Former Russian spy living in exile in the UK while on Vladimir Putin's death list fears it is only a matter of time before he is killed.

    Ex-double agent Boris Karpichkov, 62, has accused the UK government of "playing Russian roulette" with his life after revealing his British alias, address and leaving him feeling unprotected from Putin's assassins and spies.

    Boris Karpichkov, 62, no longer wants to be pictured amid a rising number of death threats
    Boris Karpichkov, 62, no longer wants to be pictured amid a rising number of death threatsCredit: Simon Jones
    Reporter Imogen Braddick meets former KGB spy Boris Karpichkov
    Reporter Imogen Braddick meets former KGB spy Boris KarpichkovCredit: Simon Jones
    Alexander Litvinenko died after being poisoned with radioactive polonium in London in 2006
    Alexander Litvinenko died after being poisoned with radioactive polonium in London in 2006Credit: Getty

    The dad-of-two, who was given a new identity when he arrived in Britain, said he has been bombarded with death threats since 1998 when he defected to the UK and sought political asylum with his wife and two young children.

    He fled to Britain carrying two suitcases full of secrets and spy paraphernalia, including six false passports, after serving as a major in Russia’s KGB and its FSB successor.

    Mr Karpichkov was already been struck by a suspected poisoning attack in 2006 - and it comes after after more than a dozen mysterious deaths on British soil have been linked to Russia.

    And he has said failures by the British government have left him in "constant fear of his life".

    MPs have called for more protection for Russian defectors and critics of Putin or they risk facing the same fate as high profile victims like former spy Alexander Litvinenko.

    And it comes amid warnings over "dirty" Russian money in the UK and fears of a looming conflict in Eastern Europe as Putin appears poised to invade Ukraine.

    The infamous picture of Litvinenko lying in hospital critically ill serves as a reminder of the suspected shadowy reach of the Kremlin.

    He is believed to have been given a fatal dose of radioactive polonium-210 and suffered a slow three week long death from radiation sickness in November 2006.

    Tobias Ellwood MP, chair of the Defence Select Committee, told The Sun Online that the ex-spy was "right to be nervous" and he said the UK must be a "safe haven".

    He said: "When you fall out of line with Putin, you often pay the highest price. It doesn't matter where you are in the world.

    The MP added: "We need a strategy on how to handle Putin and his hostile measures. It's absolutely right that we provide assistance to these people.

    "What message does it send otherwise to other people who might need our help to escape the clutches of Putin?"

    Poisonings and assassinations linked to the Kremlin have left opponents disfigured, in medically induced comas, and worst of all dying slow and painful deaths.

    Tom Tugendhat MP, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a potential Tory leadership candidate, told The Sun Online: "We’ve known for years that Putin’s assassins have been taking revenge in Britain.

    "They’ve even murdered Brits, sometimes by accident.

    "Cleaning out Moscow’s money isn’t just about their corruption, it’s also about protecting our people.”

    Last year, Putin drew up a new kill list of opponents - which included Mr Karpichkov.

    I feel betrayed and abandoned by the British government. I am a totally broken manBoris Karpichkov

    Born in Latvia, Mr Karpichkov served as a double agent, spying on Latvia for the Russians and on Russia for the Latvians - although he insisted he has never carried out orders to kill enemies.

    A graduate of a KGB academy in Minsk, he served in Russian intelligence for more than a decade and he was privy to Kremlin secrets at the very highest level.

    When the Soviet empire collapsed in 1991, he stayed in newly independent Latvia and he joined the country’s intelligence services.

    But he defected to the UK after the post-communist Russian authorities found out he had betrayed his masters by passing information to the Latvian government.

    Mr Karpichkov was tortured in a maximum security prison in Russia on alleged weapons charges before he managed to flee to the UK using false travel documents.

    Although Latvia has attempted to extradite Mr Karpichkov on two occasions, he was handed exceptional leave to remain in the UK in 2001 and granted British citizenship in 2008.

    But over the last 24 years, he has received an onslaught of death threats both online and at his family home in Britain from suspected Russian security services.

    Putin's suspected victims

    AT least 14 enemies of Vladimir Putin have been suspiciously taken ill in suspected poisonings since 2004.

    Anna Politkovskaya - Poisoned after drinking tea given to her by an Aeroflot flight attendant in September 2004. She was later shot dead in Moscow in October 2006.

    Viktor Yushchenko - Left disfigured after consuming food laced with chemical TCDD also in September 2004. Managed to recover and win the Ukrainian presidency on a pro-West platform - serving from 2005 to 2010

    Alexander Litvinenko - Died after being poisoned with radioactive polonium in London in November 2006. Blamed Putin for the attack on his deathbed.

    Alexander Perepilichny - Russian businessman and whistleblower found dead after going out for a jog near his home in Surrey in 2012. Traces of a poison found in his stomach.

    Boris Berezovsky - Died suspiciously on British soil after making powerful enemies in Russia. Found apparently hanged in his bathroom in 2013. US intelligence officials said they suspect he was assassinated.

    Badri Patarkatsishvili - Business partner of Boris Berezovsky dropped dead of an apparent heart attack in 2008. US spy agencies have intelligence suggesting he was murdered.

    Yuri Golubev - Acquaintance of Boris Berezovsky and Badri Patarkatsishvili died in 2007 from an apparent heart attack. US spy agencies have intelligence suggesting he was murdered.

    Scot Young - Impaled on railings after plunging 60ft from his London flat in 2014. He worked as a fixer for Berezovsky. A pal said mafia mobsters had dangled Young from a hotel balcony two years earlier.

    Matthew Puncher - Radiation expert bled to death at his home in Oxfordshire in 2016 from multiple stab wounds after a trip to Russia. He discovered toxic polonium inside Alexander Litvinenko.

    Vladimir Kara-Murza  - Taken ill after suspected to have been poisoned on an Aeroflot plane in May 2015. He was then believed to be poisoned again in February 2017.

    Pyotr Verzilov - Hospitalised after becoming ill in Moscow after visiting court proceedings against anti-Putin band Pussy Riot on September 12, 2018.

    Sergei Skripal - Found critically ill on a bench in Salisbury after believed to have been poisoned with Russia-developed nerve agent Novchok on March 4, 2018.

    Yulia Skripal - Taken ill alongside her dad on the same day. Both spent weeks fighting for their life in hospital in a brazen attack that shocked the UK.

    Alexei Navalny - Left screaming and violently ill after he is believed to have drunk poison tea before boarding a flight in Tomsk on August 20, 2020.

    Some letters have even been signed with a cover name he used while spying for the Russians in Latvia between 1991 and 1995 and gave the sender’s address as a local cemetery.

    Only top Russian spymasters would have access to his former identity.

    Mr Karpichkov has already been struck by a suspected poisoning attack in 2006 in New Zealand and claims he lost five stone after the attempt on his life.

    The ex-KGB spook and his family have also been targeted by suspicious Russian-speaking characters lurking outside his home - and his house has been burgled on a several occasions.

    Since living in the UK, the family have had to move house eight times.

    Experts have told the courts they believe the former spy is at "significant risk of fatal harm".

    Mr Karpichkov, who was told his life was in danger when Skripal was poisoned, now believes his best hope of staying alive is to make the threats he receives public.

    He told The Sun Online: "I'm trying to stay alive as long as possible. I have received at least 17 death threats since July 2018 on behalf of Russian security services - along with physical attempts to break into our home."

    The latest death threat being probed by cops came through the post in January.

    It said: "Traitors like you have no place on earth. Death is on the way. You are already a half-corpse."

    Mr Karpichkov, who said he has met with officers from the Counter Terrorism Command, said the threatening message came in a bubble wrap envelope and he became unwell with strange symptoms shortly afterwards.

    He said: "I started feeling some nasty itching in both my eyes... I also started experiencing weird dizziness along with weird pain in my chest. There was no explanation for it.

    "This letter should be considered a possible attempt on my life, along with the life of all the members of my family."

    Putin denies allegations that he tries to murder his enemies
    Putin denies allegations that he tries to murder his enemiesCredit: EPA

    Putin's regime has always denied or dismissed all allegations that it is behind a campaign of poisonings and assassinations against its critics.

    But his critics have been killed in mysterious circumstances, such as being shot or found strangled - and poison seems to be reserved for Putin's greatest enemies.

    The Russian government passed new laws in 2006 giving its ruthless agents a licence to kill enemies of the state abroad.

    The apparent campaign of targeted killings in Britain comes points to mounting concern that the Kremlin is brazenly interfering in the West.

    Former British and American intelligence officials told BuzzFeed News Russian assassins have been able to kill in Britain with impunity over the last decade.

    Mr Karpichkov has accused the UK government of "playing Russian roulette" with his life.

    The former KGB officer claimed the National Crime Agency released details of his true identity to the Latvian government - putting his life in grave danger.

    In 2018 Latvia used a European Arrest Warrant to demand Mr Karpichkov’s extradition on charges of fraud, falsifying documents and gun possession.

    But the bid was thrown out by a court in September 2020.

    At the time, the Latvian authorities repeatedly asked the NCA for Mr Karpichkov's British identity.

    'BETRAYED'

    Documents shared with The Sun Online show the NCA did share his new identity, given to him when he entered the UK in 1998, to the Latvian authorities.

    Since his address and identity were revealed, Mr Karpichkov said the death threats have escalated significantly.

    Experts said it is very likely the information known to the Latvian authorities is also known to the Russian security services, putting the former spy at risk of an attack on his life.

    Mr Karpichkov said: "As a direct result of the NCA's leaks, they caused a significant and visibly noticeable escalating threatening activity towards me at the hands of the Russian security services and their agents illegally operating on British soil."

    Now living in constant fear of his life, he added: "I feel betrayed and abandoned by the British government. I am a totally broken man."

    A spokesman for the NCA told The Sun Online: "The NCA shares intelligence with trusted law enforcement agencies in line with the processes and legislation that govern information sharing.

    "The NCA is unable to comment on individual cases where there are ongoing legal discussions."

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    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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