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?

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1,316 thoughts on “Knobs and Knockers

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  • Douglas Turner

    Imagine the furore if the Chinese authorities in Hong Kong had concluded that the use of V X in the murder of Kim Jong-Nam implicated the British state on the grounds that the nerve agent was manufactured here.

    • JakeMorris

      Not even manufactured, but merely invented! That’s like blaming Henry Deringer (inventor of the gun used by John Wilkes Booth) for the murder of Abraham Lincoln, except in our case Lincoln’s recovered after being purportedly shot in the head at point blank range using a bullet 10 times more deadly than any other bullet. Oh, and we also can’t see Lincoln, and nobody saw Booth either, but we’re still certain Deringer’s guilty because “there is no other plausible alternative”.

      Although even that doesn’t fully cover the ridiculousness of the situation…

    • G.Bng

      I’ve often thought the same. And talking about the assassination with VX of Kim Jong-Nam, I only found out recently with all of this that VX in that case was used as a binary weapon each woman wiping him across the face with a flannel or something impregnated with the two substances needed to make it toxic, when the way they keep going on about Novichok being “binary” you’d think it was unique… or perhaps I’m misreading!

  • knuckles

    Russian Ambassador to the UK’s press conference is hilarious.

    Absolutely destroying the British position one lie at a time. Clear win for Russia when you can clearly sight international law over and over again and question why Britain has failed to follow it (again). The British has become complacent with there lies after their success with the carnage unleashed on the world stage previous. Russia ain’t no defenseless third world nation.

    Must be over an hour of loaded questions from the hacks and he keeps knocking them out of the park one after another. Could you image the Maybot or the coke fiend lasting more than 5 minutes…….”let me be clear”………….’nothing has changed”………..”Novichok means Novichok”…………..

    Statesmen like versus Eton mess.

    Incidentally maybe some one could explain the support of this pure xenophobic anti Russian conditioning ingrained in the little Britain public against Putin and his government, perpetuated for the benefit of the 1% oil and war lobby? He kicked a western puppet called Yeltsin and the western vulture funds/asset strippers out of Russia and turned a FAILED state, created by these parasites, into a world power that can confront western/Nato imperialism in their never ending quest to attain other peoples money. He has raised every aspect of Russian living standards up to western standards in less than 20 years. People of the west are crying out for such a leader. A patriot who puts country before Wall st and the LSE.

    • Tom Welsh

      Read Sigmund Freud’s last book, “Civilization and its Discontents” (1930). Although featuring quite a lot of Freud’s now-unfashionable theories, it also makes a lot of very sensible points. Looking back to WW1, Freud says that he thinks human beings can manage to get along together in society – just about – but only on condition that they have an external enemy to hate. The enemy gives them something to agree about, a common front. (Note that Freud wrote this 18 years before “1984” was published).

      Nowadays it’s quite hard for politicians to find an external enemy against whom to whip up popular hatred. Obviously all black people are right out – there goes the whole of Africa and the Caribbean. Americans, Europeans and the Commonwealth are off limits too. Brown and yellow people – still not good, as you run a serious risk of being seen as racist.

      OK. Who is white (mostly), Christian, not American or aligned with “the West”, yet powerful enough to be a credible “deadly threat”?

      There really isn’t anyone left except Russia.

      • knuckles

        ”Nowadays it’s quite hard for politicians to find an external enemy against whom to whip up popular hatred.”

        I disagree. Division and the ‘enemy’ are being shoved down our throats on a daily basis by the 1%, the MSM, Cambridge Analytica et al. Just look at the landing page of any Murdoch/Dacre/…. hate platform.

        Male v female, vegan v meat eater, faith v faith v no faith, rich v poor, sport fan v sport fan, worker v worker, school v school………………………..its relentless division and hatred sowed by the 1%. No aspect of society, internal or external, is left untouched by these parasites. And then read the sheeple BTL. Moron after moron completely invested in the hate-fest.

        For what end are these useful idiots enabling the billionaire class?

        Just yesterday, Trump stated the US was ”pulling out of Syria, it cost us to much money” followed up by the US ”will only stay in Syria IF Saudi Arabia pays for it”. Imagine being the parent of a US soldier. Nothing more than cannon fodder for money. Its a sick joke.

      • N_

        Or as Herman Goering put it:

        The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

        Have a look at the attitudes prevalent in the British army – on which the best online source is “”. Many soldiers think the enemy fought in Iraq etc. will fairly soon be fought in Bradford etc. Fear of being called “racist” isn’t evident.

  • pies mchugh

    …. and who recorded the phone conversation? getting both sides, it must be tapped? who tapped it and then who released it to the public domain?

    • IM

      Apparently it was her sister who recorded it, and, ICYDK, recording calls on mobiles is not that hard at all, and you might want to check if “There’s an App for that” 😉

      • pies mchugh

        still user of “un-smart” phones- not got to the stage of “Apps” yet

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Why no comments about Russia taking its complaints about British government treatment of the Salisbury attack to the UN Security Council, thanks to what Craig has determined, and Corbyn has picked up on???

  • typical.russian

    Hi, Craig! Glad to inform you that your command of Russian is quite good and your translation of the conversation between Yulia Skripal in Salisbury Hospital and her cousin Viktoria is correct. Best regards and best wishes!

  • Bob Apposite

    Who the heck cares this much about the Skripal stuff?

    Let’s take Murray’s ideas to their logical conclusion.
    Let’s posit that the whole Skripal thing is faked to get the Russian ambassadors out and counteract Russian spying and election meddling and whatnot.

    Who cares?
    Russia shouldn’t be spying and election meddling ANYWAY.

    • nevermind

      Neither should the US of bloody, (especially in schools) of A, Bob, are you trying to teach Russia to suck eggs?
      The interference in elections up and down the American continent and elsewhere is well known. You must concur, shirley.

    • GoAwayAndShutUp

      If spying and election meddling is going to be the new bar by which you expel ambassadors, Would you please tell me in which country Western nations would have ambassadors yet?. And, Would you please point us to any link with solid proof of election meddling by Russia, other than the report by the 17 intelligence agencies, blah, blah, blah, with Moderate Confidence and High Confidence?

      Quoting the document:

      High confidence generally indicates that judgments are based on high-quality information from multiple sources. High confidence in a judgment does not imply that the assessment is a fact or a certainty; such judgments might be wrong.

      Moderate confidence generally means that the information is credible sourced and plausible but not sufficiently quality or corroborated sufficiently to warrant a higher level of confidence.

      Those definitions, after “indicates” and “means” are vague enough by their own but then you precede them by “generally” to add another level of uncertainty.

    • Dieter

      “Russia shouldn’t be spying and election meddling ANYWAY.”

      The problem here is that we don’t know about Russian election meddling, except on a very amateurish level.

      We do, however, know for certain that the British intelligence community including the pillars of British society like Lord Ivar Mountbatton at SCL and Cambridge Analytica is systematically perverting the democratic process around the world (more than 200 elections). We do know that British spies like Steel have produced an absurd file to meddle with the US election. We do know that they fabricated Saddam’s WMDs stories …

      And who tells us that the Russian internet accounts active during the US election weren’t Russian hackers hired by Cambridge Analytica? Alexander Nix of CA is on record as describing exactly such false flag methods.

  • Sharp Ears

    There is so much repetition on here as if people are desperate to have only their voice heard. No more transcripts of Yulia’s phone conversation are needed! Doesn’t anyone read back?

    • Madeira

      Sorry, I posted it 2 minutes after the previous poster, which I hadn’t seen since it took me more than 2 minutes to format my post. On some sites one has the possibility to delete messages for a few minutes after posting, however it doesn’t seem that this is possible on this site.

      • Sharp Ears

        Sorry to sound so grumpy Madeira. I wasn’t getting at you. Just that I am ill today and wanted to see a doctor urgently about my breathing. I have been a patient at the practice since 1979
        I was offered an appointment for 24th April!!

        I am so angry that these lying Tories have also wrecked the NHS with their Health and Social Act 2012. The service is fragmented, the staff are demoralized.

        The mantra is Demoralize. Destsblize. Dismantle.

        In 5 years you will have to go with your credit card or your private health insurance details.

        It is very sad.

  • Springfield Jack

    Ah,those cunning Ruskies!I can hear the briefing now, “Remember,comrades, the dog shit on the door handle trick works for Nerve Agents too!Its all in the manual,make sure you read it”

  • Euryale

    Or maybe she thinks that her cousin won’t be allowed out of Russia, in the current circumstances?

    • Merkin Scot

      “Or maybe she thinks that her cousin won’t be allowed out of Russia, in the current circumstances?”
      That is quite likely. The Russians won’t want to put her cousin at risk of a revenge attack from Boris et al.

    • typical.russian

      She thinks that her cousin won’t be allowed TO BRITAIN in current circumstances. Because her cousin expressed clear and loud intention to bring them both back to Russia

      • Euryale

        Yulia has been coming and going between the 2 countries for a while, so no reason for her cousin to think that’s going to change, if she is well enough to travel. The cousin doth protest too much, methinks. Was that for the benefit of the FSB, or whoever else managed to facilitate the recording of an unexpected phone call??

    • N_

      Wasn’t “Russia won’t let people out” a favourite Tory thought back in the 1970s? The Russian authorities have already said that Viktoria Skripal should be given a British visa without delay for urgent humanitarian reasons, as indeed she should.

  • typical.russian

    Some additional info. Yulia’s cousin Viktoria recorded the conversation and gave it to TV crew. She confirmed it herself

  • mogabee

    BBC in Moscow ‘helping’ Viktoria to complete visa application said UK’s Russian Ambassador!

    Best thriller I’ve watched for years, and despite TMay and her band of merry men, could have serious repercussions.

    • IM

      You’re assuming she would be given a visa to travel… As Yulia said in the conversation: “nobody is going to give you that, you understand” (I quote from memory).

  • Madeira

    A (plausible?) interpretation of today’s events regarding Yulia:

    1. Yulia makes an unauthorised, surreptitious phone call to her cousin in Moscow — the general reaction is that this must be a fake (I have to admit, it was my first reaction as well).

    2. It is obviously very inconvenient for the first concrete indication that she is is “fine” (and that “everything is fixable”) to be revealed on Russian television. Someone who didn’t know better might almost think that she had previously been denied the opportunity to communicate with the outside world.

    3. Lo and behold, a couple of hours later a “sanitised” statement from her is released by the Metropolitan police, in which her first thoughts are of course not with her family and friends in Russia, but with the fine folk of Salisbury. No mention, of course, that “everything is fixable”.

      • Pyotr Grozny

        The statement through the police suggests the phone call is genuine.

        Just a thought, is she allowed TV in there? How much does she about the impact of this story.

        • Euryale

          Depends on what ward she is on. If she’s still in intensive care, no. If she’s been moved to a different ward, then yes, there will be a TV.

        • sg

          The phone call was a head fake. There is absolutely no way they let her get hold of a phone if she was being denied access to one. The Russians also know this. She is not going back to Russia, The ruse is so she can get her money out or biding time for the big Russia did it narrative. She is in it up to her teeth. This is Sergei’s big payday and she will get her asylum. UK gov’t get their continued sanctions and maybe more. This isn’t some two bit plan it must have been in the works for a long time and a few keyboard truth tellers aren’t getting in the way of it. They have shown their level of control in the media and their intent to ignore an accusations of impropriety. This game is in the early stages still.

          • frances

            I agree this event was part of a larger game plan. The reason is now appears so odd is because the other parts of the UK and US deep state game have been compromised.
            This poisoning was timed to match up with a series of CW attacks in Syria to be pinned on Syria and Russia which were to be used to: justify a full-on US/UK/Fr invasion and the destruction of Damascus and, the expulsion of Russia from the UN Security Counsel and possibly SWIFT.
            But it all fell to bits when from what I have read:
            Russia and Syria got wind of the CW plan and captured the CW factories and personnel and the Russian military got hold of Pentagon plans to invade Syria and bomb Damascus which they presented to the US military who got it to Trump.
            Trump then asked Pompeo to find out if it was true and who was behind it, Pompeo found out it was true and that Rex was part of the plan.
            Trump recalled Rex, who realized the jig was up and said he stood with the UK re Russia despite being on notice that he was fired. And with Rex out, the Pentagon bombing shut down, May was left swinging in the wind with her poisoned spy story which if the other events had rolled as planned would have been covered up and over by the far larger events.
            Man makes his plans, and the gods laugh.

        • N_

          In some British hospitals, the management has signed a contract with a TV supplier which stipulated that the effing TV has to be switched on all the time during the day and no-one’s allowed to turn it off.

          Imagine being in a prison cell.
          “What are you in for?”
          “I turned a TV set off when I was in hospital, got sued and fined, and refused to pay the fine.”

    • bj

      Does anybody know when this supposed phone-call was made — if a date has been reported? She says she recovered more than a week ago, but we do not necessarily need to count back those seven days from today.

    • venice12

      “. Someone who didn’t know better might almost think that she had previously been denied the opportunity to communicate with the outside world.”


      “Two Moscow reporters have specialized in this investigation – Lev Speransky and Yekaterina Sveshnikova. They have also published excerpts from the Skripal family photo album. Their evidence is that Yulia Skripal is human enough to want to call home.

      However, she cannot do so. Salisbury Hospital officials, who have confirmed her capacity to listen and speak by telephone, will not say why.
      On March 29, the hospital reported she was “improving rapidly and is no longer in a critical condition. Her condition is now stable. Her father remains in a critical but stable condition.” The British state radio has reported “separate sources that Ms Skripal is conscious and talking.”

      Following these reports, the head of the hospital Cara Charles-Barks (right) and her two press spokesmen were asked what telephone contact Yulia Skripal has made with her next of kin in Moscow. They are refusing to answer. They were also asked to clarify the hospital’s policy on contact between patients and next of kin, and to give their legal authority for blocking communication between Yulia Skripal and her next of kin in Russia. They do not reply.”


    Thank god for foresight, for many years I have covered my hand with my sleeve when using a public loo.

  • SA

    Comrade 1
    What did you do with the spy manual about poison on door knobs that I asked you to give to Kapitain Boris?
    Comrade 2
    I gave it to Boris
    Comrade 1
    But he didn’t get it. Which Boris is that?
    Comrade 2
    Boris the slob with funny hair.
    Comrade 1
    You fool that is not the Boris I meant. Off to Siberia with you.

  • Patrick Roden

    Hi Craig,
    Just going to throw this ‘out there’
    Wasn’t Segie Skripal used by a British Private Security Firm to discredit Donald Trump, with the story about him being caught with a Russian prostitute who he liked to urinate on?
    Wasn’t Skirpal the ‘ Ex Russian Security Operative ‘ who allegedly leaked the details of this ‘evidence’ to the British Firm, theefore giving the story some credibility?

    I have heard that Skirpal may have been about to leak information about Cambridge Analytica!
    Have you (or anyone on here) heard about this?
    This would take to story onto another level and perhaps explains why Yulia, is claiming everything is ‘alright’

    She sounds like she knows she will be being listened too, and knows that there are people who are prepared to go to any lengths to silence her and her father.

    • N_

      She sounds like she knows she will be being listened (to)</i."

      No shit, Sherlock!

      • Patrick Roden

        No need to be a twat, but then again you’re probably too thick to understand that.

        ‘listened too, AND people who are prepared…….

  • D_Majestic

    Since the ‘News’ of the phone call emerged, there is a rash of the usually-known trolls plus many newbies pushing the official line at the ‘Indy’. Many quotes from,and links to, ‘The Guardian’! Going into overdrive just doesn’t cover it.

  • Roger G Lewis

    It is quite apparent that the Kakistrocratic establishment has far to many able people outside the Threadbare tent Pissing in now than it is possible to silence. Absurdities are layered upon absurdities and more and more people must be shaking their heads in dismay and re-coiling in disgust.

    Ben Wallace MP has been substituting for the awful Boris the terrible and making a pretty good fist of being a complete moron.

    ‘Gainst Marmion, charge disproved and vain?
    Small risk of that, I trow.
    Yet Clare’s sharp questions must I shun;
    Must separate Constance from the nun –
    Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practise to deceive!
    A Palmer too!—no wonder why
    I felt rebuked beneath his eye:
    I might have known there was but one
    Whose look could quell Lord Marmion.”

    Such a Basket of Rogues

    Q: And what would you do, if there was a rebellion that managed to reclaim the British Isles for the Gael?
    A: Exactly that. Reclaim the British Isles for the Gael. And for the English. And for the Scots. And for the Cornish. And for the Welsh. And for the Manx. For the British! We shall reclaim Albion in the name of Alba!**

    • Sharp Ears

      Now steady on Roger. Donchaknow he is ex Scots Guard and a servant of the Queen. He is a bodyguard and a member of the Royal Company of Archers. Also late overseas director of Qinetiqi, associated with the Dstl group.
      ‘From 2003 to 2005 he was overseas director of QinetiQ, the UK’s part-privatised National Defence Laboratory’ . Iraq war??
      What were the Tories in Wyre and Preston N thinking of when they put him in?

      Wonder what gruesome work the Scots Guards were involved in in Central America?

    • bj

      I’ve still got this offer outstanding:
      Anyone who registers the first use of the word Coalition gets a virtual beer, or a virtual bouquet of flowers — whichever they prefer.

  • pete

    Re knobs and knockers.

    Good for you Craig, I particularly liked the sentence “Motorola sales agent Gary Aitkenhead – inexplicably since January, Chief Executive of Porton Down chemical weapons establishment.” it made me laugh out loud.
    I wonder how that job interview went.

  • G.Bng

    An even better update, Yulia Skripal just released a statement through Scotland Yard:

    “I woke up over a week ago now and am glad to say my strength is growing daily. I am grateful for the interest in me and for the many messages of goodwill that I have received. I have many people to thank for my recovery and would especially like to mention the people of Salisbury that came to my aid when my father and I were incapacitated. Further than that, I would like to thank the staff at Salisbury District Hospital for their care and professionalism. I am sure you appreciate that the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence.”

    Short and sweet and not unexpectedly extremely non-commital and non-informative.

    • Paul

      Like to see a linguistic comparison of this official statement and the other weapons-grade nerve agent convalescent, Bailey, from whom we have heard nothing further because the British media is so famously good at respecting people’s privacy when they ask nicely.

  • DelicateDave

    Great work chap. It’s easy to see when the press questions please what’s happening here;

    Labour – Why do you trust the Russians more than the UK?
    Russia – Why do you keep trying to make excuses?
    Uk Gov – Why do you think the Russians won’t admit it?

  • typical.russian

    The latest piece of weaponized Russian sarcasm: ” Pizza ‘Four Novichoks’ at half price for officers of MI5 and MI6″.

  • Dave

    At the Westminster event the INTERIM Met Commander was in attendance, saw what happened and then drove away! But note, it happened whilst an INTERIM was in charge. At Salisbury the event happed whilst (I’m sure I read somewhere) an INTERIM commander was in charge of Wiltshire police. And both events were preceded by DRILLS.

    • Steve Rhodes

      Just like the FEMA exercise taking place close to the WTC on September 11th 2001. Coincidence of course. Giggles.

    • lissnup

      Intriguing. Hadn’t heard about the drills so I dix a quick search and found a report about one at the Israeli Embassy in London last Novichokember.

    • frances

      And just like:
      the bombing drill that was taking place during the Boston Bombing event and,
      just like:
      the live shooter drill that was taking place at the same time as the Florida school shooting, right down to having the Army trainers onsite through the entire event.
      Bastards, the lot of ’em.

    • frances

      Dave, the drill was for a CW poison attack, I love how they are always an exact match for the “actual” event. Just magical.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I have to disagree with you about nerve agents not being able to be delayed action, Mr Murray. I am not saying such things have been developed, much less that they were used in Salisbury, I am saying that the principles which might allow it to be developed are fairly well known.

    The principle is really that the active compound (i.e. nerve agent) is held in inactive form, being activated by a specific trigger. Biological systems have enormous numbers of examples of such controlled activation/deactivation. Activation mechanisms include binding of calcium; phosphorylation of specific amino acids within a protein; cleavage of an active protein from a membrane-bound precursor allowing it to travel freely around e.g. the bloodstream; stimulation by particular wavelengths of light (all photosynthesis depends upon this).

    Obviously I am not going to list generic mechanisms by which nerve agents might be activated, but I can think of at least six. And if I as an ex biologist can think of six, I am sure that chemists, engineers, materials scientists etc currently active can as well….

    I am of the opinion that if an assassination programme using nerve agents were developed by any state or organisation, Russia, Israel or anyone else, they would be very keen for the assassin to leave the scene long before the nerve agent were activated. So I can certainly imagine ‘military grade novichok’ being a suitable description for weapons developed not for mass murder but for targeted assassination. They would used in military style assassination missions…..

    However, in my view the evidence is currently pointing toward Julia Skripal not having been exposed to a nerve agent at all, ditto PC Bailey. I remain to be convinced that she was ever seriously ill, although I could certainly be convinced that military actors could have threatened to have her bumped off if she said a word to anyone as to what has really gone on the past four weeks. She may have been seriously ill, but releasing contemporaneous medical notes goes against long-standing medical practice. So we are all supposed to trust May, Johnson, MI6 etc without ever seeing evidence. MPs certainly are not worthy guardians of our ‘need to know’….and the thought of Boris Johnson presiding as a judge would obviate the need for medical laxatives for life….

    I would like to ask you this Mr Murray: why are hypercompetitive sociopaths, who rise far more often into senior ranks than desirable, appropriate people to be informed about the mechanisms of state bugging (and increasingly corporate copycats) as well as being privy to the information gained? My experience is that they are far from being uniquely moral, they are uniquely avaricious, controlling, egotistical, narcissistic wankers.

    I did not go into medical research to be treated like a prisoner, nor should being a capable spy be the sole requirement necessary to receive permission to further medical knowledge. The parasites prey on truly exceptional minds as the parasites call ideas cheap but never have any of their own. They need to make those who are original feel insignificant, inferior etc. And they absolutely cannot tolerate being caught in the act of being a peepshow pervert and given some hard hitting truths which would never cross their desks without their peepshow perversions (you do this by typing things on your own PC and never sharing them). Apparently them spying on me (for the record MA Cantab, PhD Glasguensis, MBA Manchester) is nothing for me to complain about. Amazing that only they get to judge that: where was the clause in my contract of employment saying: ‘you will be put under constant surveillance and one word out loud about it is a sacking offence and a blackballing from all UK/US industry’? Just for the record also: management were all working class first of family to go to University. A perfect reason for puffed up self importance and amorality…..

    Because the punishment for this behaviour is zero, it will never stop. I highlighted four losses of human rights necessary to stop it:
    1) Loss of rights to work
    2) Loss of right to a passport and a driving license
    3) Loss of the right to own a business or shares in a business
    4) Loss of the right to own property.

    But as the obsessive compulsive disorder control freaks who rise up in such a system think they are a superior elite, I do not see things changing quickly…..

    • Merkin Scot

      ” So I can certainly imagine ‘military grade novichok’ being a suitable description for weapons developed not for mass murder but for targeted assassination. They would used in military style assassination missions…..”
      Love it ‘..military style assassinations’.
      As opposed to the ‘common or garden assassinations’ using a drone purchased at Aldi or Lidl?

    • Ivan

      Delayed action is certainly a valid explanation. That coupled with an ineffective dose is still consistent with the sequence of events. The Russians are not out of the woods yet. Nonetheless Boris and May made an absolute hash by jumping the gun and expelling the diplomats, along with their breathless assertions about this being the worst thing (or something to that effect), to have happened in a NATO country for the last seventy years among other exaggerations.

      • Stu

        “Delayed action is certainly a valid explanation.”

        Because a guy who uses a profile pic where his eyes are closed said so?

    • Steve Rhodes

      Your comments fall down because you conflate the suggestion that delayed action is possible with Yulia not being affected and not being ill. This last is completely contradicted by the evidence of members of the public and the doctor who attended Yulia. Either they are all lying about her condition or you are making groundless speculation both on Yulia and on delayed action ‘military grade’ organophosphate toxins.

  • Spencer Eagle

    The ‘Manual’ they are referencing may simply be Ken Alibek’s book ‘Biohazard’. Alibek ran the Soviet Union’s chemical and biological warfare programs until his defection to the US in 1998. Interestingly the book makes no mention whatsoever of Novichocks, at least not by name – was ‘newcomer’ simply a generic name covering several programs? Whilst Alibek was in charge of ‘Biopreparat’ the KGB ran it’s own research and development programs aimed specifically at assassination – wet work. Alibek recounts a conversation in 1990 with a KGB colonel, Valery Butuzov, of the First Main Directorate, the KGB’s foreign intelligence unit. Butuzov revealed a program called Fleyta (Flute) and an agent that could be sprayed onto surfaces, by direct contact or by inhalation the agent would mimic a heart attack.

    • N_


      I’ve just listened to the audio. Two points.

      1) You’re right. The oblique reference to “this situation” means “you-know-who won’t allow it”.
      2) When she says her dad “отдыхает” and “спит”, she means he rests and sleeps. SO HE IS NOT COMATOSE.

    • Baron

      The Novichok name was picked only because it’s Russian, sounds Russian, foreign to the British ear. That’s why the whole thing smells as a false flag, it’s the wrong target, the wrong weapon,and the wrong timing for the Kremlin to have done it.

      Hopefully, the Russians will not give up, suggest a nickname for the Blonde Inseminator – durachok, it fits him.

      • N_


        And no plausible motive either, unless they’re basically in it with the Brits, which was what Berezovsky would have said at the Litivinenko inquiry had he not been offed.

        Those who don’t know Russian don’t realise what a f***ing unlikely and stupid word “novichok” is as the name of a developed and produced chemical weapon. Did you know it was used in episode 4 of the TV series “Strike Back”, broadcast in the US on 23 Feb 2018 and in Britain on 21 Nov 2017?

    • JakeMorris

      Ah, Ken Alibek,yet another textbook example of CIA using ex-Soviet scientists to feed WMD hysteria as a means to instigate war. And what an example it is!

      In fact I decided to write a separate post on him, see next page. So many surprising similarities!

  • Pyotr Grozny

    Interesting sequence of programmes on BBC 4, Freeview, this evening

    9.00. Putin, Russia and the West
    10.00 Inside Porton Down
    11.00 Russia, A Century of Suspicion: A Timewatch Guide.

    • Agent Green

      They should show Oliver Stone’s ‘The Putin Interviews’. This is highly recommended and you’ll learn more about Russia/Putin from that than anything else.

  • Laguerre

    “Viktoria: Is it your phone?
    Alleged Yulia: It is a temporary phone.”

    I think Yulia might have had one of those pre-paid throw-away phones smuggled in, for evasion of officialdom. Just a thought.

    • Baron

      It doesn’t feel like Yulia’s alone, she sounds nervous, doesn’t answer immediately (possible the effects of the illness), is reluctant to endorse Victoria coming over.

      One would assume the two live because (a) it wasn’t any military grade stuff, (2) they would be a massive asset for the haters of Russia if they both remained here, (c) the risk of the medical staff treating them talking after it’s all over.

      • WJ

        I agree. I think there is somebody with her, and that she has been told what she can communicate and what she can’t mention. She is trying to talk to her cousin and to stay on script.

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