Sergei Skripal: Russian state TV anchor Kirill Kleimenov says it is 'rare that traitors live to old age'

Chris Baynes, Tom Richell

A Russian state TV anchor has warned it is “rare that traitors live to old age” in a broadcast about the attempted assassination of a ex-spy Sergei Skripal.

Kirill Kleimenov, a prominent presenter on the government-controlled Channel One, also suggested Britain was not safe for double agents, in mocking remarks referring to the former MI6 informant’s poisoning.

​The host said on flagship news programme Vremya: “The profession of a traitor is one of the most dangerous in the world.

“It’s very rare that those who had chosen it have lived in peace until a ripe old age.”

His comments came during a discussion of Russian ex-spy Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were found slumped on a park bench in Salisbury on Sunday after being poisoned with a nerve agent.

The pair remain in hospital in a critical but stable condition following the attack.

Mr Skripal is a former Russian intelligence colonel who was sentenced in 2006 to 13 years in prison, accused of spying for Britain.

In 2010 he was involved in a ‘spy swap’ and was flown to the UK a free man.

Mr Kleimenov said he had advice to for any “traitors or those who simply hate their country in their free time”: “Don’t choose Britain as a place to live.”

He added: “Something is wrong there. Maybe it’s the climate, but in recent years there have been too many strange incidents with grave outcomes there.”

Britain’s security services are hunting a suspected network of highly-trained assassins suspected of launching the nerve agent attack.

The brutal and sophisticated method used to target Mr Skripal and his daughter points towards “either present or past state-sponsored actors”, sources told The Independent.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has pledged Britain’s response to the attack would be “absolutely robust”.

“There is nothing soft about the UK’s response to any sort of state activity in this country,” she added.

Nineteen other people have been treated as a result of the poisoning and one police officer, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, remains in hospital.