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New Zealand Probes Russian Ex-Spy's Poisoning Claims

Military personnel wearing protective coveralls work to remove vehicles from a cordoned off area in Salisbury where a former Russian spy and his daughter were found poisoned last week.

Police in New Zealand said on March 15 that they are investigating claims by a man who said he once worked for Russian intelligence and was poisoned in Auckland more than 10 years ago.

Boris Karpichkov recounted the alleged incident on British television channel ITV this week, in the wake of the poisoning of a Russian former spy with a military-grade nerve agent in Britain.

Karpichkov told the TV show Good Morning Britain on March 12 that he had worked for the KGB before becoming a double agent and later claiming asylum in Britain. He spent 15 months in New Zealand in 2006 and 2007.

The alleged Russian former spy claimed that he was trying to keep a low profile in New Zealand at the time after defecting to Britain.

He claimed that one morning in 2006 he had spotted people following him in the streets of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, before someone "dressed as a common beggar" threw powder in his face.

He said he then became ill, losing his hair and 30 kilograms over the next two months.

New Zealand police confirmed they had been aware of Karpichkov’s presence in the country between June 2006 and October 2007.

A spokesman said police were examining their files for other information about Karpichkov, adding that the review would take some time, "given the historic nature of this matter."

Karpichkov, who is now based in Britain, also told the TV program that he had received a telephone warning from a Russian intelligence officer last month that "something bad would happen" to him and several other named individuals.

He claimed the names included Sergei Skripal, the retired Russian military intelligence colonel who remains in critical condition after being poisoned in the southern English city of Salisbury on March 4.

Britain announced on March 14 a package of measures against Moscow, which ignored a deadline to explain how a deadly chemical developed by the Soviet military during the Cold War was used to poison Skripal and his daughter.

Russia denies any involvement in the incident.

With reporting by AFP and The New York Times
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