“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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    • Yeah, Right

      True enough, but note these:
      “1.Police in one of our member countries request a Red Notice via their National Central Bureau AND PROVIDE INFORMATION ON THE CASE.
      2.The INTERPOL General Secretariat publishes the Notice AFTER A COMPLIANCE CHECK IS COMPLETED.
      3.Police ALL AROUND THE WORLD are alerted.”

      This leads to three conclusions:
      1. Teresa May can’t request a Red Notice without also providing “information” on the case
      2. Interpol won’t issue that Red Notice without first checking that “information” for “compliance”
      3. If such a Red Notice was issued then Russian law enforcement agencies would be informed

      Sorry, but all that Teresa May has done is to get the UK Prosecutors office to apply for a European Arrest Warrant, but since the Prosecutors Office grants that EAW to itself then no “information” needed to be provided to anyone.

      But Teresa May didn’t take the next step of applying for a Red Notice, since that would require her to spill the beans to Interpol.

      We know that for a fact, because if such a Red Notice was issued then Interpol had to notify Russian Police services of that fact, just as it has to inform every other Police service around the world.

      • N_

        But Teresa May didn’t take the next step of applying for a Red Notice, since that would require her to spill the beans to Interpol.

        We know that for a fact, because if such a Red Notice was issued then Interpol had to notify Russian Police services of that fact, just as it has to inform every other Police service around the world.

        Or perhaps she did apply and the British application failed the compliance. No MSM editors or journalists in the press lobby have had the guts to ask May or Javid. Government makes promise. Media decides not to check whether or not they fulfil it.

        Have the Russian police said the notices haven’t been issued? Sputnik News just said they searched on the Interpol website. For that matter, has anybody said the notices definitely have been issued? The British state isn’t getting everything its own way in this matter, not by a long chalk. The same is true in international athletics.

  • Brendan

    The Telegraph’s chief reporter incorrectly stated that his newspaper helped Bellingcat to expose Boshirov as Chepiga. Oh dear. Even the Daily Mail gave false credit to their rival publication for “the Bellingcat/Telegraph report”.

    The Press Gazette gives the details:
    “In its version of the story, the Telegraph said it had been a “disclosure, uncovered by investigative journalist organisation Bellingcat in conjunction with the Telegraph…”.

    One of its reporters also trailed the scoop ahead of publication, tweeting that people should “watch the Telegraph website at 5pm for a major breaking new story”.

    Bellingcat made no mention of the Telegraph in its story.

    The independent investigative website’s founder and editor, Eliot Higgins, told Press Gazette: “I’m a bit unclear on what the Telegraph is doing… seeing [as] we didn’t make any agreements with them.”

    He added that he “can only imagine it’s a terrible misunderstanding”.
    “We hope that Telegraph’s statement is the result of a misunderstanding.” ”

    Bellingcat’s second in command, Aric Toler tweeted: “I have no clue why the Telegraph said we were working “in conjunction” with them on the Chepiga identification, and assume it was just an honest mistake.”

    Russian media tells lies. British media only has misunderstandings and makes honest mistakes. But rest assured that everything else that it reports about the Skripal case is correct.

  • H R Anderson

    Good article as per your usual standard. Ma I say that one quick way to check different photographs of the same person is to invert them.
    This was first demonstrated to me in 1979 whilst I was applying to have my passport renewed after a period of more than 10 years. The clerk handling my application was unsure about my identity vis-a-vis my new passport photie and she conferred with her co worker who took both photies and turned them upside down.. This action clearly demonstrated that the photies were of the same person.
    I have done this with other photies to show the dis/similarities with other people. It works with these photies as well.

  • Matt

    I think it is the same guy, just younger. The difference in ratios can be ascribed to a slight tilt of the head, as evinced by the relative position of the nose and earlobes, and the underchin. The skull shape is consistent with a foreshortened view and shorter hair. It is also possible that his nose was broken at some point.

  • Clark

    So. The British secret services have noted the popularity of conspiracy theorists’ photo-lookalike articles (they couldn’t have missed Chris Spivey’s court case) and they’ve leaked via Bellingcat and successfully increased the false certainty of the believers and distracted nearly everyone else. Result!

  • N_

    Here are some questions this Saturday morning to keep people going. They are related.

    1) What civilian involvement and non-armed forces, non-civilian involvement was there in Exercise Toxic Dagger?

    In the first category: local authorities (officials, representatives), health (health officials, hospital managers, medics, ambulance services, pharmacists), communications (editors, journalists, PR companies), lawyers, “education” (officials, headteachers), transport (transport companies, security), actors in other public spaces (shopping centre managers, CCTV providers), and goodness knows who else (churchmen? international stamp dealers?)

    In the second: police, firefighters, and let’s put MI5, MI6, GCHQ here too.

    2) Did part of the gaming involve the playing of civilian casualties?

    3) A chemical weapons attack need not take the form of a spectacular incident in a crowded place or some other kind of open attack where a lot of people fall ill fast. There are other possible vectors of attack too, and as with cyberattacks some are deniable. Possible vectors along which a chemical weapons attack could take place include a) the supply of, ahem, “fitness supplements” to gyms and clubs, and b) the supply of substances to street addicts.

    Did either of these vectors feature in Toxic Dagger? (*innocent face*)

      • Ken Kenn

        Blunderbuss and anyone else please.

        Can anyone explain or enlighten me as to what the planning is/was in place in case of an event in Porton Down
        of say a dozen employees falling ill to a toxic substance?

        Where would they be treated?

        Secondly: In the event of people in Salisbury becoming poisoned ( less likely that a PD employee – save a Terrorist attack) is there any plan in place to counter that?

        The reason I ask is due to the staff at SDH saying they were working in the dark until PD advisers told them how to treat the Skripals and DSB.

        That suggests that there were no forethought emergency plans at SDH for an emergency outbreak or accidental contamination of PD staff or for the members of the public.

        But, if what is being posited is true then there was forethought and planning and the staff at SDH are not being honest. To be fair I think they have been misled by the Novichock narrative.

        In passing my opinion of most so called ‘ Conspiracy theories ‘ ( not all but most ) is that the spooks get wind of what’s about to go down and join in by adding more dramatic effects for public consumption.

        It’s all about fear. If people are fearful they will accept protection from anyone who they think will save them.

        But first you have to scare them into submission by actualities.

        This is the so called War on Terror in a nutshell.

        • Kempe

          Because nobody but nobody, not even the MoD, is that stupid.

          The area is used for regular exercises by the army so contaminating it wouldn’t be a good idea.

          • Dave Lawton

            @Kemp yes they are that stupid.Been to Salisbury have you? Have you served in the Military ? If you have you should know better.

          • Clive p

            When I was in MOD the army scattered radioactive materials over the Peak District (without any authority) to see if troops could find it so they are capable of that sort of stupidity.

          • flatulence'

            they would of course test the real deal, but I wonder if Kemp is talking about the exercises actually talked about in the public domain. Toxic Dagger was to test the response to attacks such as nerve agents or radioactive biological etc. But it would be unlikely they would exercise a large scale attack like this using the real deal which would at least ruin an exercise ground. Why test yourself against a nuke by nuking yourself. But a small concentrated attack that can be cleared up with little collateral damage and aid propaganda and foreign affairs… Cash back.

          • Kempe

            I worked in the Defence Industry for many years. Nobody but nobody carries out NBC exercises with real nerve agents. It would be far too dangerous not to mention expensive because of the clean up costs and having to discard a lot of expensive equipment, vehicles etc, afterwards.

          • Bayard

            “Nobody but nobody carries out NBC exercises with real nerve agents.”
            Well, we only have the government’s word for it that the attack on the Skripals was a nerve agent and we do have a letter to the Times from a Salisbury doctor that it wasn’t.

          • Clive p

            In the early 1950s Porton Down carried out trials with live bacteriological agents off the coast of NW Scotland. One plane dropped a load over the Fleetwood fishing fleet. It was decided not to do anything or say what happened but to wait and see whether anybody fell ill or died.

          • pretzelattack

            the us conducted nuclear tests and exposed civilians and soldiers to radiation. the cia dosed people with lsd without their knowledge. not to mention the use of white phosphorous and agent orange. you seem to have a rose colored view of our dedicated public servants.

          • james

            kempe – the same response most here have towards the uk gov’t and it’s skripal case… any evidence? thought not…

      • Paul Greenwood

        Certainly a reason for a Russian visit to assess military exercise involving weapons Russia no longer produces but UK and US clearly do.

        Strange how 7/7 in London worked out far better than expected because BMA was hosting a doctors’ conference in Tavistock Square at the time of the No30 bus exploding outside and London was on an emergency exercise.

        • Kempe

          None of whom I seem to recall could remember how to make up a saline solution. You’d have thought if they’d have known what was going to happen they’d have looked it up beforehand.

    • flatulence'

      Yeah I mentioned earlier that it could be a covert extension to Toxic Dagger. John Goss corrected me on the name of the operation, calling it operation Beluga. Next day a Beluga swam up the Thames. So now I think Goss is in on it, or can at least summon Beluga at will. Just messing.

      Better to test without the knowledge of the public and public services to test the true effect for scrutiny. Use of real agent would be beneficial to the exercise, but not totally necessary for small concentrated attack with nerve agent, especially if the test results can be made up anyway to imply nerve agent was used and targets taken away. The effect on the Skripals suggests no real nerve agent, but the aftermath with Sturgess/Rowley suggests there may well have been nerve agent or at least something pretty nasty. I suppose it may have been beneficial to the exercise to see what would happen to a disposed agent/weapon upon discovery, so later putting a sealed dispenser in a charity bin where it was sure to be found and used, and therefore also extending the exercise for scrutiny if all was going to plan. All of which all very useful for current operations abroad which is either a bonus or the main objective. Probably both. Main objective would be different for different departments.

  • Sharp Ears

    Hurry. Get your tickets, Going fast. Next Thursday, Mark Urban and Luke Harding at Waterstones Piccadilly!!!

    The Skripal Files: Mark Urban in conversation with Luke Harding
    H/T Margo TLN


    Following the explosive story of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury earlier this year, Mark Urban’s new book, The Skripal Files, is the definitive account of how Skripal’s story fits into the wider context of the new spy war between Russia and the West. Mark will be joining us to discuss his latest work with the Guardian’s award-winning foreign correspondent, and author of A Very Expensive Poison, Luke Harding.
    ‘With regard to traitors, they will kick the bucket on their own, I assure you . . . Whatever thirty pieces of silver those people may have gotten, they will stick in their throat.’
    Vladimir Putin, 2010
    Mark Urban is the diplomatic and defence editor for BBC Newsnight. Drawing from hours of exclusive interviews Skripal gave before his near-death, The Skripal Files brings together a thorough, captivating account of Skripal’s history with both Russian and British Intelligence, and his eventual entanglement with the Novichok poisoning in Salisbury.
    Luke Harding is the author of The Snowden Files, Mafia State and Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House. His book, A Very Expensive Poison, charts the life and death of Alexander Litvinenko, and, with this, Russia’s new cold war with the West. Harding traces Litvinenko’s poisoning back to Vladimir Putin, and to a regime exposed by the Panama Papers, in a perceptive piece of investigative journalism.
    Join us to hear from both Mark and Luke on their work, and the dynamic between Russia and the West at present: where we are after Skripal’s poisoning, and where this charged global dynamic may be leading us.’

    They need our money. 🙂

    • Clark

      £6 to £8.

      Disgusting. Skripal talking to Urban could be what led to the poisonings in the first place.

      No. Words are insufficient to express my disgust.

      • Sharp Ears

        I hope you did not think I was endorsing them Clark. Just some info as to what these spooks’ promoters/protectors get up to.

    • remember kronstadt

      Join us to hear from both Mark and Luke on their work, and the dynamic between Russia and the West at present: where we are after Skripal’s poisoning, and where this charged global dynamic may be leading us.

      Following the launch there will a be a toxin tasting event, bring your own glassware – cheers.

    • Dungroanin

      Ah timely i’ll order some rotten tomatoes.

      And some questions.
      Tank regiment.
      De Bretton Gordon
      Le Mesurier
      Pablo Millar
      Christopher Steele
      DeeDee Dearlove
      Trump Dossier
      And then if there is time and rotten veg left perhaps a few words on the invisible Skripals.

  • Node

    Sometimes I wonder if “They” are deliberately overloading our capacity for outrage.

    Jelly Babies, rebranded as “Peace Babies”, are being sold in support of “Help for Heroes”

    Has anyone coined the phrase “indignation fatigue” yet?

    • Republicofscotland

      What do you think Node, should this police officer had back their immediate 6% pay rise given to him/her by the SNP government.


      Meanwhile John Apter head of the Police Federation for England and Wales has lauded the SNP for the rise, but says Westminster has kicked English/Welsh officers in the stomach.


      • Charles Bostock

        Giving the police a pay rise well over the rate of inflation was an astute move by the SNP government.

        As Mrs Thatcher showed, it is always good to keep the police on side.

        It seems that the SNP government is a good learner 🙂

        • Vivian O'Blivion

          Unlike their compatriots in England and Wales, Scots cops do not take an oath of allegiance to the Crown. Having amalgamated the regional Police authorities into Police Scotland, the high heed yin would feel an obligation to the First Minister for their lofty position. If Treeza refuses a second Indy ref and we go ahead with an unrecognised one anyways, having the cops in your good books should avoid them splitting the skulls of pensioners a la Catalonia.

          • Charles Bostock

            As I said, Mrs Thatcher’s lesson has been well learnt not only by the English parties but also by the Scottish SNP.

            As for Police Scotland, interesting to note that Scotland has a centralised, state police force responsible to central government. Not at all like “fascist” England and Wales…..

        • Paul Greenwood

          Unfortunately police pensions are unfunded so they are paid out of operating funds and pay increases have a serious double-whammy effect.

          • Charles Bostock

            As far as I’m aware, all UK state pensions -whether the old age pension or occupational pensions (eg for former NHS workers) are unfunded.

          • Aslangeo

            Pension funding, not quiet true, local government pensions actually do have a fund, I believe but am not certain that the teachers do as well, but I think that NHS, central government, police and military are funded from current taxation, hence a nasty squeeze in the future

          • Charles Bostock

            Thank you for that. Perhaps I should have said “semi-funded” or “not fully funded”. Whatever the terminology, the fact is that the major part of local government pensions and teachers’ pensions is funded by central government via general taxation. All are funded for the most part under what one could call the “pay as you go system”.

          • Matt R

            Asklangeo, I know what you’re saying, but it’s important to recognise that taxes don’t fund anything. To say they do is a complete mis-reading of how things really work, but admittedly one that is widely believed and gleefully promoted by both clever and stupid politicians on all sides and by vested interests in the media and business. The idea that taxes “pay” for Government spending can be elegantly disproved by a simple thought experiment. Ask yourself where the first ever pound that was used to pay tax came from! All Government spending ultimately comes from Government money creation, which under most circumstances causes a virtuous circle of economic growth. The only objection to Government doing more of the same is the threat of uncontrolled inflation, but we are a zillion miles from that problem. Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Weimar Republic etc have nothing to do with our current circumstances and have no relevance (I mention them only because at this point someone always shouts “Venezuela!”, or similar as if it is a rationale economic argument). Sorry for the side show. Short version – “unfunded” State pensions are no cause for concern.

      • Node


        Did you notice Edinburgh Evening News took the opportunity to tell its readers how easy it is to share the anti-indy icon :

        “Users can follow a few instructions to have the icon added to their page and the message automatically tweeted out to their followers.

    • Resident Dissident

      “Indignation fatigue” – I get it all the time from sampling too much fruitcake during my visits here.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    That Rutland councillor Richard Alderman is on the real track in complaining about May’s treason, but we can go along with just locking her up for lit.

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      Aren’t interested in making one for May and Britian’s covert government right now?

      • Trowbridge H. Ford

        The UK government is continuing to cover up its rolle in the background to the Skripal fiasco.

        I have stopped writing articles which no one takes seriously, so no new links, just the ones on the VT about Williams and the Manhattan 11.

  • George

    Let us face it, they look like the same person. And otherwise Chepiga would have shown up on TV. Doesn’t mean he poisoned Scripal, as that story still doesn’t make sense, but it is a great embarrassment for the Russians. And they have been silent since. I think they are baffled by the story and wondering what is going on. They were very relaxed putting them on TV (showing lack of guilt in my view), and now things have gone badly wrong. Time for them to spell out all the facts about the two and their trade. Not that anybody will believe anything, but at least the curious want to know.

  • Garth Carthy

    @Sharp Ears “Hurry. Get your tickets, Going fast. Next Thursday, Mark Urban and Luke Harding at Waterstones Piccadilly!!!”

    I’ve noticed that the new book “9/11 Unmasked” is unavailable at Waterstones and only available from Amazon “within one to two months”!
    You can’t help wondering if Amazon are back tracking because the book is so allegedly hard-hitting and explosively anti-establishment.

    • Robyn

      I was looking to buy a copy of 9/11 Unmasked but Amazon had it marked as ‘out of print’ the day BEFORE it was due to be released. It is currently marked, ‘Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we’ll deliver when available.’

  • Olaf S

    The role of P & B in the affair? Please consider the following as a possibility (even it may seem a tad far out at first):
    Several GRU officers and commandos (Spetsnaz) were present in and around Salisbury on the day of the attack. (The majority of them were not dependent on passports to cross borders, if I may put it that way). Their task was to help Skripal to escape to Russia. The British side had probably been warned in advance by some mole, but had few details to work with. The Russians had several resources available in and around the town, mostly in the form of vehicles, and had several escape routes prepared, presumeably by sea. (There was no poison involved on the Russian side, of course). ”Petrov” and ”Boshirov” were part of the team, but their role may just have been distraction and/or some form of back-up.
    There must have been a considerable amount of nervousness on the British side, needless to say. An eventual incapacitating of Skripal was probably concieved as the best option to prevent him from escaping (=changing side), but one was also prepared for any kind of action, including direct confrontation with the foreign intruders/liberators etc. People in the town had no idea of the drama going on, as nothing showed on the surface. The Salisbury hospital was secretly prepared/secured in advance. The propaganda stuff, with the novichok claims and all that doorknob jazz was invented god knows when. What happened next we all know: At one point, probably when one felt that a Russian success could not be excluded, the Skrips were sprayed and brought to ”safety” in the hospital via prepared means & routes.

    One can easily fill in the rest of the known facts, i think. The Skripals turning off the phones, Sergej being kept out of reach of the press: It all points rather in the same direction. (Yulia, for her part prolly just wants to avoid publicity and return to a normal life asap, no mystery there).

    The Perfume bottle in a garbage can: It may simply have been left in the garbage bin long after the attack, say, by tourists from a country of the extreme anti-Russian kind (and which has access to this kind of poison) just to help boost the Russia-scare.

    In a global perspective – the planet moving fast towards environmental or nuclear catastrophy- all this spy-vs-spy stuff must be considered kindergarten play and nonsens, let’s face it. That said, what is happening in the small-minded world of the secret services, may be used in state propaganda to whip up hatred and make the world still more unstable, goes without saying.

    • MaryPau!

      there are trolls and there are trolls….but just to be clear, Sergei Skripal travelled abroad regularly. He did not need “springing” from Salisbury.

      • Olaf S

        Sorry, I don’t get that about “trolls”. When it comes to your argument, I must point out that a completely new situation might have arisen the very moment they found out that he planned to go home/change side.
        (if that was the case, as have been rumored).

        The strongest argument against my version in my view (apart from beeng far out..): Hard to believe that the Russians would want to have anything to do with Skripal.
        (OTOH Putin is an extreme pragmatic, so who knows).

        • johnf

          If Skripal had been central to advising Christopher Steele (like Pablo Miller – Skripal’s handler – a member of Orbis) and had come up with background for the Trump/Russiagate dossier, including even perhaps the thousand peeing prostitutes, and Skripal had decided suddenly (doubtless for financial reasons) to return to Russia where he would expose the whole Trump/Russiagate fabrication at a press conference, then Putin would have every motive for encouraging him to re-defect and a panicking MI6 every motive for stopping him.

    • Igor P.P.

      I can’t say it makes perfect sense, but at least it does explain the silence and disappearance of Sergei Skripal. Which I haven’t seen convincingly explained yet.

      • Olaf S

        Thank you.
        May I mention en passant, that for me the most frightening thing i this story is that a very reasonable/believable article about P & B – that of Grachev – was deleted from facebook.
        The West reminds me more and more about the old SSSR (What again reminds me of Putin’s dry joke when he gave Snowden asylum: “No it is our turn to take care of dissidents”)- .

  • Matt H.

    Dear Ambassador Murray,

    The photos being compared by everyone here include the overexposed passport photo. That photo makes Chepiga’s face look wider than it actually is, by bleaching out the shadows. Let us compare the photo released by Bellingcat with the available RT footage, shot in HD:


    You can see that the facial structure is exactly the same:


    Here’s a comparison of the photos of Chepiga released by Bellingcat, two on the left, and the RT interview screenshot:


    You all tell me, what is a more accurate comparison, the above or below?


    Amb. Murray then makes a serious error in his article. I quote:

    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.

    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?

    This is incorrect. One of the authors of the article, Christo Grozev, directly responded to these criticisms on Twitter, even using the same facial comparison website as Amb. Murray, except he used the more accurate RT screenshot rather than the overexposed passport scan:


    We didn’t include (quasi-)science in our report just because something as patent as daylight does not need to be proven. But here’s a test on betaface: getting 83% euclidean match on photos nearly 20 years apart is outstanding (I get 80% on mine)


    We can conclude that the photos are of the same person.

    Kommersant have visited Chepiga’s hometown and a close friend of his identified him from the old photo, even saying that she recognized his voice from the RT interview, so we are no longer debating his looks. Did the dastardly CIA or Soros manipulate Chepiga’s voice in the RT interview too?

    The Washington Post’s reporters used social media to contact various residents, and found even more people confirming that Boshirov is Chepiga.

    I quote:

    Two people in a village in Russia’s Far East told The Washington Post on Friday they apparently recognized a suspect in recent nerve-agent poisonings in Britain as a former fellow villager and decorated military officer.

    “It’s true. He’s our guy,” said Alla, who described herself as a onetime family friend and, like some others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition that she not be fully identified, because of the sensitivity of the matter.

    “For us simple residents, this is all just crazy,” she added.

    Alla said she could not imagine him being mixed up in the Skripal affair. She said that Chepiga’s parents left the village about five years ago and that she had last seen him no more recently than 10 years ago.

    “We are totally at a loss as to how this could have happened — he was raised in the spirit of patriotism,” Alla said. “What happened has absolutely nothing to do with that.” 

    Irina Ivanova, another Berezovka resident, said in a message to The Post over Russia’s VKontakte social network that Boshirov looked “very similar” to Chepiga.

    “Anatoly Chepiga is our countryman. I know him and his family very well,” Ivanova said. “They’re a wonderful, friendly and respected family.”

    Alexey, a 37-year-old resident of Berezovka who works in the construction industry, told The Post that the man who called himself Boshirov resembled his former schoolmate Chepiga. Chepiga, Alexey said, went on to study at the Far-Eastern Military Command Academy in the nearby city of Blagoveshchensk and was known by villagers to have received the Hero of the Russian Federation award. 

    Lastly, Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for the Kremlin, claims that a man with the name Chepiga has never received the Hero of the Russian Federation award. One problem: Chepiga’s former commanding officer at the military academy just contradicted Peskov, and confirmed that Chepiga has a Hero of Russia award. In fact, that is one of the main reasons he remembers the name, he claims. Now, why would the Kremlin lie about this?

    In conclusion:

    You all remember that claims were made that there was no way Bellingcat could have received such information, that it must be fake or the British government gave these photos. Wrong again. These private passport files not accessible to the British government, and not only has the Russian government not once denied that these files are real, but they have accused Bellingcat of having hacked their passport database, even whilst they are actively hunting for those who leaked the data (which is what likely happened).

    Claims were made that Russia would never use the real names of GRU officers on passport files; well, now we know that this was a cover identity.

    One more note: it is likely that a large number of GRU officers have been outed. Since the passport numbers of the two suspects differed only by a single digit, the Russia media outlet Fontanka managed to reach a man named Alexander Polyakov, whose passport number fell within the range apparently used by the GRU, and who also listed 76B Khoroshevskoe Highway as his address on multiple documents. Read the awkward discussion here. Expectedly, he denied everything, but somewhat clumsily. Impressive work from the GRU giving their agents consecutive passport numbers, so that if you acquire the database of Russian passport details you can basically identify GRU agents, which Russian news outlets are now doing…


    In summary:

    1. The Kremlin has been caught lying about the fact that Chepiga received the Hero of the Russian Federation award, which is customarily personally awarded by the President

    3. Boshirov’s passport files list a GRU building address, as do tther GRU agents who have been identified due to their passport number range, and all had their listed addresses as a GRU building

    4 The photo comparison, when using the high quality RT video screenshot as a sample, matches the Bellingcat photo perfectly

    5. Multiple people interviewed by Kommersant+WaPo recognize him from the Bellingcat photo

    6. A former close friend recognized his voice from the RT interview

    6. Russia has not denied that the passport files are fake, and is now frantically trying to find those responsible for the leaks.

    7. Multiple Russian media outlets, including Fontkana, have done their own investigations and cross-verified the information. This is no longer just about Bellingcat. I wonder if the alt-media will now smear these media outlets as being CIA outlets or something.

    Don’t let Russian officials and politicians just ramble about Bellingcat’s and The Insider’s non-existent ties to Western intelligence. Instead, make them answer one simple question: **why not put Boshirov and Chepiga in one room?**

    Mr. Lugovoy, suspected killer of Litvinenko, now a Duma deputy, has attacked Bellingcat⁩ and The Insider. He is urging prosecutors to investigate the source of financing of The Insider, key to naming Chepiga. Predictable. And dangerous.

    “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!”

    This is most likely just a mistake on whoever was in charge of displaying the photos. They must have quickly glanced at the photo, which itself contained two photos, and thought those photos were being compared.

    • flatulence'


      You can see that the facial structure is exactly the same:”

      Not sure if I’m missing something, but just tried your pictures and pictriev still says they are different people. I thought they looked similar, but whatever pictriev is measuring suggest they are a ways off.

      • Matt

        Most of those photo comparision websites are like pseudoscience, used for fun. They are not meant for forensic analysis of images. We can use our own superiour eyes and brains to recognize that the images are of the same man. No need to use some online tool, using God knows what kind of basic algorithm. We used to build programs like this back in my Image Processing class when I was in University for Computer Science. It’s extremely easy to build a proof of concept tool, like pictriev, but very hard to create one with the accuracy of the human brain. Like the saying goes: “Who are you going to believe, a toy website or your lying eyes”?

        Also, note that the photos are of different scales. The leftmost one is slightly wider than the middle one, and the rightmost one is a bit more zoomed in than the others. Those comparing the sizes and such should first adjust each image to the proper scale, if possible.

        • flatulence'

          “We can use our own superiour eyes and brains”

          Speak for yourself. I dropped out of the 3rd year of my phd to start a business in a recession!

          Yeah I don’t much like the ‘computa says no’ business, so am not convinced they are different people. I just found it interesting that the rough looking Boshirov photo does give a match to the clean interview Boshirov, and I really didn’t think they looked the same. I don’t think it cares too much about scale, but if aspect ratio has been played with then that would make sense.

          • flatulence'

            wierd… if you stretch interview pic width, match gets closer, but narrow the young pic and it gets further away from a match. I don’t know.

          • Matt

            Yeah, I agree about the aspect ratio. I tried to narrow the younger picture and it was imppossible to have it match the other ones. This leads me to believe that there is some distortion of the image too – possibly when it was printed or by the camera lens.

      • remember kronstadt

        I had been happy to go with the story but looking at the more defined early photograph don’t think it’s the same person either?

    • Igor P.P.

      There clearly are reasons to suspect they are the same people. We should however not rush to conclusions based on anonymous sources such as unidentified villagers. Some of them did not recognise him after all (this part of Kommersant interview is left out in Meduza quote). The one who recognised his voice was a “close friend” of his in the childhood days. Remember the witness saying that the couple in CCTV were “definitely the couple on the bench”?

      Regarding the hero award, what Peskov said exactly: “Yes, we have checked. I have no information that a person with this name was awarded” (note the “I”). He did not say that the claim is false, he said he has no information to confirm it. Are they witholding information? Yes. Lying? No. Personally I think he was probably awarded by a secret order (a known practice), so Peskov could not tell it publically even if it became known.

      As for putting them in one room, the Russian position so far was to be strict on formalities. When/if UK state officially backs this theory, then it may get interesting.

      • Matt

        It’s true that the award was secret, but if Boshirov is not Chepiga, the Kremlin would not care about the secrey of such an order if it meant disproving Bellingcat’s claims. Plus, there are a number of issues:

        A former close friend recognized his voice from the RT interview.

        Russia has not once denied that the passport files are fake, and is now trying to find the those responsible for the leaks, while publicly implying that Bellingcat hacked their passport database. So the information is defintely real.

        His passport files list a GRU building address, as do those of other men with a similar passport number. Those other GRU agents have been identified due to their passport number range, their listed addresses as a GRU building and their foreign operations. How likely is it that all these men’s passports, with “Top Secret” markings, similar passport numbers, all had a GRU building listed as the address?

        • Igor P.P.

          Kremlin has little reason to care what Bellingcat says. Peskov said that regarding Chepiga there needs to be an official inquiry which will be dealt with.

          The news that the leakers of passport records are being hunted is from a single anonymous source of a minor agency (Rosbalt). I wouldn’t take it as truth just yet. The idea that spies have designated passport ranges is just too bizzare.

        • Tony

          Bellingcat themselves cast doubt on their conclusion when they are unable to provide any rationale as to why a comeback was sent to Salisbury.
          The passport files are actually from an internet leak
          Evidently from these leaks Bellingcat have 3 photos of Chepiga, why only print 1 of them in their article.
          More bizzare is why would the security forces give the nod to Bellingcat to print, surely keeping the real identity out of the public domain is more advantageous

          If Bellingcat is correct who/which department is issuing the GRU passports.
          If it is the normal passport issuing service how does the GRU reserve passport serial numbers.
          If the forms are identified as top secret . why provide the GRU address and not other details

        • Johny Conspiranoid

          Not denying an assertion by Bellingcat is not evidence for the truth of that assertion.

        • Hatuey

          Matt: “the Kremlin would not care about the secrey of such an order if it meant disproving Bellingcat’s claims”

          That’s not true. If Chepiga has nothing to do with Skripal or any of this, revealing secret awards he received would still be an issue.

          The former close friend who supposedly recognised his voice knew him from school decades ago.

          More fuzzy math; “Russia has not once denied that the passport files are fake, and is now trying to find the those responsible for the leaks, while publicly implying that Bellingcat hacked their passport database. So the information is defintely real.”

          Russia hasn’t denied a million things. On one hand you say Russia lies and is unreliable, then you assume when Russia doesn’t say anything it means whatever you want it to mean.

          Hacking a passport database would obviously be a concern for any country but here you think Russia should bear it quietly for the sake of satisfying some vague notions you have of how Russia ought to behave.

          The suggestion that mi5 or mi6 can spot Russian passports based on their numbers is the most bizarre claim made by anyone in this whole affair.

          Please don’t insult our collective intelligence with this crap.

          • Matt

            There are a few mistakes in your arrogant comment:

            Russia has not only not denied that the passport files are fake, but they have publicly accused Bellingcat of hacking their passport database. If the passport files released by Bellingcat are fake, then make no mistake, Russia would have declared them as such. And they wouldn’t publicly accuse Bellingcat of having hacked their passport databse.

            Regarding the consecutive passport numbers, you make another mistake: those numbers were meant for internal use only. You assumed that they are public numbers and that “the suggestion that mi5 or mi6 can spot Russian passports based on their numbers” is a “bizarre claim”. But MI5/MI6 can’t spot these numbers in the first place, much in the same way that the GRU can’t spot the internal passport files of MI6 members. They are private files, not meant to be seen by the enemy.

            Please think a little before resorting to insults.

        • Yeah, Right

          “Russia has not once denied that the passport files are fake, and is now trying to find the those responsible for the leaks, while publicly implying that Bellingcat hacked their passport database”

          If you actually read the Bellingcat article you will know that they didn’t hack the passport database.

          The money-shot is here: “To validate the hypothesis that Chepiga is Skripal poisoning suspect “Boshirov,” Bellingcat and The Insider obtained extracts from the passport file of Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga – the man born on 5th April 1979 – from two separate sources with access to databases dated prior to 2014.”

          Up until that sentence Eliot Higgins deductive reasoning had used nothing but open-source material, but the moment his investigation had to shift from open-source to database-hacking then attribution went from “Bellingcat” to “Bellingcat and The Insider”.

          I take that as a given that the passport application form (with its accompanying photo) was supplied to Eliot Higgins by “The Insider – Russia”, and he is simply accepting their assurance that they obtained it from a hacked Russian passport database and have passed it over to him without altering it.

          As in: trust me, because I trust these guys when they say it came from “two separate sources with access to databases”.

          That sounds authoritative (two sources = verification) but it isn’t if Higgins is relying on the assurances of a single source (The Insider – Russia) that this is, indeed, the truth.

    • Dungroanin

      There are gate keepers and there are damage limiters.
      And then there is you.

      If the other two are represented by the mouth and stomach you are the vtal other end of that process – spreading your typhoid mary shit.

      Either the police ahould publicly charge and issue the interpol warrants with evidence or the bunch of you can skulk off to the conference for which all your crap is aimed.

      Consider Yoursel besieged in your Bastille, imprisoning the truth.

      And we are storming it. You are doomed. Join us and turn on your poisonous masters or face the guillotine with them!

      Repent ! And earn forgiveness! Or be damned!
      Here endeth the sunday sermon.
      Let us pray…

    • Yeah, Right

      “Let us compare the photo released by Bellingcat with the available RT footage, shot in HD:”

      Am I the only person on planet Earth who notes that in the high definition video of “Boshirov” he has a noticeable mole on his left cheek, and another (less noticeable) mole above his left eye?

      And am I the only person on planet Earth to notice that while those are visible in the “middle” photo (i.e. Boshirov’s 2009 passport photo) neither blemish is visible in the Bellingcat photo of the person they claim to be “Chepiga”?

  • King of Welsh Noir

    Has this been posted already? Apologies if so. Israeli terror expert (allegedly) explains how the security services in the real world assassinate targets and how the Skripal case seems more like Keystone Cops in comparison:

    I want to explain how the special services work. If you need someone to eliminate, then this is a very serious operation, which is being prepared for a long time. A very significant material and human resource is allocated. We are talking about dozens of employees. On the territory of this state, an “advanced command post” is being created.

    In the operation, a technical support group, a logistic group, a cover group, an external surveillance group and a group of performers are involved.

    The performers themselves appear at the very last moment. They do not go anywhere, lighting up on cameras, do not use public transport, but move on rented cars, which they do not rent themselves. And the more they will not stop in hotels, but will live on safe houses provided by the logistics group.

    Such groups do not come under the passport of their country, do not go to the embassy for obtaining a visa, leaving fingerprints. This is complete nonsense. Professionals do not work that way.

    If the GRU acted, both the killers and the other participants in the operation would come to the UK on the passports of other countries that have visa-free relations with it. Here, two alleged GRU officers go to the embassy, ​​leave their fingerprints there, get a visa, stop at the hotel, pass under all the cells. This you will not find even in ladies’ detective novels.


    • Hatuey

      Someone posted it yesterday. What I thought was interesting about that, more than anything, was the revelation that Mossad seems to think nothing of using biological and nerve agents for the purposes of assassination.

      His main point, that the GRU isn’t as incompetent as the UK government and media would have us believe, is hard to argue with. I’ve believed from the start that the whole story is designed as a distraction and was ridiculously far-fetched. It has gotten more far fetched as it has unfolded.

    • S

      It’s well worth a read. But he focuses on the assassinations that are done because they are necessary, and denies the idea of setting an example, which doesn’t square with “Operation Wrath of God”.

    • Resident Dissident

      I know you would like to believe in the ruthless efficiency of the GRU and KGB – but it just doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny historically. The same would apply to most security services throughout the world.

      • Hatuey

        Resident, you make a rebuttal based on implied expertise and now it’s time for you substantiate it.

        Please do so.

        • Resident Dissident

          What was asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence – do your own research, but look up what happened with Tito for starters.

          • pretzelattack

            why don’t you give us the short version, and while you’re at it explain why that would be a good general example.

          • Hatuey

            I don’t see how what happened to Tito proves anything one way or another as to the efficiency of the kgb or gru.

            You sound like you’re flapping.

      • Tony

        As in: the most prolific assassination org in the world, mossad. Only they are any good at their jobs, aren’t they?

      • Igor P.P.

        If ruthless efficiency was a requirement, you would have a point. But level of efficiency necessary to undertake what UK authorities allege GRU has failed do is well within the capacity of any sane adult with no special training. That’s the problem.

    • N_

      Alexander Brass is worth reading on this, but I am not convinced that 15-20 team members are required when the method used is poisoning. He refers to the attempt to murder Khaled Meshaal without saying how many people M*ss*d had in the vicinity. Two were arrested and three ran to the embassy. Were there any more? And this was an in-the-face (the ear to be precise) attack, not what Britgov alleges happened in Salisbury. Meshaal presumably had some close protection too.

    • Andrew H

      This is a lot of crock. There are two ways to climb a mountain – you either go in with a large expedition – ladders, oxygen bottles and all the gear (old school) or you go in alpine style – minimum people, minimum equipment (new school). There is not a right or wrong to either approach. More people involved means more to get caught. Safe houses, not necessarily a good idea as they could be watched especially when your ship is leaking like a sieve. The Litvinenko operation wasn’t done with dozens of people on the ground, to the best of our knowledge, so small teams is probably Russia’s preferred operating mode.

      As for the keystone cops. These are not Russia’s mathematicians and intellectual elite. They are foot soldiers – good village boys. Although Bond has it all – its not exactly realistic. The analysts – they stay home and sit behind a desk carefully sifting through information – these two are not suited to that job – they are field workers. (brave, no question, but light-bulbs?)

      Its not just Russia. The UK and USA are specialists in jobs badly done. It started with Scott of the Antarctic, then we had Titanic, what about Deepwater Horizon and our military expeditions haven’t fared better. The difference between Russia and the west is that Russia has ED and pretends it didn’t happen (Chernobyl for example) where as the west has a tendency to turn it into a movie. (but to be fair on Russia it was many years between the end of Vietnam and the making of the Deer Hunter – and there are still people in unsolvable deep denial about Vietnam – so even in the west we mess up and then pretend it didn’t happen)

  • Charles Bostock

    Should France scrap its nuclear arsenal or at least not update it (so that it will eventually become irrelevant in practical terms) as it is often suggested that the UK should?

    It would be particularly interesting to hear thoughts on this from any readers with a close connection to France (French themselves, or living and working in France, etc,,,)

      • Charles Bostock

        A propos of frequent statements on here to the effect that Trident should not be renewed and that the UK should get rid of its nuclear deterrent (and use the money thus saved for other purposes, eg social purposes, comventional military purposes and so on).

  • Name

    belies the “Russia is a dictatorship” narrative

    this article rather obscures things even further, as they say in Russian “throw a shadow upon a fence”, which IS a known tactic of Kremlin informational warfare, not deny, not promote, but confuse

    plus the authenticity of the report is dubious, no videos, no names, no photos

    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

    how good is the author familiar with Russia? protection of an average citizen has NEVER been its priority, to make such assumption means being very ignorant of how Russian state operates
    Soviet/Russian authorities only appeal to the so called universal human values when it’s in their political interest, conveniently ignoring and violating them the rest of the time

    • Resident Dissident

      I don’t think Craig or many others here really have much appreciation of what is happening in Russia – quite frankly they ae not interested, the point to them is that the Putin regime is a friend because it opposes their enemies. If Craig is so convinced that effective freedom of speech exists in Russia then perhaps he might wish to explain why the Putin regime and its nominated friends have been so keen in acquiring ownership of the press and more significantly TV and why Russian journalists who expose corruption are so often attacked and murdered?

      • Hatuey

        And everything you say about Russia could just as easily be said about your beloved state-run bbc and the corporate media here which together serve the very specific interests of a select few.

        Corruption at the heart of the British State and society, ranging from a secretive system of international money laundering and tax evasion to a foreign policy geared towards arms sales and plunder, and so, so, much more, renders those of us who know what’s going on flabbergasted at the sheer hypocrisy of what people like you say about Russia and other countries.

        Talk about people in glass houses. Your whole planet is glass.

      • Igor P.P.

        As someone who lived in Russia and then the UK for many years, I can assure you that getting an adequate picture of Russia is an impossibility for most Britons. You’ll have to either learn Russian or dig through countless layers of propaganda full-time if you are to get anywhere. No Westerner who has not done that is familiar with Russia, including you or this author.

        • Hatuey


          Not only can the same be said about western propaganda and systems of manipulation, but it has been said and is well documented. Western propaganda is more sophisticated and, for that reason, much more potent.

          • Igor P.P.

            That was actually my point. I meant UK propaganda. I was lucky to live in the days when Russian state propaganda was almost non-existant. Now it is catching up rapidly.

          • Hatuey

            Yes they’re catching up. Look at the stuff attributed to Surkov and you might even imagine they are more advanced — really dark psychological perception-warping stuff.

            But you can only really fool someone if they trust you first and in say the US and UK, the general public have been programmed to assume the worst of Russia. I expect it’s the same in many other countries.

        • Resident Dissident

          I don’t profess to fully understand Russia or Russians – but I did live there for nearly 5 years and my wife is Russian and our children have dual nationality – and I certainly look at what is going on there much more closely than many do here, and when I visit Moscow lets just say I am watched in return.

        • Jude 93

          RT is a slick propaganda channel – that censors alternative voices on behalf of the western Neocon permanent war, permanent surveillance agenda.. For example whenever there’s a terrorist event in a western country, RT faithfully regurgitates the version of it peddled by the western state securiy forces and intelligence agencies. No questions, no hesitation about pronouncing guilt, no suggestion that alternatives to the official and rapidly formed account of what happpened, might be possible. In that sense RT is indistinguishable from the rest of the mainstream western media – you know the guys and gals who admitted to suppressing en masse information about Prince Harry doing a tour of duy in Afghanistan – censorship undertaken in order not to hinder the work of the western invasion forces there.

          • Borncynical

            So what you’re saying is that RT can’t win whatever they do. If they tell facts as they know them, contradicting the Western narrative, they are accused of lying and being a propaganda machine for Putin even when they could very well be telling the truth. On the other hand if, in the absence of any different knowledge that they possess from their own sources, they’ faithfully’ report the Western narrative, they are accused of lacking objectivity. Surely if they were to challenge the Western narrative on everything without foundation, and not report it as fact, that would add weight to the contention that they are a propaganda outfit. As I say, ‘they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.’

      • Andrew H

        Resident Dissident: “…., the point to them is that the Putin regime is a friend because it opposes their enemies. ”

        This is one of the most astute comments I’ve read in a while.

        • Kempe

          “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.” Cornerstone of American foreign policy post-war and one which has caused nothing but grief.

  • Jones

    the hullabaloo over Boshirov really being Chepiga does not change the fact that true identity is not proof they attacked Skripal, all it proves is that the two guys whoever they are caught on CCTV were in Salisbury, nothing more.

    • Tony

      If some reports of their movements are correct, they traveled from Salisbury straight to the airport. In cctv footage from the airport one of the suspects is wheeling a trolley case. This trolley case does not appear on any of the Salisbury cctv

    • Andrew H

      Right, because you don’t understand the meaning of the word proof. (and it doesn’t prove they were in Salisbury either). Legal proof requires a verdict – nothing less and nothing more. Equally neither mathematical or scientific proof is meaningful or possible. Otherwise if all you mean by proof is a convincing argument, it kind of depends on who is listening. If you were to pick twelve random people I think it would be possible to convince them that evidence that Boshirov really being Chepiga and being in Salsibury means that beyond reasonable doubt that they also committed the attempted murder of Skripal. However in selecting twelve random people we are getting back to legal proof.

      • sc

        Not strictly true. If you told 12 random people a Russian traitor was attacked and a Russian secret services agent was in the same town the same weekend under a false name, they might well say probably did it then. But that’s very selective evidence, even if we were sure about a) the attack b) the Russian agent was definitely the right person, right job and still working in it …

        If you added the whole background, most of which hasn’t been made public so we don’t know very much, but which seems to include a collection of undercover people meeting in the bars and brasseries, UK and US military bases and exercises of various types, a drugs problem, possible UK foreign gangster problem, the actual method of attack …. still unclear what was done or how it was done, surely an exchanged ex spy was being watched/protected, there should be more evidence, the spy exchange was a while back, why now, has he been working on anything new and annoyed/become a threat to new people, an unusual poison may have been used, and a research institution working on unusual poisons was very near, the people attacked seem to have completely vanished, the behaviour of the alleged attackers was odd as far as we’ve seen ……… the 12 random people might say find out more before deciding for certain.

        • sc

          ‘ If you were to pick twelve random people I think it would be possible to convince them’ …. I’m also not convinced by the idea that finding 12 random people and convincing them of something defines legal proof

          • SA

            I think Andrew has got himself in a muddle. First there is evidence that has to be presented and somewhat verified to be true according to the data provided and the source of the information. Secondly if he is referring to a jury of 12 jurors, the aim of the trial is not to ‘convince’ them but to get them to examine whether the evidence is credible and to form thier own opinion. However in this current climate it would be deemed unsafe to bring these two to trial as prejudicial pretrial discussion has meant that a fair trial is unlikely.

  • N_

    It’s all right the MSM saying the Tory party has suffered a security leak of “private data” about its leading figures. But what actually are the b*stards’ phone numbers? I want three people a minute to call Boris Johnson and ask him 1) whether it’s true that he forced Danielle Fleet, 30 years his junior, to sign a non-disclosure agreement after he had sex with her, 2) when was the most recent day he didn’t consume a large amount of cocaine, and 3) what he thinks about the idea that some senior MI6 officers consider him to be such a national security risk that when he was Foreign Secretary they kept a lot of information from him that they would happily have given to anybody else doing the job. Then record what Boris the “taking back control” guy says in response and post the audio files on the internet. Reading about the security leak is as boring as hell without a delightful development of this kind.

    Any hack or editor reading this who’s got the data, just post it to somewhere like Cryptome, OK?

    It’s kind of funny that there is a sizeable amount of public relations money being spent on propelling Johnson towards No. 10, even though he’ll never get there. Doubtless Rees-Mogg’s people have a hand in it, not wanting their guy to float into the leadership contest having been in pole position for ages. But I still reckon that forces in touch with the Kushners, with that deranged tweet merchant in the White House, and with the US Embassy, think Johnson may be successful. Will their disappointment amount to poetic justice in return for the help that MI6 gave to Clinton? 🙂

    Usually party conferences are something I would cross the road to avoid. But the Tory one this years looks as though it will be an absolute corker.

  • SA

    Sorry to ask this question but I simply switched off for a while. Is there any evidence whatsoever that was presented linking the Skripals poisoning to the perfume bottle found by Charles Rowley?

  • Hatuey

    Prolly, but even if that’s true, it’s the closest thing to opposition we have. And it’s a great place to meet women.

  • Jones

    Number 6: Where am I?
    Number Two: In the village.
    Number 6: What do you want?
    Number Two: Information.
    Number 6: Whose side are you on?
    Number Two: That would be telling. We want information… information… information!
    Number 6: You won’t get it!
    Number Two: By hook or by crook, we will.
    Number 6: Who are you?
    Number Two: The new Number Two.
    Number 6: Who is Number One?
    Number Two: You are Number Six.
    Number 6: I am not a number; I AM A FREE MAN!
    Number Two: [laughter] —– The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan.

  • Andrew Ingram

    Slightly off topic but still on photos. Who’s the guy in the mirror taking the picture of the Skripals?

      • Andrew H

        What expertise does the uk govt have in matching two photos? There is no advantage in the UK govt offering an opinion here. Their strategy appears to be to drag to this out as long as possible to cause as much embarrassment to the Russians. [This strategy appeals greatly to my sense of Schadenfreude]. They can’t punish the perpetrators but the gradual trickle of info is the next best thing – because none really knows where it is going and the media loves it.

        • zoot

          on day one the uk govt declared putin responsible for the skripal poisoning, with no evidence. they have also consistently given credence to bellingcat on chemical attacks in syria.

          but now they are are too scrupulous to embrace this latest bellingcat grift, because they have less expertise in matching two photos than a bedroom blogger?

          believe what you want.

        • Igor P.P.

          Considering that UK defense minister has been deleting his tweets over this, I’m not sure it is Russians who are being embarassed here.

  • SA

    Maybe the perfume bottle was part of Toxic Dagger left out to test abilities to find just as in the party game treasure hunt but someone misplaced it. Real novice was used to add a frisson to the exercise to show how you can safely handle and dispose of such stuff but then something went wrong.

  • SA

    I have to say Putin appears to have lost his touch and I wonder whether there is a power struggle in the Kremlin with someone trying to undermine him. This particular episode of Borisov and Petrov has been a PR disaster whatever the reason. Also more seriously after the downing of the IL-20 his reaction was somewhat at odds with what Shoigu then pronounced. It also appears that the decision to deliver S-300 to Syria was taken by the military. Another indication of this discoordination is what Peskov has been saying. John Helmer’s blog Dancing With Bears gives more insight into this but it certainly has not been a good month for the Kremlin.

    • Laguerre

      Nobody can be on form 100% of the time. It’s better than 0% of the time, as with Trump and May.

    • Igor P.P.

      I got a similar impression after reading Kommersant article about Chepiga. Kommersant is a high-profile business paper that doesn’t normally deal with rumors. It would be understandable if in the end they disproved the Chepiga theory (ie, did a favor to Russian establishment). But what they wrote looks almost like an attack on the Russian goverment’s narrative. Another possibility is that Chepiga story is false and Russia wants to game UK authorities into commiting to it and then discredit them.

  • SA

    Blatantly off topic: Syrian opposition sources have leaked the terms of the deconflicting agreement between Turkey and Russia in Idlib. The extremists, but not the ‘moderates’ including HTS are to withdraw their heavy weapons beyond a zone of 15-20 KM on the rebel side by mid October otherwise Turkey will have to enforce this, and I guess military efforts to liberate Idlib by the SAA will resume.

    This is all very odd and unlikely to be a fruitful exercise unless Erdogan has renounced his expansionist MB ambitions and there is no sign of that. But also there is an unfixable problem here: who is doing the co-ordination with Al Qaeda? Is it Turkey? The answer is of course yes. But is everyone not agreed through the UN that you do not negotiate with terrorists? Apparently not. Then there is the small point of what happens to these over 10000 killers of HTS. Will they just rebrand into a ‘moderate’ organisation? Will they be repatriated with honour White Helmets style to where they originated including Europe and Britain? Certainly not many will be welcome back to The Caucasus or to China.

    • Laguerre

      I thought the point of the deconflicting agreement was to put the blame on the Jihadis, when they don’t conform to the agreement.

      • SA

        I understand, but if they agree will they suddenly become non-jihadis? And if they don’t agree will Turkey suddenly stop defending its proxies?

        • Laguerre

          The point is to muddy the water, and split the Idlib forces. Some jihadis may partially disarm, the Turks may not fight so hard to defend all of them. Anything achieved will be better for Syria/Russia in the forthcoming attack.

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