Lynch Mob Mentality 1896


I was caught in a twitterstorm of hatred yesterday, much of it led by mainstream media journalists like David Aaronovitch and Dan Hodges, for daring to suggest that the basic elements of Boshirov and Petrov’s story do in fact stack up. What became very plain quite quickly was that none of these people had any grasp of the detail of the suspects’ full twenty minute interview, but had just seen the short clips or quotes as presented by British corporate and state media.

As I explained in my last post, what first gave me some sympathy for the Russians’ story and drew me to look at it closer, was the raft of social media claims that there was no snow in Salisbury that weekend and Stonehenge had not been closed. In fact, Stonehenge was indeed closed on 3 March by heavy snow, as confirmed by English Heritage. So the story that they came to Salisbury on 3 March but could not go to Stonehenge because of heavy snow did stand up, contrary to almost the entire twittersphere.

Once there was some pushback of truth about this on social media, people started triumphantly posting the CCTV images from 4 March to prove that there was no snow lying in Central Salisbury on 4 March. But nobody ever said there was snow on 4 March – in fact Borisov and Petrov specifically stated that they learnt there was a thaw so they went back. However when they got there, they encountered heavy sleet and got drenched through. That accords precisely with the photographic evidence in which they are plainly drenched through.

Another extraordinary meme that causes hilarity on twitter is that Russians might be deterred by snow or cold weather.

Well, Russians are human beings just like us. They cope with cold weather at home because they have the right clothes. Boshirov and Petrov refer continually in the interview to cold, wet feet and again this is borne out by the photographic evidence – they were wearing sneakers unsuitable to the freak weather conditions that were prevalent in Salisbury on 3 and 4 March. They are indeed soaked through in the pictures, just as they said in the interview.

Russians are no more immune to cold and wet than you are.

Twitter is replete with claims that they were strange tourists, to be visiting a housing estate. No evidence has been produced anywhere that shows them on any housing estate. They were seen on CCTV camera walking up the A36 by the Shell station, some 400 yards from the Skripals’ house, which would require three turnings to get to that – turnings nobody saw them take (and they were on the wrong side of the road for the first turning, even though it would be very close). No evidence has been mentioned which puts them at the Skripals’ House.

Finally, it is everywhere asserted that it is very strange that Russians would take a weekend break holiday, and that if they did they could not possibly be interested in architecture or history. This is a simple expression of anti-Russian racism. Plainly before their interview – about which they were understandably nervous – they prepared what they were going to say, including checking up on what it was they expected to see in Salisbury because they realised they would very obviously be asked why they went. Because their answer was prepared does not make it untrue.

That literally people thousands of people have taken to twitter to mock that it is hilariously improbable that tourists might want to visit Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge, is a plain example of the irrationality that can overtake people when gripped by mob hatred.

I am astonished by the hatred that has been unleashed. The story of Gerry Conlon might, you would hope, give us pause as to presuming the guilt of somebody who just happened to be of the “enemy” nationality, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Despite the mocking mob, there is nothing inherently improbable in the tale told by the two men. What matters is whether they can be connected to the novichok, and here the safety of the identification of the microscopic traces of novichok allegedly found in their hotel bedroom is key. I am no scientist, but I have been told by someone who is, that if the particle(s) were as the police state so small as to be harmless to humans, they would be too small for mass spectrometry analysis and almost certainly could not be firmly identified other than as an organophosphate. Perhaps someone qualified might care to comment.

The hotel room novichok is the key question in this case.

Were I Vladimir Putin, I would persuade Boshirov and Petrov voluntarily to come to the UK and stand trial, on condition that it was a genuinely fair trial before a jury in which the entire proceedings, and all of the evidence, was open and public, and the Skripals and Pablo Miller might be called as witnesses and cross-examined. I have no doubt that the British government’s desire for justice would suddenly move into rapid retreat if their bluff was called in this way.

As for me, when I see a howling mob rushing to judgement and making at least some claims which are utterly unfounded, and when I see that mob fueled and egged on by information from the security services propagated by exactly the same mainstream media journalists who propagandised the lies about Iraqi WMD, I see it as my job to stand in the way of the mob and to ask cool questions. If that makes them hate me, then I must be having some impact.

So I ask this question again – and nobody so far has attempted to give me an answer. At what time did the Skripals touch their doorknob? Boshirov and Petrov arrived in Salisbury at 11.48 and could not have painted the doorknob before noon. The Skripals had left their house at 09.15, with their mobile phones switched off so they could not be geo-located. Their car was caught on CCTV on three cameras heading out of Salisbury to the North East. At 13.15 it was again caught on camera heading back in to the town centre from the North West.

How had the Skripals managed to get back to their home, and touch the door handle, in the hour between noon and 1pm, without being caught on any of the CCTV cameras that caught them going out and caught the Russian visitors so extensively? After this remarkably invisible journey, what time did they touch the door handle?

I am not going to begin to accept the guilt of Boshirov and Petrov until somebody answers that question. Dan Hodges? David Aaronovitch? Theresa May? Anybody?


1,896 thoughts on “Lynch Mob Mentality

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  • Alasdair Macdonald.

    Thank you again for doing what any competent defence counsel would do and subject the assertions being made to rigorous questioning.

    The increasingly ridiculous and risible John Snow has simply become a propagandist on the issue of ‘Russian guilt’ in this affair. It seems we are being asked to believe this whole affair because the people involved are Russian and per se ‘bad’.

    • Xavi

      Yes, I saw Jon Snow telling a member of Pussy Riot last night that we “know” the Russian state poisoned the Skripals. Just as we all knew Saddam was going to unleash a vast armory of WMD.

      I can remember Jon and the rest of our information and political class solemnly intoning after the Iraq and Libya catastrophes that “Lessons will be learned.”

    • Ron.

      John snow and the Asian fat guy…….are just mouths on legs. C4 are avid war mongers even showing white helmet idiots putting plastic bags on little kids heads as gas masks. They are not waiting for a chemical attack in Syria…C4 most likely booked it.

  • James Charles

    “I am not going to begin to accept the guilt of Boshirov and Petrov until somebody answers that question. Dan Hodges? David Aaronovitch? Theresa May? Anybody?”

  • Orford

    Not only Gerry Conlon, the Birmingham Six were wrongly convicted on the basis of being of the wrong sympathies, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, compounded by their initial reluctance to reveal the real reason for five of them travelling to Belfast after the bombing, and dodgy forensic evidence “proving” that some of them had handled explosives.

  • John Goss

    Their story is credible. Whether it is the truth only time will tell. It would be good idea for them to come to stand trial but as BBC News reported this morning it is not going to happen. Phew went everyone at Porton Down, Salisbury Hospital and the Crown Prosecution Office, wiping the sweat from their communal foreheads.

    Their story, if it is true, could be confirmed by relatives, friends, the places where they live, grew up and went to school. Hundreds of people, if not thousands must know them.

    More important than than trying to pin an unlikely murder attempt on these two clearly worried individuals it would be more pertinent to ask where the Skripals are now. Yulia said she wanted to return to Russia when her father had recovered. How long will this recovery take? Vladimir Putin has now allegedly got involved in this plot for which he has always (from Day 2) been blamed. He thinks the media should ask for their opinions on this almost certain false-flag.

    • uncle tungsten

      Thanks John but why should they just “come and stand trial”? That could not possibly be a fair procedure. The State will lead ‘evidence’ that they asked someone the way to the Skripal house or some other nonsense. There is insufficient evidence even now with the absence of cctv to even commence a prosecution.

      And to Craig another big thank you and all the mindless bullies snapping at your heels is simply because Teresa May is a fool and their trust in her has been crushed. In fact the entire Tory Cabinet has seriously lost its senses over this Skripal hoax and they now have no plan B to recover any credibility.

      The two Russian lads have just exposed the naked emperor and the goon squad and good on them. I suggest this obscenely stupid affair will incinerate the Tories for a decade at least!

      • John Goss

        I am not sure they are entirely who they claim to be. So little is known about them. The director of RT who interviewed them did not trust them (but trusted the BBC less). I suspect Ukrainian intelligence. In which case they have every right to be afraid living in Russia.

        • Tom Welsh

          “The director of RT who interviewed them did not trust them…”

          Telepathy alert! John Goss can apparently read minds – moreover, at 1,000 miles distance.

          Ms Simonyan certainly gave the pair a tough interview – but no worse than Jeremy Paxman on an average day.

          How can Mr Goss possibly know whom Ms Simonyan trusts? As a test, can he tell me whether I trust him?

          • John Goss

            “How can Mr Goss possibly know whom Ms Simonyan trusts?” She said so in her interview with Newsnight apparently.

          • John Goss

            You’re welcome Tom. The other fact is that they seem to have a ghost existence on the web which is typical of spooks. However my suspicion is that our (US or Israeli) spooks set them up. I don’t want to say too much because if I blog on it the story will already be out here.

          • Borncynical

            @John Goss 16.01
            John, I beg to differ with regard to your interpretation of Margherita Simonyan’s comments. “I don’t have any reasons to believe them” – set in context she was explaining that she sees her job to be that of an objective journalist who judges people on what they say [and not a preconceived agenda, was the implication] so she had no reason to believe them OR disbelieve them. As she said on RT after the interview, her intention is to leave it to the viewer to make their own minds up. That is an extremely important point to make and she is clearly having a dig at the MSM in this country, and that was why she, rightly, took offence at Wark’s implication that she was presenting herself in the interview as part of the ‘Kremlin’s propaganda’ machine. And when Wark said she had watched the full interview with Boshirov and Petrov I would guarantee she was lying. Why would she need to watch it? As long as her production team tell her the gist of what to ask and pay her money every month she’s quite happy to proceed in ignorance with the official narrative.

          • CanSpeccy

            Simonyan has just finished explaining why she believes only what she sees with her own eyes. So when she says she has no reason to believe Petrov and his bud, she is not saying she disbelieves them. She is simply saying she has no means of verifying the truth of what they are saying. That is very different from saying she thinks they were lying.

          • CalDre

            I’m still offering a hypothesis that Sergei was a triple agent and these two gents were his handlers, probably sent to pick up something. UK discovered he was a triple agent, and the planned drop, and “attacked” the Skripals, blaming his handlers, to kill two birds with one stone.

        • Elena B.

          Boshirov does have the Ukrainian accent. Petrov, in his turns, a few times struggles putting words together and forgetting simple ones: “On the day we came, we thought our plane would not be able to land on the first attempt. It was the day of a public transport collapse in England. It was ….. er….. how you say it? …. a snow storm”.

      • Tom Welsh

        In principle, no fair trial is remotely possible when the PM has told the world that “Putin done it”.

        I suppose she cannot be punished for that, but she should never be entrusted with any post of responsibility again. Had she said what she said outside Parliament, she might have suffered surprising retribution – civil if not criminal.

        And what happened to “interfering with the course of justice”? If Parliament had any sense of fairness or its own dignity, it would proceed against her.

        • begob

          I could be wrong, but seems to me all her accusations have been made under parliamentary privilege.

        • Ultraviolet

          I agree.

          If the men were ever to stand trial, the first part of the trial would be on legal argument that they cannot have a fair trial because of the Prime Minister’s seriously prejudicial comments. And on a purely objective basis, that submission should win.

          Another advantage of a trial is that all the evidence would have to be given in open court. We would therefore get a much better picture of what actually happened. And while our Courts and juries can and sometimes do get it badly wrong, such as in the Barry George case, they also sometimes get it right in the face of enormous pressure, as in the Colin Stagg case.

          I would not be 100% confident that our courts would get it right. But nor do I believe it is a foregone conclusion that they would not.

    • Xavi

      Another one who isstill given a platform to tell the public what’s what, despite having been dead wrong on every major issue in the past 15 years..

      • Tom Welsh

        “Another one who is still given a platform to tell the public what’s what, despite having been dead wrong on every major issue in the past 15 years”.

        So… he’s an economist?

        Seriously, though, I think you will find he is related to the right people, and dines with the right people. (As well as unfailingly parroting the government line on everything – and I mean the Israeli and US government as well as the UK government).

    • Tom Welsh

      Thanks! Indeed, I think most of us owe you thanks for that useful but distasteful task. (Rather like cleaning a public lavatory).

      It’s something I should have done long ago, but (like Phoebe) I didn’t want to.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      The difficulty here is that people have spent 20 years looking for blame concerning autism rather than solutions to the MMR conundrum.

      I proposed various strands of research seeking to identify small at-risk populations based on genomic analysis, immune responses etc etc way back around 2000. If there were conclusions to be drawn, they would have been reached by now.

      But because the Establishment denies any possibility, such research cannot occur.

      Shows that children are acceptable collateral damage, a risk worth exposing them to, whereas GSK/Merck profits are sacrosanct….

  • LondonBob

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl1xyOhlu8s

    It is well worth comparing the Israeli presentation of the 9 11 van guys and the media treatment of their claims. Superficially a lot slicker and a lot more believable when they were on Israeli TV, but then they were lying. They went almost completely unreported by the Western MSM.

    Spy vs spy stuff, maybe it is all a triple bluff. Anyway I haven’t seen any actual evidence to indicate what happened to the Skripals, and I doubt I ever will.

  • Martinned

    “Lynch mob”? Really? That’s the metaphor you decided to go with? Because being Craig Murray mocked on the internet for saying stupid things is just like being a black man in 1920s Alabama being set on fire?

    • craig Post author

      That’s inept Martin. It is a lynch mob convicting Boshirov and Petrov on the basis of massive racial prejudice.

        • Ultraviolet

          I don’t trust them either.

          But unless they are time travellers, they could not have done what May accuses them of.

      • Resident Dissident

        You do realise that ordinary Russians haven’t fallen for this garbage like you and the other useful idiots.

    • Njegos

      Actually, a howling pack of willful ignoramuses would be a better description. Media whores who sneer, laugh and guffaw because they have no desire, willingness, or ability to face facts that challenge their prejudices.

      Similar mentality that prevents the same supine corporate media from seeing through the Magnitsky hoax.

    • Borncynical

      Martinned

      Perfectly appropriate expression – you might like to look it up in the dictionary.

  • Lemming

    What I find difficult to digest with this accusation, is the idea that these two Russian gentlemen flew from Moscow to London, on their own passports with the necessary visa paperwork. If these two, were assassins and part of the GRU, surely they would have used fake identities and passports and flown to France and travel by train to Britain? It is not unheard of government hit squads using false identities and passports, example 2010 Dubai assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhough!

    • MaryPau!

      the UK government says the are GRU offcers and were using aliases. to pose as businessmen. We know they made many trips to Europe including Geneva in the last year. Are we meant to believe that all these trips were made by these same GRU officers masquerading as businessmen? Or maybe the original Petrov and Boshirov had their identities stolen and these are GRU officers impersonating them?

      . It should be possible to prove that one way or the other quite easily by reference to previous photos taken as they passed through customs in the EU.

    • Jeremn

      There would be a number of ways. Getting a visa to Ireland and crossing the border to Northern Ireland is one.

  • Danny

    Craig. The video of the full interview (actually 27 minutes, not 20 minutes) has been deleted from you tube, so although you embedded it in the text of your last blog, it is no longer viewable. And in this latest blog, I notice that you hyperlink back to it, but its no longer there. You need to replace it in your previous blog. The full interview can be found at either of the links below:

    https://youtu.be/Ku8OQNyI2i0
    https://youtu.be/QcoEjwQ-jQg

    • CanSpeccy

      “The video of the full interview (actually 27 minutes, not 20 minutes) has been deleted from you tube”

      It was clever of George Orwell, really, to have invented U-tube — or what he called the Memory Hole — before the Internet had even thought of.

    • Charles Wood

      My version is 27 minutes long but includes a minute or so of RT advertising in the middle.

      They also say they stayed in a different room – a ‘double room’ which I take to mean one with either a double bed or two beds.

      https://youtu.be/Ku8OQNyI2i0

      • Elena B.

        Boshirov said, “Why don’t they show that there are other rooms in that hotel? The rooms with 2 beds. The rooms consisting of 2 connected rooms”.
        That piece on the family suite was a bit unconvincing. That hotel first of all does not give an impression it offers such rooms. And secondly, it made his story of the beds inconsistenct: so, 2 beds or 2 rooms?
        Muddled.

  • Bob Marsden

    If the novichock particles found in the hotel bedroom were microscopic, how did the police find them on such a relatively vast surface area?

    Does Porton down have an electromagnetic projector which floresces to target molecules?

    • CanSpeccy

      Yeah, it would be interesting to see the analytical data, the mass spec. output, and have the judgement of some experts on the validity of the interpretation. The amount of the sample must have been minute since the police didn’t bother to tell the hotel owner what they’d found, let alone order the demolition of the bed and bedroom and maybe the whole hotel, for the safety of the public.

  • MJ

    Perhaps useful to compare and contrast the media merry-go-round of the Skripal fairytale with the murder of Nikolai Glushkov only a week later. A former executive of Aeroflot, he was accused of embezzling millions from the company and fled to the UK where he was granted political asylum. Attempts by Russia to extradite him were refused. On 12th March he was strangled to death in his own home. You can’t strangle yourself: it was murder. It could well have been an assassination by the GRU. Yet where is the media hysteria? This important story seems to have been allowed to slip down the memory-hole.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Glushkov

    • Agent Green

      Hilarious the way the UK grants asylum to men wanted for serious financial crimes.

      Although I suppose London is quite a good home if you are into that sort of thing.

      • Tom Welsh

        The British government believes, with Vespasian (who was worth ten times the lot of them put together) that “pecunia non olet”.

        Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they love its stink. Although some of them, at least, hypocritically claim to be Christian – which obviously cannot be true.

        “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon”.

    • Scott

      No doubt this has been noted before, but our friend Philip Cross also found Glushkov’s entry worth editing.

      • lissnup

        I admit when I saw someone posted a screen grab of the Wikipedia entry for Salisbury Cathedral on Twitter, showing the sentence at the end of a paragraph decribing Salisbury as being on the tourist schedule for Russian secret agents, the name Philip Cross flashed across my mind.

  • John A

    The golden rule when you’re in a jam of your own making is to stop digging further down into it.
    May and the baying MSM, instead of stopping digging as their storyline gets more and more preposterous, is to double down and try to shout down anyone who does not toe the government line.
    The MSM continue to shred what little credibility they still have. Does anyone, apart from the paid GSHQ and Nato trolls etc., believe the Skripal story line? And in their heart of hearts, do they really believe it or simply being paid to keep parroting putinbot or russian troll, how’s the weather in St P, to anyone still with their mental faculties intact?

  • Simon Hodges

    The whole Skripal case has stunk to high heaven from the very start. However, one of two things must be true. The suspects are either guilty or British authorities planted or manufactured ‘evidence’ of Novichok in their hotel room to help the case along.

    I am inclined toward the latter view for the following reasons.

    The UK authorities had no need to go into any legally sound investigation because they always presupposed that the ‘suspects’ would never be extradited and therefore would never have to stand trial. In this case, the quality of the ‘evidence’ assembled together with all the assertions and accusations made by British authorities, could be made falsely and unfairly presented purely for political reasons, safe in the knowledge that they would never have to be legally tested and properly scrutinized.

    This assumption may have been a gross error. Putin could well outflank the UK government in this as he knows whether these people are GRU personnel or not and whether they are innocent or not. In which case he will also be able to deduce that if these suspects are innocent Russian citizens, then it must be the case that the UK authorities planted evidence of Novichok in their hotel room some time after the event. If this is true such a politically motivated attempt to smear Russia and Putin will prove to be an own goal. It is in Russia’s interest to fully investigate this case as the honesty of the British government, security services and main stream media are also on trial as it must logically be the case that if the two suspects are telling the truth, then the pivotal ‘evidence’ of a Novichok type poison found in the hotel room must have been manufactured by the UK authorities. Either way, justice should be seen to be done and either the suspects or the UK authorities should be punished according to which of them is guilty and has broken the law. If it turns out that the UK has ruthlessly manufactured evidence implicating two innocent civilian tourists and ruined their lives in order to pursue a suspiciously neoconservative political agenda, then that itself is a war crime.

    Given the severity of the accusations, then it would be perhaps best if this case could be examined by the International Criminal Court, who would be granted access to all CCTV and evidence not just the footage that UK authorities provided which they wrongly deemed to support their case. Without the pivotal Novichok supposedly found in the hotel room, all these suspects are guilty of is being ‘captured’ or ‘caught’ on CCTV. The mere description of being ‘caught’ or ‘captured’ on CCTV rhetorically implies guilt, yet it is entirely meaningless, as we are all ordinarily ‘captured’ and ‘caught’ on CCTV everyday. As it stands, the extreme weather in the UK at the time does appear to validate their explanation of their movements and the CCTV evidence actually puts the suspects in the vicinity of Skripal’s home well after he and his daughter had left the house. It appears that all they are ‘guilty’ of is not being extreme enough tourists to battle their way through severe weather conditions in order to visit an historical site that was closed. I see from the Salisbury Journal that they and the press in general was heaping praise on all the heroic staff and volunteers who kept the country going whilst the “BEAST FROM THE EAST RAVAGES UK”, but hold nothing more than a patently racist derision for two Russians who cancelled a pointless trip to a closed monument in extreme weather conditions.

    It would be nice if we could just have the truth about all of this but one fears that the political dimension of this case will never let us arrive at it although one does suspect that it has now moved dangerously out of control of the UK government who were advised that Putin would likely murder or disappear the suspects.

      • Simon Hodges

        It makes no material difference, its all manufacturing false evidence. However, it is more convincing if someone plants the evidence to be later detected by an innocent technician doing their job with all due diligence as part of an official chain of custody.

        • begob

          For the hotel findings, did the official statements use the formula, “novichock or a related substance”?

      • Tom Welsh

        Simon, your suggestion looks very reasonable on the face of it. But I fear you greatly underestimate the dishonesty and wickedness of those responsible – and greatly overestimate the probity of the British “legal system”.

        Remember, this is the same “legal system” that determined no crime to have been committed in the murder of Jean-Charles de Menezes. And that Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned by agents of the Russian state.

        On 20 January 2007, British police announced that they had “identified the man they believe poisoned Alexander Litvinenko. The suspected killer was captured on cameras at Heathrow as he flew into Britain to carry out the murder.”[109] The man in question was introduced to Litvinenko as “Vladislav”.[110]

        ‘As of 26 January 2007, British officials said police had solved the murder of Litvinenko. They discovered “a ‘hot’ teapot at London’s Millennium Hotel with an off-the-charts reading for polonium-210, the radioactive material used in the killing.” In addition, a senior official said investigators had concluded the murder of Litvinenko was “a ‘state-sponsored’ assassination orchestrated by Russian security services.” The police want to charge former Russian spy Andrei Lugovoy, who met Litvinenko on 1 November 2006, the day officials believe the lethal dose of polonium-210 was administered’.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Litvinenko#UK_criminal_investigation

        Notice the marked similarities to the Skripal case:

        1. “The suspected killer was captured on cameras at Heathrow as he flew into Britain to carry out the murder.”

        2. ‘British officials said police had solved the murder of Litvinenko. They discovered “a ‘hot’ teapot at London’s Millennium Hotel with an off-the-charts reading for polonium-210, the radioactive material used in the killing.”‘

        3. “[A] senior official said investigators had concluded the murder of Litvinenko was “a ‘state-sponsored’ assassination orchestrated by Russian security services.”

        • Tom Welsh

          After all, if a trick works once… why not go on using it?

          And since “a week is a long time in politics”, we can be sure that the vast majority of the British people will have forgotten all the specifics of the Litvinenko case ages ago. Although they may well retain an overall impression that “the Russians poison people by devious means and then lie about it” – which is very helpful.

        • Paul

          The British (or rather Scottish) legal system almost certainly convicted an innocent person for the Lockerbie Bomb…but politically there needed to be a conviction to prove it was the Libyans

          • DiggerUK

            Oh dear, now you’ve done it. Shining a light on a Scottish legal system that is unfit for purpose, how on Earth are the indyref2 mob going to answer this.
            Prepare for the silence of the nats…_

    • bj

      Putin seems to want decent or good relationships with Western leaders and countries.

      The one-upmanship that you presuppose is stuff for spy-novels — not the current reality.
      Putin is more pragmatic than any Western leader wants to admit in public.
      This pragmatism pays off anywhere you look in Russia, Asia and the Middle East. He’s closing deals front left and center.

      That’s why these Western ‘ego-trippers of leaders’ resent him so much. He (his policies) has real influence.

      • Tom Welsh

        Very true. The air is leaking out of the USA’s balloon, and all Russia and China need to do is hold steady until it collapses with a whimper.

        What they must avoid, at all costs, and for all our sakes, is a bang.

        So they have to treat the violent lunatic tolerantly and be kind to him while they wait for him to die.

        • Rhys Jaggar

          Is the violent lunatic Netanyahu, Bolton or both?

          What about torturer Mike Pence?

          There is certainly a lunatic mouthing claptrap at the UN…..

    • John A

      The government has no intention of seeking extradition or sending any ‘evidence’ to Russia. In the Litvinenko case, they even refused to release the autopsy report to Russia or any other salient evidence. It’s simply a case of throwing mud and getting the MSM to repeat it till it sticks with the general public disinclined to root further.

      Incidentally, just got an email from the Old Vic theatre with their 2019 season, which includes a dramatisation fo Luke Harding’s book on the Litvinenko ‘murder’. Unlike Harding, the thought immediately springs to mind ‘you could not make it up’.

      • Tom Welsh

        “Unlike Harding, the thought immediately springs to mind ‘you could not make it up’”.

        Very felicitously put! 😎

    • Duncan

      Simon,

      Well crafted reasoning. However, a UK public trial with the two chaps coming back to face charges may have a similar effect.
      No one seems to have noted how far 5.5ml of the world’s most deadly nerve agent can be spread, spilled, sprayed, tested at Porton Down.
      Charlie and apparently the two agents in the salubrious London lodgings, both managed to spill the stuff.
      Also, the physics of dispensing a gel with a spray atomiser just don’t work.
      I await the gang of four. (with the mysterious woman and the revelation that there was a second Novichok container.

      • Rhys Jaggar

        Depends whether you can dilute the 5.5ml into 5.5 litres and still have the spray being lethal or not.

        When I was a research biologist, we used to store 100X concentrates in a freezer and use one small vial at a time (often 100 microlitres) for daily work.

        5 ml of concentrate was often over a year’s supply.

    • Coldish

      Simon: you wrote “However, one of two things must be true. The suspects are either guilty or British authorities planted or manufactured ‘evidence’ of Novichok in their hotel room to help the case along.” Hmm. A third possibility is that the two positive test results were false positives. If the concentrations of such a high toxicity substance were so low as to pose no threat to hotel staff or other guests, and the positive results were not reproducible they may have been close to the detection limit (where it is hard to tell where a substance is present or not).

  • Crispa

    Is it not the case that the police version of events falls at the first hurdle if it is shown that they were using their real names as opposed to aliases – which the evidence so far suggests they were, though more verification needed.
    i did small amounts of work in Russia several years ago and was always impressed by the educated Russians’ interests in art and literature and their constant attempts to reconcile their current situation to their history – no surprise that on their visit the two were interested in vintage coins etc. I once attended a lecture at the British Embassy by an English academic llnking past to present and the audience was so appreciative of the alternative perspective provided by an outsider. Our group also met an eccentric Englishwoman whom they knew wandering the streets near midnight who felt perfectly safe.
    I did not take so well to the British Embassy staff who came over as being arrogant and supercilious, not least the Ambassador (or Deputy Minister as he seemed to be referred to?) at the time.

    • Borncynical

      “arrogant and supercilious” – must have been on the same courses as Karen Pierce at the UNSC and her predecessor. Presumably a pre-requisite for anyone ‘reduced to’ dealing with ghastly foreigners.

  • Avery

    Thinking on the assumption that these two guys were visiting Salisbury for their shady business of meeting with some light drug potential supplier and on March 3 something gone wrong so they had to come back next day the possible reasoning of British state of choosing these two as convenient main suspects (aside of just being in the city this day) becomes relevant.

    Firstly, P&B would be hesitant to stand up and demand proof/apologies from May on her false(?) accusations because it would arise detailed questioning what exactly they’ve been doing there. And they wouldn’t want that.

    Secondly, in order to hide some details of their visit there would be definite changes of their story to cover up their “business” part of the visit. Which, in turn, would arise storm of – “they are hiding something hence they are guilty in assassination attempt on Skripal” claims which are not correlated with actual facts.

    They’ve could be approached by Russian FSB or whatever offering them to step out in exchange of forgetting their drug dealing. If they indeed did not try to kill Skripal, then their flimsy appearance on TV could be just what it is – consequence of two people caught up in this whirlwind of circumstances not knowing what to do. I find it more plausible than “Russians hate gays so they are afraid to step out because of that”. Most of us do not *hate* for this. It’s other people business and Russians tend to stick to their own business.

    What I don’t understand is that how so when there are mild inconsistencies in their explanation everyone uses this as a proof of their guilt in the absence of any hard evidence, on the contrary direct lies and inconsistencies of the official version is not looked upon as reason for doubt for this story. It’s kinda one-sided imo.

    There are lot of possibilities. Lot of assumptions. Almost none of hard evidence and certainty. Not enough to stick to one version or another. This is not right.

  • James Hugh

    Yes…. The mob mentality… Never too far under the surface of the polite English gentlemanly facade…

    Ready to explode and project onto people who are held up as the scapegoats, as a vent for unprocessed emotional dysfunction.

    As mentioned by yourself Craig and by other people hosting open minded investigative threads of enquiry and discussing them online, there is absolutely no substantial evidence which links these men to the alleged poisoning of the Skripals, and yet people in positions of authority are mouthing off smugly that they’ve caught the culprits and infecting people through MSM channels.

    The timeline is the most revealing of all, in that it makes the ‘absolute certainty’ of the ‘Novichock on the doorhandle’ fall to pieces… It seems impossible that these men would have been able to do that in the short space of time they were there and also with the Skripals being elsewhere…

    That ‘elsewhere’ is where the substance used to infect them was administered…. And if both of the Skripals had deactivated their mobile phones then it suggests that they were on a secretive rendevous with shady people.

    It seems like these guys are a convenient diversion away from who really did attempt to poison the the Skripals… Or to divert peoples’ attention away from the fact that it’s all been a stageplay so as to deepen the narrative of being at war with Russia, and that the Skripals are in on the game.

  • Clark

    A public figure who may have some clue about a motive of the poisoning is Mark Urban. I had never heard of Sergei Skripal before this happened. Mark Urban presumably considered that Sergei Skripal knew something newsworthy, but what?

    It is notable that other journalists would rather make false statements about the weather than raise questions about Mark Urban.

    I have a slight doubt about the televised statements of the Russian suspects, but I agree that timing and evidence of the poison are the crucial matters.

    • Clark

      “Lynch Mob Mentality” is as depressingly common in the comments section of this site as Craig reports it to be on his Twitter stream. I have experienced it directed at myself, and assorted public figures are “convicted” in this “court of public opinion” rather frequently.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      Mark Urban is a security services asset. He tries to come across as deeply knowledgeable about closely guarded affairs when Newsnight wheel him out.

      If you start from the premise that Mark Urban fully endorses neocon PNAC imperialism until proven otherwise, you would at least not avoid the truth through innocent naive optimism and might reach a more palatable reality through shooting down an Occam’s Razor hypothesis.

  • Robert Graham

    The very convenient dragging out of this story every time this tory government has a problem they want eyes diverted from is becoming a bit predictable , Every discussion about this all invited guests to the news channels never question the official line it’s become almost like heresy to say anything that in anyway doubts what is being presented as fact ,I dont believe one single thing this government are presenting , I wonder if anything really happend or has it all been manufactured to divert attention from the real disaster brexit will become , nothing is as clear as this lot of liars are saying it is , smoke and very dodgy mirrors at work .

  • Dungroanin

    Well Craig is now being published on Southfront and mentioned on SicTempertyrranis too.

    Voltaire and Thierry gushing the truth of the long planned neocon project as it approaches full stop.

    Only the conspiritors left – in the State dept, Pentagon, Nato and their lackeys in Europe.

    If some crazy Admiral is ready to sacrifice himself and his crew by launching an attack at Syria and the Russian forces…well then we will hold breath.

    I am certain that the potus has called a halt on the long standing neocon imperialist conquest.
    But the old dogs are forcing his hand.

    Our lick spittle tory government and gentlemen thugs and traitors are the darkforces ready to ride us into that valley of death. Fuckwits.

    • Tom Welsh

      “If some crazy Admiral is ready to sacrifice himself and his crew by launching an attack at Syria and the Russian forces…well then we will hold breath”.

      Back to Dr Strangelove again…

      Has anyone noticed how directly the whole Skripal nonsense appeals to that theme of “poisoning our precious bodily fluids”?

  • MaryPau!

    I am not by any stretch pro-Russian and my initial reaction was to ridicule the Russians’ account. It could well be that they are skilful actors. But we still need some hard facts to stack up behind our accusations. For example, who verified that minute traces of a Novichok agent were found in their hotel room? OPCW? Porton Down?And how does the timing of their movements stack up with door handle smearing? It does not.

    As someone else pointed out, that could be because the timing of the door lever smearing is wrong, indeed it increasingly looks like the Skripals were poisoned near the park bench where they were found, but the po!ice are stuck with the false door lever story.

    I am very surprised that the MSM is ignoring weather reports outside Salisbury at the time. Not only was Stonehenge closed on 3rd March, Sergei Skripal got his friend Ross Cassidy to take him to the airport in his 4 wheel drive due to snowy and icy roads to collect Yulia. Ross Cassidy has also recently said that Special Branch appear to be persisting with an erroneous version of the Skripals movements. If I was a gambler, I would bet SB is stuck formally with the Mets incorrect timetable .

    I certainly do not believe the men came to Salisbury merely to sightsee, and I imagine that they had other errands locally and maybe also in London for which it was a cover story. Holding two return flights is suspicious for a quick weekend break. Maybe someone else purchased them for them and was not sure how long it would take them to complete their errand? We have not been told what they did Friday and Saturday night, where they ate etc. Someone must have seen them.

    I would speculate they were recruited for an errand and told to show themselves about Sailsbury, which has a state of the art CCTV system. Maybe they were just used as a smokescreen. If the authorities know their real identity as GRU officers now is the time to reveal it.

    Finally I have to say, many years observing the Met Police has taught me that they usually have their own agenda and fit the facts to it. Jean Char!es de Menezezes is one high profile example. They knew early on that an innocent man had been shot but persisted with the fake story that he was wearing a padded jacket, jumped over the ticket barriers, ran down the stairs etc long after they knew none of it was true. Despicably they even tried to smear his reputation at the inquest. It was some dedicated journalism which got to the bottom of events around his murder.

    Maybe we can hope that some similar bloodhound will study and point out the holes in the Official version of events in Salisbury or is there still some D notice out there? Are the sceptics being muzzled.?As I said above, if the government can out these two with their real identities as GRU officers and describe how the authorities here identified the Novichok agent in their hotel room, I shall be less sceptical.

    For now I am reserving judgement.

    • Tom Welsh

      The MSM – here and in the “rest of the West” – obeys HMG, both as to what it publishes and as to what it does not.

      Hence there is one single choke point for all the information that has been disseminated: HMG. If they are lying systematically – sticking rigorously to an agreed script – then all the facts we think we have are not facts at all.

      Of course most normal decent people are compelled to believe that their government is not lying systematically. The alternative is too appalling to contemplate.

      And that is exactly the basis of the “Big Lie” technique. It seems naive to assume that a method concocted in the USA by the 1920s, then copied by the Nazis and later by Israel, is not employed by HMG.

      Unless, of course, you believe that they are honest and honourable.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      All we know is the media are reporting that traces of Novichok were found in the East End Hotel.

      I have seen no forensic scientist stand up and confirm that, nor have they been subject to cross examination and scrutiny.

      I have heard nothing about OPCW investigating these new samples, nor has it been confirmed that sampling of the room followed standard practice and chain of custody standards necessary for evidence to stand up in court.

      It may be that I am ignorant, but the media is not putting such matters very high up their websites….

    • Old Mark

      We have not been told what they did Friday and Saturday night, where they ate etc. Someone must have seen them.

      MaryPau!- on the friday night other guests at the cheap hotel where they stayed claim they were smoking weed and having energetic sexual relations with a smuggled in woman for most of the time- hardly the conduct one would expect from single minded professional assassins who were carrying with them in their stored luggage a deadly poison.

      https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/russian-assassins-night-drugs-prostitutes-13253735

      • mindcrazedbanjo

        Looking at those Two Daily Mirror photo’s there are quite a few differences between them standing at the station and them walking down the street. Boshirov has different shoes on, they’ve gone from trainers to light Brown shoes. Petrov is wearing Boshirov’s hat and Boshirov has got a different hat on. Petrov has got a different Jacket on. Boshirov walking down the street looks cold with one hand stuck in his pocket trying to keep it warm, back at the station he has a pair of gloves in his hand.
        I think it’s unusal to take Two similar weather proof coats when going away for such a short stay, same goes for more than One pair of shoes. They’ve dressed more akin to how actors would dress when they aren’t sure who was wearing what originally and they got all mixed up.

  • JB

    The utter ignorance about Russia and anything Russian in the West is around 100%, the systematic vilification for decades has been in crescendo in the last years through the person of V. Putin, even though the man, in fact, has turned out to be the only statesman in the 21st century. No one listens to or reads what this man says, and squares that with what he does. But we should.

    It is not possible to have a conversation about Russia in the EU countries today. The hatred Craig saw on twitter is the hatred that resides in the street and in the corridors of power in the EU and elsewhere. Not too many years after WWII we have rising fascism in Europe and in other places. Hurd mentality is the norm in the age of “freedom” and “democracy” in the West!

    The way these two guys were announced and called out (by Putin) and their interview are crude, a poor show. The interviewer’s questions are, I have to say, laughable. Who would ever say – yes – to the question: did you have a deadly nerve agent with you etc. BUT, that doesn’t mean that what they said is not true. It may very well be because there is nothing unusual about their account per se. Nothing.

    We all have a right to know all the facts, the full unvarnished truth, about this whole sordid affair which has had grave consequences and, as it seems, is intended to have more in the future. Where are the whistleblowers? This is really important.

    • Agent Green

      I would highly recommend the Oliver Stone ‘Putin Interviews’ TV programme, for anyone who wants to see extended one on one interviews with the Russian President.

      • JB

        To add to Agent Green’s recommendation:

        For those interested please read the full texts of
        Putin’s keynote speech at the Munich Security Conference on 10.02.2007 and
        his speech at the Valdai Club in Sochi on 24.10.2014.

    • Michael McNulty

      Another echo of post-WWI fascism I think we’ll soon hear is currency hyperinflation. Wait until they tip that barrowfull of poop in front of us.

    • Borncynical

      One only has to watch his annual Q&A sessions in June to see a master class in leadership skills. Four hours non-stop of answering questions on every aspect of Government policy in detail with few, if any, crib sheets. A perfect demonstration of intelligence, empathy, diplomacy, patriotism, humility and humour. A true statesman who should be admired and respected, not vilified, slandered and mocked. When has anyone ever heard him or his ‘team’ talk about any other world leader in crude, disparaging and disrespectful terms. I recall him saying that “even when [he] and other Heads of State appear to have different opinions, there will always be some common ground between [them] on which they can start to build a relationship. It is important to identify that starting point and go from there.” When was the last time Theresa May ( or any UK Prime Minister in the past generation) came out with anything as profound and diplomatic as that? Putin is head and shoulders above any Western leader.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      I think no-one stretches things too far.

      No politicians or MSM mouthpieces do.

      But major Putin speeches are reported on RT for those that read there, even if sometimes they are in the Russian Politics section.

      I am certainly aware of the recent conference in Vladivostok where Putin was building economic bridges with Japan, China and the Korean peninsula. I am certainly aware of diplomatic efforts in Astana and Minsk concerning matters of concern to Russia and others over the past few years. I am aware of his new gas pipeline to China, his plans to expand rail capacity across Siberia, not to mention Nordstream II, the new bridge from Krasnodar province to Crimea opened this year and the decision to reduce exposure to dollsr transacyptions and increasingly transact in Rubles.

      I am not an expert, but it is very easy to see the man has an overarching vision for his nation and their role in the 21st century world.

  • Fran Heron

    I have been suspicious of the Skripol story from Day One feeling it could well be a concocted decoy to relieve pressure on TM and the govt.

    Over the months, the story has got more improbable with each new ‘revelation’ and if it was the story line for some spy thriller it would get poor reviews as being an improbable plot.

  • Agent Green

    The whole thing stinks of UK Government and Western Intelligence services lying. Now they are caught in their own trap and can do nothing except parrot the same story and keep on digging.

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