In Brief

Salisbury novichok attack board game on sale in Russia

Fury in the British tabloids - but is Our Men in Salisbury a hoax?

The British press has responded with outrage to a Russian board game called Our Men in Salisbury, in which players re-enact the journey of the two Russian military intelligence officers accused of carrying out the Salisbury Novichok attack.

Following in the footsteps of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, “players compete to evade police and be the fastest to travel through Europe to Wiltshire,” says the BBC. The finish line is illustrated with pictures of men in haz-mat suits.

Former Russian spy turned British double agent Sergei Skripal, 67, and his 34-year-old daughter Yulia were both hospitalised close to death after coming into contact with the deadly nerve agent on 4 March last year, in an apparent attempted assassination.

Police sergeant Nick Bailey also required medical treatment for exposure to novichok. Dawn Sturgess, 44, died weeks later after she and her partner, Charlie Rowley, came into contact with a discarded vial that officials believe was used to transport the deadly substance.

However, the game’s co-creator shrugged off the suggestion that the Salisbury poisonings were an unsuitable subject for light-hearted entertainment.

Mikhail Bober, development manager at game maker Igroland, said the game was “a humorous answer for our Western neighbours” to perceived Russophobia in the aftermath of the poisonings. The Kremlin has emphatically denied involvement in the incident.

The news has met with a predictably frosty welcome among in the tabloid press, with The Sun, the Daily Mirror and the London Evening Standard all opting for “vile” in their description of the game.

“Other Russian firms have previously attempted to capitalise on the Salisbury by producing t-shirts and even a craft beer under the name ‘Novichok’,” says The Daily Telegraph.

However, actually finding a copy of the game has proven a tall order, leading some to suggest the story is nothing more than a provocative hoax.

Our Men in Salisbury is listed for sale on Russian online store Galamart as part of a multipack of six games. Home delivery is listed as ‘unavailable’, but shoppers can reserve a copy for collection from multiple stores listed as having the product in stock.

However, the Telegraph reports that a source dispatched to the Moscow store advertised as selling the game could not find any copies on the shelves. A sales assistant in the store said the game had “probably sold out already”.

The Salisbury Journal notes that Kremlin-backed news website Russia Today, which first publicised the board game, itself “sent out chocolate models of Salisbury Cathedral as its corporate Christmas gift”.

“There is no evidence online that any such game has yet gone on sale,” the Journal says, suggesting that the story may be “another publicity stunt” by the Kremlin designed to mock the UK.

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