Russian spy poisoned on streets of Britain

From Russia with hate: Here are just five UK deaths thought to have been ordered by Moscow.

Is spying wrong? A Russian agent and his daughter were rushed to hospital after a suspected assassination attempt. Some say this proves the glitzy world of James Bond is darker than we think.

What’s happening

Salisbury is a sleepy city in the south of England. But last week it was at the centre of a conspiracy that could have come from a thriller film. That was after ex-spy Sergei Skripal was found dying on a public bench from suspected poisoning. Some think it could be part of a secret Russian plot.

Find out more

Skripal’s daughter, Yulia, was also named as a victim. Now the police are trying to solve how the attack happened and who was responsible.

Some blame the Russian government. Skripal was not your average spy, but a double agent. This means he officially worked for Russia, but secretly passed information to Britain.

It would not be a the first time a former spy was assassinated in London. In 2006 former agent Alexander Litvinenko was killed with radioactive poison. This is one of as many as 14 suspicious deaths in Britain that have been linked to Russia in recent years.

So while films like James Bond present the life of spies as heroic and glamorous, the reality is often a lot darker.

Spying is a risky game. Is it also fundamentally wrong?

Some say…

Of course not, some argue. Spies have strong principles; using their intelligence in the service of something they love, whether it is a country or an idea. They are also brave, as their job often requires them to put their life on the line. It is thanks to people like them that ordinary people can feel safe.

Others think…

It is not that simple, reply others. Some agents are just in it for grubby cash or for a sense of power. What is more, the betrayal and loneliness that comes with the job only leads to paranoia, depression — or a sticky end. Spying may be a necessary evil in this world, but it is an evil nonetheless.

You Decide

  1. Would you want to be a spy?


  1. Time to play a game of word association! In one minute write down as many words or phrases as you can that you associate with the term “spy.” How many words did you come up with? Are most of them positive or negative? What does this tell you about how we view spies in the modern world?

Some People Say...

“[Everyone] is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies”

Jane Austen

What do you think?

Word Watch

A secret plan to do something illegal or harmful.
An assassination is when somebody is killed for political or religious reasons.
A substance which emits harmful particles.
Feeling caution or distrust about something.
A system of belief.
Unreasonable mistrust or suspicion of other people.


PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.