‘Vladimir Putin tried to poison me’, model says
A RUSSIAN model said she was at the centre of another Salisbury poison plot - and claimed: "Vladimir Putin wants me dead."
Anna Shapiro, 30, and husband Alex King, 42, became violently ill in the city's Prezzo, The Sun reports.
The terrified Russian model said she found her husband collapsed in the men's toilet and "foaming at the mouth".
Mr King is still fighting for his life in hospital in what security sources fear was a suspected rat poison attack.
The horrific incident sent the city centre into lockdown on Sunday after two fellow Russians were poisoned by Novichok there in March.
Ms Shapiro believes she was targeted by Russian President Vladimir Putin's assassins - just like Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
The part-time model, who says her dad was a top military official under Mr Putin, recently fled London after receiving a string of death threats.
She told The Sun: "I was targeted by Putin's henchmen. They want me dead as I oppose Putin and have turned my back on my country. Russia is capable of anything."
Ms Shapiro and Mr King arrived at a rented $100-a-night farmhouse in Landford near Salisbury on Sunday afternoon - with plans to eventually move to the South Coast.
The 30-year-old asked the owner to recommend somewhere to eat - and thought she was joking when she was told: "Prezzo in Salisbury."
Ms Shapiro, who recalled how the Skripals dined at nearby Zizzi, said: "I laughed and said, 'I hope we don't get poisoned'. She smiled and said, 'Everywhere was safe now.'
"On arrival I ordered a florentine pizza and Alex went for sea bass, vegetables and baby potatoes. We also had two glasses of white wine."
Towards the end of the meal, Alex began to look and feel ill.
Anna recalled: "He went pale and said he was going to the toilet upstairs. After 15 minutes I began to get worried.
"I headed up and saw him lying on the floor near the sinks. He was face down and his arms were thrashing about. I thought it was a seizure and tried to get him up. But he was foaming at the mouth and pushed me off. I ran downstairs for help. I was panicked."
Ms Shapiro raised the alarm then suddenly felt ill and rushed to the toilet to be violently sick before collapsing.
The couple were rushed to Salisbury District Hospital - along with a waiter - but faced delays as medics required contamination suits, while an area had to be cordoned off.
"Alex was taken in one ambulance and a waiter called Charlie who tried to help me and was deemed a contamination risk was sent with me in another," Ms Shapiro said.
"I didn't see Alex again. He was put in an induced coma. The Prezzo guy and me had to strip naked and shower before undergoing tests."
Ms Shapiro, who is also an event-space company director, began to recover and told cops she had been targeted by "Russian intelligence".
She discharged herself on Monday evening and was taken to a local hotel with cops on 24-hour guard.
Senior security sources believe Ms Shapiro and Mr King may have been attacked with strychnine.
"It is harrowing waiting for news of Alex. I feel lucky but the doctors are not sure about him," she said. "He has regained consciousness which is marvellous. But we're still waiting for his test results. I'm so scared and wanted to leave London as I didn't feel safe. Now this has happened."
Ms Shapiro was born in Nizhny Novgorod but became an Israeli citizen in 2006 - against her family's wishes.
She moved to London in 2008 and met businessman Mr King soon after. But they only married last month.
Ms Shapiro, who studied for three years at Westminster Law School, said: "I'm sure the Russians think I'm a British spy. I know lots of rich businessmen in central London and because I have the accent people make assumptions about me.
"But I publicly renounce Putin and the country of my family. I am a former Russian subject. My father was a general in the Russian army and played for the military orchestra.
"He is appalled at the paths I have taken. Someone purporting to be my father is behind a series of death threats I have had on various social media accounts and email addresses. They have frightened me."
Officers in biohazard suits evacuated nearby restaurants and pubs after the incident on Sunday.
It came after Theresa May accused Russia of being behind the Novichok attack on Sergei, 67, and Yulia Skripal, 33.
Prezzo is also near Queen Elizabeth Gardens, closed until recently due to the death of Dawn Sturgess, 44, after exposure to Novichok.
Wiltshire Police said: "Enquiries into what caused the pair to become unwell are still ongoing.
"However, due to the recent events in the south of the county, scientific tests were undertaken to establish if they had come into contact with Novichok."