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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  • Republicofscotland

    Well the Skripal saga, is now bordering on the farcical, as Yuri Skripal is said to be recovering rapidly.

    Just how does one recover rapidly from exposure to a military grade nerve agent purportedly more toxic than Sarin or VX?

    • Republicofscotland

      Re my above comment.

      Should read Sergei Skripal and not Yulia, but again just how is it possible that both are off the critical list and Yulia is now talking to people.

      Cui Bono really is the question here, Putin, on the vege of Russian elections and with the World Cup coming up. Decides to kill Sergei Skripal in England when he could’ve easily killed him in a Russian prison.

      Then we have Yulia Skripal a Russian citizen who lives in Russia, whom Putin could’ve removed just as easily in Russia without much fuss.

      It just doesn’t add up, especially when both Skripal’s are making a rapid recovery from one of the most deadly military grade nerve agents known to man.

    • Mochyn69

      It’s been bordering on the farcical for a long time, in fact ever since the Brit gov and Brit corporate media started ‘spinning’, which is far too mild a description of what’s being going on, the story like crazies, and Craig rightly called them out on it.

      Now it is beyond blatant agitprop and the credibility of the government and the media, especially the BBC, has imploded.

      This demands enquiry as to what the hell has actually being going on. So, so many questions now need to be asked and answered.

      And in short, Jeremy Corbyn is the only UK politician who got this right.


    • Kempe

      ” Their effect on humans was demonstrated by the accidental exposure of Andrei Zheleznyakov, one of the scientists involved in their development, to the residue of an unspecified Novichok agent while working in a Moscow laboratory in May 1987. He was critically injured and took ten days to recover consciousness after the incident. He lost the ability to walk and was treated at a secret clinic in Leningrad for three months afterwards. The agent caused permanent harm, with effects that included “chronic weakness in his arms, a toxic hepatitis that gave rise to cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, spells of severe depression, and an inability to read or concentrate that left him totally disabled and unable to work.” He never recovered and died in July 1992 after five years of deteriorating health. ”

      I would say that the Skripals are not out of the woods yet.

    • Leonard Young

      It’s not bordering on farcical. It has journeyed from a Brian Rix farce, through 1984 and now beyond anything Kafka could have dreamed up.

  • Doug

    From the Times -“Officials were working to determine the authenticity of a phone call broadcast by Russian state television said to be between Ms Skripal, 33, and her cousin, Viktoria.”

    Can’t they just ask Julia?? What is going on?

    • N_

      They sound so furious about her call that they’re calling it fake. Patrick Wintour, the Guardian’s “diplomatic correspondent”, was writing about her almost as though he was Nicholas Soames talking about Princess Diana. If he’d gone any further, he would have called her a “loose cannon”/

    • Lenka.Penka

      “From the Times -“Officials were working to determine the authenticity of a phone call broadcast by Russian state television said to be between Ms Skripal, 33, and her cousin, Viktoria.”

      Can’t they just ask Julia?? What is going on?”

      It’s called spin… 😉 And they’ll be plenty more to come.

      • irena

        I think that someone of the hospital staff fell sorry for the way Skripals were treated and gave Yulia his/her phone. I believe UK want to kill Scripals after all but now they can’t do this because it would look too suspicious.

          • Tatyana

            @Pyotr Grozny
            I remember my husband’s, my mom’s, my dad’s and my son’s phone numbers. Regarding Viktoria is the closest family member, and also family connections are much more close in Russia than in Britain, I’m not surprised.
            It is reported Julia’s mother and brother are buried at the Salisbury cemetery. The Skripals appointed to meet at the cemetery in the day of Julia brother’s birthday. It adds to the idea that the family had very close relations.

          • Maureen

            She’d know it off by heart wouldn’t she
            I can remember all my kids numbers, my siblings, the local garage, neighbours and I’m old!

  • Stephen

    I think the elephant in the room being overlooked is: If Yulia goes back to Russia she will being blood tested and or have her hair sampled and tested. If she doesn’t which I think is the case then she and her dad were never poisoned. The Russian UK ambassador said a very telling thing in that she has a lot of wealth in Russia which is no doubt frozen or will be until she returns.
    The scientists were either in on it or they were given bogus blood samples and the nerve agent samples were spread afterwards so it would look like they were collecting real evidence.
    The animals had to be destroyed in case the scientists created a paper trail of tests that didn’t fit the narrative.
    So the only question for me is not if the Skripal’s were or weren’t part of a false flag, It is whether the scientists were or weren’t duped by the security services.
    So another relevant question is who destroyed the animals and the chain of custody on all the blood samples. I bet the answers will always be state secrets.
    I am totally convinced both Skripal’s were in on it from the beginning.
    It would be interesting if there has been any given answer as to why “Exercise Toxic Dagger” which was in April in 2017 was moved to Feburary 20th (3 weeks on Salisbury Plains) or will be asked. The answer could provide insight as to how long this operation has been in the planning.

    • Lenka.Penka

      If they were in on it you can be sure that they will start the next phase of the propaganda campaign soon.. after a few days or so to milk this news further, the drip-drip scenario.

      It could well be they were both in on it, and perhaps were even offered untold millions, certainly a Traitor would have no problem agreeing.

      I cannot find any sympathy for him whatsoever.

      • N_

        The Skripals could certainly have been in on something. A couple of hundred to talk Russian in Toxic Dagger? Unlikely. Or a lot more to carry a package, perhaps towards New Malden?

      • Agent Green

        Agreed. No particular reason for anyone to have sympathy for Mr. Skripal.

        The whole thing is just a propaganda exercise – with planned release of information so as to keep the story going and the Russia-bashing in full flow.

    • N_

      “Science” is an ideology about a research methodology. Doing lab tests is the job of a technician.

      • Republicofscotland

        Speaking of technicians, RT just interviewed a Leed professor, who said that the Skripal’s could be making a rapid recovery, if they had been given some sort of antidote.

        Which raises even more questions.

        • Un individu louche

          Especially as Gary head honcho at Porton Down and former ‘phone salesman’ apparently said in his interview

          There is not, as far as we know, any antidote that you can use to negate the effects of it.

          • Mary Paul

            I wish you would stop with the cheap sneers at Gary Aitkenhead. He is the Chief Executive at PD which means he is the Chief Administrator not the Chief Research Chemist. He has a First Class technical degree and got the prize for best student of his year at University. Since then he has had a respectable business career in the management of large technical companies where he has enjoyed the respect of his staff.

            Academic chemists and I’ve known a few, are not generally “people” facing, and not interested in admin. If I was looking for someone to run a large technical company full of awkward sods, (as IT staff can also be), he is the sort of person I would have on my short list.

            And for the record, I do not know the guy, never met him, not related, do not know anyone who knows him, never heard of him before this. He stepped up to tell the truth about their findings at PD, in a really difficult position and here you are, including Craig, sneering at him for being in some way inferior to you. Shame on you.

          • Jon

            @Mary Paul

            I haven’t asked Craig about why he used the phrase “radio salesman”, and I see why you believe this is “sneering”. Perhaps it was a mistake for Craig to use this phrase, given that people can object to minutiae, and so miss the key point. You’ve also said that Aitkenhead “stepped up to tell the truth about their findings at PD”, which is what I believe Craig is objecting to.

            It seems clear to me that Craig is heavily criticising Aitkenhead for either:

            * Advancing the propaganda line of the British government willingly
            * Succumbing to pressure to advance the propaganda line of the British government

            For what it is worth, you and I are probably in wider disagreement about this case, but I do not wish any shame on you. To do so is not a form of reasonable debating behaviour – people who disagree with you are not acting out of impure motives, unless you can prove otherwise. (There are certainly dishonest people on both sides, including folks knowingly lying to advance the British or the Russian govt line, but on the internet, that is not usually an argument worth making, since it is mostly unprovable).

          • A Biochemist Writes

            [ Mod: You also posted on this thread as Nothern Tribesman. From the moderation rules for commenters:

            …. the adoption of multiple identities within the same thread is not to be allowed.

            Please use one identity only. ]

            Mary Paul misses the point entirely. Managerialism (an operational sub-branch of neoliberalism) requires that professionals be subjugated the better to plunder national intellectual product as cheaply as possible on behalf of the plutocrats – hence the proliferation of “Chief Administrators”, Human Remains (HR) Managers and Beancounters put in charge of professional activities in public institutions – from hospitals to universities.

            Mr Aitkenhead may well have a first-class degree in something or other (not that that says much these days given the dilution of academic standards in our new thrusting, Uni-businesses that sell degrees) – but what he is NOT is a any kind of working scientist.

            To become one of these a bachelors level degree is insufficient – the real scientists in Porten Down – as elsewhere – will have obtained a PhD and completed post-doctoral research – giving them a thorough understanding of the science that supports their activities.

            Such people are, naturally, dangerous, since (as Porton Down’s real scientists have demonstrated) they retain a commitment to truth and scientific integrity and a professional pride that in most cases will be repulsed by efforts to subvert their professional standards.

            My own view is that applying such knowledge and skill in a place like PD is a questionable use of scientific knowledge. But I have no reason to doubt that those professional scientists working there believe (however misguidedly) that they are doing their patriotic duty – which must include maintaining their professional, scientific integrity.

            Which is why they must be represented in public by the epitome of neoliberal managerialist and a semiotic paradigmatic
            icon – a salesman.

            Says it all really!

          • Jon

            @A Biochemist Writes:

            My own view is that applying such knowledge and skill in a place like PD is a questionable use of scientific knowledge

            I think this hinges on what Porton Down is actually doing. Is it merely a research institution that examines different forms of chemical weapons, and possibly their antidotes, with the intention of sharing all research as widely as possible? If so, I think that is a noble aim, and is not so much patriotism as the application of science to humanity’s well-being.

            However, if PD actually develop a CW offensive capability, or are looking to have a CW antidote advantage over other nations, then yes, that would be a misuse of scientific talent. I think the essence of CW treaties is that nerve agents have no place in modern warfare, and the scientific approach needs to uphold that as a key principle.

          • A Biochemist Writes

            [ Mod: You also posted on this thread as Nothern Tribesman. From the moderation rules for commenters:

            …. the adoption of multiple identities within the same thread is not to be allowed.

            Please use one identity only. ]

            Jon writes:

            “However, if PD actually develop a CW offensive capability, or are looking to have a CW antidote advantage over other nations, then yes, that would be a misuse of scientific talent. I think the essence of CW treaties is that nerve agents have no place in modern warfare, and the scientific approach needs to uphold that as a key principle.”

            Agreed. But do you really believe that:

            Porton Down is actually doing. Is it merely a research institution that examines different forms of chemical weapons, and possibly their antidotes, with the intention of sharing all research as widely as possible?

            But here is what their own website says about Gary


            Chief Executive, Dstl

            With direct line responsibility for members of the Executive team, the CE leads Dstl as a Trading Fund, delivering value-for-money science and technology-based support and advice to customers. This includes getting the best out of suppliers and partners, and balancing short-term delivery with long-term capability.

            The CE role is ultimately responsible for ensuring:

            the financial viability of Dstl;
            that customers are satisfied
            PD is run as a BUSINESS. Businesses are NOT run for humanitarian purposes – science businesses are run to generate intellectual property to be sold for profit.

            That’s why it’s CEO is a salesman

          • Dave Lawton

            “There is not, as far as we know, any antidote that you can use to negate the effects of it.”
            That is true there is no antidote.But Atropine would be used as one of the treatments.The word antidote is misleading.

        • Agent Green

          There is no known antidote. Why would the UK have an antidote to a nerve agent that has never been used and wasn’t thought to have existed?

    • Mochyn69

      Has Exercise Toxic Dagger even finished yet?

      Or is it still being played out??

  • N_

    “Nash Van Drake” is an unusual name for a cat. “Nash” means “Our”, but does the “Van Drake” in the name come from Donald Duck or from the jewellers (meaning “he cost us so much money” – many Russians are obsessed with brandnames).

    • N_

      Hmm…even the word “jeωeller” gets a post caught in a mod queue here!! I’ll amend to save the mods time.

      “Nash Van Drake” is an unusual name for a cat. “Nash” means “Our”, but does the “Van Drake” in the name come from Donald Duck or from the jeωellers (meaning “he cost us so much money” – many Russians are obsessed with brandnames).

    • lysias

      Hopefully Craig will eventually comment on Assange’ s silencing and its connection with his tweets supporting Catalonia.

      • lysias

        Just heard on the radio: Puigdemont has been released on bail by a German court.

    • N_

      Lenin Moreno is less keen on Julian Assange than Rafael Correa was, but he still gave him citizenship. The British state must have used various methods to get all those other countries to expel Russian diplomats, but if they used a method successfully this time against Ecuador why wasn’t it used before? I suspect that collective pressure was applied, including by the Spanish government and the EU.

      • Hendie

        There is a new govt in Equador who supposedly took exception to Julians tweets on Catalonia

  • Monster

    I can’t see the scenario where Yulia will just walk out of the hospital with her overnight bag and head for Heathrow. She can”t go back to her Salisbury home, so perhaps she can go to a safe house; Christopher Steele has a little-known retreat in Wood Green. I fear then, that she’ll be zipped into a sports bag and be officially disappeared.

  • Republicofscotland

    Well someone should call Pope Francis, and inform him Sailsbury is the new Lourdes.

    Without producing one solid shred of evidence that Russia is guilty of the Skripal attack, Westminster has thrown wild accusations around.

    The PM and FS with regards to evidence should put up or shut up, they’ve down tremendous damage in our relations with Russia, and if no evidence is produced soon the British government credibility will also be badly damaged.

    • Republicofscotland


      No one is saying that Putin is snow white we know he isn’t. However where for the love of god, is the evidence that Russia poisoned the Skripal’s. That’s what we want not some whataboutery.

      Show us the evidence now.

      • Resident Dissident

        Yep I look forward to the FSB sharing all the evidence it has acquired through the activities of its agents – please get real.

        • Resident Dissident

          And a lot here do believe Putin is snow white – or at least have never voiced any criticism of his regime whatsoever.

          • Stephen

            to “RD” I couldn’t care one bit about Putin as he doesn’t rule here. I care that my countries leaders are held to a higher standard than him. How can we stand by and accept another pack of lies considering the last big pack 15 years ago has cost between 1-2 million lives in the middle east and resulted in many of our hard earned freedoms stripped in the name of terror. The community on here has nothing to do with Putin and his corruption. It is about not letting it or worse happen here.
            Why don’t you tell us what you stand for in this country. What rights do you feel you are prepared to fight for. You are questioning our motives. Well I question yours.

          • bj

            Your tedious embitterment is directed at the wrong people. It is whataboutery, and as such in principle off-topic.

        • Republicofscotland

          Okay at least explain how the Skripals are rapidly recovering from an attack of a deadly military grade nerve agent. One that according to the British government is more deadly than VX or Sarin.

          Erm… A feasible explanation please not a flight of fancy one thank you.

        • Spaull

          Yes, there will be secret squirrel stuff that we won’t know about, but this is first and foremost a standard criminal investigation in which standard criminal evidence will be obtained using standard criminal methods, and there is not the remotest reason to keep them confidential.

          Yet none of that has happened. No police press conferences. No calls for witnesses. No descriptin of leads they are following up, people they want to speak to. Nothing. Absolute silence. On the highest profile criminal investigation for several years.

          It’s nonsense to believe that is normal.

    • Agent Green

      Totally irrelevant to the Skripal incident. And, in any event, all nations have similar issues (see fracking in the US – multiple protests etc), chemical spills, pollution scandals (London pollution levels killing the population – UK in repeated breach of EU law) etc.

    • Mochyn69

      Distract and divert, eh, Res Dis?

      You know as well as I do what fallacy you’re peddling here!

      • Resident Dissident

        Not really – just pointing out the hypocrisy of most here, who do not care about poisoning or human rights abuses but instead prefer to push their anti-West prejudices by any means possible, even if it means getting into bed with the devil.

    • GoAwayAndShutUp

      Well, that’s “kill the messenger”, again.

      Under your distorted logic, Saddam gassing Iranians in the 80’s, by the THOUSANDS, and nobody saying anything in the West, other than “we’re faxing you the nerve gas invoice” should qualify you as a sycophant for doing too much noise about just two people that have not even died in Salisbury.

      I understand your are desperate for the lack of facts, multiple contradictions and proved lies but just stop being the pot telling the kettle black.

  • copydude

    Craig’s question is indeed interesting.

    Yulia is certainly being held incommunicado. She is allowed just 1m 47 seconds to talk to her niece, and then on a phone, not her own, without a call-back number. When challenged, the hospital will not say why it (or another authority) has blocked contact with relatives. Meanwhile, the ‘British’ refusing access to one of its citizens by the Russian Consulate is contrary to protocol, if not international law.

    You can imagine the tabloid furore if a British girl was denied visitors and communication in this way in a Moscow hospital. The recent plight of ‘Jail Hell Laura’ Plummer in an Egyptian hell hole prison filled the headlines for weeks.

    But we don’t know if Yulia is negotiating with her minders or even colluding with them. Whatever Papa does all day in the UK, it is extremely well-paid. He has a villa in Spain, a BMW, house in Salisbury, all paid for in cash. He bought his son a house too and supported him in the UK. The 44 year old son did not like to work, only drink. Altogether, not bad for a 66 year old traitor who left prison in disgrace stripped of his army pension and his grace and favour home in Moscow. But Yulia has somehow managed to invest in apartments in Moscow since . . .

  • Barden Gridge

    Todays World at One did not disappoint.

    From 09:00: Played down the Russian UN ambassador’s reference to Blair/Iraq by saying it “was of course inevitable”.
    Adopted a sneering attitude to the issue of the Skripal pets raised by the Russian UN ambassador.
    BBC wording: “Then there’s the case of the mysterious pets”
    This was presented as an example of
    “Russian officials seizing on sometimes bizarre aspects of the story to sow doubt about its central facts”
    Well, yes, that’s what’s bound to happen when you serve up a story as bizarre as this.

    11:20: They really went to town on the Russian UN ambassador reading at length from the trial scene in Alice in Wonderland.
    The BBC played a bit of it, then said at
    11:43: “Now this, I kid you not, went on for another minute and a half” (like this was some story being told down the pub).
    That would have been more than enough for any reasonable broadcaster’s prime news programme, but not BBC R4 who then (I kid you not) played another uninterrupted 40 seconds of it.
    This struck me as far more bizarre than the Russian reading it in the first place.

    I had had more than enough by then and didn’t listen to the rest – which is probably exactly the effect the BBC wanted to achieve.

    • John Goss

      The Skripals’ pets are dead. Russia asked about these and the Brits told them that when they entered the house the hamsters were already dead. The cat was in such a sorry state they had to have it put down.

      More destruction of evidence like the table at Zizzis which was allegedly so contaminated it had to be destroyed. If you believe any of this destruction of evidence was necessary there is little hope for you. You’d probably believe that it was necessary for the Yanks to export the steel to China while an investigation was ongoing directly after the twin towers were demolished.

      • Sergei

        According to Sergei’s niece Viktoria, there was another cat, Masyanya. MI5 probably launched a nation-wide hunt for it. If Masyanya falls into the “wrong” hands, the blood analysis could show what substance was really present at Skripal’s house — if any.

    • Mochyn69

      BBC Radio 4 news programmes have been very good at sneering in this piece of theatre.

      I really do wonder why?


      • Agent Green

        Because Radio 4 are cretinous?

        It hardly matters given their audience consists of fewer than a handful of (sane) people.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Interesting that Trump has hit Deripaska

    It would seem that Deripaska is on the side of the Neocon Slime, rather than Putin. It was Putin who kicked most of The Russian oligarchs out of Russia, for stealing Russian assets, much of which he is now trying to repatriate.

    “Mr Deripaska, who owns property in Britain, is well known in the UK for his infamous yacht meeting with Lord [Peter] Mandelson, the Labour politician, and George Osborne, the former Tory chancellor, in 2008.

    The pair were entertained by Mr Deripaska on his 238ft (73m) Queen K in Corfu. At the time Lord Mandelson was the EU trade commissioner and Mr Osborne was the shadow chancellor.”

    I still can’t work out Trump, particularly as he has apparently appointed a lot of the slime, who seem to me , much more closely aligned to the DNC/Clinton/CIA WWIII loonies, but Trump maybe playing a strange game, giving the slime enough rope to hang themselves.

    Trump did say very recently, “Trump wants troops out of Syria, but his generals may resist” and amazingly enough he has not yet been assassinated.

    I still wonder if Deep State Trump aligned forces set up this nonsense in Salisbury to discredit Theresa May, Boris Johnson & Gavin Williamson (probably not too hard, as they don’t seem that bright). Maybe they would prefer a UK Government led by Jacob Rees-Mogg or even Jeremy Corbyn. At least these two don’t appear to be completely braindead, even if you don’t agree with them. (They both occasionally make some sense) – which is very rare in Westminster.


    • Sean Lamb

      Yes, apparently the US government has accused them of “malign activity around the world.”

      Well, we all know Americans don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘irony’

    • Agent Green

      Ironically, attacking these Russians will just draw Russia closer together and make Putin even stronger. The West is reading this all wrong.

  • Republicofscotland

    As relations with Russia deteriorate badly Westminster opens new military base in the ME.

    Possibly a new staging post for the carriers to stir up more unrest in the region, or to intimidate. Scots need to be independent soon and send the nukes back over the border before the British government really pisses someone off.

    • Agent Green

      With the advent of hypersonic weapons, carriers are essentially sitting ducks. Only Russia has these weapons (so far).

      • Republicofscotland

        The evolution of those types of weapons is frightening, like predator and prey, one is attempting to keep one step ahead of the other.

        I read recently that Raytheon are in the process of developing those types of weapons, as are DARPA.

        • Agent Green

          It doesn’t matter. Russia is focused on defence only – so they only need to have enough power to guarantee mutual destruction or strategic parity.

          They have this as hypersonic weapons are effectively unstoppable using current or near-future defences.

          It’s only the US that is worried about projecting force and trying to control people through use of arms. And therefore they require different weapons.

          • Stephen

            That’s not the way we work against adversaries that can defend themselves. We will target their weak points. The outer “stans” will be targeted with disasters like terrorist attacks, political disinformation, sanctions and opposition funding, atrocities (school fires, cinema fires, gas explosions, water poisoning), With how emboldened we have been to target Russia with such blatant lies there will become a point where Russia will be forced into a covert or overt military response. They won’t make the same mistake that the Soviet Union did.
            If Russia and China are allowed to get the new Silk Road (One Belt One Road) at full steam the US/UK axis will be irreparably damaged.

        • Julian

          I don’t think this nuclear fusion patent is convincing. They need to actually demonstrate a working prototype. Then it’s Nobel prizes all round!

    • Carl

      The head of Britain’s Joint Forces Command, General Sir Christopher Deverell, said “It is fairly obvious that the threats to UK forces seem to be on the increase. If you want to deal with the threats, you cannot do so from a distance. You have to be present.”

      Better still, why not end the embarrassment and bring the whole lot home?

  • Mary Paul

    Can we spare a thought for Salisbury. I saw a TV show the other day which showed various areas of the centre still taped off having been handed back to the local police by the Met. so would guess the local police have had little help on what to do since then. Plus local businesses say their turn over is down by ,90% in some cases. and tourist numbers visiting the Cathedral have fallen off a cliff.

    • Republicofscotland

      Yes Mary I agree the good folk of Sailsbury in my opinon are in the dark as well, and businesses out of pocket.

      Tourism will also be affected for a long time, even though the Skripal affair looks to be a lacking in veracity. No one will want to visit Sailsbury due to the fear factor.

      • Andy Norbury

        You only have to “fear” anything if you’re a hamster or along haired pussy – they’re the only things that have died in this “weapons grade” nerve agent attack. “Weapons grade”? as opposed to just “deadly” nerve agent?

        • Republicofscotland

          True, but those who haven’t cottoned on yet that things aren’t quite what they seem, will give Sailsbury a wide berth, due to a unfounded fear of becoming contaminated in some way.

  • Ivan

    I would like to join the Putin rah-rah crowd for his work in Syria . But I cannot forget that the FSB buggers had planted child pornography on Vladimir Bukovsky’s computer to discredit him. Bukovsky left the Soviet Union, when Putin was but a minor stringer, yet they went out of their to defame an old and honourable man. Putin may yet be caught out sometime if he gets too big for britches. I never bought this story that he was a master at 3D chess. Any leader of the West in the past, Nixon, Kohl, Thatcher, even Bubba Clinton would have overmatched him. He had a stupid, snide smile on him when he BBC reporter threw a question at him some weeks ago. Fortunately, the madman sitting in the White House, may yet be the man to bring Putin to Jesus.

      • Ivan

        I mean Putin casts a long shadow only because the leaders of the West now are largely pygmies. Can you imagine someone like the elder George Bush not knowing how to get into the inside curve with Putin?

        • Carl

          They’ve done a pretty good job of surrounding Russia with military bases, troops and nuclear missiles, contrary to the duplicitous promise of Bush Snr. What are you actually hankering for, World War 3 so we can prove how much tougher we are?

          • Ivan

            Well I have to agree with you there. But other than Finlandisation the East Europeans had little choice. If like Poland, Russia is my next door neighbour, I would want some degree of protection.

          • Sean Lamb

            “But other than Finlandisation”

            Finlandisation is probably their best bet – particularly for the Baltics. They must realize that NATO can’t and won’t be able to protect them in the unlikely event that a shooting war did break out. It should be increasingly obvious that the US only offers security against second order powers, but increases insecurity against first order powers.

            Places like the Baltics are better to go down the Finland route, places like Australia are better off with the US, no matter how dangerous and erratic they appear at the moment.

            Although I think it would be more likely the Russians might slip the Taliban a few surface to air missiles or something like that. The US and the UK need to be careful, if they keep bleating about “hybrid warfare”, Russia eventually might really start engaging in it. Then imagine the howling that would go up.

    • Agent Green

      Nixon? He destroyed himself.

      Thatcher? Again, she destroyed herself.

      Clinton? Destroyed himself and his country (financially).

      • Ivan

        Nixon had a good run. He more or less defined his period, for good or ill. Thatcher – four terms. BJ Clinton, president twice. The West doesn’t have the President or Chairman for Life office, so it is not strictly comparable.

      • lysias

        The CIA destroyed Nixon. They didn’t like his policies. They were aided by the Washington Post, which has been a CIA organ for as long as the CIA has existed.

        At least they didn’t kill him, like they did John Kennedy. I guess that, after all the assassinations of the 1960s, they may have thought that that would have meant going to the well one time too many.

        • Ivan

          I believe the received opinion in certain circles is that Nixon’s interest in the Bay of Pigs, triggered the CIA. Very strange that the two men JFK and Nixon were done in by that fiasco. And I don’t mean Castro had anything to do with it. Oswald who had clearance to work at a U2 base was known to both the FBI and CIA, but he became the one and only ‘lone assassin’ who was known by everyone including Jack Ruby.

      • Emily

        Clinton? Destroyed himself and his country (financially).

        Not to mention Yugoslavia together with Tony Blair.

    • Emily

      Could you please get up to date.
      Move with the times.
      The Soviet Union and Russia are two completely different entities.
      There is no comparison between the two.
      The entire system of government is different and is actually far more democratic than Britain.
      Those largely running the Soviet Union for much of its history are no longer in the corridors of power,
      The Russian people have taken control of their nation.

    • Sergei

      Ivan, but how do you know it was FSB that planted child pornography on Bukovsky’s computer? Could be someone else. Consider Lyudmila Alekseeva, another legendary Soviet/Russian human rights figure. Sharply critical of Putin. Well, what do you know, Putin personally went to her home to congratulate her on her 90th birthday.

  • JimmyJazz

    Whatever happened to the Skirpals I have believed from the beginning that the primary circumstance which caused them to be exposed to a toxic substance was not Sergei’s former highly paid job as a traitor, it is the close proximity of Porton Downs to Salisbury.
    The treason Sergei committed was way back in the 90’s. everyone is long over it and in fact I doubt there are more than a handful of people working for the FSB now who worked there when Sergei betrayed all the agents for money.

    Porton Downs is another matter entirely, it has been consistently producing deadly substances for over half a century and its recent contracts with the US defense department reveal that it has made a big earner out of producing toxins that kill humans, just as english weapons manufacturers enjoy the wealth generated from the hundreds of thousands children of Yemen being starved to death, infected with cholera or being blown into a fine pink mist as the Porton Downs bosses enjoy their holidays in the Seychelles or where ever.

    The concept of england making these horrific substances for self defense is as flawed when england says it to deceive as it was when the US claimed that at its “School of the Americas” now renamed so as to include training the bully-boys who work for Mid Eastern, Israeli and African crooked despots, used to assure the world that its SERE program was about teaching Latin American police how to resist ‘vigorous’ interrogation, not how to torture citizens. Any resemblance between the torture practiced on Latin American citizens, and the techniques ‘discussed’ at the School of the Americas was purely coincidental.

    That lame cover dissolved when it was discovered that the SERE instructors had been made available to teach CIA interrogators the finer details of waterboarding and ‘stress positioning’.
    Back in 2015 when Dugway Proving Ground was discovered to have shipped live anthrax spores to 68 locations worldwide, including South Korea, Australia, Canada & england, the US claimed that “the anthrax was needed for preventing an anthrax attack” yeah right sure.
    In fact training accident during prevention is the hoary old fib the unimaginative security services always drag out first when something goes tits up.
    The security thugs would have been overjoyed, once it transpired that one of Porton Downs’ most Loony Toonz staff-members or foreign ‘trainee’ had vented his/her wrath on a Russian speaking couple who they could assert was on the outer with the motherland, thereby obviating the need for another ‘training accident’ fantasy.
    They reckoned without Johnson and Fox convincing May that this was an ideal issue to get the tories outta the doldrums. “maggie and the Falklands all over again” Boris was heard to say. Heh heh I would’ve loved to have seen the expression on the bullingdon bully’s face when he learned that the tory party doesn’t hold sole rights to telling massive porkies, that some of the ‘help’ does it too.

    For my money the crazy trainee was most likely a head-chopper brought to Porton Downs as part of that US contract, to learn how to make chemical weapons and how to set the weapons off in Syria where usuk hasn’t been faring well and badly needs a reason to go into Syria boots and all. The chlorine false flags hadn’t done the job as chlorine gas is pretty easy to acquire so usuk decided the train the god-botherers in the art of churning out a substance which they believed would be easy to attribute to Russia.
    When the head-chopper trainee dropped into Salisbury for a drop of lunch on his day off he was horrified to overhear two other customers at the eatery conversing in Russian. Russian! the language of the people who wrecked his coup for Allah. So he administered some of a sample chemical he had been working on, to those who he believed were despicable satanists. The rest is history.

  • Barden Gridge

    Reuters decides to publish this thoroughly unsurprising story now:

    “How a secret Russian airlift helps Syria’s Assad”
    “Private Russian military contractors are being sent on clandestine flights to Syria, plane-tracking data shows. And a trail of documents reveals how aircraft from the West end up in the hands of those on U.S. blacklists.”

    “The flights, which almost always land late at night, don’t appear in any airport or airline timetables, and fly in from either Damascus or Latakia, a Syrian city where Russia has a military base.”

    I would think a good number of flights all over the world don’t appear in any airport or airline timetables.
    This isn’t news, is it?

    • Agent Green

      What is strange about these flights? Russia has been invited into Syria by the Syrian Government and is helping it deal with the US/Western formented ISIS threat. Military flights in and out seem perfectly normal to me in those circumstances.

    • Ivan

      Military flights are not on the arrival and departure schedules anywhere. Reuters had seen better days.

  • lysias

    I didn’t know it, but Radio Sputnik has just told me that today is Scottish Independence Day.

  • justguessing

    Oh dear, total fatalities to date are 2 guinea pigs and a cat. I fear we’re looking at the handiwork of Johnny English back to his best

  • Republicofscotland

    Sky news relaying information, that doctors caught the poison in the dermal layer of the Skripals skin. Meanwhile Sergei’s niece Victoria, hasn’t yet received authorisation from the British government to visit Sergei and Yulia.

      • Republicofscotland

        The Sky reporter outside Sailsbury hospital claimed that he was told the door handle was the point of contact. But how did they wander around town then go for a meal if the nerve agent is so deadly. It just doesnt make sense.

    • Agent Green

      In the dermal layer 4+ hours after exposure? And after they drove around, had lunch etc?

  • Sharp Ears

    It’s so funny listening to MSM scribes and mouthpieces trying to discuss Mr Skripal’s recovery as if his recovery was to be expected as completely normal. A day or two he was dying upwards. They really take the biscuit.

    They are moving on to natter about Yulia’s niece being denied a visa by the UK and also the Russian UK Embassy’s reaction to the news about Mr Skripal.

  • Beamer

    Why don’t you ask why he ‘resigned’ from his last job with the walkie-talkie company in Cambridge?
    You might find the management team there couldn’t trust him.

      • Beamer

        I know some of the employees there. He was on gardening leave for most of last year. He was head of sales for the Cambridge products and sales bombed under him.
        The business, Sepura, was later sold to a Chinese company called Hytera

  • knuckles

    Hey lets all be grateful the animal rights activist that shot up youtube didn’t live in Salisbury. I doubt she would have reacted well to the latest developments with the pets…….

    • John Goss

      It is clear from Yulia Skripal’s VK account that she is very fond of animals and devoted to the evidence (sorry cat) that was destroyed.

    • Lestek

      This article is absolutely hilarious. Novichok? Blah! We have super-duper paramedics. 🙂

  • jazza

    So what are we to do with May and Johnson and the Foreign Office and the Cabinet office and the tory government and our security services – how about focussing on the real criminals now rather than dwelling on the panto?

    • Black Joan

      It’s the Easter “recess”. They’ve all taken the welcome opportunity to shut up and go away. Corbyn should call them back to answer questions, but I don’t suppose anyone would take any notice. Actually, the people they “represent” should be able to call them back, but it doesn’t work like that.

    • John Goss

      My own suspicion is that they were never ill. They might have been part of the plot until it got so ludicrous even some Sun readers were questioning it. They have not been exposed to anything and the whole charade has cost us (taxpayers) a fortune. I bet Yulia is so mad at our spooks for killing her beloved cat.

      While Russia was not involved in that they may have been involved in the real attempted and successful murder of a Russian exile in London, about which they have told us nothing. Bullshit they do to death. The serious stuff they ignore.

      • Stephen

        Schrödinger’s Cat

        Until the box is opened, an observer doesn’t know whether the cat is alive or dead—because the cat’s fate is intrinsically tied to whether or not the atom has decayed and the cat would, as Schrödinger put it, be “living and dead … in equal parts” until it is observed.


      • P

        Hello John, I am sure many people in the UK do not believe in this story but I am sure many people In Germany did not believe the Nazy Gleiwitz provocations. The situation is very similar and out of Control. I have talked to many people here in Bulgaria and from other eastern countries and without any exception everybody relates the UK with the Nazy Germany now. Of course most of us support fully Russia as we have common roots and history. But the history should not be forgotten.

        You have a nice British movie called: “Hitler the rise of evil” I am quoting Edmund Burke which was mentioned in this movie:
        “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
        Lets hope for peace.

        • John Goss

          Indeed let’s hope for peace. Some have commented that this episode was a prelude to a western-promoted nerve agent attack in Syria to blame on the Syrians and Russians. Russia has been talking of intelligence for some weeks that a chemical attack was planned. This might have been fended off by the Skripal affair which has backfired badly on those who organised it.

          Lovely country Bulgaria. When I cycled through I crossed the Danube by ferry to Silistra then through Varna, Burgas and out over the hill after leaving a village called Maly or Malo something or other. I’ll check my journal.

          • Resident Dissident

            Who are the “some” you are referring to – are they serious people or butters? We need to know.

          • P

            John, thank you very much for your kind words. I love so many things about Britain and your culture myself for many years. Crossed the country three years ago from Cornwall to Scotland. So many beautiful villages, castles, English gardens. I developed myself as a person listening to Pink Floyd. So many great things about your art, culture, science, history I have in my soul. That is the evil those mother fuckers do to us the ordinary people. Instead of talking about nice things, they spread hatred among us.

            I wish you all the best!

          • Stephen

            I had been wondering why the US or Israel hadn’t sent any long range cruise or other type of missiles into Syria since the last big attack on the old Syria air force base after the fake attack on Khan Shaykhun last April.
            I have come to the conclusion that it must be to do with what Russia was able to do to block cruise missiles. If you remember a large % of the cruise missiles aimed at the Syrian air force base went off target. I think it was over 50%. Well if you put that together with the attempted drone swarm attack on the Russian bases not long ago. Russia was able to bring them all down and even take control of some of them They also published the fact that a US spy plane (electronic warfare plane)was looping out over the Med for the whole duration of the swarm attack. There as also been some articles in the past about the Russian jet that buzzed the USS Donald Cook in the Black sea and the ship was disabled and had to limp to the nearest NATO base.
            So in conclusion Russian have some topnotch electronic warfare capabilities deployed in Syria.

      • Ahimsa

        I’ve had similar thoughts come into my awareness John, in relation to the Skripals being actors in the stageplay… I hold them lightly along with every other thread…. Because it is a mystery….

        One thing’s for sure, there are major political chess moves being made on a global basis, and of course, it always comes down to keeping the mass general public divided against each other and conflicted on an individual basis.

        The more people who genuinely transcend this dynamic in their vision, the better.

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