with poison.

“Russia – Death by Poison,” the latest episode of my Newt’s World podcast, will be released Sunday.

On this week’s episode of my podcast, I discuss Russia’s long, storied history with poison and assassination with Dr. Amy Knight, an expert on Russian politics and intrigue and the author of “Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder.”

I also speak with Jack Devine, a 32-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and currently the founding partner and president of The Arkin Group, which specializes in international crisis management.

The topic of Russian poisoning came to my mind as I was writing my latest novel, “Collusion” – which I co-wrote with Pete Earley. It comes out Tuesday.

Our main character is Brett Garrett, a Navy SEAL-turned-CIA agent working to thwart a Russian poisoning attempt. In order to have a little bit of fun between the plot line of the book and real life – I thought it would be great to do an entire podcast on Russia’s fascination with poison as a weapon.

Russia is one the only countries in the world that assassinates its opponents by poison. I thought we’d explore the most nefarious and ruthless Russian murder plots.

I hope you will listen to “Russia – Death by Poison” and see just how close fiction can be to reality.

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