A Russian double agent who defected to Britain has revealed he was poisoned like stricken Sergei Skripal.
Boris Karpichkov says he and Skripal were on a hit-list of EIGHT defectors Vladimir Putin wants dead – and names the others .
The ex-KGB major claims he suffered the first of two chemical attacks in November 2006 – the week defector Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London by polonium in a cup of tea.
Karpichkov had fled to New Zealand after being warned by MI5 that an attempt on his life was imminent.
He says: “A street beggar came up and sprayed something in my face.
“I felt the earth spin and had flu-like symptoms. In a couple of months I’d lost 66lbs and all body hair. I was a walking corpse.”
Medical records seen by the Sunday Mirror show poisoning was suspected though never proved. In March 2007 Karpichkov fell ill again after a chemical was sprayed on his carpet.
Toxicology tests in New Zealand and London could not pinpoint the cause.
Now in the wake of the Skripal poisoning, Karpichkov says he was warned last month by a secret contact in the FSB – the modern-day KGB – to look out for e-cigarettes concealing nerve gas.
He says: “We used burner phones. He said something bad was going to happen to me. I’m 59. But I’m not optimistic about seeing 60.”
He fears his latest death threat is the result of him posting the names of FSB agents on Latvian website
The Russian, who defected to Britain 20 years ago, spoke as police continued to investigate the attempted murder of Skripal, 66 – a former colonel in Russian military intelligence – and daughter Yulia, 33, found unconscious in a park in Salisbury, Wilts, last Sunday.
Chillingly, Karpichkov reveals: “I’ve been told the FSB Kolegia, a gathering of its high ranking officers, met the day after Skripal was attacked.
“Vladimir Putin was there and was briefed that the hit had been a success.” And he reveals other names on a hit list he has been given by his contact.
OLEG GORDIEVSKY, 79: Britain’s top Cold War double agent spirited out of Russia in 1985 in the boot of a Ford saloon.
BILL BROWDER, 53: US-born Brit financier banned from Russia for fraud, but he claims it was for exposing corruption.
IGOR SUTYAGIN, 53: Russian nuclear weapons specialist accused of spying for UK. Spy-swapped in 2010 along with Skirpal.
YURI SHVETS, 65: Ex-KGB major who defected to America in 1994. A key witness in the poisoning of Litvinenko.
CHRISTOPHER STEELE, 53: Former MI6 officer who claimed Russian spies had a video of Donald Trump cavorting with prostitutes.
VLADIMIR REZUN, 70 : Soviet military intelligence captain who defected to Britain in 1978.
Latvian-born Karpichkov was 24 when he was recruited by the KGB 35 years ago.
He rose to major in the spy agency’s Second Chief Directorate, specialising in counter espionage.
He recalls being issued with a pen that fired bullets and had a secret compartment for poison powder.
He says: “I fancied myself as James Bond, but once I realised what the KGB/FSB was really about I got disillusioned.”
He claims to have spied on Russia for the CIA and the French. When he was rumbled in 1998 he fled to Britain with his wife and two children.
He says: “All I can do is keep looking over my shoulder. I don’t care about myself, but I do care about my family.”
Leader who is spider at centre of Russian web
Vladimir Putin is a unique world leader.
He’s not just president of Russia but its chief executive, and a supreme spymaster.
His rise from KGB agent to tyrant has amassed him a fortune estimated at £144billion. To understand how he did this means understanding how Russia works.
The state, big business, organised crime and the country’s spy apparatus are all interlinked. Putin is the spider at the centre of the web. Money laundering by crime gangs pays for the operations of the SVR and FSB, successors to the KGB.
Anyone who betrays this regime faces death. And even if Putin does not order the killings, it’s inconceivable he doesn’t approve them.
Meanwhile he has revamped the military and expanded Russia’s influence into the Ukraine and Crimea.
Russia carries out cyber attacks on the West, spreads fake news and influences elections.
Russia goes to the polls next weekend which will keep Putin in office until 2024.
The only embarrassment he faces is a low turnout as voters know the result is a certainty.