Russian to Judgement 431

The same people who assured you that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s now assure you Russian “novochok” nerve agents are being wielded by Vladimir Putin to attack people on British soil. As with the Iraqi WMD dossier, it is essential to comb the evidence very finely. A vital missing word from Theresa May’s statement yesterday was “only”. She did not state that the nerve agent used was manufactured ONLY by Russia. She rather stated this group of nerve agents had been “developed by” Russia. Antibiotics were first developed by a Scotsman, but that is not evidence that all antibiotics are today administered by Scots.

The “novochok” group of nerve agents – a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing fifty years ago – will almost certainly have been analysed and reproduced by Porton Down. That is entirely what Porton Down is there for. It used to make chemical and biological weapons as weapons, and today it still does make them in small quantities in order to research defences and antidotes. After the fall of the Soviet Union Russian chemists made a lot of information available on these nerve agents. And one country which has always manufactured very similar persistent nerve agents is Israel. This Foreign Policy magazine (a very establishment US publication) article on Israel‘s chemical and biological weapon capability is very interesting indeed. I will return to Israel later in this article.

Incidentally, novachok is not a specific substance but a class of new nerve agents. Sources agree they were designed to be persistent, and of an order of magnitude stronger than sarin or VX. That is rather hard to square with the fact that thankfully nobody has died and those possibly in contact just have to wash their clothes.

From Putin’s point of view, to assassinate Skripal now seems to have very little motivation. If the Russians have waited eight years to do this, they could have waited until after their World Cup. The Russians have never killed a swapped spy before. Just as diplomats, British and otherwise, are the most ardent upholders of the principle of diplomatic immunity, so security service personnel everywhere are the least likely to wish to destroy a system which can be a key aspect of their own personal security; quite literally spy swaps are their “Get Out of Jail Free” card. You don’t undermine that system – probably terminally – without very good reason.

It is worth noting that the “wicked” Russians gave Skripal a far lighter jail sentence than an American equivalent would have received. If a member of US Military Intelligence had sold, for cash to the Russians, the names of hundreds of US agents and officers operating abroad, the Americans would at the very least jail the person for life, and I strongly suspect would execute them. Skripal just received a jail sentence of 18 years, which is hard to square with the narrative of implacable vindictiveness against him. If the Russians had wanted to make an example, that was the time.

It is much more probable that the reason for this assassination attempt refers to something recent or current, than to spying twenty years ago. Were I the British police, I would inquire very closely into Orbis Intelligence.

There is no doubt that Skripal was feeding secrets to MI6 at the time that Christopher Steele was an MI6 officer in Moscow, and at the the time that Pablo Miller, another member of Orbis Intelligence, was also an MI6 officer in Russia and directly recruiting agents. It is widely reported on the web and in US media that it was Miller who first recruited Skripal. My own ex-MI6 sources tell me that is not quite true as Skripal was “walk-in”, but that Miller certainly was involved in running Skripal for a while. Sadly Pablo Miller’s LinkedIn profile has recently been deleted, but it is again widely alleged on the web that it showed him as a consultant for Orbis Intelligence and a consultant to the FCO and – wait for it – with an address in Salisbury. If anyone can recover that Linkedin entry do get in touch, though British Government agencies will have been active in the internet scrubbing.

It was of course Christopher Steele and Orbis Intelligence who produced for the Clinton camp the sensationalist dossier on Trump links with Russia – including the story of Trump paying to be urinated on by Russian prostitutes – that is a key part of the “Russiagate” affair gripping the US political classes. The extraordinary thing about this is that the Orbis dossier is obvious nonsense which anybody with a professional background can completely demolish, as I did here. Steele’s motive was, like Skripal’s in selling his secrets, cash pure and simple. Steele is a charlatan who knocked up a series of allegations that are either wildly improbable, or would need a high level source access he could not possibly get in today’s Russia, or both. He told the Democrats what they wish to hear and his audience – who had and still have no motivation to look at it critically – paid him highly for it.

I do not know for certain that Pablo Miller helped knock together the Steele dossier on Trump, but it seems very probable given he also served for MI6 in Russia and was working for Orbis. And it seems to me even more probable that Sergei Skripal contributed to the Orbis Intelligence dossier on Trump. Steele and Miller cannot go into Russia and run sources any more, and never would have had access as good as their dossier claims, even in their MI6 days. The dossier was knocked up for huge wodges of cash from whatever they could cobble together. Who better to lend a little corroborative verisimilitude in these circumstances than their old source Skripal?

Skripal was at hand in the UK, and allegedly even close to Miller in Salisbury. He could add in the proper acronym for a Russian committee here or the name of a Russian official there, to make it seem like Steele was providing hard intelligence. Indeed, Skripal’s outdated knowledge might explain some of the dossier’s more glaring errors.

But the problem with double agents like Skripal, who give intelligence for money, is that they can easily become triple agents and you never know when a better offer is going to come along. When Steele produced his dodgy dossier, he had no idea it would ever become so prominent and subject to so much scrutiny. Steele is fortunate in that the US Establishment is strongly motivated not to scrutinise his work closely as their one aim is to “get” Trump. But with the stakes very high, having a very loose cannon as one of the dossier’s authors might be most inconvenient both for Orbis and for the Clinton camp.

If I was the police, I would look closely at Orbis Intelligence.

To return to Israel. Israel has the nerve agents. Israel has Mossad which is extremely skilled at foreign assassinations. Theresa May claimed Russian propensity to assassinate abroad as a specific reason to believe Russia did it. Well Mossad has an even greater propensity to assassinate abroad. And while I am struggling to see a Russian motive for damaging its own international reputation so grieviously, Israel has a clear motivation for damaging the Russian reputation so grieviously. Russian action in Syria has undermined the Israeli position in Syria and Lebanon in a fundamental way, and Israel has every motive for damaging Russia’s international position by an attack aiming to leave the blame on Russia.

Both the Orbis and Israeli theories are speculations. But they are no more a speculation, and no more a conspiracy theory, than the idea that Vladimir Putin secretly sent agents to Salisbury to attack Skripal with a secret nerve agent. I can see absolutely no reason to believe that is a more valid speculation than the others at this point.

I am alarmed by the security, spying and armaments industries’ frenetic efforts to stoke Russophobia and heat up the new cold war. I am especially alarmed at the stream of cold war warrior “experts” dominating the news cycles. I write as someone who believes that agents of the Russian state did assassinate Litvinenko, and that the Russian security services carried out at least some of the apartment bombings that provided the pretext for the brutal assault on Chechnya. I believe the Russian occupation of Crimea and parts of Georgia is illegal. On the other hand, in Syria Russia has saved the Middle East from domination by a new wave of US and Saudi sponsored extreme jihadists.

The naive view of the world as “goodies” and “baddies”, with our own ruling class as the good guys, is for the birds. I witnessed personally in Uzbekistan the willingness of the UK and US security services to accept and validate intelligence they knew to be false in order to pursue their policy objectives. We should be extremely sceptical of their current anti-Russian narrative. There are many possible suspects in this attack.

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431 thoughts on “Russian to Judgement

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  • June Simmons

    Excellent analysis throwing up a number of possibilities, given the number of variable and verifiables and, at this stage, unverifiables. I had not, for instance considered Israel yet am aware that Mossad had been proven to interfere in UK Parliamentary with overt and covert payments of monies to Tory coffers , and lobbying, it’s clear they have both capability and motivation. While I do think that, on balance, we can justify categorization of some of the world’s leaders as ‘good or bad’ guys – to varying degrees, for instance Trudeau, won widespread respect for his commendable social policies yet is almost obscene in his high praise of the Right-Wing, Apartheid, Israeli State which undermines how we view the integrity of his humanistic ‘core values’ which I find hard to excuse by the truism ‘all our heroes have feet of clay’. Nonetheless, this is a very interesting, well reasoned piece by Craig Murray which deserves sharing.

  • N_

    Question for any lawyers here, barrack-room or otherwise:

    how about a habeas corpus application by Russia in respect of Yulia Skripal?

    She is a Russian citizen, she is not a British citizen, presumably she entered Britain on her Russian passport and a properly issued visa, she has been attacked and she is seriously ill in hospital, and according to the Russian embassy Britain is not providing information they have requested.

        • N_

          Did you think a writ of habeas corpus can’t be issued against the chief executive of a hospital? It can. The authorities would be forced to give some information to the consulate. Capisce?

          • Martinned

            It can, possibly, but in any event not by any random person that walks by. Habeas corpus petitions are brought by the person who is detained, or on their behalf.

          • N_

            @Martinmed – Do you think if a foreign government applies for a writ of habeas corpus in respect of one of its citizens, a magistrate will say “You’re just a random person walking by”?

            If the British authorities wish to say they do not recognise the consulate as acting on behalf of one of its citizens, let them say so in court and say why.

            If she’s conscious and not being allowed to contact the consulate, then she is detained. If she cannot be brought to the court because she is too ill, let the hospital chief executive say so and prove it. If she has said she wants no contact with the consulate, then they should be told. They could for instance withdraw her passport, upon which there would arise the question of her visa status.

            As far as I know, she has no dispute with the Russian government at all. A habeas corpus application would obtain a lot of information (which the consulate should have been given anyway) and would be a very sensible step for Russia to take.

          • Martinned

            It’s not my area of expertise, but IIRC not just anyone can act as the “next friend” of a detainee without their consent. Not even the embassy. At a minimum, there would have to be good reasons why the person cannot simply bring suit themselves, which I don’t think would be shown here unless she is unconscious.

  • BrianFujisan

    Great Writing by Craig

    And this –
    ” The London-based embassy added: “Statements by a number of MPs, ‘Whitehall sources’ and ‘experts’ regarding a possible ‘deployment’ of ‘offensive cyber-capabilities’ cause serious concern. We invite the British side to once again consider the consequences of such a reckless move.”

    Ohh Deary me

  • Plod

    If Murray is right, we can be sure that Fox (among many others at the rotten core of the ruling establishment) shares some involvement. And I don’t mean rupert’s, I mean the good doctor verity’s.

  • N_

    As for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, here is the Russian statement to that body, from yesterday.

    I kind of like the tone:

    If London does have serious reasons to suspect Russia of violating the CWC – and the statement read by distinguished Ambassador Peter Wilson indicates directly that this is so – we suggest that Britain immediately avail itself of the procedures provided for by paragraph 2 of Article 9 of the CWC. They make it possible, on a bilateral basis, to officially contact us for clarifications regarding any issues that raise doubts or concerns. (…)”

    “Our British colleagues should save their propaganda fervour and slogans for their unenlightened domestic audience, where perhaps they will have some effect. Here, within the walls of a specialised international organisation, such as the OPCW, one must use facts and nothing but the facts. Stop fomenting hysteria, go ahead and officially formalise your request to begin consultations with us in order to clarify the situation. A fair warning, we will require material evidence of the alleged Russian trace in this high-profile case. Britain’s allegations that they have everything, and their world-famous scientists have irrefutable data, but they will not give us anything, will not be taken into account. For us, this will mean that London has nothing substantial to show, and all its loud accusations are nothing but fiction and another instance of the dirty information war being waged on Russia. Sooner or later, they will have to be held accountable for their lies.”

  • Salford Lad

    Any half assed lawyer would deconstruct the Sergei Skripal poisoning in a heartbeat. It is curious that such an exotic and rare toxin was used to attack Skripal. It would seem intentionally, to lay a Sherlock Holmes trail to Russia. A bullet or a knife or strangulation is much simpler and direct.
    It take months to arrange such an operation and it is curious how the Propaganda machine swung into operation so smoothly and quickly. Time is of the essence here, because the Jihadist Resistance is collapsing prematurely in East Ghouta and the window of opportunity for a false flag chemical attack ,to be blamed on Russia and Assad is expiring. The attack to be used as a pretext for a Western invasion of Syria, a last throw of the dice.
    Israel pulls a lot of strings in this regard and US policy in the Middle East is dictated by Israel. Teresa May ,the Tory Govt and some idiot Labour MP’S have debased themselves in this affair and made the British Parliament a laughing stock, with impotent threats against Russia.
    THe procedures of the OPCW have not been followed to resolve such disputes. Which tells me Teresa has been railroaded.

    Applying the old Roman legal logic method of Cui Bono.(who benefits) we come to a few conclusions.
    What has Russia gained ?.
    Answer = nothing ,except demonization and hysterical Russophobia in an orchestrated campaign by the compliant UK media.

    What has Britain gained to a story without proof or motive and tightly controlled news from the scene ?.
    Answer- There are several scenarios
    1. The obvious demonization and undermining of the Russia State by more sanctions.
    2. Distraction from the visit of the Crown Prince of Saudia Arabia on a multi billion arms buying spree, to be used against the people of Yemen.
    3. Distraction from the ongoing attendance of Bill Browder of the Vulture Fund Hermitage Capital. at a Commons select Committee hearing and the promotion of a British Magnitsky Act, to disrupt Russian business in Britain.
    4. To disrupt the World Cup tournament in Russia and destroy goodwill generated by this tournament.
    5. Most likely, to prepare the British people for a ‘false flag’ chemical attack operation in Syria ,to be blamed on Syria and Russia. This is the excuse for a full USA/NATO/Israel invasion of Syria.
    Nikki Haley has already intimated this invasion, in a speech at the UN.
    On March 12, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley actually threatened that the US will strike Syrian government forces if they don’t halt their operation against terrorists in Eastern Ghouta.
    The last remnants of the Jihadis are holding out in East Ghouta and will be demolished in a matter of days. The West has run out of time and requires an excuse to invade, they are desperate. This invasion, should it take place, may kick off WW3.

    6. The remaining possibility for the attack on Skripal, is his connection to the vanished ex- Mi6 operative and compiler of the Trump Dirty Dossier Christopher Steele and his Company Orbis.

    • Mochyn69

      All of that plus a very fortuitous diversion and distraction from the brexshit caper which appeared to be reaching a stage at fever pitch where the supervening impossiblity of implementing the ludicrous policy of the Theresa May clique in shattering our precious union was becoming very apparent.


    • Dennis Revell


      Good on yer, Salford lad … though of course I hope you’re wrong about some of the possible consequences.

      I am however, getting to the stage that I think the risk of nuclear war is worth it to stop the US’s endless Mass-Murdering, serial War-Criminal, brutal jackbooting, over way too much of this planet. I can see no other possibility of stopping or at least abating their brutality than CALLING THEIR BLUFF – which means their jets and missiles, along with those of their poodles, primarily the UK, as well as those of Israel start falling from the skies in significant numbers as useless pieces of flaming junk – hit by Russia’s apparently very effective S-300s and S-400 air defence systems. I’m of the opinion that it’s a shame that Russia didn’t tell Trump, when he forwarned Russia, that the US ships launching the cruise missile attack on the Syrian airbase would be attacked with Sunfire/Sunburn anti-ship missiles and SUNK if that attack went ahead.

      … Tyldesley lad … 😉 ….


    • kashmiri

      OK, sounds convincing. But how the current urgent need of an attack in Syria goes along with the “months” it would have taken to arrange the poisoning in the UK? Are you sure this was exactly pre-planned months ago and now executed without a glitch? To me it’s a tad far-reaching, although I don’t have an alternative explanation.

    • What's going on?

      Can Trump block NATO action in Syria? If he can and does, that would help the case of those saying that we need defence cooperation with other EU members. Just saying…

  • Hieroglyph

    Ha Ha, May ‘preparing Moscow crackdown’, according to The Guardian. On exactly *none* of The Guardian’s Russia articles are the mere populace allowed to comment. Presumably because they know fine well most people will just ridicule May, and by extension The Guardian itself.

    My really is a pathetic worm isn’t she? As are her entire cabinet. Corbyn appears to be the only senior figure in parliament who isn’t batshit crazy. Putin will have noticed this, too, as he giggles over a few vodka’s.

  • Koen

    What ever Putin does!
    America killed more People then Hitler did in WWII!
    Now they want Us to believe in a second cold war and try that we spend more money on the army industry in Europe and America!
    Sick moron profiteers!

  • Yitzhak

    [Mod: Comments are deleted if they do not follow posting rules, which include the following: “Play the ball, not the man. Address arguments, not people. Do not impugn the motives of others, including Craig. No taunting.” If a comment is deleted, subsequent replies to it are no longer visible to contributors.]

    LOL … attaboy, Craig! You show us your commitment to free speech by deleting every comment of mine. PMSL..

  • Danny

    It’s called a signature killing, there’s no deeper mystery. It’s not even much of a conspiracy, just a state sponsored hit.

    I appreciate Craig Murray is a skilled contrarian, but he’s missed an opportunity here to point out the links between the oligarchs and the Tory party that is currently mismanaging this and humiliating Britain.

    I’m not a regular reader so I don’t understand why there is no mention here of ‘he who cannot be named’, Alish-manov. Is it not relevant that Britain sells residency to the super wealthy regardless of their morality or decency?

  • David Lingard

    An interesting article particularly as it reminds us of the fiasco surrounding the WMD’s and Iraq. Let’s not make the same mistake again, after all, it won’t be the politicians who end up shot and maimed for some dreamt up cause.

  • Alice Fytton

    Voice of intelligence and reason. Thank you. It also looks to me as if the operation was botched and the whole affair should have been more like the polonium poisoning. Surely sloppy work to involve the daughter and to have the scene at the restaurant.

  • Kolin Thumbadoo

    While Britain is ratcheting up the rhetoric on “Cold War” Russophobia it appears that it is also warming to the idea of Russian gas. Has Britain lost all sense of its national interest? I rather think that this is symptomatic of a diminishing significance as an internationally recognised player seeking to maintain a relevance by holding onto the ragged coat tails of a diminishing superpower (US) which is withdrawing its influence in recognition of a multipolar axis of power .

  • Dennis Revell

    You say:

    “I believe the Russian occupation of Crimea and parts of Georgia is illegal. ”


    Crimea had a plebiscite and voted to stay with Russia. Georgia I’m not too sure about – but If Sashkaville still has anything to do with it, it seems extremely likely that Russia is doing the RIGHT thing. In any case in the context of the current state of the World, what on Earth does ‘illegal’ mean. It’s rhetorical: The UN ignores international law – made in it’s OWN meetings – concerning nations threatening other nations, when the former are the US or other Western nations OR Israel, whilst jumping all over nations not favoured by the ‘West”, as also does the ICC. Both outfits have become nothing other then useless tools of Western policy and aggression.

    MOREOVER Crimea is a HISTORICAL part of Russia – the fact is that is was assigned to Ukraine in the 1950s for purely administrative reasons – without ANY thought then that NAZIs in Ukraine would once again be baying at the doors of Russia. In any case, expecting Russia to relinquish the Crimea to the new NAZIs is naieve in the extreme.

    If Russia had any balls, as soon as their DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED ally Yanukovych was ILLEGALLY deposed by Western intrigue AND before his term had ended, they would have rolled their tanks all over Ukraine, in what would have been a REAL defence of democracy; unlike ALL the ceaseless War-Mongering serial War-Criminal Jackbooting Mass-Murdering interventions of the United States of World Horror and their poodles – primarily the UK.


    • kashmiri

      Popularity is not the same as legality. If people of Britain voted to attack France, would that make an attack legal? I am not even touching the subject of what “voting” traditionally means in Russia.

  • Paul Carline

    Generally excellent review as one expects from Craig Murray. However, I disagree strongly with his view that Russia “occupied” Crimea. Russia certainly facilitated the legitimate referendum in which some 97% of the voters chose to secede to Russia i.e. to rejoin the Russian world from which they had been separated in a democratically illegitimate way in 1954: they were not asked if they wanted to be attached to Ukraine when Kruschchev decided, apparently single-handedly and for opportunistic financial and political reasons, to ‘gift’ Crimea to Ukraine. The Crimeans are 98% ethnic Russians and had watched with justified alarm the developments in Ukraine after the illegal coup financed by the US and certainly supported by the UK and EU. Russia also had a contractual military presence in Crimea and its lease on its Black Sea port had not expired.
    Of course there were – very compelling – strategic reasons for Russia not to want a western-oriented Ukraine to control Crimea. But Russia did not ‘occupy’ or illegally ‘annex’ Crimea.

    • Martinned

      Yes, and in 1939 the people of Hatay province overwhelmingly voted to join Turkey, the year before the Austrians voted by about 200% to join Germany, in 1935 the people of the Saarland voted by 90+% to re-join Germany, etc. Funny that…

      • Squeeth

        55% of the voters in North Britain voted to stay recently and a small majority of the British people voted to leave Greater Germany; the vast majority of the Palestinians elected the Hamas party in occupied Palestine; Hitler was never elected to anything; so what?

  • Enochered

    You failed to explain why all the Friends of Israel were busily shouting out, in the House of Commons, demanding a severe response to a frivolous claim against Russia. We all know the whole thing is a farce.

    • Sharp Ears

      They will be at it again today when, following PMQs, Theresa makes a statement about the next move in her silly game.

      She will be hoist by her own petard if she is not careful.

  • Muscleguy

    Scottish Independence has just gained a very dangerous ‘friend’. Whether we want the help or not what happened during the American election (nothing the US hasn’t pulled in other countries) will be deployed during IndyRef2. Separating Scotland from the UK will be a nice revenge for Kind Uncle Vlad.

    The trick will be how we respond IF/when this ‘interference’ is discovered. I hope the Russians are very good, very good indeed.

  • Shrift

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    • LondonBob

      Good article, Berezovsky was a Maxwell like character, I am not sure his full relationship with MI6 and Mossad has been exposed.

  • rwendland

    Craig, you became ambassador in Uzbekistan the year the US DOD finished its project to dismantle the major research and testing site for Novichok at the Chemical Research Institute in Nukus, Uzbekistan. Anything interesting to you can say about that? Part of the source for that is the 19 March 2003 hearing of the Committee on Foreign Relations: “Hon. John S. Wolf, Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation: … DOD completed a project to dismantle the former Soviet CW research facility at Nukus, Uzbekistan in FY 2002.” Also a Judith Miller NYT story of 25 May 1999: “U.S. and Uzbeks Agree on Chemical Arms Plant Cleanup”.

  • TFS

    ‘Russian state did assassinate Litvinenko,’

    Based on what evidence, probability? With Palonium? Yeah Putin he’s a real show boater.

    Crimea. I have no doubt he was conflicted on Crimea. He had a sea port, but he’s really doesn’t have the wealth to take over another country, even one as small as Crimea. Better he step in in Crimea then let the Ukronazis take over Crimea and cause a fully fledged war between Russia and Ukraine.

    These things need to be addressed at an International Criminal Court rather than domestically. A Judiciary, politically motivated is the sign of a Regime.

  • giyane

    Sometimes I test my inner being by asking myself what I would say to a policeman who has just pulled me over.
    If the answer is ” Haven’t you got anything better to do than annoy innocent motorists going about their…” something is stressing my inner being.The 7 years of the UKUSIS War against Syria has been grinding me down for a very long time and the removal of Daesh and Al Qaida is like a long-awaited Spring.
    “Good morning officer, how may I help you , sir?. Am I doing anything wrong please? How is your morning going?
    Well, IMHO the target of Anglo-Saxon malignity is not Russia, but USUKIS desperately need to convince Saudi Arabia and Qatar that the destruction of their planned domination of the Middle East ” by a new wave of US and Saudi sponsored extreme jihadists ” is not welcome to them. It’s a farce that USUKIS and Russia are supposed to be enemies. Their mutual enemy is Islam. USUKIS has manufactured a weird type of Islam never witnessed before, called Islamism, led by the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Salafists , solely as an excuse to destroy the Muslims, their lands and their true religion.

    What I find difficult to understand is how Muslims can still fall for the trickery and bribery of its enemies after 500 years of ruthless and brutal colonialism. Russia is a Christian ally of the West , both equally determined to destroy the true religion of Islam. This weird charade of false-flag poisoning and MPs calling for sanctions would not convince a two-year old. Maybe there are people in this country who are so emotionally deprived that they think Coronation Street and EastEnders is real. But surely nobody who has lived through 30 years of continual destruction of Muslims and their countries thinks that politics is real.

    That would be like the occupants of the soaps speculating whether the real world is real or their stage set is real.. the word ‘ existential ‘ is now used to mean ‘ real ‘ i.e. it exists. But I always understood existentialism to mean that life as seen in terms of human experience, and the human experience of 30 years of war has been intense suffering. Our lives are banal, and the soaps actors lives are intense. Therefore soaps are more real than life. At the moment the Judaeo=Christian West seems to think that our MSM-manufactured propaganda and lies are more real than that Muslim suffering. We live in a sad world of Zollywood fiction.

  • dunwich

    First smear/blame the victim: Skripal is no Litvinenko (implying he was an arsehole, who got not much more than he deserved).

    Then suggest – the Elephant in the Room – it was the UK government what done it. The proximity to Porton Down the supposed (and only) evidence for this.

    Then blame the Clinton camp and an organisation that produced a dossier on Trump: they may have wanted to bump off an unreliable source (and can of course be assumed to have access to Novochok).

    Finally blame the Israelis.

    Sorry this is poor.

      • dunwich

        Poor was the conclusion. The previous four paragraphs explained why.

        Craig seems willing blame almost anyone, however preposterous it may be, as long as its not the Russians.

        It’s good to be sceptical about media messages. But why then be so utterly credulous and to accept this kind of thing.

  • N_

    A woman called Kayleigh McConnon who is believed to suffer from a contagious condition is reported to have disappeared last night from a hospital in Cheltenham, the town that houses the headquarters of GCHQ.

    Reports have not identified the illness she suffers from.

    • N_

      She has now been reported found. The BBCKingdom state TV reports:

      A spokesman for (Gloucestershire Police) said she returned to hospital and officers had spoken to ‘those she had been in contact with’ and offered advice.

      So it doesn’t seem to be bubonic plague or anthrax then.

      Have hospitals been put on a war footing?

  • Alex

    Good piece Craig, thank you.

    What I’m wondering about this is, if the Russians really wanted to kill Skripal (and his daughter?!) wouldn’t he be dead? Granted, they could have botched it considering all the fuck-ups and disasters intelligence services have produced over the years, but still.

    Also, aren’t there better ways for skilled assassins to kill someone or were they, whoever they may be, trying to be dramatic?

  • mark golding

    The actual history of Novichok shows that out of the countries discussed here, Russia is the only state to have been certified by the OPCW as having destroyed its chemical weapons programme, including its nerve agent capabilities. The OPCW found no evidence to indicate that Russia retains an active Novichok capability. The same is not the case for the US, Britain and Israel.

    There is no legitimate reason for the British authorities to rule out that any of these states could have at the very least ‘lost control’ of their nerve agent stockpiles. The fact that the government chose, instead, to shut down all avenues of inquiry other than to claim falsely that the “only possibility” is for all roads to lead to Russia, demonstrates that we are almost certainly in the midst of a concerted state propaganda operation.

    Extract from Insurge Intelligence – My thanks to investigative journalist, Nafeez Ahmed

      • joel

        Yes, pardon him for his crimes and release him from prison after he’s served a fraction of his sentence.

        Then, change your mind and get so mad at him that you have him murdered with nerve agent in plain sight on the soil of one of your prime antagonists and tormentors .. on the eve of your re-election and just before hosting the world cup.

        Sounds extremely likely.

        • Martinned

          Because the Kremlin is run by extremely rational people who never change their minds? (Either individually or as a group…?)

          Also, the elections are a good explanation if anything. Putin needs high turnout in order to make his rigged election seem at least vaguely civilised. Whipping up some international conflict benefits him because it allows him to drive up turnout.

          • J Galt

            For Russia to have rescued itself from the virtual slavery and occupation of the 1990s and be in the position of strength it now finds itself in, the Kremlin must indeed be run by extremely, indeed, almost supernaturally rational people.

            Very unlike the collection of clowns that passes for the Government of the UK.

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