Knobs and Knockers 1316


What is left of the government’s definitive identification of Russia as the culprit in the Salisbury attack? It is a simple truth that Russia is not the only state that could have made the nerve agent: dozens of them could. It could also have been made by many non-state actors.

Motorola sales agent Gary Aitkenhead – inexplicably since January, Chief Executive of Porton Down chemical weapons establishment – said in his Sky interview that “probably” only a state actor could create the nerve agent. That is to admit the possibility that a non state actor could. David Collum, Professor of Organo-Chemistry at Cornell University, infinitely more qualified than a Motorola salesman, has stated that his senior students could do it. Professor Collum tweeted me this morning.

The key point in his tweet is, of course “if asked”. The state and corporate media has not asked Prof. Collum nor any of the Professors of Organic Chemistry in the UK. There simply is no basic investigative journalism happening around this case.

So given that the weapon itself is not firm evidence it was Russia that did it, what is Boris Johnson’s evidence? It turns out that the British government’s evidence is no more than the technique of smearing nerve agent on the door handle. All of the UK media have been briefed by “security sources” that the UK has a copy of a secret Russian assassin training manual detailing how to put nerve agent on door handles, and that given the nerve agent was found on the Skripals door handle, this is the clinching evidence which convinced NATO allies of Russia’s guilt.

As the Daily Mirror reported in direct quotes of the “security source”

“It amounts to Russia’s tradecraft manual on applying poison to door handles. It’s the smoking gun. It is strong proof that in the last ten years Russia has researched methods to apply poisons, including by using door handles. The significant detail is that these were the facts that helped persuade allies it could only be Russia that did this.”

Precisely the same government briefing is published by the Daily Mail in a bigger splash here, and reflected in numerous other mainstream propaganda outlets.

Two questions arise. How credible is the British government’s possession of a Russian secret training manual for using novichok agents, and how credible is it that the Skripals were poisoned by their doorknob.

To take the second question first, I see major problems with the notion that the Skripals were poisoned by their doorknob.

The first is this. After what Dame Sally Davis, Chief Medical officer for England, called “rigorous scientific analysis” of the substance used on the Skripals, the government advised those who may have been in contact to wash their clothes and wipe surfaces with warm water and wet wipes. Suspect locations were hosed down by the fire brigade.

But if the substance was in a form that could be washed away, why was it placed on an external door knob? It was in point of fact raining heavily in Salisbury that day, and indeed had been for some time.

Can somebody explain to me the scenario in which two people both touch the exterior door handle in exiting and closing the door? And if it transferred from one to the other, why did it not also transfer to the doctor who gave extensive aid that brought her in close bodily contact, including with fluids?

The second problem is that the Novichok family of nerve agents are instant acting. There is no such thing as a delayed reaction nerve agent. Remember we have been specifically told by Theresa May that this nerve agent is up to ten times more powerful than VX, the Porton Down developed nerve agent that killed Kim’s brother in 15 minutes.

But if it was on the doorknob, the last contact they could possibly have had with the nerve agent was a full three hours before it took effect. Not only that, they were well enough to drive, to walk around a shopping centre, visit a pub, and then – and this is the truly unbelievable bit – their central nervous systems felt in such good fettle, and their digestive systems so in balance, they were able to sit down and eat a full restaurant meal. Only after all that were they – both at precisely the same time despite their substantially different weights – suddenly struck down by the nerve agent, which went from no effects at all, to deadly, on an alarm clock basis.

This narrative simply is not remotely credible. Nerve agents – above all “military grade nerve agents” – were designed as battlefield weapons. They do not leave opponents fighting fit for hours. There is no description in the scientific literature of a nerve agent having this extraordinary time bomb effect. Here another genuine Professor describes their fast action in Scientific American:

Unlike traditional poisons, nerve agents don’t need to be added to food and drink to be effective. They are quite volatile, colourless liquids (except VX, said to resemble engine oil). The concentration in the vapour at room temperature is lethal. The symptoms of poisoning come on quickly, and include chest tightening, difficulty in breathing, and very likely asphyxiation. Associated symptoms include vomiting and massive incontinence. Victims of the Tokyo subway attack were reported to be bringing up blood. Kim Jong-nam died in less than 20 minutes. Eventually, you die either through asphyxiation or cardiac arrest.

If the nerve agent was on the door handle and they touched it, the onset of these symptoms would have occurred before they reached the car. They would certainly have not felt like sitting down to a good lunch two hours later. And they would have been dead three weeks ago. We all pray that Sergei also recovers.

The second part of the extraordinarily happy coincidence of the nerve agent being on the door handle, and the British government having a Russian manual on applying nerve agent to door handles, is whether the manual is real. It strikes me this is improbable – it rings far too much of the kind of intel they had on Iraqi WMD. It also allegedly dates from the last ten years, so Putin’s Russia, not the period of chaos, and the FSB is a pretty tight organisation in this period. MI6 penetration is just not that good.

A key question is of course how long the UK has had this manual, and what was its provenance. Another key question is why Britain failed to produce it to the OPCW – and indeed why it does not publish it now, with any identifying marks of the particular copy excluded, given it has widely publicised its existence and possession of it. If Boris Johnson wants to be believed by us, publish the Russian manual.

We also have to consider whether the FSB really publishes its secret assassination techniques in a manual. I attended, as other senior FCO staff, a number of MI6 training courses. One on explosives handling was at Fort Monckton, not too far from Salisbury. One in a very nondescript London office block was on bugging techniques. I recall seeing rigs set up to drill minute holes in walls, turning very slowly indeed. Many hours to get through the wall but almost no noise or vibration. It was where I learnt the government can listen to you through activating the microphone in your mobile phone, even when your phone is switched off. I recall javelin like directional microphones suspended from ceilings to point at distant targets, and a listening device that worked through a beam of infra-red light, but the target could foil by closing the curtains.

The point is that there were of course no manuals for this stuff, no manuals for any other secret MI6 techniques, and these things are not lightly written down.

I would add to this explanation that I lost all faith in the police investigation when it was taken out of the hands of the local police force and given to the highly politicised Metropolitan Police anti-terror squad. I suspect the explanation of the remarkably convenient (but physically impossible) evidence of the door handle method that precisely fits the “Russian manual” may lie there.

These are some of the problems I have with the official account of events. Boris lied about the certainty of the provenance of the nerve agent, and his fall back evidence is at present highly unconvincing. None of which proves it was not the Russian state that was responsible. But there is no convincing proof that it was, and there are several other possibilities. Eventually the glaring problems with the official narrative might be resolved, but what is plain is that Johnson and May have been premature and grossly irresponsible.

I shall post this evening on Johnson’s final claim, that only the Russians had motive.

Update: I have just listened to the released alleged phone conversation between Yulia Skripal in Salisbury Hospital and her cousin Viktoria, which deepens the mystery further. I should say that in Russian the conversation sounds perfectly natural to me. My concern is after the 30 seconds mark where Viktoria tells Yulia she is applying for a British visa to come and see Yulia.

Yulia replies “nobody will give you a visa”. Viktoria then tells Yulia that if she is asked if she wants Viktoria to visit, she should say yes. Yulia’s reply to this is along the lines of “that will not happen in this situation”, meaning she would not be allowed by the British to see Viktoria. I apologise my Russian is very rusty for a Kremlinbot, and someone might give a better translation, but this key response from Yulia is missing from all the transcripts I have seen.

What is there about Yulia’s situation that makes her feel a meeting between her and her cousin will be prevented by the British government? And why would Yulia believe the British government will not give her cousin a visa in the circumstance of these extreme family illnesses?


1,316 thoughts on “Knobs and Knockers

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  • Sebastian

    So Dr Stephen Davies has by now been pushed right down the memory hole by talk of Weapons of Mass Distraction. He clearly stated “no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury”, and was in a position to know that. ( ie maybe by failure to respond to the palliative to those effects, atropine, provided to soldiers facing the threat on the battlefield).
    I’m sure his lips have been securely sutured, and suspect he may be being heavily sedated for his own comfort, or reasons of national security, or at least the security of BJ and TM, and this pythonesque story line. (Possibly a predicament the Skipals are not unfamiliar with)
    North Korea can use nerve agents for political assassination, but its beyond the Russians, even with ten years to work on it ?

    • N_

      I don’t understand the relevance of your last sentence.? Many states can use nerve agents for assassination. I would have thought they include Russia.

      The only state known to have used a nerve agent in an attempted assassination is I__el.
      North Korea may well have used it too, but they deny it. I__el admitted it and handed over the antidote.

      • James lake

        The OPCW certified Russia had given the up its chemical weapons.

        Chemical weapons site in the 90s in Uzbekistan as part of the USSR decontaminated by the USA

        • N_

          The last site where Russian CWs were destroyed was at Kizner in Udmurtia last year. In the real world, some assassination weapons at least will be kept and something like lewisite if ever needed will be easy to manufacture anyway in large quantities. For the record, I don’t think the Russian government attacked anyone using a nerve agent in Salisbury.

      • Jiusito

        Are you that Mossad used a nerve agent on Khaled Meshaal? Al-Jazeera reported that it was “an opiate-like drug … a drug similar to morphine” and it was supposed to kill him discreetly within 48 hours. https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeeraworld/2013/01/201312210472621589.html

        I interviewed Meshaal in 2008 and, as I left, remarked on how healthy and young he looked – he is several years older than me. He laughed and said: “I can recommend an assassination attempt by Mossad – it rejuvenates you!”

        Incidentally, al-Jazeera reported that the six Mossad agents flew to Amman “from Amsterdam, Toronto and Paris” using fake Canadian passports. I bet they didn’t fly El-Al, either. Cunning, huh?

          • N_

            Thank for this. On the use of a nerve agent I was going by reports such as this and other writings such as the book Terrorism Versus Democracy by Paul Wilkinson (p.69). But according to Paul McGeough in his book Kill Khalid it was “a modified version of fentanyl”. Any idea what line is taken by the PLO, Hamas, and Jordan, regarding the substance used?

      • Patrick Roden

        Are you sure that this was a ‘nerve-agent’ ?
        What about Yasser Arafat ?

      • Sebastian

        Last sentence: Kim’s half brother died at an airport. Widely assumed to be the work of NK.(They used an nerve agent developed in the UK, but curiously no one tried to use that as absolutely conclusive proof of UK culpability….)

        Last time I looked, the official story line in this case was this was a botched attempt by the Russians to do something similar. Which BJ said he knew they’d been working on for ten years. Implying some incompetence on their part. Possibly ” /s” might have been used in some versions of english. But I leave the attribution of both sarcasm, and incompetence, to the reader.

    • Emily

      Is Doctor Davies in his job and working in the hospital?
      Or can we expect him to go picking bluebells – in a wood under a tree – with a damaged wrist – impossible but alleged suicide.?

  • thomas michael orr

    Onset of toxicity will be slower when only absorbed through skin, however, as hand/finger to nose contact is most likely some would also be inhaled. It’s down to dose.

    • N_

      Here we go.

      ********************************
      A US link has been found in the Skripal case. Before she left for London, Yulia Skripal worked in the US embassy. The daughter of the ex-colonel worked from 2007 to 2008 in the Visa section. In “Direct Star” she was a curator at the Info Centre at the US embassy.

      Later she worked at another US company – Pepsico. She recently bought a flat from a top manager at Cisco, Dimitry Vinokur. Cisco is the world’s biggest company from the USA. After the sale, Vinokur for some time longer was registered in her flat. Now he is the head of the US holding Extreme Networks. According to friends and acquaintances, Vinokur is a US citizen.

      Investigators are verifying the American links of Sergei Skripal’s daughter. Earlier SK (N_ note: this is Sledkom, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Russia’s anti-corruption agency) opened a case on assassination attempts against Russian citizens
      ********************************

  • zoot

    bully-beef bozza brazens out ballsed-up brit botch job.

    betcha beeb backs bozza bigly, belching: “back brit bull, bozos!!”

  • Abulhaq

    And in the midst of this not very Great Game what does the spearhead of Scottish Nationalism aka SNP have to say? We’ll just keep on quietly and respectably minding the Scottish branch of the store for Westminster?

    • Patrick Roden

      Oh I think the SNPs needs to answer for this!!! SNP BAAAAD!!!

      There’s stupid, AND there’s really stupid111

      • Abulhaq

        The SNP is not ‘bad’, simply rather ineffectual at exploiting situations such as this to its advantage. It is a rather ‘conservative’, temperamentally ‘British’ outfit. A major weakness when dealing with the ‘system’.

  • Billy Bostickson

    The boyfriend has now been identified and is being interrogated as we speak:

    In Russia, the civil husband Julia Skripal, who escaped from the joint apartment

    The Investigative Committee is going to interrogate the civil husband of Yulia Skripal

    Stepan Vikeev (Степа Викеев)

    This is reported by the telegram channel Mash.

    It is specified that Stepan Vikeev and Julia Skripal have lived together in Moscow for the last two years.

    According to the resource, Vikeev – a Muscovite, a graduate of the Faculty of Sociology of Moscow State University, wrote his thesis on the development of the market. He met Julia about two years ago. Soon the couple began to live together in an apartment on Davydkovskaya Street, which was purchased by Julia Skripal.

    After what happened with the esque Grushnik Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia, Stepan moved out of this apartment and did not appear there again. He also did not fly to London.

    https://strana.ua/news/134225-sledkom-rossii-nameren-doprosit-hrazhdanskoho-muzha-otravlennoj-julii-skripal.html

    https://web.telegram.org/#/[email protected]

    He is also a poet, as reported by lev Sparensky from mk.ru:

    Stepan Vikeev (Степа Викеев)

    The beaten lamentations of a pseudo-poet with high conceit.

    https://stihi.ru/avtor/vikingx

  • tom moody

    Interesting points Craig. Although I am not an organic chemist I used to be a Nurse. Several of the points you made have puzzled me (the time lag, and crude delivery method). I have raised them on social media (Facebook) only to have my posting “disappear” within minutes. It is also incredible that the KGB are supposed to have “weaponised” novachok for assassination, putting it in bullets or pellets – then apparently smear it on a doorknob! Not, I would say, the mark of professional assassins. There is also the mystery of the Police sergeant who, It was reported, was contaminated at the Skripals home – yet it took nearly 10 days to isolate the scene. Maybe the site wasn’t public enough to display suited figures, and the whole decontamination circus. If not this, then it was a monumental blunder on the part of investigators.

    • IM

      “It is also incredible that the KGB are supposed to have “weaponised” novachok for assassination, putting it in bullets or pellets”

      You’re entirely correct to think it’s incredible, but for a very different reason: if you coat a bullet in anything, the pressure wave in the discharge chamber and the hot gas from the explosion would just strip/scorch whatever coating (I think mythbusters did an episode with “ice bullets” or something like that), on top of that, the friction from the bullet travelling through the air would’ve stripped whatever was left from after the aftermath of the firing of the said bullet 😉

      • IM

        2/ Incidentally, the barrel of any gun is specifically designed to score the bullet as it leaves the gun so as to put a spin on the bullet so that the latter actually travels in a straight line and not tumbles all over the place at a high speed. So this scoring would also result in not only stripping extra coating but also additional heat (from metal-on-metal friction at a high speed) that would change the chemistry of whatever coating and most likely make that coating more volatile.

      • Kiza

        Since when does “in bullets and pallets” that Tom wrote mean “on bullets and pallets”. Your comment reads like the bull of the type developed by UK.

        • IM

          Have you ever tried putting anything “into” a bullet? If you put something into a bullet you have to seal it to prevent that from leaking out, right? What are you going to seal it with, liquid metal to make a hermetic seal? What’s the liquid metal going to do to the stuff you put into it? “ON” was more ridiculous, “in” is risible.

          • Andy Norbury

            “risible”? I think not. Try googling incendiary and exploding bullets.

          • IM

            @Andy Norbury,
            I think you’re confusing “incendiary” and “exploding” with “chemical loaded”. First you need to make sure that (a) the chemical doesn’t get destroyed and (b) the dose of the chemical is correct for the body mass. So, try again.

        • IM

          2/ On top of that, any gas/liquid inside the tampered bullet would most likely expand and deform the bullet when that gets heated up by the exposition of the discharge/friction of the barrel.

          • IM

            @Andy Norbury,
            did you actually bother to read that wiki page all the way to the end? The end bit said it actually deteriorated the penetrative quality of the bullet! Since you patently did NOT, let me quote it for you:

            However, as Kopsch pointed out in a 1990 interview; “adding a Teflon coating to the round added 20% penetration power on metal and glass. Critics kept complaining about Teflon’s ability to penetrate body armor… In fact, Teflon cut down on the round’s ability to cut through the nylon or Kevlar of body armor.”[2]

            2. http://www.guncite.com/ktwint.html

          • IM

            @Andy Norbury,
            2/ on top of that, PFTE is specifically designed for, among other things, RESISTANCE to heat, whereas toxins are NOT!

      • bj

        Whenever you post, wherever, always create a quick screenshot (on Windows: Windows-key+PrtScr).

  • Christopher Halkides

    I am a bio-organic chemist with an interest in the chemistry of organophosphorus compounds, but I am not an expert in this exact field. The structures that I have seen do not look difficult to make. Speculation: If they are “binary,” then this might make them more difficult to make. By binary, I mean that mixing two non-toxic compounds produces the active nerve agent.

  • Walter Cairns

    At the UN Security Council meeting called to discuss the Skripal affair, the British representative described this incident as an attack with a “weapon of mass destruction”. No, please resist the temptation to reach for the ribcage repair unit. Given that the same cock-and-bull story was advanced in order to justify the illegal war against Iraq. This is the clearest indication that Britain, the US and the craven EU that supports them all want war with Russia – which will inevitably lead to a thermonuclear exchange. Goodbye Mother Earth, it was nice knowing you.

    • Kiza

      Whether Israel, US and UK want war is less relevant then what conditions they are creating. By reciprocal expulsion of diplomats they have given up on regime change in Russia, since the remaining Western and EU spies in Russia could not change the regime of a Russian village let alone of the Russian Federation. In addition, if diplomats do not talk then guns do.

      Whichever way one looks at this it makes little sense. Russia is not a low-hanging fruit as the already disarmed Iraq was. I do not understand the end-game of this, except as a dumb spoiler revenge for the loss of Syria by a declining mob. The same mobsters who could not agree on who was going to pay and bleed for putting troops into Syria to finish the job that their terrorists could not, are now setting up an attack on a much bigger pray such are Iran and Russia!? What hallucinogens are these mugs on? As you say, this all increases the risks enormously for no imaginable gain. It truly looks like a senseless, self-righteous tantrum by a group of losers.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    I have been convinced for several years, that some (not all) Terrorist attacks are faked, or partially faked. I reached this conclusion, by examining the original uncensored photographic evidence (when I could find it), and all other relevent circumstances, including motivations and other likely related geopolitical events. Many other people, went to far greater lengths than, and researched the events in very great detail, sometimes taking several weeks. Some of these people have since died, or otherwise been silenced and / or arrested. It would seem that analysing terrorist events in great detail, is a rather dangerous thing to do, even though a tiny percentage of the population ever read such analyses, and the vast majority of people believe what they are told by authority. With this event, this position may now be changing, with vastly more people (even Sun readers), thinking that the media and / or government are making it up.

    On the day, I became aware of this, the afternoon following the event, I immediately thought the entire event had been pre-prepared and faked, because it bore all the hallmarks of other events, I was convinced had been faked – eg – the story didn’t make sense – at the time the media said it was Fentanyl poisoning, yet the press photographers were already there taking high quality photos on the evening of the event of people in Hazmat suits. At the time all was known was that two people had been ill on a town bench and thrown up. That happens very regularly, simply because people get drunk, or take drugs. How come all the press photographers, and the Hazmat suits, were already there, the same evening of the event, unless they had pre-knowledge that it was going to take place, and had to be photographed and documented in great detail.

    The entire thing reeked of propaganda the moment it started. It still reeks of propaganda, has been blown out of all proportion, to what I could possibly imagine, and now stinks even more.

    Two people “becoming ill” has been blown up into a World Wide propaganda event, threatening nuclear war.

    This time, the entire thing looks likely to backfire on the culprits.

    It at best, has made the UK Government look completely ridiculous, such that the Russian Government are reading excerpts of Alice in Wonderland at them in World meetings.

    It is all very well the UK becoming a laughing stock (its better than a nuclear war), but now English people are going to be mocked and laughed at wherever we go – simply because of our useless government, not having a clue about even how to pull off a propaganda stunt properly, let alone anything else. At least we will probably now be thrown out of The EU in disgust, and hopefully get a more sensible government.

    Tony

    • Emily

      but now English people are going to be mocked and laughed at wherever we go – simply because of our useless government,

      But they knowingly voted for them.
      They knew full well what Cameron and May were and were about.
      They knew they were two of the biggest political liars ever.
      Pro EU, pro islam….
      So the the English have a lot to answer for…..
      Own goal.

    • Mochyn69

      Well said, Tony.

      The British media especially the BBC are utterly useless and deflecting in relation to this incident like I have never seen them before.

      There is barely a single questioning voice raised by any of them. Seems like they’re circling the wagons!

      .

    • Nothern Tribesman

      “but now English people are going to be mocked and laughed at wherever we go –”

      This is not a new phenomenon. It happens a lot – mainly because of a ridiculous superiority complex and delusions of world power that the English inexplicably posses

      But Bojo, Maybot and the Reese-Mogathing are certainly fuelling international hilarity.

      Glad you said “English” there – we Scots want none of it!

  • Mikael Kall

    It was nice to hear that Yulia Skripal’s voice sounds very well. But why the conservation did take only one minut, before somebody cut it? Why she can’t already speak with her own phone? Why she can’t met the press and told her story? It is because it would be too different to the british goverment?

    • Agent Green

      Presumably she is free to leave at any time.

      But are they detaining her and if so why?

  • Loftwork

    The government story is unravelling faster than a length of cheap polyester rope. I’m waiting for CM to comment (dryly, no doubt) on Hamish de B-G’s recent application of polyfilla to the three-hour problem. It must be, he says, that the agent was a specialist variety developed for assassinations. This would require belief that it was a novichok ‘of a type we previously did not know about’. So we know what it is, unless we don’t, in which case we still do, enough to know that it was “developed in Russia”. That expression has passed its best by date since the existence of a soviet CW programme designing 3rd gen agents has been no secret for decades. It matters little if the precise Mirzayanov chemical formula is accurate or not, novichoks started with VX-R and Foliant wanted to improve them. They aren’t very complex as AChEI goes, either as insecticides or pharma. So Soviet design effort but any decent lab can make them. The question is who provided the agent and used it, not where it was developed.

    If May’s FCO would stop lying like a rug for a moment we might even be inclined to believe it was a ‘Russian’ hit. The underlying theory is plausible – novichoks and other CW was apparently not hard to obtain back in the pre-Putin period. Lab boss Leonid Rink was prosecuted for flogging it to the Chechens. The Russian mob (whether FSB or organised crime) takes a dim view of whistleblowers and poisoning is common internally and internationally:
    Viktor Yushenko – dioxin
    Alexander Perepilichny – gelsemium
    Vladimir Kara-Murza – unknown, twice
    Ivan K. Kivelidi – cadmium salts
    Alexander Litvinenko – polonium
    etc.
    So ‘Russia’ has form but difficult to track back to a prime mover, especialy when the borders between state and oligarchs, FSB and mob, are tenuous. And Skripal seems to have been on the edge of the Cambridge Analytica/SCL mess, involved with Christopher Steele and indirectly Robert Mercer, so significant reason to be a health hazard according to his acquaintances.

    With all this going for May and Johnson, why build a castle of improbabilities if the only reason is to generate enough hysteria to allow May to appear “strong and stable”? Once again, she looks increasingly weak and incompetent. The truth would have stood her much better than this reheated farrago.
    , that Skripal snr. was active and poked his nose into something which the Russian mob, possibly

    • IM

      And how many of those cases have had their evidence aired and tested in an open court vs how many of them have been classified away from scrutiny? Incidentally, the “prime suspects” in Litvinenko case were interviewed in Moscow inside the British Embassy, given that nobody was ever indicted, what do you think the investigators’/CPS’ conclusion was?

      You need to look up Yushenko “dioxin” story too, so far as I recall, that’s been shown to be BS too…

  • Loftwork

    The government story is unravelling faster than a length of cheap polyester rope. I’m waiting for CM to comment (dryly, no doubt) on Hamish de B-G’s recent application of polyfilla to the three-hour problem. It must be, he says, that the agent was a specialist variety developed for assassinations. This would require belief that it was a novichok ‘of a type we previously did not know about’. So we know what it is, unless we don’t, in which case we still do, enough to know that it was “developed in Russia”. That expression has passed its best by date since the existence of a soviet CW programme designing 3rd gen agents has been no secret for decades. It matters little if the precise Mirzayanov chemical formula is accurate or not, novichoks started with VX-R and Foliant wanted to improve them. They aren’t very complex as AChEI goes, either as insecticides or pharma. So Soviet design effort but any decent lab can make them. The question is who provided the agent and used it, not where it was developed.

    If May’s FCO would stop lying like a rug for a moment we might even be inclined to believe it was a ‘Russian’ hit. The underlying theory is plausible – novichoks and other CW was apparently not hard to obtain back in the pre-Putin period. Lab boss Leonid Rink was prosecuted for flogging it to the Chechens. The Russian mob (whether FSB or organised crime) takes a dim view of whistleblowers and poisoning is common internally and internationally:
    Viktor Yushenko – dioxin
    Alexander Perepilichny – gelsemium
    Vladimir Kara-Murza – unknown, twice
    Ivan K. Kivelidi – cadmium salts
    Alexander Litvinenko – polonium
    etc.
    So ‘Russia’ has form but difficult to track back to a prime mover, especialy when the borders between state and oligarchs, FSB and mob, are tenuous. And Skripal seems to have been on the edge of the Cambridge Analytica/SCL mess, involved with Christopher Steele and indirectly Robert Mercer, so significant reason to be a health hazard according to his acquaintances.

    With all this going for May and Johnson, why build a castle of improbabilities if the only reason is to generate enough hysteria to allow May to appear “strong and stable”? Once again, she looks increasingly weak and incompetent. The truth would have stood her much better than this reheated farrago.

    • Ivan

      For what it worth I agree with you. The British had an ulterior motive in going as far out as they did. On the other hand what we have by way of factual information, have all come from the West or from intrepid investigators. The official Russian state just sits there like the Walrus in Lewis Carroll’s poem, eating whatever Oysters the British throw at them, with tears streaming down his whiskers.

      • Grace M S-W

        That was very funny – thank you.

        And thank you very much Craig. I have been riveted to your blog over the past few weeks and was a frequent visitor in the past, but have not commented before. I have often felt like the silent one in the corner of the pub while ‘The Republic of Scotland’ and others had well informed natters about Scottish Independence. Informative and enjoyable. Your work on this story/fiasco has been brave and vitally important and what we are witnessing is fascinating and horrifying in equal measure. Watching the blatant manipulation of the media – now so obvious because of internet and because of your constant vigilance – has been a jaw-dropping. Thanks again.

  • Charles

    To start to get a sense of proportion of what has been happening you should ask yourself;

    If the Skripal scandal had not occurred and if two suspected drunks / druggies were witnessed on a bench in Salisbury City Centre this Sunday; would a Detective Sergeant and Air Ambulance be despatched as First Responders?

  • Mark Davies

    I don’t deny that this situation is not fully or properly explained, but the tenet of this article leaves a lot to be desired. The way that the author starts by trying to belittle the career of Gary Aitkenhead says a lot. If you check out Mr Aitkenhead’s career profile, he appears to be a seasoned and experienced person with well established executive management skills. i.e. Just the person to be the executive manager. No-one is claiming that he is a scientist, nor does he need to be. It’s easy to pick and poke about a situation like this, and it is unlikely that the public can be told everything that is going on (including which scientists have been consulted), but the reality is that Russia is acting more-and-more as a threat to democracy and there is every reason to consider them to be a prime suspect.

    • Agent Green

      Actually, people did claim he was a scientist. He was called ‘Chief Scientist’ on several TV shows I watched and in numerous articles.

    • Agent Green

      Actually, I think you’ll find it is the US which is the biggest threat to democracy and the most guilty party when it comes to undermining both international law and international institutions.

    • Dom

      “Russia is acting more-and-more as a threat to democracy”

      Sorry, I don’t understand. In what way has Russia threatened democracy.

    • Ivan

      Yes it is definitely unfair to Mr Aitkenhead. James Webb was the NASA head when the US was putting a man on the moon. He was not a rocket scientist. Leslie Groves the head of the Manhattan Project was not a hotshot in physics, chemistry, mathematics or metallurgy.

    • wendy

      “but the reality is that Russia is acting more-and-more as a threat to democracy and there is every reason to consider them to be a prime suspect.”

      after the last 15 years, i guess you’re trolling.

    • James lake

      I think Craig has got his first troll

      Some people do not like it when the establishment narrative is challenged.

      Threats to democracy happen when the country I live in ignores all the established conventions in pursuit of their agenda. That is what I see – It has nothing to do with Russia.

      The world outside of the narrow western countries also see it – and are not impressed

    • Mary Paul

      I agree with Mark Davies there was no need for Craig to sneer at and belittle Mr Aitkenhead ike that. He is the chief executive of PD not its chief chemist so an administrator not an academic. The skill sets different. and to me he seems well qualified for the admin role.

    • N_

      Your type doesn’t like it up ’em, eh, Mark? Look at all the rhetorical devices you’ve used:

      * litotes (“I don’t deny”);
      * meiosis (“leaves a lot to be desired”);
      * false appeal to authority (why shouldn’t someone criticise a prat like Aitkenhead – well you don’t know, but you know he is “seasoned and experienced” and has “well established executive management skills”).

      Then you follow up with your safe ground of of “public can’t be told”, softened with “it is unlikely”.
      You put hyphens in “more and more”; you repeat the tellywatcher identify-with-Columbo phrase “prime suspect”, and you use the moronic phrase “threat to democracy”. You can still vote for whoever you want to vote for, can’t you?

      In short,

      “Him good manager. Public are bunch of troglodytes.”

      The British state is as corrupt as the Russian state or any other state. The interesting question is what is it that prevents this fact from becoming widely recognised in Britain.

    • nevermind

      which democracy would that be Mr. Davies? the one that deplores and ignores OPCW rules or the one that wants to cooperate and have resluts out in the open, just as the formulas published in the 1990’s?

      You also fail to mention the diametrically opposing discrepancies of public statements. Why is that?

    • Monster

      Career profiles are always massaged for the better. Aitkenhead probably had contacts in the government and they gave him an easy ride into a lucrative do-nothing job, until now. His blustering sweaty tv performance and lack of knowledge about binary toxins has projected him into the knucklehead league, to which Boris Johnson belongs. Aitkenhead now probably regrets leaving his comfortable life selling mobile phones for Motorola.

    • Patrick Roden

      Fair enough comment Mark, but I do think you made at least one glaring error.

      You write: “No-one is claiming that he is a scientist, nor does he need to be”

      Well why is he tasked with answering questions about this ‘nerve-agent’ if he’s not a scientist?
      This would suggest that he was simply following a script given to him and that Sky did not ask any questions that would require scientific knowledge outside of the fore-mentioned ‘script’

      This would have the potential to open an even bigger can of worms than we already have, with Sky news and Gary Aitkenhead, doing a pre-agreed interview where the questions and answers were fed to the interviewer and interviewee (just like CNN did with Hillary Clinton?)
      Now that would really be something!

    • Roger Wise

      I for one, am looking forward to democracy crashing head first into a place nearby soon, in an emphatic manner and without fear, as making your mark on the ballot paper, every few years, is not my idea of “rule of the people” and hence you are being dictated too – by puppets such as May, Johnson and Wallace

  • knuckles

    Does anyone know if the ‘White Helmets’ were the first responders to the Salisbury park bench with Sergei and Yulia Skripal?

    Would clear everything up…. Or where they too busy perfecting the mannequin challenge? ”More makeup, we need 50cc’s of more makeup stat…..” as they fling abducted Syrian children around like rag dolls…

    Oh no wait, the Skripals are recovering. Never mind.

    Hands up who wants to hear more tough talk from MoD Williamson? He’s shut up and gone away recently…..

    • Kiza

      You have to admit that if Russia indeed shut up and went away the job of British lying to the World would have been made much easier, n’est-ce pas? Therefore, I find Williamson’s demand to Russia more reasonable than the May’s ultimatum to Russia.

  • Jones

    i do wonder what the end game of all this will be (and what it was ‘intended’ to be), the consequences of this will last for years, when you compare the Russian politicians to the British ones the Russians appear far more professional, serious, and statesmanlike, the British come across as exactly what they are, immature unprincipled liars, this tory uk government is an absolute disgrace, there was a fork in the road and the tories took the road to the sewer.

    • Agent Green

      Yes, the Russians actually practice diplomacy whereas the US/UK just spit hatred and nonsense. It is because the US empire is collapsing and they are clutching desperately at anything they can find to try and save their hegemon.

    • Radar O'Reilly

      @Jones I get what you are saying, however – when you say
      the Russians appear far more professional, serious, and statesmanlike you have to remember that Russian hierarchy is absolutely corrupt, has always been corrupt and will always be corrupt. On the plus side,they do have a soul, believe in things and often think before acting.

      Problematically, continuing your comparison I agree that in this situation the Russian corrupt politicians shine out like a beacon for freedom, justice and democracy, so what does that make our lot? I agree that ripples from this illegal cat detention/cruel treatment (*) will last for years.

      (*) currently the only proven crimes that we know about, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has surely been queried on their 24-hour cruelty line 0300 1234 999 by now?
      further actual crimes that may have occurred are related to the Theft Act 1968 Cats are regarded in law as the ‘property’ of their owner. The theft of a cat is treated as an offence under the Act, in the same way as theft of any other property is. And finally (for now until something NBC/CBRN is proved, transparently, and not simply made-up Boris) the Criminal Damage Act 1971 Because the law regards cats as property, an offence may be committed under this Act if a person, without lawful excuse, kills or injures a cat belonging to another person (including a family, one member of whom used to spy for both-sides, concurrently)

  • Ottomanboi

    We all must realise what this is actually about, Russia, Iran and Syria.
    The West + EU failed to carve out a sphere of influence in the latter, Iran and Russia did and effectively ended the activities of Daesh and the so-called Syrian freedom factions which the intelligence challenged West + EU chose to back.
    The gungho nationalist posturing of the British state is starting to look contrived.
    I trust that those states who backed the UK on this russophobic démarche will consider the diplomatic mess they may well have landed themselves in.
    What’s the Russian for Schadenfreude?

    • Agent Green

      Yes, and don’t forget the US are illegally occupying parts of Syria in total breach of international law.

      • Resident Dissident

        But it is ok for the Russians as they were invited in by the local dictator – just as their predecessors were in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Afghanistan, Poland etc.etc. One day you may understand the difference between moral and legal.

        • Ivan

          Buddy it is not a civil war. It is a war sustained by the proxies of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the US. The bloodshed would have ended years ago had these entities not sought to exacerbate the divisions in Syria. The Russian role has been wholly constructive. With a judicious application of force they have sustained the Syrian state. I hold no brief for Assad. But for these type of countries, riven by confessional lines, where politics is a zero-sum game, it is the ordinary civilian who suffers when there is chaos. One side or the other has to win in the end, and I am glad that it is not the head-choppers and crucifiers, supported by the cabal.

          • Ottomanboi

            Basshâr al Assad gets a bad press because the US sees him as the clone of his father Hafez.
            Whereas the father was draconian when handling opposition, the son was always ready to talk, even to Israel. The supposed Free Syria groups showed little inclination to oblige. Backed by the US they believed they were on a winner. Now, after Da3esh, pointless death and destruction they know better. The West still does not get the message.
            Syria used to be a well governed, secular state where ethnic and religious minorities could live in relative harmony.
            As in Iraq and Afghanistan the hubristic régimes of ‘the West’, whose lack of local knowledge is stunning, have simply created more desert.

        • Laguerre

          That’s a poor jibe, RD. Russia was invited in. “The local dictator”, as you put it, does have majority support. If he didn’t he would be dead by now, and the war lost. The West is supporting a minority revolt – that is basically why they haven’t won.

          • Paul

            A minority, who, additionally, are not Syrian, I gather, but rather are foreign, fundamentalist mercenaries.

          • Kiza

            There is just a little matter of an internationally recognised government and legality, which has nothing to do with politically charged words such as “dictator”, “regime” and similar. Attempts to take the high moral ground for initiating wars on the basis of political smears is a laughable but a common Western practice.

            It is such moral superiority which appears to regularly over-ride the international law when there is something for the West to steal.

          • Resident Dissident

            Drug pushers and pimps invite people to do all sorts of things it doesn’t mean that what they do is moral.

            75% of the population were Sunni – and not being a racist I suspect most are ordinary peace loving people rather than Islamists. When given the chance following years of repression and murder (look up the Hama massacre carried out by Gasser’s Dad) by the Assad monarchy during the Arab Spring millions made it clear that they did not want the monarchy to continue. If anyone thinks ordinary Sunnis or Syrians for that matter would freely chose to be ruled by Gasser supported by Iran, Hezbollah and Putin they really are being delusional and just using Syria as a pawn to support their world view – which is just the same that the Islamists are playing – and they do not give a FUCK for basic human rights.

      • Ottomanboi

        The Near East is dry tinder waiting for ignition. It is where the next world war will begin. The US is determined to dispose of Iran. It has House of Sa3ud Wahhâbi cultists’ backing and Israel is very keen to get ‘stuck in’. The British and the feeble EU are effectively American puppets so their involvement is certain.
        The future of this planet is looking very bleak indeed.

  • Murray Johnson

    I’ve been trying to simplify the questions I’d ask a politician or the police if I had the opportunity.

    It is alleged that the Skripals were poisoned with a nerve agent of the Novichok fanily.

    The NHS consultant Stephen Davies said that 3 people were poisoned but no one was suffering the effects of a nerve agent.

    Contrary to expectations, all 3 people supposedly exposed to this nerve agent have recovered or are recovering.

    No one else in Salisbury has been affected by nerve agent or indeed any other poison.

    Was a nerve agent actually involved? Where were the sample(s) of the nerve agent that DSTL identified recovered from?

    What were the Skripals’ movements on March 4th?

    How was the poison administered to the Skripals?

    How did DS Bailey come into contact with whatever poison it was?

    What did Sergei Skripal do while living here in the UK?

    Who did he work for or with and what was he working on?

    Who killed Nicolai Glushkov?

    I’d hope that one day an inquiry will establish the answers to all of these questions.

    • N_

      Good questions, but no inquiry under a British lord or judge is going to answer them properly ever.

      It’s increasingly looking as though no nerve agent was used. Not just no nerve agent that came from Russia. Not just no nerve agent that may have been manufactured in Russia or a large number of other places, by “actors” state or private. But no nerve agent whatsoever.

      Either that, or we have the miraculous recovery of three nerve agent victims that outshines even Ernest Saunders and Augusto Pinochet’s unprecedented recovery from Alzheimer’s.

    • Mary Paul

      As I understand it’s smaller of the believed nerve agent have been given to OPCW for analysis along with blood samples from the victims.

      • Mary Paul

        As I understand if samples of the believed nerve agent from around the town have been given to OPCW for analysis along with blood samples from the victims.

        • N_

          Henri Paul’s blood sample showed levels of carboxyhaemoglobin he obviously had not had. Ahmet Uzumcu at the OPCW knows what side his bread is buttered, otherwise he wouldn’t have said that the British poshboys wanted maximum transparency at the same time as indicating that he thinks it’s finer than fine for them to veto Russia being shown the results of the tests.

  • Elia

    With my great respect for this discussion, I think that to much extent it is irrelevant. No matter what is been said or shown by Russia, the action is in full gas with no sign of brake or slow down. No investigation will be able to prove that current UK’s official position is wrong. Any word or evidence will be confronted by another word and evidence. We have seen it in the past, without political will, evidence is useless. So the question is not ‘who’ or ‘how’ but rather ‘what’s next’

    I am afraid the international tensions will only grow in the near future despite any efforts to calm it down. I am as a citizen of the country that is under fire just wander what positive outcome do they [western allies] want to achieve? How far are they ready to go? Do they want to build an Iron curtain around Russia, but this time from outside? Is this really the only way to bring Europe prosperity and security going forward?

    • Agent Green

      What next? Complete spilt in the world between West and East.

      China is backing Russia and is Russia’s strategic partner. The West will be left for dead – to wither and die – as Russia, China and the East continue with the OBOR project and implementation of new payment/currency systems (petro-yuan, gold payment etc).

      • Resident Dissident

        Sell Dollars, Buy Roubles – of course Putin’s oligarch friends have been doing the exact opposite for years.

        • Agent Green

          Not roubles, gold – which both Russia and China have been buying on a massive scale.

    • N_

      If they send a warship to “protect western footballers” playing Kaliningrad during the World Cup, as it was suggested they might in preparation for a “need to evacuate athletes” from Sochi during the Olympics, the poshboys are going to get their arses kicked so hard (and deservedly) they’ll feel it in the common rooms at Eton for generations.

      BUT they’ll grab some state money as a creamoff from weapons contracts, or they’ll pocket some as the country disappears down the U-bend (as it was going to anyway upon Brexit), so some of them will grin on their Tory faces like they’ve just sarin-gassed a council estate.

  • Billy Bostickson

    Very strange that they cremated (alive or not we will never know) all the Skripal’s pets at Porton Down:

    Cleansing: British clean “important witnesses” in the case of Skripal – Zakharov

    The official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova commented on the story of the death of domestic pets poisoned ex-agent Sergei Skripal, calling them “important witnesses” in the case.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted to a report in the British press about the death of three domestic pets of the poisoned ex-agent Sergei Skripal – two guinea pigs and a Persian cat. The official representative of the ministry, Maria Zakharova, on her Facebook page suggested thinking about the real context of what happened.

    “It’s only at first glance an excuse for another portion of jokes -” they removed important witnesses. “In fact, they are really” important witnesses “, since we are talking about a chemical poisonous substance that, in a number of versions, could be applied in the house of Skripal “, – said Zakharova in Facebook.

    The representative of the Foreign Ministry was amazed at how you could see the animals during the search, which was held in the house of Skripal after the incident in the park?

    “That is, how? The search was, but the animals did not notice? Did not they notice the pets of the person who was poisoned with nerve gas ?!” Zakharova was surprised, adding that the cat had acted differently. The Persian cat was taken to the Porton Down laboratory, although, as the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry noted, no one knows on what day it happened. And after the cat was put to sleep, because he was “in a stressful condition.” He was not even found during the search.

    And it’s quite dark that the story begins with the death of the Skrypal animals after they were cremated.

    “In other words, they were destroyed, although the animals could become an important evidence in the case of poisoning by chemical agents,” Zakharova summed up, noting that at least one British TV company, the Air Force, knew that pets remained in the sealed house, but ” for some reason this information was hidden. ”

    And as a topic for an even deeper reflection, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman added that she does not draw any conclusions and “maybe it’s just a coincidence,” but at the British laboratory “Porton Down” it was on guinea pigs that experiments were performed with nerve gas.

    “Over 40 years in the laboratory, these studies were conducted on 3,400 of these animals.” The further, the more terrible the picture opens, ” Zakharova said .

    https://tsargrad.tv/news/poshla-zachistka-britancy-ubirajut-vazhnyh-svidetelej-v-dele-skripalja-zaharova_123533

    • Rink

      (Voyenno-Vosdushniye Sili – literally approx. Airborne Armed Forces, is generally abbreviated to ВВС (“vay vay ess”) in cyrillic. Hence, the British Broadcasting Corporation will often drop out of translators as “airforce”)

  • Mary Paul

    I have read through the press coverage again and another thing which stikes me is how lead columnists in 3 very different newspapers, The Guardian (Jonathan Freeland ) , The Times (David Aaronovitch) , and The Daily Mail (Peter Hitchens), have all written columns recently in which they take the UK government line that It was Russia. Even Hamish de whatever has been pressed into the cause and come out in support of the UK government.

    Then there was the recent military training exercise near Salisbury on responding to a chemical warfare attack.I think the UK government did / does have info about the development of nerve gases in Russia and was feeling jumpy. (I do not believe Russia’s denial to have ever worked on novichok class agents. I read a recent interview with Uglev in which he says he worked on them and also that they come in different forms and not all are instantaneous.)

    Now the UK government has even released the name of the site In Russia where it says this is taking place. So I think that UK authorities were getting very jumpy about possible Russian trial runs in the UK, given the UK oligarchs’ habit of dying in mysterious circumstances, and how this would put the public at risk. When something like this seemed to happen they went into panic mode.

    I see three possible scenarios

    1. A real trial run by the Russians to put the wind up the expat Russians in the UK and the West in general and a panicked response by the UK government and authorities.
    2. A non Russian/non state actor poisoning the Skripals in a plan not known in advance by the Russian government but UK government assuming it was state approved and panicking in response.
    3. Preemptive strike by UK government (maybe with agreement of Skripals in some role) to cause Russia to think twice about trying to use nerve agents for assassinations on UK soil.

    (There is I guess a 4th left field option, which is that it was Skripal who passed the info about the current Russian nerve gas development on to the UK government; Russia found out and decided to take him out ,+ daughter, as a result,)

    I am inclined to 2 or 3. I do not think it was Russian state authorised on this occasion and I think that UK government has screwed up its response, (I would not have let Met Police anywhere near it but assume they were being allowed to ,”practise” their response to a chemical attack on London), I do believe that Russia has been developing and stockpiling small quantities of nerve agents for use in assassinations. even if not right now. I do not believe France would have fallen into line so fast without sight of some convincing evidence.

    However the UK government should have engaged brain before mouth. Apart from anything else. there are too many players in too many places to keep a lid on it completely and they seem to have forgotten how recent and bitter are UK citizens memories of the stitch up over WMD in Iraq ( by a Labour government on that occasion.

    • wendy

      “Hamish de ”

      is a govt affiliate .. not an independent ‘witness’.

      May was doing a blair. corbyn prevented it along with porton down scientists.
      so the question is why was may so ready to apply sanctions and engage wider support.

      usa/uk have been increasing their military foot-print in syria. the saudis have been doing the rounds (buying more weapons) , netanyahu has already done his meetings. – trumps war administration is almost complete.

      syria-iran-lebanon the targets and the russians are the block. we needed to be suitably frightened and outraged and the uk media was/remains ready to go full iraq .. giving may an easy parliamentary vote win for war.

    • Resident Dissident

      We need to bear in mind that the distinction between the formal Russian government and the “mafia” in Russia/Chechenya is pretty blurred. – we saw this with the murder of Nemstsov and it is worth reading the Novaya Gazeta article on how nerve agents were used for previous assassinations.

      • Resident Dissident

        Remember how Putin went missing for a time when certain members of the Government made a failed attempt to clean up its act.

        • John Goss

          No. I know he goes away on a religious retreat from time to time and our media said he was avoiding them at the time of the Nemstsov murder – for which the guilty have been caught and imprisoned. Is that what you are talking about?

          • Resident Dissident

            The guilty have most definitely not all been caught and sentenced. It stretches credulity to breaking point to assume that those charged committed the act without Putin’s favourite Kadyrov somehow being involved. You’ll be telling us about the known reliability and fairness of the Russian legal system next.

          • Resident Dissident

            The other rumour is that the “religious” Putin was in Switzerland attending the birth of his mistresses child – remember the one who helped opened the corruption and drugfest in Sochi.

        • Resident Dissident

          I do frequently – I have been a member of the Labour Party for many many years.

    • Kiza

      Mary, you are truly funny sometimes with your “beliefs”. If the British Government knew about illegal CW development it had a legal (signed) obligation to inform OPCW, not to run “jumpy” CW defense trials instead.

  • N_

    Regarding Sergei Skripal’s front door, this is just to confirm that photos taken both since the health incident and before it but after he bought the house in 2011 indicate that the door was secured only by a crappy Euro cylinder lock. It takes a few minutes to train any idiot to pick a lock of that type using a “rake pick” that can be bought (lawfully) for a few pounds. The actual picking takes a matter of seconds.

    Google Earth shows a different door but their photo is from 2009, while Mr Skripal was still in prison.

  • sibbaldi

    “the UK government did / does have info about the development of nerve gases in Russia and was feeling jumpy. ”

    Jumpy? That chemical warfare exercise conforms wonderfully with some false flag operations;

    “Military training drills and police drills occur on the day of and very near the attack itself, causing confusion to obscure eye witness testimony and allowing orchestrators to plant both patsies, disinformation and backup operatives.”
    “An incredible percentage of major domestic or international terror attacks have involved simultaneous “training drills.” This list includes, but is not limited to, the infamous NORAD drills of 9/11, the 7/7 London Bombings, the 2011 Norway shooting, the Aurora shooting, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Marathon. Though none of the aforementioned events can be confirmed or denied without a doubt, they bear a striking resemblance to previous false flag attacks and should be looked at with an investigative eye.”

    https://www.infowars.com/5-confirmed-false-flag-operations-and-how-to-spot-them-in-the-future/

  • Dave

    One other thing I do not understand: if Novichok is so toxic and there are traces of it everywhere (house, restaurant, pub etc) such that it will take a year to clean up, how come nobody has (yet) died?

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/06/spy-attack-salisbury-recovery-effort-will-take-until-summer-2019

    Is this old, degraded Novichok (from the stolen batch)? Is it a new and different version? Why would the Russian state (as opposed to a Russian criminal) use this old / less effective stuff? It seems to be in traces so small to do no damage to virtually everybody but big enough to be detectable by the Police etc. and very persistent.

  • N_

    I’m of the view that Britain has in practice invoked NATO’s Article 5.

    Next time they try, you’ve got to wonder whether senior figures in the governments, intelligence agencies and foreign ministries of other NATO and non-NATO countries won’t think they’re crying wolf.

    • Radar O'Reilly

      @N_, all governments are allowed under sovereignty to do anything whatsoever that they wish(*), moreover agencies in the UK are actually allowed to break the law, any law (2014’s Third Direction) https://reprieve.org.uk/press/theresa-may-forced-publish-secret-order-crimes-mi5/

      (*)The only problem with becoming a rogue state, is how to sell this to the people, who have the very small/rarely-used right of ‘accountability’ left as a last resort. It now is highly likely that it not be the corrupt Russians ‘wot dun it, but the most incompetent wrong-flag waving championship ever held outside of our national chemical weapons lab. Half a cheer for the royal birth & weddings, aren’t they going to happen soon, please?

  • Mochyn69

    Praise da Lord, Sergei Skripal is no longer in danger, according to BBC Radio 4 World at One closing headlines.

    So what now???

  • durak

    So now Sergei has recovered as well?

    This case stinks… what are the bets the traitor will sing for the British?

    • Agent Green

      The miracle of Easter. A nerve agent with no known antidote, utterly lethal – and yet everyone subjected to it survives!

      • Andy Norbury

        You’ve got to hope that when WW3 hits the Russians use this nerve agent!

  • Sean Lamb

    Dr Christine Blanshard, Medical Director at #Salisbury District Hospital on Sergei #Skripal: “He is responding well to treatment, improving rapidly and is no longer in a critical condition.”

    Spring is here, spring is here,
    Life is skittles, life is beer….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhuMLpdnOjY

    • John Goss

      Yes, we learnt that yesterday thanks to Yulia Skripal. She spilled the beans and save their lives. “My dad’s great. Me too. We’re coming home soon Vicky.”

      “Fuck” said Boris Johnson, “Fuck” said Theresa May. “Fuck” said UK Intelligence. “She’s fucked us up” said the Queen of Hearts. But Alice in this make-believe land said the right thing. “We’re good. Really Good”. The Police want us to say “We’re disoriented, But in fact we’re good. Very Good. We’re so good in fact that soon we will be coming home. All this is because I was smart enough not to mention that I am disoriented.”

      So there you have it.

    • John Goss

      I think it is reasonable to assume that our spooks have put pressure on the hospital to keep the Skripals heavily sedated. Suddenly they are both alive and well. Of course with the spooks you never really know what’s going on, not even with the Skripals who may themselves be working in intelligence.

      • John Goss

        Indeed the spooks probably called in their own “medical experts” and had the pair isolated from the rest of the hospital and guarded by British coppers who must be bored to tears.

      • Resident Dissident

        Of course you never really know what is going on so instead you can make up whatever my fit your prejudices.

        • Barden Gridge

          The whole official story looks very much like it’s been concoted to fit someone’s prejudices/agenda.
          If they force their fact-free nonsense on us through the abjectly compliant media, it’s only natural to wonder why and to consider other possibilities which make more sense.

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