“Boshirov” is probably not “Chepiga”. But he is also not “Boshirov”. 994

UPDATE: The Kommersant Evidence
Kommersant publishes interviews with people from Chepiga’s home village. The article makes clear he has not been seen there for many years. It states that opinions differ on whether Chepiga is Boshirov. One woman says she recognised Boshirov as Chepiga when he appeared on TV, especially the dark eyes, though she had not seen him since school. Another woman states it is not Chepiga as when she last saw him ten years ago he was already pretty bald, and he has a more open face, although the eyes are similarly brown.

Naturally mainstream media journalists are tweeting and publishing the man’s evidence and leaving out the woman’s evidence.

But the Kommersant article gives them a bigger challenge. Kommersant is owned by close Putin political ally, Putin’s former student flatmate, Chariman of Gazprominvestholdings and the UK’s richest resident, Alisher Usmanov. That Russia’s most authoritative paper, with ownership very close to Putin, is printing such open and honest reporting rather belies the “Russia is a dictatorship” narrative. And unlike the Guardian and BBC websites, on Kommersant website ordinary Russians can post freely their views on the case, and are.

One thing this does stand up is that Chepiga definitely exists.

The evidence mounts that Russia is not telling the truth about “Boshirov” and “Petrov”. If those were real identities, they would have been substantiated in depth by now. As we know of Yulia Skripal’s boyfriend, cat, cousin and grandmother, real depth on the lives and milieu of “Boshirov” and “Petrov” would be got out. It is plainly in the interests of Russia’s state and its oligarchy to establish that they truly exist, and concern for the privacy of individuals would be outweighed by that. The rights of the individual are not prioritised over the state interest in Russia.

But equally the identification of “Boshirov” with “Colonel Chepiga” is a nonsense.

The problem is with Bellingcat’s methodology. They did not start with any prior intelligence that “Chepiga” is “Boshirov”. They rather allegedly searched databases of GRU operatives of about the right age, then trawled photos in yearbooks of them until they found one that looked a bit like “Boshirov”. And guess what? It looks a bit like “Boshirov”. If you ignore the substantially different skull shape and nose.

Only the picture on the left is Chepiga. The two on the right are from “Boshirov’s” Russian passport application file, and the photo of “Boshirov” issued by Scotland Yard.

Like almost the entire internet, I assumed both black and white photos were from Chepiga’s files, and was willing to admit the identification of Chepiga with “Boshirov” as valid. But once you understand is that – as Bellingcat confirm if you read it closely – only the photo on the left is Chepiga, you start to ask questions.

The two guys on the right and the centre are undoubtedly the same person. But is the guy on the left the same, but younger?

Betaface.com, which runs industry standard software, gives the faces an 83% similarity, putting the probability of them being the same person at 2.8%.

By comparison it gives me a 72% identity with Chepiga and a 2.1% chance of being him.

There is a superficial resemblance. But if you take the standard ratios used for facial recognition, you get a very different story. If you draw a line between the centre of the pupils of the two guys centre and right, and then take a perpendicular from that line to the tip of the nose, you get a key ratio. The two on the right both have a ratio of 100:75, which is unsurprising since they are the same person. The one on the left has a ratio of 100:68, which is very different.

To put that more simply, his nose is much shorter, and less certainly his eyes are further apart.

It is possible this could happen in photos but it still be the same person. The head would have to be tilted backward or forward at quite a sharp angle to alter these ratios, which does not seem to be the case. The camera could be positioned substantially above or below the subject, again not apparently the case. And the photo could be resized with height and width ratios changed. That would hard to detect.

But the three white dots across the bottom of the nose are particularly compelling (the middle one largely obscured by a red dot in the Chepiga photo). They illustrate that Chepiga has a snub nose and Boshirov something of a hook. Again, the software is reinforcing what they eye can plainly see.

However, there are also other ratios that are different. Chepiga has a narrower mouth compared to the distance between the pupils than the two photos of “Boshirov”, and that is measured on the same plane. The difference is 100-80 compared to 100-88. It is a ratio that can be changed by facial expression, but this does not seem to be the case here.

Professor Dame Sue Black of the University of Dundee is the world’s leading expert in facial forensic reconstruction. I once spent a fascinating lunch sitting next to her, while I was Rector. I shall contact her for her view on whether the guy on the left is the same person, and if she is kind enough to give me an opinion, I shall pass it on to you unadulterated.

This website is less definitive, but gives a nice clear result, and you can repeat it yourself without having to subscribe (unlike Betaface.com).

Again for comparison, I tried two photos of myself 12 years apart and got “from nearly the same person”.

It is worth repeating that the only evidence that Chepiga is Boshirov offered by Bellingcat is this photo. The rest of their article simply attempts to establish Chepiga’s career.

This is gross hypocrisy by Bellingcat, who have argued that scores of photos of White Helmets being Jihadi fighters are not valid evidence because you cannot safely recognise faces from photographs.

Yet Higgins now claims his facial identification of Chepiga as Boshirov as “definitive” and “conclusive”, despite the absence of moles, scars and blemishes. Higgins stands exposed as a quite disgusting hypocrite. Let me go further. I do not believe that Higgins did not take the elementary step of running facial recognition technology over the photos, and I believe he is hiding the results from you. Is it not also astonishing that the mainstream media have not done this simple test?

The bulk of the Bellingcat article is just trying to prove the reality of the existence of Chepiga. This is hard to evaluate, but as the evidence to link him to “Boshirov” is non-existent, is a different argument. Having set out to find a GRU officer of the same age who looks a bit like “Boshirov”, they trumpet repeatedly the fact that Chepiga is about the same age as evidence, in a crass display of circular argument.

This unofficial website does indeed name Chepiga as a Hero of the Russian Federation and recipient of 20 awards, as Bellingcat claims. But it is impossible to know if it is authentic, and by contrast there is no Chepiga on the official list of Heroes of the Russian Federation, for the stated 2014 or for any other year, which Bellingcat fail to mention. Their other documents and anonymous sources are unverifiable.

The photo of the military school honours arch, with Chepiga added right at the end and not quite in line, looks to me very suspect. My surmise so far would be that most likely Bellingcat’s source of supply is Ukrainian, and trying to tie the Skripal affair into the Ukrainian civil war via Chepiga.

My view of the most likely explanation on presently available evidence is this:

Boshirov is not Boshirov, and the Russian Government are lying.
Boshirov is not Chepiga, and Bellingcat are lying.
The whole Skripal novichok story still does not hang together, and the British government are lying.

I will continue to form my opinions as further evidence becomes available.

UPDATE Incredibly, at 13.15 on 27 September the BBC TV News ran the story showing only the two photos of “Boshirov”, which of course are the same person, and not showing the photo of Chepiga at all!

BBC News at One

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994 thoughts on ““Boshirov” is probably not “Chepiga”. But he is also not “Boshirov”.

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    • alaff

      Yes. And one can guess why bellingcat needed a middle photo – some kind of a “bridge” to “tie” the first and last photos.

  • flatulence'

    If you look close enough at the reflection in his glasses, you can actually see in Craig’s picture, the Queen clearly purring while David Cameron strokes her head, and you can just about make out Blair taking the photo. The grin is unmistakable.

  • mike

    Bibi tells the UN Iran has a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran.

    Its contents can be sprayed on all UK door-knobs within 45 minutes.

  • Twostime

    Oh… hi, just observing that whatever is happening in the land of papers and auntie beeb.

    I believe not one word. It is all horse shit.

    Just saying.

  • mike

    …by Colonel Mustard, no less…

    …in broad daylight (waves to camera). Dons NBC suit (travel size). Marvels at spire of Salisbury Cathedral. Enjoys debauched evening. Returns to V.V. Blofeld for further instructions.

    Meanwhile, James Theresa Bond foils dastardly Russian plot to arm Middle Eastern despot with Death Ray. Brave freedom fighters languish under yoke of tyrant.

    Strong and stable wins the day. It’s knighthoods all round.

    And back to Dubai for a quick flutter on the futures market.

    Or a long game of chess.

  • bj

    Off Topic as can be:

    Guess what I learned the other day. Totally surprising and astounding, to me.

    Who shared vocals with Alice Cooper in singing Billion Dollar Babies, in 1973?

    • Andyoldlabour


      There were a lot of artists doing different stuff in those days, but yes Donovan was a bit surprising.
      I remember when I first started playing guitar at the age of 15, and one om best mates atschool said that I should listen to Radio Caroline. I tuned in that evening and the first song was “All along the watchtower” by the late, great Jimi Hendrix.
      It was years before I found out it was a Bob Dylan song.

  • Pete Barton

    Re SNP conference, I’m sorry to hear of your difficulties.

    I reckon we’re battening down the hatches before the storm Craig.

    I say we, as we are both still SNP members.

    The scrutiny around any strategy will be enormous.

    I’m sure Mr.Mundell’s operation are anxious to keep a guess ahead; many other agencies also.

    You are a great asset to the independence movement..please understand that the siege mentality and secrecy involved is shared by many of us.
    Perhaps a wee chat with someone close to power might be in order.

  • Tridac

    Just had a look at the bellingcat website and the general tone is distinctly anti Russian. No idea who they really work for, but wouldn”t trust them an inch. No more likely to be true than any number of other agit prop sites, yet the msm seem to be lapping it up. Wonder why ?…

    • Agent Green

      Bellingcat has been debunked on numerous occasions as a source of news/evidence. Particularly regarding Russia, given Bellingcat’s NATO heritage.

  • Andrew H

    Craig Murray: “Boshirov is not Boshirov, and the Russian Government are lying.”

    At last, Craig is finally turning the corner…… (but, they are still not going to let him have a fringe meeting)

    • Andrew H

      Brexit may get interesting in about 5 months time, when the halfwits of this nation finally understand what they have done. Well done Fred Bloggs.

  • Jude 93

    Say what you like about the BBC – but sometimes their reporters’ ability to get stories out ahead of time is simply dazzling. For example on the day of 9/11 it stated as fact that Building Seven in New York had collapsed – half an hour before this actually happened. How many of the wiseacres who sneer at the Beeb have this extraordinary ability to broadcast major news stories before they take place?

    • Deb O'Nair

      It wasn’t just the BBC. A US news company announced it at 11:30 – when the area was covered in the dust from the towers. I guess that it was originally supposed to go down in the morning, hidden from public view, but there was perhaps a technical hitch so a team had to go in when the dust settled and In order to make it look convincing they started a few fires across a number of floors, perhaps hoping that the whole building would go up in flames, but the fires fizzled out before WTC7 ‘collapsed’. Foreknowledge means it was planned. As the architects and engineers say it’s the “smoking gun” to the whole shenanigan.

      • Clark

        You gotta be joking. There were teams of firefighters trying to get Hess and Jennings out of WTC7, and more teams furious with their superiors that they were ordered to stay out of the WTC7 exclusion zone when they were desperate to search for their comrades trapped in the debris from the Twin Towers. Any team setting fires would have been lynched!

        Here’s Hess shouting out of a window:


    • Clark

      Nearer 21 minutes actually, but Jane Standley’s report absolves the BBC of this one. No, I don’t trust the BBC, but no one at the BBC knew which building they were reporting about because it could still be seen standing behind Jane Standley, so she was obviously just repeating something she’d been told, and if there was a plot, the BBC weren’t in on it.

  • alaff

    “Boshirov is not Boshirov, and the Russian Government are lying.”

    Craig, what makes you think Boshirov is not Boshirov? The fact that Russia does not provide all the detailed info about these two men (what they themselves asked for)? But does Russia obliged to do this? I don’t think so. I think this is the business of Britain to establish all the info and find out all the details of the lives of these two men, if Britain suspects them. After all, British side can always come to Russia and interrogate these men, even test them on lie detector. But british side refuse. Let me remind you, Russia was not obliged to find these two men. However, Russia in good faith has found them and showed them to the whole world.

    “Russian Government are lying”.

    I would agree on this, but… i don’t think the wording itself is not correct. I would say the Russian government does not speak the whole truth. There’re reasons for this (including the fact that Russia is not obliged, because it owes nothing to anyone).

    In the Russian expert community there’s a stable opinion that Boshirov & Petrov are hiding something. But this has nothing to do with working on special services. I’ll explain.

    The whole story began with Putin’s statement at the Far Eastern Economic Forum some weeks ago.
    Let me remind, that when asked by the host about these two men, Putin said:

    “We checked what kind of people they are. We know who they are. We found them. There’s nothing special and criminal there, I assure you”.

    Putin was calm. He smiled slightly. What Putin knew about these two men was the cause of this slight smile.
    It was an irony. What the British authorities attributed to them was too different from what Putin had learned about them.
    So Putin smiled ironically.

    I repeat, Putin said “There’s nothing special and criminal there”. There’s nothing special and criminal… – means, there’s something, but it’s not special. I.e. there maybe some kind of “criminal”, but nothing serious. Some kind of “semi-criminal” stuff. That’s the point.

    Then we have to recall Boshirov & Petrov interview for RT. Yes, for all adequate people it is obvious that they are hiding something. But, again, this has nothing to do with working on special services. That’s why: in the interview, they said that their business is connected with fitness and with biological supplements, with sports nutrition. No, they are not fitness trainers, of course. “Highly likely”(c) they are some kind of suppliers of sports nutrition.

    I already said that in the Russian expert community there’s a stable opinion that Boshirov & Petrov are hiding something. The opinion is that most likely these two gawks often visited Europe and, let’s put it this way, “not quite legally” transported sports nutrition from there to Russia. Maybe it was food supplements, maybe vitamins, maybe even some kind of anabolic stuff (and it could be prohibited in Russia). Maybe they did not declare their shipment at customs, maybe something else. I.e. their “criminal” activity is connected with this [kind of stuff], and this is something they did not want to “advertise” in their interview for RT. This “criminal” activity was the reason for Putin’s sarcastic smile when asked about these two men.

    So, yes, definitely they are hiding something. But this has nothing to do with working on special services, of course. People confuse, in fact, the natural unwillingness of these men to disclose the details of their “semi-criminal” business with their alleged work for Russian special services. The fact that Putin invited them to appear and give interview was a kind of guarantee – some kind of, “guys, we know about your “dirty business”, but we will not do anything with you for this, if you come and tell us about your trip”.

    So the whole picture looks like this: two gawks are involved in “semi-legal” traffic of sports supplements/nutrition from Europe to Russia. Due to circumstances forced to appear on television for the first time, they don’t want to disclose all the details of their questionable business. People confuse this unwillingness with alleged “attempts to hide their belonging to the Russian special services”.

    “My surmise so far would be that most likely Bellingcat’s source of supply is Ukrainian, and trying to tie the Skripal affair into the Ukrainian civil war via Chepiga”.

    Hmm, very interesting. It may have a certain sense.

    Regarding photos – 99% I would say that these are different people. Of course they are similar, but it is clearly seen that they are different people. Btw, the Russian physiognomist concluded that these are two different people:

    • Borncynical


      I agree with all you say. It struck me that, with regard to Charlie Rowley, it could be contended (in fact it has been contended on forums such as this) that his ‘career’ could well have something directly to do with the Skripal affair and what happened to Dawn Sturgess, but he was never interrogated or subjected to conjecture by the media or the majority of the public to the same degree as Boshirov and Petrov.
      Interestingly, I was discussing this case with a relative and we got onto Boshirov and Petrov’s visits to Switzerland. My relative said that it is well known that many ‘dodgy’ (if used and distributed illegally) health supplements are manufactured in Switzerland.

    • Igor P.P.

      Another theory put forward by Russian writer Limonov is that, being gay, they travelled to meet some UK gay(s) they met online but these didn’t show up.

  • Hatuey

    Well, after 5 minutes of Question Time, I actually find myself transformed. That’s a first. So help me God, I swear that I will never, ever, visit Bishop Auckland.

    The Scottish and the English people have never been so far apart — politically, culturally, and intellectually. That said, it’s hard to imagine another country in the world where the uneducated, the poor, and the downtrodden would applaud the comments of someone like Jacob Rees-Mogg, the very type of person that keeps them uneducated, poor, and downtrodden.

    What the hell happened to the English working classes?

    • Blunderbuss

      “What the hell happened to the English working classes?”

      I’m afraid they lost the will to act collectively. A few groups (e.g. train drivers) who are still highly unionized are actually pretty well paid.

      • Hatuey

        I’ve never seen such a display of collective bad faith. England today reminds me a lot of Germany prior to the rise of fascism. All we need is a major recession and anything’s possible; and that may well be in the pipeline. It’s actually scary.

        The thing about Scotland which makes it different, I suppose, is education. Even thick peasants like me get driven into education here. The truth is there’s not much else to do as far as jobs are concerned. We are quite like the Palestinians in that regard; skint but educated.

        I suppose for many in England UKIP represents a radical alternative to the Labour-Tory Punch and Judy show, in much the same way that the SNP offers an alternative up here. I understand that. But UKIP are xenophobic cantankerous crackpots where the SNP are sort of left-leaning, cosmopolitan, and benign. The difference matters and I’m surprised people down there don’t see that or seem to care.

        I think New Labour really screwed things up and caused all this when it abandoned the working classes. They have a lot to answer for. Maybe Corbyn can fix things or at least give people some hope. These Tories we are dealing with right now, and UKIP too, there’s a darkness with them, a sort of cruel disregard for humanity, like nihilism.

        • Rod

          I like and agree with everything you have written. I live ‘down there’ and I, personally, care a lot that New Labour seemed to forget the ‘left behind’ section of Labour voters and in my view it’s why Mr Corbyn gives hope to people like me.

          I live in a Conservative constituency where the MP holds a 16,000+ majority, is an ex-Cameron minister and a leading rabid Brexiteer. All this in an area where the majority of the population are not affluent, so hope is all I can expect in the future. The ignorance of the population in general appals me, so I’m persuaded you’re correct about education in Scotland. In England the majority of people are also skint, but with the added incapacity of being uneducated : turkeys voting for Christmas.

          When the main stream media is run by people like my MP, what chance does the ordinary person have when his/her contemporaries have had their chances of education or job opportunities reduced by a government who have scant regard for the many in favour of the few ?

          I really don’t know if Mr Corbyn has all the answers to remedy the state of our nation, but by God I’m willing to give him the opportunity because no government can be worse than what we have presently.

          • Hatuey

            I guess we are lucky up here, rod, in some ways. Things change though, so hang in there. Tony Blair was elected on a landslide and, even though he went on to be a scumbag, it shows in a positive way how people can change and get behind things.

            I remember back in 1995 thinking we’d gave Tory Rule forever.

    • Alex Westlake

      What makes you think Bishop Auckland is working class? There’s more to County Durham than old pit villages. Bishop Auckland is a market town in a largely rural parliamentary constituency. Labour’s majority was cut to about 500 last year, and it’s next door to Richmond which is one of the safest Conservative seats in the country.

      • Hatuey

        I didn’t assume it was working class. I didn’t assume anything as I’d never heard of the place before watching 10 minutes of QT. The working class people on the program were quite a disappointment though and we know that a lot of them in the north of England fell for the UKIP line.

    • squirrel

      The facial recognition site pictriev.com has the same verdict regardless of the horizontal reduction – they are different people.


      I believe that a half-decent facial identification algorithm will account for skewed photographs.

        • squirrel

          this is a fair point.
          I’m a different person now compared to my passport photo 9 years ago too.
          pictriev is not reliable

      • Borncynical


        I can’t agree. It’s not just that I think there are arguable visual differences in the images but it’s also on the basis that we have no evidence that photo one is genuine and has not been photoshopped at source to make it appear more similar to Boshirov.

    • Yeah, Right

      Hmm. Doubtful. Photos two and three both show a mark above his left eye, and another mark on his left cheek. Both are conspicuous by their absence in Photo one.

      Maybe they are both scars, and the scaring occurred post-2003.

      Or maybe they are moles or birthmarks, in which case the person identified as “Chepiga” is definitely not the same person who calls himself “Boshirov”.

      Interesting that the facial recognition software that Craig uses completely ignores those blemishes.

  • Dennis Revell


    “The evidence mounts that Russia is not telling the truth about “Boshirov” and “Petrov”. If those were real identities, they would have been substantiated in depth by now.”

    – This is utter NONSENSE.

    Surprising that Craig Murray is using, as someone else in this thread indicates, is using Donald Rumsfeld “logic”. What was that now? Without googling or finding that other person’s post because I can’t be farted with this, as probably Russia SHOULD NOT be farted any more with submitting to leeeetle inGRRRland’s demands, including Craig’s, for “Evidence” to dismiss their latest concoction, it was something like: “The absence of evidence does not imply the evidence of absence”.

    JESUS, as if everyone in the World is required to have an easily found social media presence or a Russian person’s friends should be obligated to rush to their defence and prove their validity to any and all Joe Soap hostile foreign powers – thereby exposing themselves to inGRRRlish tabloid character assassination & microscopic dissection. Were I a friend of the suspects, er patsies, I’d be down the pub with them sinking pints laughing my knickers off over all this.

    Russia is under NO OBLICATION to substantiate ANYTHING.

    “As we know of Yulia Skripal’s boyfriend, cat, cousin and grandmother, real depth on the lives and milieu of “Boshirov” and “Petrov” would be got out. It is plainly in the interests of Russia’s state and its oligarchy to establish that they truly exist, and concern for the privacy of individuals would be outweighed by that. The rights of the individual are not prioritised over the state interest in Russia.”
    – Again this is more presumptive nonsense – rising this time to the level of BULLSHIT. It’s bullshit because it really does stink of the self assumed superiorty of the British Establishment, the Foreign and Colonialist (sic) Office, also now brainwashed into the majority of Brits that Britain and the West really are intrinsically better than Russia and “other such countries” (probably including Venezuela & other US targets) when it comes to regard for the privacy and other rights of their citizens.

    You should consult with Edward Snowden and Kathering Gunn about that.

    Imagine the ‘mirror image’ of this situation – that Russia was demanding answers to various theories it had concerning the attempted or actual murder of its citizens on Russian soil by those it accuses of being agents of the British state. Apart from one single blanket denial, I doubt the ex-public school toffee-nosed twats who actually run the British state would give the Russian state the time of day again over such a matter.

    Immensely dissapointing rubbish from Craig.


    • N_

      I doubt the ex-public school toffee-nosed twats who actually run the British state would give the Russian state the time of day again over such a matter.

      They’d be too busy arranging places at the English private schools to which much of the top Russian elite love to send their offspring?

    • SA

      I would not go as far as you but I did notice a sort of double standard. The argument goes that because the Russians are so well known for trampling on individuals rights of privacy where it comes up against national security they should oblige and play this allocated part every time any Russians is accused of anything.

      • james

        agree with SA and dennis to a good degree..

        what about the UK revealing the evidence they have around the ‘military grade chemical weapon’ that never killed the skripals after all and etc. etc.?? apparently russia has to provide the evidence of who is who, but the UK is under no obligation to follow opcw guidelines for these situations, or to follow any protocol, other then to blame the russians from right out of the gate! so yeah dennis.. i think craig is off in this particular instance that you highlight..

      • Dennis Revell


        Yah, that’s a slight drawback of having learned from my niece how to type pretty much as quickly as I think – the temptation not to edit at the end, or not edit much, to save time prettty much wins out most of the time.

        I concede that most things I type could be er .. more diplomatically and better expressed, as you have done, but I’m no diplomat and most times I can’t be arsed. (‘Course places like fbook and other media let you edit posts later, which this blog doesn’t allow and I’ve found that frustrating at times.)

        I’ll pick one slight bone with you though, when you say: ” … The argument goes that because the Russians are so well known for trampling on individuals rights of privacy … “. Well known by WHO? Or do you mean that that is just another well-ingrained knee-jerk morsel of anti-Russian propaganda?

        The point you make though in saying that is well taken: the hypocrisy in the idea that British state propaganda at least maintains that Russia routinely tramples the rights of its citizens on behalf of the state (which “we” don’t like), and then “we” insist that they also do it in this case, although we don’t like the practice !!!!!


        • SA

          “The point you make though in saying that is well taken: the hypocrisy in the idea that British state propaganda at least maintains that Russia routinely tramples the rights of its citizens on behalf of the state (which “we” don’t like), and then “we” insist that they also do it in this case, although we don’t like the practice !!!!!”


  • N_

    My lengthy contribution commenting on Anatoliy Chepiga’s connection with DOSAAF, the voluntary sporting organisation that supports the Russian army, navy and airforce and is involved with gyms, and further commenting on what the anti-Russian policy in world athletics – which seems about to bite the dust – is really about, namely the GRU, got removed.

    Too hot to handle?

      • james

        i would like to 2nd that… more transparency on the removal policy, or on the with holding of posts for a time.. i guess the moderators are too busy to answer these basic questions and it is all stating in the comments policy which is on the site somewhere.. when i last read it, it was quite vague and maybe that is the best we can expect..

    • Clark

      My experience is that comments are not deleted at this site for being “too hot to handle”. I suggest you check your comment against the moderation policy, and repost, possibly in sections.

  • Andrew H

    One of the most interesting aspects of the Bellingcat investigation (regardless of the final conclusion which is mostly guesswork), is that there are/were huge problems in the way GRU issues passports to its agents. The passport application records seem to be widely leaked on the internet and are stamped with tell tale clues like ‘do not disclose’ etc. If Bellingcat were able to figure this out, one would assume (hope) that CIA/GCHQ would already have done this. Do they have a list of GRU agents and their passport numbers? (obviously its no good anymore now that this almost ludicrous security issue has been exposed). Did they know that Borishov and Petrov were agents at the time they entered the UK? (but did nothing about it – either because of trust issues between the various agencies or because just knowing their arrivals and departures was too valuable to risk trying to follow them).

    • Jack

      Andrew H

      Not really surprising imo,
      first of all bellingcat sure didnt just fond this on the internet, someone gave those info to him.
      Either russian defector(s) or people within british and/or western intelligence services.

      • N_

        If we assume part of the information is true, those are NOT the only possibilities for where it came from. This is how to start:

        * it was deliberately fed by Russian intelligence
        * it was deliberately got against the wishes of Russian intelligence, for example by another country’s intelligence service

        The truth is likely to be a MIXTURE of these.
        Where I agree with you is that Bellingcat’s own description of its methodology cannot be accepted.

    • Laguerre

      “The passport application records seem to be widely leaked on the internet ”

      Are they? or is it that Bellingcat was supplied with the data by the security agencies, which seems to me more probable?

  • Sharp Ears

    Our eminent Foreign Secretary, a replacement for Boris and latterly employed to wreck OUR NHS, issues a warning.

    ‘Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has used a Sky News interview to tell Russia “the price will be too high” if it continues to act against international norms.

    Mr Hunt suggested Moscow will be wondering whether the Salisbury chemical weapons attack was “a smart thing to do”.

    Speaking to The Kay Burley Show in New York, he revealed his “frank exchange of views” with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, during a “pretty tough” meeting at the UN General Assembly.’


    LOL. There used to be a low level TV game show called ‘The price is right’. Perhaps Jeremy watched it in the dorm at Charterhouse where he was Head Boy and the title stuck in his tiny frontal lobes.

    • Andrew H

      I would really like to know what the average Russian thinks. To some extent there has to be some pride that one of their agents can go into a foreign country and knock off a traitor. (Everyone here was clapping when they killed Osama). If the job wasn’t so botched it would be a source of national pride??? (so I agree Jeremy Hunt is clueless and overstating reality – there is no price to this except a certain amount of humiliation in a job badly done – kind of like when the Americans had their Iranian rescue mission disaster – these things happen, and most people have already forgotten about that one)

      • Brian c

        The average Russian probably believes whatever they’re told to believe by the big news suppliers, same as you.

        • SA

          Brian and Andrew
          The fact that your posts are conjectural, I wonder whether either of you have any clue of what you are talking about.

        • Resident Dissident

          I suspect the average Russian is rather more disbelieving of official sources – something to do with a long history of being lied to by the nomenklatura and its friends.

          • Radar O’Reilly

            Yes, my average Russian friends, during the soviet time really believed nothing until it was confirmed (denied) in Pravda. They really listened to UK/USA funded ‘freedom’ radio-stations, after having briefed the children never to tell anyone about the secret radio hidden under the stairs; The schoolteachers were the first line of the Soviet surveillance state.

            However, that was then 1970s to 1990s, and over there. Now my average Russian friends watch First Channel sometimes, but believe the majority of it. Watch RTR often and believe much of the news, they mostly watch THT and its Pythonesque/student humour – but Res-Dis, the programme that really gets Russians laughing hysterically is called *BBC One news*

            Compare: The Russian first tv channel have Americans on their political shows to try and act as a sounding board for the wacky ideas that Atlanticism is now channeling. I agree with Craig that today the Russian press is quite free, compared to the upgraded digitalised surveillance state (following the old soviet-model) that exists in the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

            Next we’ll be reading that secret interior ministry spies even spied on privacy related charities who they were fighting in British & European courts, using ‘Workings’ databases so secret that even the regulator of investigatory powers had never dreamt that they existed. How to win a court case, abuse all judicial privileges, lie and deceive? Which country RU or UK?

            Today’s England is possibly a little bit astray from its claimed founding principles, however my Russian friends of today have no malice towards the ‘lost’ Kingdom, no interest in Putin or politics, and they assure me that England will recover from its upcoming self-inflicted end of empire collapse, within a decade or so, like Russia did after their 1991.

            Watch out however on your voyage down then up, for the same Yeltsin types, the Berezovsky & Browder types, and good luck to all who sail in her!

          • N_


            that England will recover from its upcoming self-inflicted end of empire collapse, within a decade or so, like Russia did after their 1991.

            Not a chance. People in Russia understand what to do when there are food shortages. Few in England and the rest of Britain have a clue. That is a major cultural difference.

          • Resident Dissident

            You obviously haven’t got drunk enough with many average Russians – the last time I watched the Pervy channel with them you should have heard what they were saying during the customary 10+ minutes of each day’s news devoted to Putin’s engagements for the day.

          • Resident Dissident

            As for the loss of empire point – perhaps you should reflect that many Russians saw the Crimea as part of regaining theirs rather than accepting its loss.

  • Tony

    One of the more compelling reasons that this is not Chepiga , comes from the fact that western media are allowed to publish the allegation.
    Assuming the Bellingham investigation is robust and correct it seems irrational that the intelligence services would announce to the Russians that they have ID one of their most
    successful camera shy operatives. It is more logical that this information would be withheld.
    If the Bellingham sources do have access to passport databases why produce a photo from 2003 , why not Chepiga from post 2010.

  • Navara

    We just need the real Chepiga to come forward now. Russia needs this. That would finish Bellingcat for good.
    Come on Chepiga, show yourself.

  • Kathy Woods

    I find it difficult to give any credence to UK government claims while the Skripals and the cop continue to be held incommunicado. Presently, the Skripals would be able to shed some light on the question of wen these two Russians had an opportunity to administer the Novichok. The current unamended official story has the Novuchok placed on the door handle bf the Skripals left home, but the Ruskies didn’t arrive until after the Skripals had departed the house. If they returned home at some later time and encountered the nerve agent then, the Skripal’s should be able to attest to that. Or they may have encountered the two men somewhere later on outside their home. Yulia wanting a little private time is not an adequate explanation for disappearing and cutting all contact with friends, family and countrymen. If that is the case, why couldn’t Yulia make this statement to the Russian Ambassador? Surely, they could protect her from harm at the hands of Russian embSsy personnel during the course of a short meeting. And what is the justification for disappearing the cop?Have the Russians some reason to want him dead? The UK wants to try this case with both the perpetrators AND the victims in abstentia and based on evidence that is classified and therefore can’t be produced. Ludicrous.

  • Sharp Ears

    I have just skimmed last night’s QT on the iPlayer. Appalling, Over half of it was devoted to Brexit and the usual stands were being taken. Then they moved on to the Labour Party conference and Corbyn in a question about the greed economy.

    ‘Is Jeremy Corbyn right when he says the greed economy must end?’ 31mins in

    True to form, Liddle of the Sun followed his praise of Corbyn’s speech by a shouting rant against the supporters of Palestine. He described them as ‘a rabble waving Palestinian flags’. What a creature Dimbleby gave him three minutes for his off topic rant.

    Who will the BBC choose for the panel in Edinburgh at the Scottish Parliament in a fortnight’s time? LOL..

    • Rhys Jaggar

      The BBC will not choose a panel all to your taste and that is exactly how it should be. A lot of people do not share your views, however annoying that may be to you.

      Mrs May’s Brexit trials are rather more important than some socialist tub thumping in Liverpool. They will be more important than next week’s Rally in Birmingham, however many BJs are given by ambitious young damsels/posh boys to sex-for-favours officials and bigwigs. So hardly surprising that Brexit was top of the discussion.

      My personl experience of poverty was that I was happily left to sink by Labour supporters and restored to equilibrium by Conservative supporters. It does not make the Labour Party evil and the Conservative Party good, it just says any idiot who thinks Labour Good, Tory Evil has not lived in the real world of actual human beings. The Labour Supporters who left me to sink were Scottish….probably as I was English and grew up middle class. So nothing uniquely moral about Scottish Lefties.

      In my own country, England, Scots put me under electronic surveilance, including in my own home, as disgustingly evil business criminals seeking to control and steal from me. More than one supported the SNP. So nothing honest and honourable about Nationalists, whatever you say. One Scot was entirely in favour of neocon genocide and threatened me with death for opposing post 911 warmongering. A dedicated member of the Kirk, that lovely specimen from Aberdeen….

      It takes an outsider to see Scots as they are, not imbued with the ‘all Scots are virtuous, collectivist icons’ claptrap. You are not, as a nation you are just as full of selfish, criminal, murderous, security-services trash as the English are. You just export some of them south of the border…..

    • Resident Dissident

      Good to see that you are now only skimming QT rather than submitting it to a detailed analysis and getting rather upset in the process.

    • Charles Bostock

      “I have just skimmed last night’s QT on the iPlayer.”

      “skimmed”, yeah, sure. Just like you never reading The Times but just “glimpsing” the headlines when you’re at the newsagents (question – why are you at the newsagents?) I bet you listened to every minute of the last QT. Whom do you think you’re fooling?

      • Sharp Ears

        I did NOT watch QT last night. I skimmed through it on theiPlayer this morning.

        You, this blog’s very own Mr Nasty, are calling me a liar now.

  • Simon Hodges

    Looking at the Bellingcat article, the evidence of the passport application form doesn’t actually show the photo they present separately. The application form looks like a poor photocopy. Where did the photo come from? I also wondered who redacted information on this image. If you download the image you will see Bellingcat named the image as “redacted_bosh.png”. This seems to me that Bellingcat redacted text on the image. Now why would they want to do that and also deem it necessary to remove all information details from the file properties?

      • Simon Hodges

        The Russian state has the original document. If the ‘sources’ have been redacted then Bellingcat would only have alerted them to the ‘sources’. As to the file properties these show information as to the program that produced the image etc. Its more covering up the history of your working methods than protecting sources. If file properties showed the image had been processed through photoshop for example, it would arouse suspicion. Given the image of this passport application, its a simple job for anyone to print a copy, then physically paste an outline of the separate photo onto it and then fax it to yourself in order to get the poor quality reproduction they present where it is not possible to tell whether the image has been doctored or not.

  • SA

    As we know, Eliott Higgins is a non-resident senior research fellow in the Digital-Forensic Research Lab since 2016 and Future Europe Initiative, projects run by the Atlantic Counci;l, a leading US geopolitical strategy think-tank based in Washington, D.C. (Wikipedia)
    The Alantic Council is supposed to be a non partisan organisation
    However the organisation is full of past US movers and shakers and is sponsored by many “pro-democracy Organisation” and other organisations
    “The Atlantic Council receives funding from numerous foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Cuba Policy Foundation. It also receives support from the U.S. Departments of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Energy and from the U.S. Mission to NATO and the U.S. Mission to the European Union.
    Its corporate members consist of almost 100 companies which include arms manufacturers Boeing, EADS North America, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, and other concerns as varied as AT&T, Chevron U.S.A., Daimler, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, MSNBC, Sony, Textron, Time Warner, Toyota and Viacom.”
    As well as from many governments and governmental bodies:
    Foreign governments: United Arab Emirates (UAE; which gives the think tank at lesast $1 million), Kingdom of Bahrain, City of London, Temasek Holdings (Singapore), Embassy of Hungary, Ministry of Defense of Finland, Embassy of Latvia, Estonian Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Defense of Georgia, Ministry of Defense of Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of Slovakia, Embassy of Czech Republic.
    A major private donor is Bahaa Harriri, a Saudi Lebanese billionaire, eldest son of the assassinated Lebanese Prime minister Rafik Al Hariri and brother of the current Lebanese Prime minister Saad Al Hariri. This was used to establish the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East with special focus on Syria, Libya and Egypt.
    All in all it appears that the agenda of the Atlantic council allies closely with a bipartisan Washington agenda and also in fostering the aims of NATO. A good analysis is found here.
    This all put context to the sponsorship of Higgins by the Atlantic council and now the voice that he is given by our government and media. This also explains the serious efforts by Bellingcat to demonization Russia, Syria and connection to the Skripal affair.

  • Resident Dissident

    Why doesn’t Craig tell everyone the results of comparing the first photo with the second one – which are clearly nearer to each other in age? Answers on a post card to ……….?

    • Dom

      Why don’t you tell us why the main BBC TV news – not a blog – is showing only the two pictures of Boshirov and pretending that one of them is Chepiga?

      • Resident Dissident

        For the simple reason I don’t know, I suggest you ask them, and while you do you could also ask RT why they are lying through their teeth – stop diverting

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