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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    • Agent Green

      Presumably she will be denied any visits from Russians on the spurious grounds that any Russian must acting ‘under the direction of the Kremlin’.

      It’s a farce!

    • TonyT16

      This has to be all a security services exercise. Hard to take the tortuous and senseless plot seriously. In a way, an intelligence test to determine how short the UK’s memory is, and just how gullible the general public is fifteen years on since the Iraq WMD campaign went so well for Tony Blair. The BBC is full of repeats already and this is to all intents and purposes a repeat of the Blair/Colin Powell 2003 fraud which took us to war in Iraq.

      How short is our memory and how gullible are we? Sad to report that our nodding dog media seem to have swallowed this ridiculous story hook, line and sinker, and so have quite a few of the public. Nonetheless my impression is that there is little appetite here to be softened up to follow Washington into more wars in the Middle East (viz Syria and next Iran), let alone out & out conflict with Russia or China who are a lot better equipped than Iraq to teach us very serious lessons.

      • Leonard Young

        Excellent summary. Yes, memories are very short and it does not matter what the interval is between manipulations of public opinion or perceptions. People fall for it every time. It doesn’t seem to matter which fiction is pumped out. As long as the MSM report the fiction, for some inexplicable reason it gets swallowed.

  • Sean Lamb

    Britain continuing its tactic of laundering “evidence” through Russians exiles with organized crime links

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/06/uk-us-case-file-russian-nerve-agent-shikhany-spy-poisoning?CMP=share_btn_tw

    “Boris Kuznetsov, who fled Russia in 2007, said he had handed British diplomats the police case files from the 1995 murder of a Russian banker and his secretary with a toxic substance….Among the documents, which have been seen by the Guardian, are the results of a mass spectrometry and an infrared spectroscopy of the poisonous substance, which was scraped off a telephone receiver used by the businessman Ivan Kivelidi and his secretary. Both died in agony.”

    Boris Kuznetsov was the lawyer for the person arrested and convicted in 2007 and hence fleeing in 2007 might well put him in the category not of political dissident but a co-perpetrator. It appears the first thing he did before fleeing was to take all the scientific data with him. Lets hope that it is backwardly compatible, since mass spec systems were vastly different in 1995.

    In any case, lets not forget that the symptoms of the two victims in 1995 were vastly different from the Skripals. News articles of the time talk about massive kidney failure and no mention of respiratory arrest.

    But it probably doesn’t matter how overwhelmingly dodgy and implausible the evidence is, so long as it backs the British government and looks Russian, it will be accepted without question.

    • James

      This. Chap sounds like a liar and no doubt he is a thief.
      1995 when Yeltsin and the oligarchs were raping Russia . What has that got to do with now?

      • james

        yes – just the type who will be given a large audience too, thanks everything the uk has to hide at this point!

      • Rink

        Kuznetsov is an interesting man with a history of defending high profile cases, often involving government or security services corruption. I’ve posted about him before. It is largely thanks to him that anyone has reported closely on Leonard Rink and the black market in organophosphate poisons in the 90’s. His client in the Kivelidi case was released early, and the case, considered from Kuznotsov’s point of view, looks pretty suspect. Bear in mind that the data he kept records of and recently showed to Novaya Gazeta and the British in Latvia was produced by a Russian State criminal investigation at the time.

        He most famously represented 55 family members of submariners killed on the Kursk. He appears really quite respectable, and rushing to assume that all Russians who were harried out of their country and bear a grudge against the state are liars is sloppy. I say thay as someone who, for example, doesn’t particularly trust Mirzayanov with his personal axes to grind.

        • Dave Lawton

          We buy tons of organophosphates from Russia and so do other countries.The base material.

    • IM

      I don’t exactly follow, how would a lawyer get his hands on this kind of scientific data?

  • Paul

    Sputnik reporting that Viktoria Skripal denied visa.
    BBC state media reporting that her visitors visa application does not conform to Immigration Rules. Do these apply to a visitor’s visa situation. BBC twitter suggest that Viktoria was likely to have been used by Kremlin, and so would have been another victim. Amazing.

    • N_

      does not conform to Immigration Rules

      As if the Home Office doesn’t have discretion!

      Could you imagine it, though? Viktoria could hand Yulia her phone, on her bed or in a day room, and say “Call who you like, Yul’ka!” Poshboys no wanty.

      • Merkin Scot

        “As if the Home Office doesn’t have discretion!”
        .
        The English got Zola Budd ‘the beacon of apartheid’ a Brit passport in a jiffy when it suited them.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    What most people don’t seem to realise, is that arguing with people who you know from your own expereince, is not likely to end up with a good outcome, when they are absolutely determined to do it, is an almost complete and utter waste of time. Such people, are usually very highly motivated individuals. They are not intrinsically evil, they are just determined to achieve and do what they want to achieve and do.

    Rather than argue in such situations, and tell them not to do it, which will make them even more determined to do it, I find its better to agree with them..make friends with them..and agree – its a really good idea, except you may have a better idea, you may not yet have thought of…

    And the guy you are talking with in the same room is holding a grenade, and he has already pulled the nuclear pin out.

    That is what we are dealing with.

    Shooting him, doesn’t work, cos he lets go of the nuclear grenade, and blows the entire world up.

    How do you disarm him?

    Tony

    • TJ

      Tazer him, while his muscles are in contraction, making him grip the grenade, you put the pin back in, then you can shoot him in the head.

      • Tony_0pmoc

        TJ, Not being a policeman, I never thought of that – have you tested it? Best idea I’ve seen yet.

    • Sagittarius Rising

      Tony,

      How do you disarm him – the person about to blow the whole world up?

      That is not possible – not when it is *we* who have armed him and encouraged him to blow us up.

      The only thing that can be done now is to say to the person holding the grenade – ‘go right ahead and blow us all up’.

      It is the ultimate game of chicken. Mrs May must believe that Mr Trump will come to her rescue if/when that ‘grenade’ goes off. Or, both leaders consider that Russia would not dare to let that grenade off to begin with.

      It is fine for the US to imply now that it would come to the aid of the UK once that grenade has gone off but what of UK people killed in the meantime? They cannot then be un-killed.

      This is how the Western leaders think – they defy Russia to pull the trigger, and those same leaders also believe that the people of the UK would not want that trigger to be pulled. They imagine that as ‘sheep’, we are fearful, so will capitulate.

      They are quite quite wrong to imagine this for a moment. The Referendum to Leave the EU should have conveyed to them what the will of the people was and yet still, there is a monumental level of ‘denial’ within government (and Opposition) with regard to that decision.

      So, by way of response to your question – I would say to the Russians, do not back down, pull the trigger if you have to, and if it is *me* and mine who are killed, so be it. At least, our place in history will be assured.

      Tyranny is manifest in so many ways and in this instance, it is the West who are the tyrants.

      Also, I am just so terribly upset at what happened to the Skripal’s cat and guinea-pigs. There is nothing remotely political about their deaths – just abject stupidity and cruelty involved, which was inflicted on totally innocent and harmless animals. I believe one cat is still unaccounted for at this time, as well.

      ‘Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it’ – Mark Twain.

  • N_

    Aren’t these British officials revolting?

    Dr Christine Blanshard, the medical director at the hospital, said on Friday: ‘Following intense media coverage yesterday, (You bastards!) I would like to take the opportunity (Why does what the media printed provide an opportunity? Wouldn’t the statement have been made otherwise?) to update you on the condition of the two remaining patients being treated at Salisbury district hospital. (First rule of advertising: always mention the product.)
    Last Thursday, I informed you that Yulia Skripal’s condition had improved to stable. As Yulia herself says (That bitch! First Whitehall tell me to make sure that no nurse lends Yulia a phone, and then they let her call her cousin.), her strength is growing daily and she can look forward to the day when she is well enough to leave the hospital.’ (Who’s gritting their teeth? Me?)
    She added: “I also (I said “also”, right? So I’m not responding to anything. Honest!) want to update you on the condition of her father, Sergei Skripal. He is responding well to treatment, (Aren’t we great?) improving rapidly (So don’t start thinking that for a couple of weeks now he’s been much less ill than Whitehall ordered us to pretend) and is no longer in a critical condition. (And that’s what he WAS in! OKAY?)”

  • N_

    The Guardian are calling Viktoria “an unpredictable element”.
    Sure that’s not an “antisocial” element or indeed a “cosmopolitan” element?
    Call someone else now, Yulia!

    • N_

      “With so much at stake, neither woman can at this stage be regarded as a free agent”.

      Hahaha! Not like you, then, Patick Wintour, Guardian “diplomatic correspondent” – you’re totally free to say what you want? And you’re not connected with the secret service. It’s just that your free personal choices are indistinguishable from what is required by your handlers in that service and from what is considered in the best collective interests of your class. What a coincidence.

      • bj

        “With so much at stake, .
        Did he really say that? That’s an ominous and telling remark remark.

  • Madeira

    Excerpts from a very interesting article just from today’s New York Times:

    SKRIPAL COUSIN SAYS SHE DOESN’T TRUST BRITAIN ON CHEMICAL ATTACK

    In the interview in Yaroslavl, Russia, where she lives with her husband and her two children, the accountant, Viktoria Skripal, who has been thrust into an escalating confrontation between Russia and the West, also said that she doubted Britain would grant her a visa that would allow her to see her relatives.

    The relatives, Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter, Yulia, have been hospitalized in Salisbury, England, since the attack on March 4. Ms. Skripal’s suspicions, which echo the accusations of Russian officials, have become the country’s latest riposte to British assertions that Moscow was responsible for the attack carried out with a rare class of miltary-grade nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union called novichoks.

    “Wouldn’t you be scared?” she said. “While I don’t know the whole situation, they ask me to voice my opinion,” she said of the British authorities, who she said wanted her to denounce Russia. “If they tell me, ‘We’ll return Yulia to you if you say ‘Russia is filth,’ then I’ll stand up and say ‘Russia is filth’ and take Yulia back to that filth.”

    . . . Viktoria Skripal recorded what she said was a brief call this week from her cousin and turned the recording over to Russian state television, which broadcast it repeatedly. The veracity of the recording could not be confirmed, but Ms. Skripal suggested it was British officials, not Russians, who manipulated the conversation.

    “You heard her — the phone she’s using is temporary, and at the end the line strangely cuts out,” she said. “I think they’ve asked her to call me and give a specific statement.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/06/world/europe/yulia-skripal-russia-britain.html

    • N_

      Is there a tape or Russian-language transcript of Viktoria saying “I think they’ve asked her to call me and give a specific statement”? The context and her exact words need to be analysed.

  • Billy Bostickson

    Update on Julia Skripal’s boyfriend, Stepan Vikeev from Podolsk

    (same city where Victoria Skripal lives, and where Julia’s only remaining pet is being cared for after her cat and dad’s guinea pigs were abused by the met before being slaughtered at Porton Down along with thousands of other guinea pigs)

    Most of his social media profiles, including Linkedin, vk.com, valet.ru, Google + were deleted quite a while ago.

    A snippet of his deleted Linkedin profile reveals he worked for a rather interesting company in Moscow called JSC “NPO “Lepton” ,which developed some equipment used by NASA and in Afghanistan (Aviation hyperspectrometer)

    Stepan Vikeev | LinkedIn
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/stepan-vikeev-38238b9b
    Russian Federation – ‎Lead specialist in international collaboration, JSC NPO Lepton

  • Patrick Mahony

    HMG turn down Viktoria visa application. Outrageous, the Skripals are being held incommunicado, at the mercy of MI5. I hope they don’t suffer same fate as Nash Van Drake and never be seen again.

  • Bunkum

    Blood or Skin?

    https://skwawkbox.org/2018/04/06/skripals-survived-b-c-novichok-in-their-skin-but-porton-down-identified-it-from-their-blood/

    Skripals ‘survived b/c Novichok in their skin’. But Porton Down identified it from their blood
    06/04/2018 · by SKWAWKBOX · in Uncategorized. ·

    Sergei Skripal joins his daughter in recovery
    medics say survival thanks to fact of skin-absorption from door handle
    Porton Down told court poison did reach bloodstream.
    security services briefed media that door-handle method proved Russia behind the act – Russia trains its assassins in least efficient way of delivering the toxin

    The story around the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal gets more convoluted and problematic by the day, almost the hour.

    From being told originally that the Novichok poison used is five, eight or ten times (accounts vary) more toxic than the powerful VX nerve agent – and recently that they absorbed it from their front door handle where it had been applied in a ‘gloopy substance’ – we now have a situation in which all three people contaminated with the toxin have survived, with the announcement today that Sergei Skripal is responding well and is no longer in critical condition.

    Sky News, announcing Mr Skripal’s improvement, explained that they had been told that the Skripal’s were able to recover because the toxin only got into their skin:
    The reporter, who claimed to be quoting a medical source, says the poison got into the “dermis… the second of three layers of the skin” – clearly implying it didn’t get further.

    Yet it did get into their bloodstream, according to Porton Down – who told a court when the government was applying for permission to draw further blood samples for testing by the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons):

    Yet, according to briefings to mainstream media by the security services, the presence of the toxin on the door handle was a ‘smoking gun’ proving that the poisoning was a Russian state operation, since that method was part of training to Russian agents:
    So we have a Russian training manual telling spies to use a method that – according to medical analysis of the Skripals’ survival – doesn’t work very efficiently.

    However, according to experts, organophosphate chemicals like VX and Novichok are:

    easily absorbed through the skin, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.

    The latest news from Salisbury indicates that the Skripals were lucky because the absorption through the skin slowed down the action of the nerve agent. Yet according to the authorities, they were contaminated for long enough to leave traces of the poison at numerous locations around the city.

    Long enough, too, for it to have gone through the skin into the bloodstream, according to Porton Down.

    In spite of all that, the door-handle method supposedly recommended by the Russians to their assassins was what saved the Skripals’ lives.

    • Tony_0pmoc

      Bunkum,

      My earliest experiences of Salisbury was about the same time as I bought myself a Commodore VIC, and learned to write computer games, after being made redundant. I thought it was a really nice town, though I preferred the river in Amesbury, swimming naked, with my new girlfriend (now my wife).

      We hitched a lift back to Stonehenge Free Festival. Strangely enough, We met one of the vestal virgins a few years ago, completely by coincidence at a little orchard overlooking Canterbury a few years ago. She too had survived the experience of Hawkwind. Yes, we were there at the corner of the stage. I asked her why did you do it? She said, well Dave Brock asked me…It was all completely innocent, no weird religions going on. the bloke from Coronation Street didn’t turn up until years later, long after we had all gone back to work. We are going to see Hawkwind later this year. Most of them are still alive, unlike The Grateful Dead.

      The Vestal Virgins start at around 20 mins, after Roy Harper who is also still alive (76)

      “Stonehenge 1984”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5ZWHv6Yc4c

      The world was relatively sensible then, compared to now, even if Margaret Thatcher was in charge. She might have been mad, but she didn’t try and start off a Nuclear War. She made friends with The Russians.

      Tony

      • Billy Bostickson

        Good times, Stonehenge, Sunrise, Hawkwind, Acid, Druids, Free, it’s all gone downhill since!

        Mind you, there were leaks at Porton Down at that time, in the shape of large glass bottles full of white powder, adrenaline? A few nervous licks and a racing heart was what I recall..

        Wonder if security has improved?

    • G.Bng

      Great summary, but to add just one thing if they keep insisting they were affected by a novichok type nerve agent at the house, e.g. the door handle (according to the news just now still the main theory), or possibly via something else, that would still not explain how two people of different ages, sexes, constitutions, and health (Sergei is diabetic which could account for being worse affected and taking a week longer to recover), were able to spend a full 3 hours round and about town, eating, drinking, and feeding the ducks, without feeling any effect (one or both would have called for help had they done so), to then the the effects of the contamination both at exactly the same time as if by alarm clock.

    • Madeira

      But perhaps now the story will now become that Novichok was only confirmed on various surfaces. not in their blood (did they actually ever specify that it was found in the blood?).

      This may of course be a foreshadowing of what the OPCW will report next week.

      • G.Bng

        Your post made me wonder the same thing but having checked the Court of Protection Order, (it is online) giving the state permission to allow the OPCW to take “fresh blood samples” to test for the nerve agent, I don’t see how they will wiggle out of this if as a Sky talking head, alleged CW weapons expert stated today, that the toxin had only entered the epidermis etc. The Order contains various references to the taking of blood samples by or for the OPCW but this quote from the Order would seem to cover our doubts as if they needed to test skin samples as well then the Order would have had to included that too for such a test to be lawful:

        “This in effect is to independently verify the analysis carried out by Porton Down. In order to conduct their enquiries the OPCW wish to
        i) Collect fresh blood samples from Mr and Ms Skripal to
        a) Undertake their own analysis in relation to evidence of nerve agents,
        b) conduct DNA analysis to confirm the samples originally tested by Porton Down are from Mr and Ms Skripal,
        ii) Analyse the medical records of Mr and Ms Skripal setting out their treatment since 4 March 2018,
        iii) Re-test the samples already analysed by Porton Down.”

  • Charles

    Where do you begin?

    Extremely serious unsubstantiated allegations against Russia

    Refusal of Consular access

    Kept needlessly in comas?

    Pets neglected and killed

    False information given out regarding the incident / their conditions

    Refused access to family

    Nearly (might yet) caused WWIII

    Refused help from the people who they accuse of designing the poison

    Forced many businesses in Salisbury to the brink of bankruptcy

    Lied to dozens of other countries regarding the false claims, those countries punished Russia

    Allowed the trail of the real offenders to go cold, refused to consider other suspects

    Made fools of Porton Down, the police and Salisbury Hospital

    I could go on

  • GoAwayAndShutUp

    Do you have any idea of what Chain of Custody (CoC) means?. Last April, in Khan Sheikhoun, by West’s own admission, evidence was collected by the White Helmets. For some “strange” reason any western journalist/NGO worker that tried to be in that area in the past lost his freedom for ransom or lost his head, and you pretend us to believe that the White Helmets are not colluded with Al Qaeda, at least to survive?. Are you arguing that a correct and thorough investigation can be done if that CoC is not preserved?. Then you have this Salisbury circus: the bench, the BMW, Zizzi restaurant, the luggage, the pets left to die, the door knob, the “cart before the horses” (Conclusions before investigation) and the fact that all this evidence will be sealed FOREVER, and you pretend that this is a fair procedure?.

    “Foul means”, as you mentioned, is what has plagued this case form start to this point, including BoJo saying that he didn’t say what he said, and the UK MSM forgiving him.

  • Jones

    Viktoria Skripal denied visitor visa on grounds of not complying with immigration rules, the security services would monitor the visit and make sure there was no health danger to Yulia/Sergei so the only reason to stop the visit is to stop information passing between them, precedents are being set for future relations uk is playing a dangerous game, imagine the outrage if Russia denied access to a uk citizen well this action legitimizes it.

    • N_

      A Home Office spokesman said: “We have refused a visitor visa application from Viktoria Skripal on the grounds that her application did not comply with the immigration rules.
      Which rule? What does it even mean for a visa application not to comply with the rules? They could say she didn’t provide a photograph, or she omitted to answer one of the questions, or she didn’t establish sufficient need for an urgent visit. But her application did not comply with the rules? Are there rules saying what you can and can’t write on Home Office forms now? Did a kid in the office write this statement and nobody checked it? That seems unlikely unless there is panic.

  • Borij Ohnson

    Anyone spot, that the paragraphs in the Guardian’s story are in the wrong order. They mention “Rink” before explaining who he is … the guy who arranged for Novichok to be made in his garage in the 1990s before selling it to the Russian mafia

    “Leonid Rink, a former employee of the chemical weapons facility, admits in case files seen by the Guardian and first reported by Reuters to enlisting a scientist to develop a batch of the nerve agent in his garage and sell it to an organised crime group. He was caught before the murder of Kivelidi, but the nerve agent was later used in the killing.”

    Hmmm….

    • Sean Lamb

      It is also not correct. The murder happened in 1995, they received the statement allegedly from Rink in 1999 at which point the main suspect fled overseas. He returned in 2007 thinking he would be protected by statute of limitations.

      If they had already had Rink’s alleged statement in 1995, prosecutors could have proceeded immediately

  • Sean Lamb

    At least the Brits are taking data privacy of hamsters with all due care

    http://www.thevets.tv/

    “We contacted the police straightaway upon hearing the news that Mr Skripal had been admitted to hospital, and a number of times afterwards,to make them aware of Mr Skripal’s pets and their needs. We also offered to care for them in his absence. We were never contacted by the police in return regarding Mr Skripal’s pets.

    As you well know, we’re bound by UK Data Protection Regulations (soon the GDPR). In addition, client confidentiality is of the utmost importance to us. We cannot and will not give out any details about our clients or their animals – no matter who you are.”

    But the hamsters had to go, they had either seen too much – or perhaps too little.

  • Harry Law

    Victoria cousin of Yulia is denied a visa, this is beyond disgusting and in the circumstances proves beyond doubt that this Government are the filthiest human scum imaginable. It will backfire on bastards, mark my words.

  • Charles

    Have they been charged for their medical expenses yet?

    When the film comes out will John Cleese and Joanna Lumley be up for the leads?

    • bj

      It’s a shame Andrew Sachs is not with us anymore. Wonder which role he might have played. Anyway, this whole story is beyond satire.

  • Ivan

    I don’t know what the British authorities think they are doing by not allowing a near relation of Skripals to visit them. It seems to be another attempt at managing the “news”. This is an epic fail. That woman Victoria is like everybody’s idea of a big sister or agony aunt. Even the DM crowd will have difficulty swallowing this.

    • Spaull

      The DM crowd haven’t been swallowing any of this for some time. The highest rated comments are utterly contemptuous of the official narrative.

    • Tony_0pmoc

      That word is banned even from Off-Guardian, who I think are Great….though it could be the method of connection that censors anything containing that word, before it even arrives.

      Now why would they do that?

      Guilty conscience?

      I mean, I don’t mind anyone in the world slagging off us English. I admit we are guilty, and The Americans don’t mind too. Everone knows they are guilty too.

      Its like Basil Fawlty – Don’t mention “The War”

      Sore Thumb?

      And its not The Germans, The Russians, nor even The French – and they are as guilty as hell too.

      Good job, I was brought up as a Catholic. I can happily slag them off too.

      Tony

  • alexandre

    Excellent analysis. I had been beginning to think there really was some convincing intelligence behind the campaign. You are also right about the phone call – if genuine it is quite disturbing that Yulia knew that her cousin couldn’t get a visa.This was the detail that had made me think, at first, that the recording might be fake – surely the UK would not deny a close relative a visa in such circumstances and , in any case, how would Yulia know? That the visa was actually refused (on trumped up ‘immigration rules’ grounds) is the most suspicious event yet .

    • TonyT16

      Just watched Channel4 News. The story gets more and more bizarre.

      Shortform analysis is and can only be that some time ago Theresa May armtwisted twenty eight countries to join the UK in expelling a large number of Russian diplomats because of a lethal extra-judicial assassination attempt on British soil in Salisbury using chemical weapons, allegedly but guaranteed by the UK without question to have been orchestrated by Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. Next a couple of days ago Porton Down stated they could not source the chemicals as being from Russia. Today we find out that the only victims of the world-peace-threatening chemical weapons attack were two guinea pigs. The Skripals are alive and well, but family visitors from their homeland are being prohibited from access.

      So far no evidence any self-respecting judge or jury would consider acceptable.

      How much longer can this nonsense go on? C4 News interviewed a dodgy looking and sounding American businessman who simply repeated the same old, same old script of how Putin and the Kremlin are the sole source of evil in the world.

      This is painful, and extraordinarily amateurish.

  • knuckles

    Well one thing is for DEFINITE; there is absolutely no way England, and the hooligans who follow, are turning up for the WC. Not a fucking chance. After denying the relative a visa. Haha.

    Russia should go out of its way to get them over. Free flights. Free hotels. Free hospital beds.

    The world football community was looking forward to the Russian welcome and now the English have bottled it. A pity. With a history of violence like England’s toward normal, decent fans (men, women and children) everyone had the popcorn ready.

    • Tony_0pmoc

      knuckles,

      There is absolutely no way The England Football Team, and England supporters are not turning up in Russia For The World Cup.

      The Russians will welcome us with open arms.

      They realise its Our Government who are Totally Mad.

      Russians are not stupid. I have always found them very welcoming and generous.

      Tony

      • nevermind

        I hope you are right Tony, because one would not want to see you having to wear a barbed wired round your thigh.
        Opus Dei is everywhere and please readers, do not trust any religious outfit with teaching morals to your children…..

      • Tony_0pmoc

        That’s even easier you can drive there.

        A few years ago, I was selling an old banger on ebay. The best offer I got was £450 from a bloke in Lithuania. He flew over on Easyjet for about £35, and drove it back to Lithuania. The car was perfectly O.K – in fact it was really nice. It just needed a new exhaust pipe, which I included in the boot. My lad just couldn’t be bothered to fit it, and neither could I.

        We trusted each other. He paid cash. I wasn’t going to lie to someone who had travelled all the way from Lithuania to buy my car.

        Tony

    • Tatyana

      hey, knuckles, I’ve seen the ads here and there stating you can apply for a ‘international football fan’ permission, so you’ll have free train tickets on railways from city to city. We are bringing new highway and raialway routs to bring it all up.
      Please, let me know if my government’s lied about that.

      • Kempe

        It’s a FIFA run scheme called FAN-ID and is a compulsory document, essentially a photo ID card, all fans must carry to get into the matches even if they have valid tickets. Essentially a security item, the free rail travel being nothing more than bait.

        • Sergei

          Considering Russian distances, free rail travel is not just some bait, but a generous gift.

  • Martin

    Apologies if this has been posted before (there are a LOT of comments on this blog post).

    Epic George Galloway rant summarising the Skripal ‘poisioning’. Whilst I don’t agree with much of Galloway’s political views, he has called this one correctly. He must be reading Craig’s blog as his points are very similar.

    https://youtu.be/32ylnBrADkQ

  • Stephen

    I think the denied visa is a non story.
    If this is a false flag and no nerve agent was used which i see as the most likely explanation for the miraculous recovery and the very quick campaign of blaming Russia. Then the most likely case is that Sergei and Yulia are part of it.
    They are thus resigned to the fact that any connection they still have to Russia is null and void. They will be getting a new life and all the bonuses that entails once they have served their purpose.
    If i am anywhere new
    ar close to the reason then it would be the Skripal’s as well as their benefactors who will make sure that there will never be any points of contact with anyone associated with Russia.
    Will Victoria be exfiltrated at some prearranged time in the future. Maybe after the death of Sergei’s Mother if they are close to her and haven’t sacrificed that connection.

    • Martin

      Interesting theory Stephen. But I think Sergei’s knowledge of how secret intelligence works, he’d know his value as an asset would be zero after willingly participating in such an event. He’d have been of much more propaganda value if the claimed Novichok had actually worked and there was no risk of him exposing some type of false flag he’d participated in.

      I think it’s more likely that his alleged input into the discredited Steele dossier (if that’s ever proven), now made him a risk and this was seen as a chance to silence someone, and use it for anti Russia propagand (never do business with the Clintons!). Only it seems to have failed.

      • Stephen

        I have looked at that side of this charade and yes there could be connections but I don’t see it coming to anything. Trump is never going to get to hold those who did that attempted take down accountable. Sessions has shown he is in the pocket of the deepstate and Trump is too weak to replace him.Trump won’t be in office long enough to get to the real backers of his attempted take down and those who committed it are all connected to the Neocons he has started surrounding himself with.
        Considering there is no explanation yet as to why “exercise Toxic Dagger” was moved to from April last year to Feburary 20th this year(3 weeks) covering the date of the attack.
        Also your hypothesis doesn’t cover for why our government was so quick to blame Russia without the evidence.I think there are too many holes in the Steele connection for them to be able to put all the pieces in place that were and hit the daughter too.
        I think I will stick with my guess.

        • Martin

          Very valid points Stephen. I also worry about the Hawks / Neocons Trump has surrounded himself with. John Bolton in particular. Operation Toxic Dagger seems to be too much of a coincidence too.

          I think the government blaming Russia was pre planned, but failed to take into account the potential of people that don’t just absorb mainstream media rhetoric, and that can think critically. But that’s not many of the population now. Russia dared to step outside of / counter the western plan to overthrow the Assad government, and Russia targetted and have almost defeated the ISIS regime created and funded by the CIA (they were once called the Arab spring, but ISIS was a destabilising creation). This makes Russia a target by whatever means necessary.

    • N_

      For the Skripals to play roles knowingly in a British-run false flag operation would be very dangerous. They couldn’t be sure they wouldn’t end up dead. They would only do it if they were made an offer they couldn’t refuse.

      If they were up to something other than having a meal and a drink, it’s more likely they THOUGHT they were couriering for Russian mafia. As they are certainly aware, where there’s Russian mafia there’s FSB. That remains true even if the Russian mafia figures are working for British intelligence.

      (On Yulia: it has been alleged that she worked at the US embassy in Moscow from 2007 to 2008, after her father got arrested. So while the US is willing to give a Russian traitor’s daughter a job at its embassy, Britain won’t even give his niece an entry visa.)

      • Stephen

        Yes they are valid points, but Russian agents of any type going to Salisbury or all places when a chemical warfare exercise is being played out with 300 MoD & Porton Down personnel in the area. Salisbury would be a very dangerous place for foreign agents go anywhere near at the quietest of times let alone at the worst of times.
        The link is to a simple search for military bases near Salisbury. I don’t know about secret ones obviously.

        https://uk.search.yahoo.com/local/s;_ylt=AwrJS9O_28daHT4AvMNLBQx.;_ylu=X3oDMTByZmVxM3N0BGNvbG8DaXIyBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–?p=military+bases&addr=Salisbury&fr=yfp-t

  • Charles

    I despise the Israelis responsible for Palestinian atrocities I am therefore antisemitic.

    I distrust the British government and support the Russians over the Skripal scandal therefore I am a troll.

    I believe the British Justice system is corrupt, not fit for purpose, it protects wicked sick criminals in high office, I am therefore a conspiracy theorist.

    I, of course, reject those conclusions I do however have an extremely disturbing confession (for me anyway) I for the first time in my life am ashamed to be British. I could weep.

    • bj

      I’m not a Brit. But, speaking for myself, I am highly encouraged and pleasantly surprised to read, on this forum and others, that there are so many, from all ranks, in Britain, that just refuse to buy the bull that they get served by their ‘govern’-ment, and that see through all the theatre that is being enacted.
      Gives me the feeling “I am not alone”.

  • Sharp Ears

    Pure unadulterated chutzpah. He should be given a job in the FCO! 😉

    ‘Boris Johnson‏Verified account @BorisJohnson · 3h3 hours ago
    I welcome the US taking further decisive action against Russian malign state activity by sanctioning more Russian entities with Kremlin links. The international community continues to show that persistent Russian hostility will be tolerated no longer.

    Boris Johnson‏Verified account @BorisJohnson · 3h3 hours ago
    Sergei Skripal’s improved condition is both great news, and testament to the quick work of our world-class emergency services and NHS staff, who have been paramount to his and Yulia’s recovery. I thank all involved and wish Sergei & Yulia a quick return to full health.

    https://twitter.com/BorisJohnson

    • Laguerre

      Yulia’s telephone call had a good effect. They can’t be exterminated any more, to fit the story (“unfortunate sudden demise, for reasons not yet understood.”)

      • Tatyana

        This is exactly what I think. It was very wise of Julia to find a way to call her cousin. If only it really was Julia.
        All we know here in Russia is from media, because no data come from due channels. Nobody has seen Skripals, nobody can even prove the man and woman in the Salisbury hospital are Skripals.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/russia/entry-requirements

    “To enter Russia you’ll need a visa before travel. Make sure you apply for the correct type and duration of visa and that you abide by the conditions of your visa. During periods of high demand, you should apply for your visa well in advance. For example, tourist visa applications normally take 10 working days to be processed, but this will be longer during busy periods.”

    Travelling to Russia is Easy – far easier and cheaper than travelling to India used to be.

    Cheapest deal I have found in 2 mins £169 return (direct) London to Moscow.

    Tony

  • John Spencer-Davis

    The Guardian cites additional evidence that nobody but the Russian state could have done this poisoning, including Russian police case files from 1995 and testimony from a former employee of the laboratory identified as the source that he enlisted “a scientist to develop a batch of the nerve agent” and then sold it “out of his garage to an organised crime group”.

    https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/uk-and-us-given-case-file-on-nerve-agent-made-in-russian-lab/ar-AAvyCxt?li=AAmiR2Z&ocid=spartandhp

    • IM

      So all of a sudden when their case started to fall apart in public they miraculously got “secret files”… Just how gullible do some people think others are?!

  • Randy Sirius

    I’m thinking that Trump has suddenly become adverse to opening and closing doors without gloves on, after floating the idea that the US should pull out of Syria. If you ask cui bono in this Skripal false flag, it’s actually Israel, “by way of deception” again and again.

  • Dr. Ip

    Am I the only one laughing at this theater of the absurd?

    It reminds me of Rhinoceros by Eugène Ionesco (1959). Everywhere I look, people are shape-shifting into unspeakably horrid things, and they cannot see that they themselves have been transformed. Were they once human? Did they once love?

    It’s both frightening and absurdly funny.

    Next, I suppose we’ll all have to wait for Godot.

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