Yulia Skripal and the Salisbury WUT 1465


It was happy to see Yulia alive and looking reasonably well yesterday, if understandably stressed. Notably, and in sharp contrast to Litvinenko, she leveled no accusations at Russia or anybody else for her poisoning. In Russian she spoke quite naturally. Of the Russian Embassy she said very simply “I am not ready, I do not want their help”. Strangely this is again translated in the Reuters subtitles by the strangulated officialese of “I do not wish to avail myself of their services”, as originally stated in the unnatural Metropolitan Police statement issued on her behalf weeks ago.

“I do not wish to avail myself of their services” is simply not a translation of what she says in Russian and totally misses the “I am not ready” opening phrase of that sentence. My conclusion is that Yulia’s statement was written by a British official and then translated to Russian for her to speak, rather than the other way round. Also that rather than translate what she said in Russian themselves for the subtitles, Reuters have subtitled using a British government script they have been given.

It would of course have been much more convincing had Sergei also been present. Duress cannot be ruled out when he is held by the British authorities. I remain extremely suspicious that, at the very first chance she got in hospital, Yulia managed to get hold of a telephone (we don’t know how, it was not her own and she has not had access to one since) and phone her cousin Viktoria, yet since then the Skripals have made no attempt to contact their family in Russia. That includes no contact to Sergei’s aged mum, Yulia’s grandmother, who Viktoria cares for. Sergei normally calles his mother – who is 89 – regularly. This lack of contact is a worrying sign that the Skripals may be prevented from free communication to the outside world. Yulia’s controlled and scripted performance makes that more rather than less likely.

It is to me particularly concerning that Yulia does not seem to have social media access. The security services have the ability to give her internet risk free through impenetrable VPN. But they appear not to have done that.

We know a little more about the Salisbury attack now:

Nobody – not Porton Down, not the OPCW – has been able to state that the nerve agent found was of Russian manufacture, a fact which the MSM continues to disgracefully fudge with “developed in Russia” phrasing. As is now well known and was reported by Iran in scientific literature, Iran synthesised five novichoks recently. More importantly, the German spying agency BND obtained novichok in the 1990s and it was studied and synthesised in several NATO countries, almost certainly including the UK and USA.

In 1998, chemical formulae for novichok were introduced into the United States NIST National Institute of Standards and Technologies Mass Spectrometry Library database by U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical and Biological Defense Command, but the entry was later deleted. In 2009 Hillary Clinton instructed US diplomats to feign ignorance of novichoks, as revealed by the last paragraph of this Wikileaks released diplomatic cable.

Most telling was the Sky News interview with the head of Porton Down. Interviewer Paul Kelso repeatedly pressed Aitkenhead directly on whether the novichok could have come from Porton Down. Aitkenhead replies “There is no way, anything like that could…leave these four walls. We deal with a number of toxic substances in the work that we do, we’ve got the highest levels of security and controls”. Asked again twice, he each times says the security is so tight “the substance” could not have come from Porton Down. What Aitkenhead does NOT say is “of course it could not have come from here, we have never made it”. Indeed Aitkenhead’s repeated assertion that the security would never have let it out, is tantamount to an admission Porton Down does produce novichok.

If somebody asked you whether the lion that savaged somebody came from your garden, would you reply “Don’t be stupid, I don’t have a lion in my garden” or would you say, repeatedly, “Of course not, I have a very strong lion cage?”. Here you can see Mr Aitkenhead explain repeatedly he has a big lion cage, from 2’25” in.

So the question of where the nerve agent was made remains unresolved. The MSM has continually attempted to lie about this and affirm that all novichok is Russian made. The worst of corporate and state journalism in the UK was exposed when they took the OPCW’s report that it confirmed the findings of Porton Down and presented that as confirming the Johnson/May assertion that it was Russia, whereas the findings of Porton Down were actually – as the Aitkenhead interview stated categorically – that they could not say where it was made.

The other relatively new development is the knowledge that Skripal had not retired but was active for MI6 on gigs briefing overseas intelligence agencies about Russia. This did not increase his threat to Russia, as he told everything he knows a decade ago. But it could provide an element of annoyance that would indeed increase Russian official desire to punish him further.

But the fact he was still very much active has a far greater significance. The government slapped a D(SMA) notice on the identity of Pablo Miller, Skripal’s former MI6 handler who lives close by in Salisbury and who worked for Christopher Steele’s Orbis Intelligence at the time that Orbis produced the extremely unreliable dossier on Trump/Russia. The fact that Skripal had not retired but was still briefing on Russia, to me raises to a near certainty the likelihood that Skripal worked with Miller on the Trump dossier.

I have to say that, as a former Ambassador in the former Soviet Union trained in intelligence analysis and familiar with MI6 intelligence out of Moscow, I agree with every word of this professional dissection of the Orbis Trump dossier by Paul Roderick Gregory, irrespective of Gregory’s politics. In particular this paragraph, which Gregory wrote more than a year before the Salisbury attack, certainly applies to much of the dossier.

I have picked out just a few excerpts from the Orbis report. It was written, in my opinion, not by an ex British intelligence officer but by a Russian trained in the KGB tradition. It is full of names, dates, meetings, quarrels, and events that are hearsay (one an overheard conversation). It is a collection of “this important person” said this to “another important person.” There is no record; no informant is identified by name or by more than a generic title. The report appears to fail the veracity test in the one instance of a purported meeting in which names, dates, and location are provided. Some of the stories are so bizarre (the Rosneft bribe) that they fail the laugh test. Yet, there appears to be a desire on the part of some media and Trump opponents on both sides of the aisle to picture the Orbis report as genuine but unverifiable.

The Russian ex-intelligence officer who we know was in extremely close contact with Orbis at the time the report was written, was Sergei Skripal.

The Orbis report is mince. Skripal knew it was mince and how it was written. Skripal has a history of selling secrets to the highest bidder. The Trump camp has a lot of money. My opinion is that as the Mueller investigation stutters towards ignominious failure, Skripal became a loose end that Orbis/MI6/CIA/Clinton (take your pick) wanted tied off. That seems to me at least as likely as a Russian state assassination. To say Russia is the only possible suspect is nonsense.

The Incompetence Factor

The contradiction between the claim that the nerve agent was so pure it could only be manufactured by a state agent, and yet that it failed because it was administered in an amateur and incompetent fashion, does not bother the mainstream media. Boris Johnson claimed that the UK had evidence that Russia had a ten year programme of stockpiling secret novichok and he had a copy of a Russian assassination manual specifying administration by doorknob. Yet we are asked to believe that the Russians failed to notice that administration by doorknob does not actually work, especially in the rain. How two people both touched the doorknob in closing the door is also unexplained, as is how one policeman became poisoned by the doorknob but numerous others did not.

The explanations by establishment stooges of how this “ten times more powerful than VX” nerve agent only works very slowly, but then very quickly, if it touches the skin, and still does not actually kill you, have struck me as simply desperate. They make May’s ringing claims of a weapon of mass destruction being used on British soil appear somewhat unjustified. Weapon of Upset Tummy does not sound quite so exciting.

To paint a doorknob with something that if it touches you can kill you requires great care and much protective gear. That no strangely dressed individual has been identified by the investigation – which seems to be getting nowhere in identifying the culprit – is the key fact here. None of us know who did this. The finger-pointing at Russia by corporate and state interests seeking to stoke the Cold War is disgusting.

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1,465 thoughts on “Yulia Skripal and the Salisbury WUT

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    • craig Post author

      Plainly she has been very unwell. But it is hardly a WMD which doesn’t kill anybody (thankfully). I don’t think you read the article.

  • Jones

    it’s odd she apparently spoke so fluently with a tracheostomy operation 7 weeks ago during the phone call to Viktoria on the 5th April.

    It’s odd she made no mention of Viktoria or Sergei’s 90 year old mother, particularly after earlier statements put out, i would have thought most people would mention their family in such circumstances.

    at 1:12 in video of Yulia below there is what looks may be a Larsen Trap next to a wire fence, Larsen Traps are often used to catch magpies and crows by gamekeepers on game shoots — you can also see what looks like green fields through the tree foliage at 0:7-0:10.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aj3ltiSbG2s

    • craig Post author

      You are right – her voice sounded normal in that phone call. I don’t know how long the tracheotomy wound would have been healing at that time, when the tubes were removed.

      • Maureen

        It was said that the tracheotomy was an emergency measure,performed at the scene of the notorious bench, but I distinctly remember the tale of the first person to treat Yulia, a passing female doctor, who cleared Yulia’s airways,(she had vomited) put her in the recovery position and stayed with her for 30 minutes until the ambulance arrived.
        No mention of a tracheotomy in all the original reports
        We heard nothing more of the woman doctor who did not want her name given out.

      • Ort

        This video, still another UK government/spook “tease”, only raises more questions to discerning viewers. Only the most credulous, submissive, and naïve viewer would think, “Ah, so it’s all right then! Yulia is recovering with the help of good British doctors, and the police will soon apprehend the dastardly Russian poisoners!”

        My considerable natural skepticism increases by an order of magnitude with each new episode, or pseudo-episode, of this farce.

        So I would say, for instance, that all we really know about that tracheotomy scar is that in the video, Yulia appears to have a tracheotomy scar.

        Am I implying that “they” would fake a scar? No; hypotheses non fingo. I am only saying that at this point, it is unwise to form the usual “reasonable” influence and speculation about any aspect of the Skripal’s circumstances that are mediated by manifestly untrustworthy and complicit sources.

        I’m exasperated by the compulsion many commenters have– not you, of course– to seize upon the fragmentary and hazy details of this case, and extrapolate them into elaborate theories and guesswork.

        • Ort

          Correction: inferences and speculation, not “influence and speculation”. Damn.

      • Monster

        Police sirens can be heard in the background after she had finished the interview and photographers were snapping. Maybe suggests a town location. Surely one of the miserable paps can tell us where he was taken for the photo op.

  • Charles

    I think it is safe to deduce that what poisoned the bench people was not a Novichock (Military Grade etc) Nerve Agent

    Evidence
    The lag from when they became contaminated to keeling over
    Only one Skripal sure to touch the door handle
    The evidence of Dr Stephen Davies (Nobody in Salisbury presented with Nerve Agent poisoning symptoms)

    What I think we can be sure of is what was found on the door handle was a Novichock type Nerve Agent but we don’t know when it was put there and the evidence suggests is was more that a week after the bench incident.

    I would hazard a guess that the people on the bench were not the Skripals

    The CCTV clip that a witness (Freya Church) says was 100% the people on the bench. Yet that video shows a women with a red bad and white hair, CCTV at Moscow airport the day before show Yulia with a white bag and red hair.
    The authorities refusal to let anyone see the victims (Cousin / Embassy staff)
    The Video released yesterday (for which I am prepared to accept was Yulia although she has changed much since the photos with her dad) shows a fit and healthy young women looking better that in any other photos that I’ve seen of her despite her having just been brought back from deaths door.
    The recorded Victoria phone call (4th April @ 10:31am) betrays no throat damage despite having a tube in her throat very recently, poisoned 4th March, in coma for 20 days. The wound still hasn’t heeled.

    The implications of those facts are chilling. British State agents must have gone around Salisbury dabbing Nerve Agent all over the town forcing a 100 police officers to seek psychological therapy and putting 100+ businesses at risk of survival.

    But where have Sergei and Yulia been in the meanwhile and has Sergei ‘phoned his mum yet or Yulia her gran?

    The lunatics are well and truly in charge of the asylum.

  • Jon

    (Regarding donations, perhaps some people would like to make one-off donations to avoid wasting money on Paypal fees?).

    • Loftwork

      Good point, Jon. Love to support but I really don’t like piling up masses of small repeating subscriptions. BACS, CC or even cheque would be better.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Has anyone checked drunk and disorderly charges for that day? “I saw a man in a spacesuit bending over a doorknob and painting it at four in the morning” would likely get you some time in the cells.

  • Clark

    In my opinion, there should be no such thing as private sector intelligence agencies. Government secrecy is bad enough. The additional unaccountability of commercial confidentiality is completely unacceptable.

    • Clark

      The situation is crazy. Why don’t out Ministers, MPs and Peers just go home and outsource managers to attend their parliamentary duties for them?

      • Clark

        Oh sorry, I got it back to front. The political functionaries are required by law to attend in person, when they actually bother. It’s the decision-making process that they’ve outsourced. Very sensible.

      • jazza

        they’re practically doing that already – another week off for the bank holiday following the recent week off for May Day – then 12 weeks off for summer – just exactly what do they do??

    • fwl

      Have a look at the recent biography of Maxwell Knight; private agencies have a surprisingly long history.

  • Alex

    Thank you Craig for providing a desperately needed counter-balance to the mainstream media narratives. My own view on the geopolitics is as follows. The UK knows that Russia has effectively waged a cyber warfare operation combined with funding the nastier side of politics in/against the UK, resulting in Brexit. This Skripal sideshow is the UK’s formal response to that, because the strange power-plays in both major political parties are not allowing Brexit to be challenged or set aside as fraudulent/anti-democratic. That explains why there is an element of the surreal with this Skripal case: the UK wants Russia to know that this is their own way of saying ‘two can play at this game’ of propaganda.

    • MightyDrunken

      While I expect that Russia has been using demagoguery on the Internet against the UK, US, Ukraine etc. I feel that the media in recent months may have overblown the actual amount and effect.
      I think the Skripal affair is part of a larger plan to undermine Russia on the World stage, this includes the Russia courting Trump narrative, the chemical weapons in Syria, Ukraine, etc.* The same sort of plan is going down with Iran & Syria.It is always the case that certain countries we don’t like are portrayed as bad or dysfunctional. Venezuela is another example. where “socialism” and the new “dictator” are blamed for problems but no mention of crippling sanctions by the US are made.

      * It doesn’t matter how, why or who caused the poisoning, it has been used by the UK to undermine Russia.

    • Ross

      The US have alreasy published the reason for all this demonisation of, well, practically everyone:

      “Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security,” the strategy, which is being released later today, reads. China and Russia are now America’s “principal priorities.” The senior Defense official described the predominant sentiment inside the Pentagon these days as: “Real men fight real wars. We like the clarity of big wars.”

      It is, of course, to continue the massive ‘defence” spending.

  • giyane

    IMHO the main people who were poisoned by the novichok were Theresa may and Boris Johnson. They are political dead heads and their flower water is starting to stink. Can you imagine a EU official or Trump trying to sit down with either of them for a serious discussion after they have been forced to stand on one leg like circus elephants? Even Aitkenhead looks seriously stressed out

    It seems to me that we have moved to a new phase of Brexit, accurately predicted by Craig, by which the government does not implement its own policies over Brexit. Who would you believe, the head of HMRC which has real-time knowledge of everybody’s income or Tory fantasist John Redwood? May and Boris are history. What comes next will be a choice between Rees-Mogg’s total rejection of the EU and Corbyn’s common-sense compromise, keeping the customs union.

    Whatever type of Brexit the British people voted for, we are all sick to the back teeth of these two clowns May and Johnson and the winner as ever is Steve Bell whose portrayal of Cameron in a condom, and May as a wizened Elizabethan jester /harlequin turn out to be a much more accurate predictor of character than anything public relations personnel can achieve. Clowns , you are the weakest links, please go.

  • King of Welsh Noir

    No one died, the hospital was not quarantined, people turning up at A&E worried that they had been contaminated were sent home, and the ‘clean-up’ started a month later. It all suggests the authorities were not seriously worried that a nerve agent had been deployed.

    • Clark

      True. But it also suggests that it was genuinely a surprise to the government. If it had been a pre-planned fake, all the theatre could have been set up in advance and looked far more convincing. They busked it. Badly.

      • King of Welsh Noir

        Yes, I agree, it’s a paradox. On one hand they seem to have been taken by surprise, on the other they clearly didn’t believe the public were at risk. The fact that they didn’t seal off and quarantine the hospital says it all. I also got the impression that they were operating to some sort of rushed timetable not of their choosing.

        • Clark

          Opportunism? Or force of habit?

          eg. a genuine incident occurred and the civil authorities began responding according to their procedures. But when the government became aware, they made a very poor, maybe even reflexive decision to blame it on Russia, which they then attempted to enforce through agencies subject to the Official Secrets Act. Porton Down scientists objected to being compromised, and pushed back, via Craig.

        • Monster

          I have heard that there is something of a territory war going on between MI6 and MI5. This was ramped up to Defcon 2 when MI6 did its number on MI5 territory. The stink has pervaded Salisbury police, who were excluded from the circus, apart from the disappearing sergeant (now you see him, now you don’t) and are left with a huge pile of shit to clean up after this laughable fiasco. Pablo Miller has gone dark and his ruddy face will never seen at a racecourse again.

      • Bayard

        The evidence of the air ambulance and the rapid response of the emergency services suggests that something was planned in advance, just not the whole Russia/Novichok scenario, The whole story only started to be surreal at the point where May and Johnson made their evidence-free claims it was the Russians wot did it.

        • jazza

          we don’t actually have a government – we have a tory cabal based in the cabinet office and the rest are just fodder to keep may in power

  • Brendan

    Something interesting about Sergei Skripal’s trips abroad to brief foreign intelligence agencies is that they were to places that are connected to the Steele dossier.

    On a number of occasions he visited Prague, which is where Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen allegedly met Russian officials, according to the dossier.

    In 2016, a couple of months before Cohen’s alleged meeting, he went to Estonia, whose intelligence agency was alleged to be the source of the recording of that meeting. Estonia also happens to be where Steele’s employee/partner Pablo Miller was once based as an MI6 agent.

    • lysias

      Well, there was a Michael Cohen in Prague on the alleged date. Only it was a different Michael Cohen.

  • Dave G

    Of course, Yulia Skripal has been fed the official UK government version of events and nothing else. Are they going to keep her and her dad prisoner for the rest of her life, unable to speak out, or will she be able to read about all the stuff that doesn’t quite ring true about this incident at some point and be allowed to publicly comment on it?

  • Ben McDonnell

    Dear Craig
    Could you please clarify further the discrepancies in what Yulia said and what she intended to say in both languages.

    “In Russian she spoke quite naturally. Of the Russian Embassy she said very simply “I am not ready, I do not want their help”. Strangely this is again translated in the Reuters subtitles by the strangulated officialese of “I do not wish to avail myself of their services”, as originally stated in the unnatural Metropolitan Police statement issued on her behalf weeks ago.

    “I do not wish to avail myself of their services” is simply not a translation of what she says in Russian and totally misses the “I am not ready” opening phrase of that sentence. My conclusion is that Yulia’s statement was written by a British official and then translated to Russian for her to speak, rather than the other way round. Also that rather than translate what she said in Russian themselves for the subtitles, Reuters have subtitled using a British government script they have been given.”

    From the above it seems as though you are implying that the British official wrote “I am not ready” and translated that into Russian, because you have already said that “I am not ready” was what she said in Russian. Or are you saying that Yulia simply was given a Russian translation of “I do not wish to avail myself” and ignored it?

    • Patrick Mahony

      I think Craig is saying it’s a case of of Yulia doing her own free translation of the supplied script.
      Reading Pravda comments Russians are saying it sounds mangled and childish to them.

  • Tatyana

    I copy my comment from the previous blog entry:

    I’ve seen in Russian news earlier that Viktoria Skripal left a message under one of Yulia’s photos, asking to contact her.
    Now, Yulia’s page at russian social media Vkontakte is deleted, though it was functional in April, I’ve checked myself – there were a lot of comments under her content there.
    https://vk.com/y.skripal

    My opinion on Yulia’s statement – she recites that first statement issued for her by Police.
    Is it the same “I do not wish to avail myself…” ??? I see no difference.

    Summary is the same – thank you Salisbury doctors, thank you Russan counsul, thank you all kind people, my father and I are recovering, don’t contact me.
    I expected she would say “I know investigation is ongoing, so I’m obliged not to give out any details” and “I know there are several opinions on my status, so I say – I’m free, nobody detains me” and “I have a phone and Internet connection, I’m free to contact anybody on my desire” – that would be natural.

    Her statement was obviously worded very carefully to say nothing. I’s no matter if she herself wrote it or she was helped or someone gave it to her to rewrite in her handwriting (there is no one correction in English version and 2 in Russian).

    I’m just happy to know she is alive and doing well. She must be waiting to contact her father, to discuss and to align their future behavior, because she is adult woman and must understand – any word said wrong in this situation may have coused big impact.

    • Brendan

      ‘ I expected she would say (…) “I have a phone and Internet connection, I’m free to contact anybody on my desire” – that would be natural. ‘

      It’s strange that about the only thing from her previous statement that she did not repeat in any way was what she said back then: “I have access to friends and family”.

      • Tatyana

        Her cousin left her a message at her VK page and now the page is deleted – I think Yulia has no access to her friends or family. May be Yulia tries to have more time and to collect more information before any steps taken?
        What is strange – Mrs. Theresa May and Mr. Boris Johnson are sure Russia is guilty, but not Yulia!

  • Ex Pat

    CONTROLLING THE STORY

    ‘All your bases are belong to us’. Controlling the UK Muppet Stream Cyber-Media!

    Ten times VX

    The nerve agent ten times more powerful than VX did… nothing; didn’t kill, didn’t take effect for four hours or more, then disabled the Skripals entirely but with one hundred percent recovery. A funny nerve agent. Is it possible that it was such a fatal nerve agent? NO. Is it likely? NO.

    BX

    However there is a substance calle ‘BZ’ which does _exactly_ that. Which Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said via RT that the OPCW lab in Switzerland found in the sample. Is it possible that it was such a substance? YES. Is it likely? EXTREMELY!

    – BZ via Wikipedia –

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3-Quinuclidinyl_benzilate

    – Search for ‘BZ’ at RT.com –

    https://www.rt.com/search?q=bz

    CONTROLLING THE STORY

    I admire and like Craig Murray for his apparent truth telling. Unfortunately I don’t trust him. Not even a little bit. But I also don’t trust anyone. Or very few. John Pilger. Peter Dale Scott. David Harvey. Eric Hobsbawm. Not even Noam Chomsky, though he can take one 90% of the way to understanding our present dystopia! (*).

    Why so? Because of ‘Hello Cheltenham’.

    ‘HELLO CHELTENHAM’

    Also, because of this man! “The UK controls the media – as part of Cold War doctrine, and now particularly the new cyber-media.”

    “Questioner said that departments of the UK government controlled cyber media, as they had previously controlled the Muppet Stream Media (MSM) as a Cold War tactic.

    “He also said –

    “1. This talk – video and audio – will be in Cheltenham this afternoon and sections will forwarded to other government agencies by tomorrow.

    “2. News in the UK was completely managed as a Cold war strategy. And is now too.

    “3. As was Anti-colonialism managed by the UK media for 200 years.

    “4. Q. What should be the reaction of Scottish Independence campaigners to these facts?

    “To which Mike Small of BellaCaledonia replied ‘Hello Cheltenham!’ to laughter from the crowd. And ‘carry on doing what we’re doing’.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnJl4hwlchs

    Shocked, shocked! to find gambling going on! –

    MORE

    See comment ‘Hello Cheltenham’ at ‘Trump as a spasm of self-harm’, 9th November 2016 at BellaCaledonia –

    https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2016/11/09/trump-as-spasm-of-self-harm/

    (*) Also because of his nationality, his previous ties to the British establishment and his professional acquaintance with the intelligence services. From a penniless former ambassador to a businessman flogging powerstations to the government of Ghana (?) at £20m a pop. Who better to be blackmailed or pressured into being our man in the Ecuadorian embassy? Didn’t Craig Murray originally mention BZ – the _only_ explanation that remarkably easily fits the facts, but he has now conveniently forgotten it? Funny how that works, eh? Or was it just a comment in the threads on the Skripal article on Craig Murray’s blog. Either way, seems like an unfortunate oversight! Almost as if the blog was a very heavily disinformation-troll-commented outlet for UK frustration at the UK Muppet Stream Media lies… Paranoid? Moi? Why yes! And after seventeen years of this “!£$ you’re not !!? ; ) But as I say I _do_ like and I admire Craig Murray. Just not trust him, or anyone else.

  • Deb O'Nair

    ‘The explanations by establishment stooges of how this “ten times more powerful than VX” nerve agent only works very slowly, but then very quickly, if it touches the skin, and still does not actually kill you, have struck me as simply desperate.’

    Another consideration is how can this toxic agent, which not only takes dramatic effect after an extended delay, can affect two people of different gender, age and weight at the exact same time? If this substance was on a door handle then one would expect the first person to touch it would be subjected to a higher exposure than the second, and would succumb to it’s effects sooner. The chances of obtaining different doses via the door handle in order for them both to become ill at the exact same time must be rather astronomical.

    • Muscleguy

      That is a very good point, dose matters. Dose makes vital substances such as water and oxygen toxic.

      I have a PhD in Physiology and have used in research and teaching several substances which could by the definitions announced be described as neurotoxins because they act at the neuro-muscular junction. I have use labelled alpha-bungarotoxin to label acetlycholine receptor clusters on muscle cells. I have injected beta-bungarotoxin, a phospholipase, into mouse embryos to denervate their muscles. In teaching I have instructed students to put neostigmine on muscle and heart preparations (from cane toads). My mother was prescribed neostigmine to control tremors caused by insufficient acetylcholinesterase. It did not threaten her life, either the treatment or the condition.

      Being asked to consider and accept the definition of a ‘nerve agent’ being peddled is an insult to my education and professional knowledge and understanding as a scientist.

  • N_

    Paul Roderick Gregory seems to be saying that the fact that the Orbis report does not identify informants suggests it was written by “a Russian trained in the KGB tradition”?

    Otherwise it would have listed all the informants’ names, right?

    Is he having a laugh?

    • Yeah, Right

      No, what I took from the article by Paul Roderick Gregory wasn’t that It Was Written By A Russian Coz It Does Not Identify Informants.

      What I took from it was that The Manner In Which They Substituted Position For Identity Is Exactly How The Russians Don’t Identify Their Informants.

      A subtle difference, perhaps, but an important one.

  • giyane

    Vivian O’Blivion
    May 24, 2018 at 11:46

    Kindly provide a link that supports the assertion that Corbyn / Labour don’t want to remain in the Customs union.

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      I can’t, no more than you can. They don’t have an agreed, unambiguous position, that’s my point. Incidentally, I agree with the rest of your original post. I don’t see Brexit taking place in any meaningful way. They are seriously unnerved by the incident in Birstall and they haven’t figured out a way break it to the “I wants my country baaaaak” brigade.
      “Call me Dave” will go down in history as a reckless gambler. He signed the Edinburgh agreement with a 30% lead in the poles and saw that lead dwindle to 10%. He gambled on lancing the Eurosceptic boil by allowing the Brexit referendum, but put Gideon in charge of strategy. Gammon man is perhaps the only person alive that rated Gideon’s intellectual gravitas, either that or Gideon really does have the Polaroids of Dave and the butchers off cuts.

      • Loftwork

        Labour has a clear unambiguous position comprised of a set of criteria. There is no point saying ‘you must pick one of the agreed pigeonholes’ because we do not know what the government will put in them, e.g. what precisely defines a “soft” Brexit. Hence a set of criteria which can be applied pragmatically to whatever is proposed by ministers. That will apparently include _a_ customs union because that is the most likely way to meet test 2: “Does it deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union?”. But the test is practical, not based on hypothesis or assumptions about Tory final proposals.

        • Ultraviolet

          Exactly. And because Corbyn refuses to be pigeon-holed according to MSM/Tory parameters, people say his position is unclear. He has always sounded pretty clear to me; but even if he provided the clarity the media is demanding, and thereby split the party asunder, it would still not make a blind bit of difference, given that he is the leader of the opposition and therefore not involved in negotiations or decision-making.

  • Sean Lamb

    “In 1998, chemical formulae for novichok were introduced into the United States NIST National Institute of Standards and Technologies Mass Spectrometry Library database by U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical and Biological Defense Command, but the entry was later deleted.”

    To be exact, what was introduced in the database was the breakdown product ions of A234 when subjected to MS – ie they must have manufactured some in order to produce that data.

    I would treat the reports of Germany “obtaining” Novichoks with care – I think the story originated with The Times, which these days is practically the in-house newsletter of the Intelligence Community. If they had said manufactured some that would be different, but “obtained” some sounds like we are being softened up for another BS story involving Russian mafia yada-yada-yada. The original plan I think was that the Skripals were going to be poisoned by something in Yulia Skripal’s luggage, but that probably fell apart when Nick Bailey also got poisoned. But we shouldn’t think that the Intelligence Community are just going to raise the white flag – they will be busy constructing alternative narrative arcs to roll out over time. Either it is going to be the Russian Mafia or possibly it is going to be Syrians and the bombed pharmaceutical centre – I mean nerve gas research centre – in Barzeh.

    One thing is certain: British Ingenuity, British Science, British Investigative skills, British Integrity are going to crack this case. We just have to be patient while they come up with an alternative fantasy.

    As far as Yulia Skripal, she is probably partly under duress but maybe partly suffering Crisis Actor’s remorse. I find it difficult to believe the British Government would attempt such a prank without getting some kind of agreement with the Skripals first. But they may not have been aware of just what it would entail or just how big an impact it would have. And I expect Yulia Skripal certainly didn’t enjoy her “painful and invasive” tracheotomy.

  • John Dowser

    The scripted presentation and isolation both do not surprise me much Julia AND Sergei Skripal are not only victims but also suspects (of being involved in other ways than already known) until the full investigation is wrapped up. Then they might have not been cleared to freely speak or signal anything to any audience. Not without rewording and screening everything. It’s more procedure than evidence of anything.

  • lysias

    So someone actively employed by MI6 played a key role in producing the Steele dossier.

    • Kuladanga

      Yeah. It is a cover yer ass job. The salacious bits of the dossier were inserted by 4chan pranksters and the shock horreur which needs to be covered up is how easily that happened. Outwitted by 350lb dudes or gals in a basement.

  • giyane

    Ben McDonnell
    May 24, 2018 at 11:40
    ” Avail myself of their services”
    The English version avoids the use of the word ” help “, which in the context of everyone’s concerns might trigger the idea that she is under duress and needs help.

    A simple Philip Cross style embellishment of the government’s untenable lies.
    I’m not surprised to hear that people believe the MSM on this. I’ve met some. The Tories seem to have benefitted from the racist element of Brexit, whereby anything that can be blamed on foreigners, is blamed.

  • Craig

    The main reason to doubt the Russian’s were behind the attack on the Skripal’s was lack of motive, given this was (a) somebody they had released and (b) would seem highly counterproductive in a world cup year (why spend billions on state PR only to undermine it by engaging in foreign assassinations) when much of the West was already looking for any excuse for sanctions, isolation etc.

    I don’t think anybody believes Russia would not undertake such an action if it believed it was in its national interest to do so – indeed, we know this already because of Litvinenko. Many other states would do the same.

    But doesn’t the connection between Skripal and Orbis provide the motive? Wouldn’t Putin/the regime want revenge on the people producing such nonsense which is, and has been, highly damaging to Russia’s national interest (i.e. peaceful and constructive relations with a US President, not interested in harming Putin/Russia)? Isn’t it credible that this gave the excuse to the KGB to take out a traitor once they realized how much harm he had done (again!) to the national interest?

    This would also explain why so many European countries got on board with diplomatic expulsions. The connection with Orbis provided the motive, but they don’t want this leaking in public because they don’t want to cause problems with Trump.

    The alternative explanation of someone wanting to take Skripal out because he might reveal secrets of the dossier is possible but not very plausible. Ok, there could be money to be made on Fox news telling the world what rubbish it is – but most people already think that and it would seem a very risky strategy for Skripal. Also all Orbis/MI6/CIA would need to do is feed to the media stooges that he wasn’t a/the source. So do they really have a motive to take him out? It would also be pretty risky for MI6 to be engaging in illegal assassinations in the UK a few years away from possibly a Corbyn government. Do the Clinton’s have the capacity or the incentive? Her career is finished even if Trump gets impeached. If the incentive is to damage Trump, then surely there are much easier routes than to assassinate Skripal. Seems like a lot of risk for very little gain.

    Hence, the most likely explanation is a botched Russian hit once they realized Mr Skripal had committed treason against Russia for the second time.

    • Muscleguy

      Note New Zealand, a member of the Five Eyes surveillance grouping, failed to fall into line. The new NZ PM simply stated they had been unable to identify any Russian spies in NZ to send home. A very po-faced statement.

      Despite links to the Western defence network NZ does like to demonstrate that post the Nuclear Free declaration and l’Affair Rainbow it has an independent, semi non-aligned foreign policy stance. Enough other countries and not just in the Pacific have noticed and keep voting NZ onto the Security Council as often as we are allowed to stand. We were on it for eg when Obama was persuaded not to veto that criticism of Israel.

      NZ-Israeli relations are in a lull after the Israelis were caught not once but twice using stolen NZ passports as their agents carried out targetted assassinations abroad. After the first one Israel promised not to do it again. Either their promises are like air or Mossad is a loose cannon and not under governmental control. Very l’Affair Rainbow in fact.

  • Doodlebug

    Yulia’s recent piece to camera has all the appearances of ‘if you know what’s good for him’ (‘him’ being her father). The wound to her neck clearly rules her out as an accomplice to the adventure, her father likewise if he has been similarly treated for the (not nerve agent)poisoning referred to by Dr Stephen Davies.

    No one in their right mind would volunteer to be the victim of a potentially fatal incident, hence likely scenarios are (a) a deliberate ‘hit’ compromised by the Skripals being unexpectedly attended early on, or (b) an accident brought to unwanted public attention. Either situation could have called for the ‘fire fighting’ witnessed on the part of the government.

    The Novichok angle was an opportunistic ‘red-herring’ to facilitate the claim of a Russian connection. As Putin himself has averred, had a military grade nerve agent been deployed at their front door the Skripals wouldn’t have made it to the car, much less Salisbury town centre.

    If previous assassinations are to be attributed to the Russian state, and that in itself is by no means certain, then they are not noted for their failures. The Skripals are either an exception to the rule therefore, or the blame for incompetence should rest elsewhere.

  • Barden Gridge

    “The MSM has continually attempted to lie about this and affirm that all novichok is Russian made.”

    Channel 4 News is often held up as a credible news organisation but it should be remembered that in this report on April 10 (a week after Porton Down’s Aitkenhead had admitted they couldn’t say where the alleged nerve agent came from) Paul McNamara referred to what was used in Salisbury as “this Russian-made, weapons-grade nerve agent, Novichok”.
    From 1:10 here: https://www.channel4.com/news/yulia-skripal-discharged-from-hospital

  • giyane

    Sean Lamb
    May 24, 2018 at 12:12

    ‘When in a hole , stop digging.’ as you say , is not the philosophy of the British Intelligence.
    The colonised world, which means the entire world except Sussex, know that their philosophy is
    ” Lie, lie, lie, until you convince them you are telling the truth.”

    Allah has evolved a species of british citizen that understands the world from the North, the Scottish, the Irish, French, Middle eastern , Far Eastern, American etc perspectives. A British citizen that doesn’t believe British lies, makes the British Intelligence services an endangered species, like the Puffins whose eels find the coastal waters now too warm. As I said before Aitkenhead looks like his head has been put inside a plastic bag and microwaved for 20 minutes. ” A little on the warm side, but no problem.” as his stiff upper lip starts to tremble. he’s obviously not as practised as the hardened and compulsive liars May and Johnson at the top of the food chain.

    • Charles

      Where was the microwave manufactured?

      If it was a decent make I would imagine that lethal harm would occur after only a few seconds, on the hand if it was Russian I think you could put you head in for 20 minutes crank it up to full power and jam the safety switch and after 20 minutes you might be poorly for a few weeks but I am sure you would make a full recovery

  • rwendland

    Craig, re “studied and synthesised … almost certainly including the UK and USA”. I think we can call it certainly in the US at least, per below.

    A 2008 US patent proves it was studied in the US – titled “Method of Treating Organophosphorous Poisoning”. Quite possibly this patent work was part of the basis of the Skripal’s medical treatment. The work was “at least in part” funded by a U.S. Army Grant, but carried out by the University of Maryland Baltimore. Not primarily about Novichok, but 11 mentions in the patent. Patent claim 14 indicates animal tests against lethal doses of Novichok were carried out, so either the University synthesised some types of Novichok or the US Army supplied the samples: “14. The method of claim 4, wherein the OP is a nerve agent that is a member selected from the group comprising the nerve agents soman, sarin, and VX, tabun, and Novichok agents.” The referred-to Claim 4 says an animal was exposed: “wherein the animal has been exposed to a lethal dose of the organophosphorus compound”.

    The patent is United States Patent and Trademark Office Patent Application 20090023706, of 22 January 2009. The Wikipedia “Novichok agent” article has a weblink to it (cite [31]).

  • N_

    D Notices

    How nice of Alex Thomson, Whitehall-connected journalist at state-owned Channel Four, to reveal that shortly after the Salisbury attack a D Notice was issued banning any mention of Pablo Miller. But the most interesting D Notices will be the ones we don’t get told about. Real ones. Ones that aren’t publicised by state-paid journalists, or even by corporate journalists working for companies that want to retain their Whitehall access. Real ones that say “Sorry guys. National security. Silence on these matters.

    My top two suggestions for areas that may have had D Notices slapped on them recently are as follows.

    1) The doings of Nikolai Glushkov, the Berezovsky-friend oligarch murdered on 12 March 2018 in New Malden, London, eight days after the Salisbury attack.

    It’s odd that he is supposed to have lived in such an area, which is not rich and which is also Europe’s biggest Korea town. I wonder whether in fact he may have lived somewhere else and kept that property as a safe house or a meeting place. Its location suggests he had Korean contacts, whether from North or South.

    Glushkov also had a gay partner 40 years his junior. Which makes me wonder whether he had a “royal” family connection. His late pal Boris Berezovsky certainly did.

    Different rules apply in Britain whenever the royal family is concerned, whenever something might “embarrass” them. The royal family are longstanding oligarchs. Private Eye may throw pebbles at the Sunday Times’s annual “Rich List”, but the whole of the British media kept totally shtum when the monarch was taken off that list after the agreed line became that she’s only worth a few hundred million.

    That, friends, is called POWER.

    2) Sergei Skripal retired from the GRU in 1999 and he was arrested five years later. What did he do during those five years? One thing he did was to work for Boris Gromov, who from 2000 to 2012 was governor of the Moscow region. Gromov comes from the city of Saratov. Guess who else does? Roman Abramovich, the Putin-friendly boss who owns Chelsea football club in London and who is currently experiencing problems getting a new British visa.

    Latest news is that Abramovich is running to I??ael right now. Sanctioning Abramovich would have many more repercussions in London than sanctioning the singer Iosif Kobzon.

    Might a D Notice have been issued banning revelations and discussion of Abramovich’s activities and friendship network in London? Watch this space.

    Abramovich also connects to the successful 2018 World Cup bid by Russia, and hmm, could there be a Qatar connection? Big-money sport is as dirty as it ever was. And what about a Barclays Bank connection that seems to be hinted at here?

    Might Abramovich leaving London be akin to the ravens leaving the Tower?

  • Patrick Mahony

    I find it odd she didn’t say the date or location. It was full of dates and the aircraft going over made it obvious it is North London. So why not “Hi, it’s Monday 21st May 2018 in London”?
    Same with the written statements.
    So maybe she doesn’t know the date or where she is.

    • lissnup

      As someone resident in various parts of South London over a period of 40 years I just want to note that aircraft noise from both London Heathrow and Gatwick airport traffic is commonplace in the area.
      Good point about not mentioning the date. I noted the lack of flowers on any of the plants in the video, hinting at the possibility of the recording date being earlier than the publication date, despite Reuters being at pains to describe Yulia’s clothing as a “Summer” dress.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Patrick Mahony May 24, 2018 at 13:07
      ‘..and the aircraft going over made it obvious it is North London…’
      Not at all; anywhere in London you can hear planes. South London is also plagued by them.
      ‘Arrival flight paths’: https://www.heathrow.com/noise/heathrow-operations/arrival-flight-paths.
      Anyhow, how do we know that the area is in London? Because the MSM say so? If as has been suggested it is a shooting area (given the magpie trap) it might be reasonable to suggest it is not London.

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