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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  • John2o2o

    “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.”

    Well I have a degree in Chemistry, so I have some knowledge Craig.

    If there is such a chemical compound as “novichok” and it is ten times as toxic as VX then it must be very toxic indeed. This pair hardly look like the sorts of people who would be carrying around a ladies perfume bottle in their luggage containing such a material. Perhaps just as well that they were not stopped by customs as one of the officers might have been tempted to try it out – it might have been deemed a suspicious object for them to be carrying.

    Might not have been a great outcome for the assassination attempt.

    If there were traced of such a compound in their hotel room one would also have to question how it got out of the bottle. Aladdinov would have been taking a big risk in calling up the novi-genie in that lamp Craig!

    This would not be a bottle you could just open up to have a look at. At least not if it is what is claimed to be. And if it was a leaky bottle containing nerve agent then they would be dead. Perhaps they could open a bottle containing Fentanyl. (Maybe they are drug dealers), but not a bottle containing a military grade nerve gas (as they used to be called – for a reason). Not without dying themselves.

    The truth of this matter frankly is I think a side issue. That is why the finger of suspicion was pointed at the Russian state without any delay. I don’t believe that the Russian state has the slightest interest in us. We are an irritating little terrier snapping at their heels.

    My belief is that the British State has designated Russia as the Enemy for political expediency.

    It is my belief that they have been deeply disturbed by Brexit and the Scottish referendum and they hope to unite the splintered people of the Island of Great Britain – Brexiters and Remainers, Scots, English and Welsh, against a common enemy. It is as crude as that.

    Teresa May is a latter day Boadicea intent on repelling the “evil” Vladimirus Putinus and saving the British state and it’s people from fracture.

    • Baron

      You’re spot on, John2o2o.

      Virtually everyone, those who’ve swallowed the Government version also those who reject it (rightly) believe that Novichok was what did the damage. That’s 24-carrat bollocks, there has never ever been any Novichok around in the public domain, if any traces of it were found in the samples taken anywhere and analysed by the OPCW or anyone else it was added to the samples.

      If Novichok or any other substance of similar potency were used for smearing the handle or whatever, not only the four individuals (the Skripals, the two unfortunate burghers) would be stone dead, but many others would be, too, e.g. people in the Zizi diner, also the perpetrators doing the smearing (to handle the compound in the lab conditions is risky, just imagine the danger of doing it quickly in an open air), the two towns would now be cordoned off, undergoing full decontamination, and the response to the attack would not stop at kicking out few diplomats.

      • Elly

        You are spot on, indeed. Remember 2 totally unprotected Bobbies keeping guard at the Skripals’ house?
        Also, Novichok is always found in high purity non-metabolized state in the ‘victims” blood months after the alleged exposure.

      • __alex__

        as any substance, novichok can be diluted or added to another substance – ctream, lotion, tooth paste, food or something. so it’s potency could be decreased in any extent.
        it’s incorrect to speak about pure novichok in this case.

    • James Mills

      …and if this Novichok is so potent , why have the authorities only in the last few days started to ‘decontaminate ‘ the Skiripal’s house ? How remiss of them !j

      • Alan Mackay

        dozens if not more would have died by now. the skripals, withing an hour. not the equivalent of a bad flu bug.

      • Fenn Tanyl

        Back in the 80s, I worked for the parent company of Avon Protection, purveyors of nuclear, chemical, biological (NBC) warfare respirators and other protective gear to various militaries (and now headed-up by the ubiquitous Hamish de Bretton-Gordon). Even in those days, NBC protection aimed for complete body cover because the nerve agents around at the time, e.g. VX, could disable or kill troops if even very small amounts made contact with skin.

        The suggestion that Borishev and Petrov strolled around London and Salisbury in jeans and soggy trainers, leaving dabs of a poison alleged to be five to eight times more potent than VX all over the place, without killing themselves and dozens of others, is preposterous. But then the UK state and the legacy media appear to work on the assumption that the public are muppets who’ll believe anything, no matter how unlikely or contradictory.

        Just one example. On 5 July, Mr de Bretton-Gordon told the BBC Today programme that the Salisbury agent would only be fatal if it was ingested. Either he knows less about Novichok than someone in his position ought to, or perhaps he knows more about the actual agent encountered by poor Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley than we’ve been told.

        Luckily for listeners, the UK security minister, Ben Wallace, MP, was on the same day’s programme to set things straight.

        Wallace: “Novicheck [sic] in the smallest form can kill thousands of people.”

        John Humphrys (channelling Hamish): “Your skin would fight it off.”

        Wallace: “No, it would kill you.”

        Wallace was dead right. Which totally trashes the Novichok narrative.

        And if the State is lying about the Salisbury ‘nerve agent’, why should we take its word about anything else in the Skripal case, however much the legacy media thinks its job is to blindly retail the official line.

    • Igor M.

      Except that there is no such substance as “novichok,” is there, Mr “Chemist”? There are A-232, and A-234 agents, thereby you discredit whatever you say from the get-go… Adios!

    • Keith McClary

      “This pair hardly look like the sorts of people who would be carrying around a ladies perfume bottle in their luggage containing such a material. Perhaps just as well that they were not stopped by customs as one of the officers might have been tempted to try it out – it might have been deemed a suspicious object for them to be carrying.”
      Actually two, since the “spare” was discarded in unopened shrink-wrap. And this was the $8 size, not a gift that would impress a lady friend if that is what they planned to tell customs.

    • Michael McNulty

      And one has to wonder why a foreign agent wouldn’t just shoot his victims then leave the country unaccountable. Why step into farce?

  • mdroy

    Good stuff. It is the lottery ticket thing. That a certain Joe Bloggs of a certain town and certain age should win the lottery is odd.
    That someone should win the lottery is almost guaranteed.
    That these two should be in Salisbury on the same week end is odd. That a massive trawl of all the people in teh area should pull out 2 Russian tourists is to be expected.
    What really matters is what happens next. Does the UK actually have more evidence to present or is this as far as it goes.

    “Were I Vladimir Putin, I would persuade Boshirov and Petrov voluntarily to come to the UK and stand trial, ”
    2 sides to this. In the US charges against 12 Russians supposedly influencing the election by putting clickbait stories up (presumable to draw clicks and advertising revenue like all the other clickbait sites), the arrival of Russian legal representatives brought an immediate pause in the investigation – which can be interpreted clearly as a lack of a credible case.
    In the Litvinenko inquiry, failure to make a convincing case in public just lead to a behind the scenes presentation by intelligence officers, so we had un named inteligence officers presenting unpublished evidence to a UK appointed judge, and the presumption of guilt by the western media on the basis of that.

    One thing we do know, Boshirov and Petrov do actually exist – we can say that for any of the “security sources” or the Porton Down head that seem driving the story.

    • isa

      Actually the unnamed intelligence in the Litvinenko inquiry was Christopher Steele who has this annoying habit of popping up like a plague of weeds in all Russian related alleged crimes. Skripal, Trump Dossier, Litvinenko and teh proved incorrect Dossier on how the Russians bribed officials for the world cup. Now that is a coincidence…

  • Mary Paul

    This is in the Indie’s report: “Ben Wallace told the House of Commons they smuggled the novichok into Gatwick Airport using the counterfeit bottle, which was “recklessly” discarded after being used to smear the nerve agent on Mr Skripal’s front door and later poisoned Charlie Rowley and killed his partner Dawn Sturgess.”

    So the applicator in the perfume was carefully dismantled and rewrapped in its cardboard box by the men, without getting any on themselves and returning it to pristine condition, and then discarded into a local charity bin. Where Charley Rowley found it shortly afterwards and secretly saved it for three months as a present for Dawn. Or where it rested untouched by the British elements, the dustmen, a police search and clean up in March, only to be found 3 months later by Charley Rowley who took it home as a present for Dawn.

    And when they reassembled it they managed to infect themselves. Dawn seems to have been taken ill at once. Charlie, who only splashed his hands and washed them, taken ill several hours later. However the police did not check the perfume bottle on the kitchen counter until Charlie recovered and pointed it out to them. Meanwhile the Skripals were poisoned by a poison gel, smeared on their houses door handle, at a time when the Russians could not have done i. The Skripals wandered about happily for several hours before succumbing at exactly the same time on a bench in the town centre.

    I can only think we keep being told ever wilder tales to distract us for the latest non fitting development in the saga. Come on Theresa, reveal the men’s real names and GRU ranks, and tells us where you found the Novichok agent in their hotel room and who confirmed it. Otherwise it is just smoke and mirrors which would not stand up in court.

    • Deb O'Nair

      “However the police did not check the perfume bottle on the kitchen counter until Charlie recovered and pointed it out to them.”

      But they did manage a few months earlier to forensically detect extremely minute amounts of ‘novichok’ that were left two months previously in a hotel room.

      • N_

        Haha! That sounds so much like the British police – spectacular almost unbelievable memory and commitment to investigating details when it suits them, and at other times a complete inability to remember or notice the bleeding obvious.

    • Sue Mason

      How did the two men travel to the final destination if the perfume bottle? How far from Salisbury is Amesbury dump where it was found where’s the CCTV evidence

  • Sebastian

    Verdict first, trial later: with evidence tailored to fit. Take the twitter storm as signifying desperation in the face of an impending collapse, when these two shifty blokes ID backstory turns out to have a multitude of soundly grounded witnesses. (family, neighbours, ex school chums ect.)
    As has been said before, GRU operatives don’t travel on their own passports on official business !
    Vlad’s called their bluff, they don’t like it. Ramping up the hysteria is the only way to double down further, and attempt to delay the inevitable rearrangements at home. May must go, and join Boris on the back benches !

    • Paul Greenwood

      Interestingly the Eu plan for iris readers at passport control has upset the CIA station in London – the biggest btw – since their operatives travelling on fake passports will be cross-referenced each time they cross borders. I bet they cannot use new iPhones either.

      They will have to come to Germany without any paperwork instead !

  • mog

    Well done Craig for standing forward and being open, cool headed, honest and critically minded.
    You have many supporters.

  • Deb O'Nair

    When there is an ongoing criminal police investigation and named suspects are openly declared guilty by politicians and their sidekicks in the media there is no law, there is no legal process and there can be no justice. Like democracy and free speech, legal rights do not exist in a country that annually remembers the millions who have been killed in the name of defending democracy, free speech and the rule of law. The UK today is a bloody disgrace.

    • BarrieJ

      Well said.
      We are governed by gangsters who have corrupted every institution, office and function of state, with none excepted.

  • ADKC

    It is ridiculous to believe that the Boshirov and Petrov would ever receive a fair trial in the UK. They would be railroaded into prison for a very long time. Not only that but they would be induced to confess to crimes they didn’t commit.

    (Boshirov and Petrov appear to be gay, are uncomfortable with the exposure and want everything to go back to the way it was. It is just vulgar curiosity for us to advocate that they go back to the UK to face trial; they would be destroyed.)

    There is far more justification to send Browder to Russia to face trial for his actual crimes but would the UK do that? No, they wouldn’t.

    Craig and some posters here are experiencing a cognitive dissonance on this issue (would the victims of a lynch mob really be vindicated by British justice? Maybe when they are very old men whose health has been ruined at the pleasure of her majesty but not before they have served their purpose). Already a fair trial is just not possible because of all the news, journalists and politicians dumping on them.

    Under no circumstance should Boshirov and Petrov ever leave Russia again (if they want to stay safe and free); if they go to (or end up in the hands of) the UK their lives will be destroyed while we will just keep on enjoying are scrambled eggs and coffee in the morning.

  • WhiteCrow

    I am a Russian living in Salisbury. The real “red alert” snowfall started on Thursday morning, and did not stop pretty much until Friday night. By Saturday morning there were no cars on the streets, only bewildered residents, not your usual busy Saturday morning, simply because you could not get in or out of the city unless you have a truck. But most of these trucks were either stuck in the drives or assisting police and NHS and rescue services. Snow was so bad that trains stopped completely. I should know because as a mother, I spent a sleepless Thursday night with my teenage son stuck on a train ALL NIGHT. He was then rescued by a friend’s mother in her 4×4 and taken to her house and could not get back to Salisbury until Sunday – he was about 20 miles north – night because in some areas snow was still so bad you could not get to the station. On Saturday night I went to Sainsbury’s – where The Maltings are – to buy apple sauce for roast pork. It was 4pm, and I could not walk on a pavement without a massive effort because it was covered in snow up to my ankles. Yes, it did get a little better on Sunday, but there was still snow. And some trains and buses were still cancelled. As to Russians who to some people appear to be made of steel and should not be afraid of freak weather. Every single Russian guest who came to visit me remarked how British are completely viking like in their sartorial choices in cold weather. You see shorts, sandals, no hats, and generally very relaxed attitude displayed by the majority of British people, when going outside. Russians – on the contrary – are careful to avoid “chilling their kidneys” – those who lived in Russia will know! – i.e. warm dry boots are paramount. Russians wear hats.
    Anyone visiting Salisbury that weekend would encounter a very unusual situation – city at a standstill – especially on Saturday 3 March, loads of snow, and more than half the shops closed. I wonder why these two men decided to walk away from the city centre on Wilton Road on Sunday – there is nothing there for a tourist. Perhaps they were confused about direction – but you can see the spire from the station, so if you came to see the cathedral you would know where to go. Did they try to catch a bus to Stonehendge and did not realise the bus stop is at the station – because it is UNMARKED. People always ask where to catch it if one is not parked awaiting tourists. I really don’t know. Yes, they could have used their mobile phones’ maps, but you need data for it, and its expensive. So there, a very strange case indeed. And – the whole picture appears to be missing one vital element – the victim himself and his version of events.

      • WhiteCrow

        Another thought – They did say they wanted to visit the Old Sarum. So perhaps they were walking to the Old Sarum on Wilton Road – instead of Devizes Road – and then realised they went the wrong way. The roundabout is very confusing, you see, especially if you use maps, not phones – it can be expensive to use data. They could have taken the bus, but the bus station is NOT at the train station. And I cannot remember if buses were running on Sunday. I would presume there was less of them because the A345 – the road which Old Sarum is on – was still closed outside of the city.

  • Vincent Castigliola

    If media and most Twitter publications are any indication, the UK and US are much in a state of (one sided) propaganda war with Russia. To my recall, even the justice system which I greatly respect, has, according to history, failed to overcome the pervasive prejudice engendered by war. Much as I would love to see a Skripal trial where witnesses could be called, to include both Skripals, the police officers involved, and Sergi’s handler and associates, I would not, if I cared most about the welfare of the accused Russians, send them to the UK for trial.
    On the other hand, if I were president Putin, I would offer to negotiate and extradition treaty which would provide for the extradition to UK of the Russians accused of the Skripal incident and also the extradition to Russia of UK citizen, Bill Browder for trial regarding fraud.

  • Mary Paul

    According to the Sun: Security experts are understood to have fingerprint and iris data for the two men – which means biometric technology should be able to unmask their real identities. The GRU agents’ visa applications would have included the details as well as an up-to-date and clear picture. They would have had to declare their dates of birth, address, job and banking details – likely including a recent statement – which could expose the extent of the suspected intelligence agents’ lies in entering Britain. This biometric data – along with the identities of close relatives and recent trips to Britain and other Western countries – is required from Russians seeking British visas.”

    However I have seen reports that they travelled on older passports. Anyone know about this? Is the official line that they are masquerading as the real Petrov and Boshiroff? Do such people exist? Wouldn’t their families know or maybe they do or did not have any families. Or are these fake identities they have been using for over a year? I keenly await their real identities being revealed.

    • Rob

      Biometric data was introduced in Russian passports from 2006 onwards, so any passport currently valid would have it.

      • Avery

        Incorrect, Rob. It was not mandatory for many years. You could get biometric paying more or common passport for a lesser fee. Mine is 2011 issue and it’s not biometric. But you still have to process fingerprints for EU visa application nowadays.

        • Paul Greenwood

          Jews are no longer fashionable as Universal Agents of Chaos so Hollywood prefers Russians now Washington has given the All-Clear. – after all – Washington funds Hollywood movies which is why they are all CIA themed, SpecOps themed, FBI-themed

  • A Palmer

    The explanation for the events around the poisoning of the Skirpals as stated by the UK government and security agencies, are preposterous. The lack of attention to detail; the impossible timeline; the lack of corroborating evidence, all point to investigators and politicians making unconnected events fit the crime. Its sloppy and dangerous. If the government were intending on fabricating the evidence, I would have expected a more intelligent and plausible approach to framing the suspects. Eight year olds could have devised more watertight allegations.

  • Carol Barnes

    Thank you Craig for bringing some sanity to this situation. Your article in my opinion is very measured and it’s shocking that people have reacted in this way to your comments. I sadly remember only too well what happened to Gerry Conlon and the others who were wrongly accused and imprisonned. I’ll never forget the hysteria – the mob out in full force. Media should be ashamed. A good comparison to make – but one of many unfortunately. Thank goodness for people like you who are interested enough in the truth to investigate the facts – unlike most MSM journalists.

  • JohninMK

    If the Met have charged the two men, presumably using these names, and have issued arrest warrants then the next step is the European arrest warrant and Interpol. If this has or does happen then it will be very dangerous for then to venture outside Russia again and given the number of times they have done this in the past it could have a big impact on their lives.

    It could be very much in their own interests to clear their names.

    If they are innocent you have to feel sorry for them, having their lives ruined.

    • N_

      European Arrest Warrants have been issued.

      Met police, 5 Sep 2018:

      “(T)oday’s charges relate to the first incident involving the Skripals and Nick Bailey”

      “(D)omestic and European arrest warrants have been issued for the two suspects”

      (The two suspects are named in the Met statement as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – photographs supplied – albeit the police say these are “likely” not to be their real names.)

  • Jack

    This attitude show so well how sick western journalsits have become, isnt evidence what drives these people? No apparently not, instead it is political, world-view and what you want to be the truth.
    That the interview both go against and also raise more suspicion cant be accepted apparently.
    And everyone that dares to say this is attacked – as Craig have proved for so many times now on this blog.

  • Sue Mason

    We in the UK were encouraged to believe the Skripal Story as a result of TheresaMay Government response in Parliament. That story has changed dramatically too. Jeremy Corbyn calmly asked for evidence. Just Perhaos the UK intelligence had that evidence by way of following dodgy Russians on a separate mission and made it look as if …. so much on both sides does not stack up! UK Intelligence services should stop feeding us this drivel. I’m with you Craig all the way.

    • BarrieJ

      From the Zinoviev letter through the miners’ strike, the paedophile cover ups and the WMD lies, the secret intelligence services have shown that they do not work for the people.
      Democracy, justice and the rule of law are of no interest or priority to them and really, only the most naive would have any faith in them.
      Like so much else in Britain, they are part of the problem, not the solution.

      • pete

        Re BarrieJ @ 15.37
        “the secret intelligence services have shown that they do not work for the people.”
        Yes, it’s apparently so, they seem to be largely self serving institutions interested only in preserving themselves and the interests of their paymasters. It is 5 years since Snowden revealed the extent of the surveillance state and warned us about the possible misuse of the data gathered: see this anniversary essay in the NY review of books:
        https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/09/13/edward-snowden-reconsidered/

  • Josh

    (1) As someone who has lived in both Russia and Canada,places that have a predominantly colder climate than the UK or the low countries, I can attest to the fact that -3C in a wet slurry England feels much, much worse than -15C in a dry cold continental climate. Furthermore, we in Canada know that the most dangerous, and the most detested, weather is the slurry/sleet – and the Russians also hate it. The UK is notoriously unprepared to deal with a large amount of snow and to clear it very quickly. So I totally subscribe to this part of the story: I can tell you of many Russians that have been astonished at how cold they felt in a wet sea climate, even though the temperature gage doesn’t show it.
    To add to this, it is highly unlikely that someone travelling from Russia on a weekend outing to the UK would take with him their snow boots. And in spite of many manufacturers’ assertions, the reason why we Northerners all hate sleet with a passion is because there are few shoes which really are watertight against sleet – except bulky boots that are uncomfortable for long walks.
    (2) Russians take a much higher view of architecture than Westerners / Europeans do. So they will fixate easily on having to see a cathedral, castle, etc as a part goal (or sometimes only goal) of a weekend trip. I took a semi-retired Belarusian electrician once to Paris. He cried when he saw the Louvre. I took a young friend once on a trip to Scotland. He was fixated on seeing as many castles as possible in a 7 day tour. A lot of Russians will describe these kind of trips in almost spiritual terms.
    I saw the entire interview now, twice. Their behavior and words all hang together; the interviewer actually questioned quite deeply and sceptically – certainly a whole deal more scepsis there than I have seen of the UK Media towards their government utterings in this case.

  • Elly

    “Russians are no more immune to cold and wet than you are”.
    Actually, Craig, I tend to believe that the Brits are much more immune to cold than the Russians, I have come to this conclusion after seeing all the girls with patch blue and red legs wearing sandals in December, or British tourists in Cyprus sporting shorts in January. The air is humid, and combined with the wind chills you to the bone. I suffered in Cyprus during the damp windy winders in apartments where walls had no thermal insulation or double glazing.
    Personally, I had this experience during my trips to UK the month of March, June, November and December through the years.
    Homes in UK are cold and damp as fuel is expensive and people try to save money, while in Russia there is central heating everywhere and inside homes temperatures are subtropical. Even on TripAdvisor people warn travelers to wear light clothing underneath winter coats as homes and public places are extremely warm in the winter.
    I know full well that an inch or two of snow would wreak havoc in the UK and the Channel Islands. I still remember colleagues in Guernsey having to drive their tractors to work on one not so fine winter day back in 2013.

    To be fair, this misconception is widespread and I do not consider it particularly racist either. Locals in Cyprus or Luxembourg would say I should not be cold in winter because I came from Russia.

    I would pop in London for day or two to get my hair cut at Toni&Guys, have a nice dinner in one the restaurants in Knightsbridge or watch a show in one of the West End’s theaters.

    I’ve always stayed in London, but Stonehenge is a popular sight with my friends.

    • Tom Welsh

      Americans, many of whom are used to very cold weather indeed (and often very hot weather too) are astonished at the unsuitability of the clothing British people wear in the cold. No doubt it’s because, living in a temperate country whose weather is moderated by the Gulf Stream, the British don’t bother to acquire special garb for the few weeks every year when they need it.

  • Tom Welsh

    “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”.

    It’s also a remarkable, though very saddening, demonstration of the sheer philistinism of the British public – which is actually led in this respect by those who consider themselves the intellectual elite.

    As for “mob hatred”, that is a very accurate description. Much of the hatred is directed at Craig precisely because he has been instrumental in breaking up the unanimity initially expressed on social media. Craig pointed out some awkward facts, and to their credit quite a lot of people paused, thought it over, and realised that they had let themselves be carried away by the sheer exhilaration of mob hatred. Now that the unanimity has been shattered, it cannot be put back together again. Instead of a crowd of angry apes threatening Russia because it’s… foreign, we have returned to being a lot of individuals, many of them able to think logically and critically.

    • bj

      the sheer philistinism of the British public

      I wonder if that isn’t a pars pro toto misconception. The few –yet powerful– idiots on Twitter trying to whip up ridicule doesn’t mean they have a whole lot of success in doing that.

      I hear other voices saying that “none of my friends and relatives believe the governments narrative” (paraphrasing).

      • Borncynical

        bj

        I have experienced an even more frightening phenomenon (in respect of Skripal and Syria) in which people I speak to don’t even care or think about it. As soon as I mention the subject, trying to get them to open up on their views, I just get blank looks and if I mention how close to triggering a war we are, based on lies, again blank looks and even the reaction “Well, there’s nothing we can do about it so I don’t even think about it”! Call me an ‘anorak’ but during the shameless Douma activities, before the attack by ‘the allies’, I wrote to my MP and copied the letter to my immediate five neighbouring ‘ professional’ households with a background information note explaining my views and the implications of the situation; and imploring them to write to the MP as well. I offered in a covering letter to discuss it with anyone interested or to fill in any gaps but said I wouldn’t impose on them unless they expressed an interest. I’ve seen all of them since, but not a word from them about the situation. I’m sure they think I’m a nutter!

  • Andrea

    Craig, it may be wishful thinking, but have you tried to contact the Skripals? Do you know where they are now? And why nobody has heard from them since Yulia’s interview? As main protagonists of this story, and survivors of an attack that is being used to sway public opinion over Russia, why have they not been interviewed?

    • Thorvid

      In a shallow grave on Sailsbury Plain?
      Living under new ID’s in US/3rd country?
      Under ‘house arrest’ in UK?
      Back in Russia?

  • Andrew Wilson

    A thought occurred to me just now. If we assume that everything the British government has claimed is correct and the two guys were the people who attempted to kill the Skripals can somebody explain to me why the guys would have been carrying a tester bottle (because that’s what it is, not a retail package) of a woman’s perfume? Why was it not a tester of aftershave or male perfume?

    In any story we only need a single piece of falsehood to cast doubt on the rest of the story. Of course, here there are many others but this is one of the few concrete, visible, pieces of evidence presented to us.

    So, why would two killers be carrying their weapon in such an inappropriate container? I carry testers of cologne and aftershave when I travel. I get them for free and they can be handy on a short trip. They are always gender appropriate products, why on earth would I carry female perfume in my dop bag? I can’t think why these guys would act differently to me and I can’t imagine that whoever provided the container could not source a more appropriate container.

  • BushveldJock

    Craig, the apparent timeline issues seem to be at the heart of your scepticism. Can you point me to the police statements that state the Sunday morning CCTV footage only shows Sergei’s car heading east and north-east? As I understand it, as the police never said anything about direction, that footage could be multi-directional.

  • Xavi

    What special insights have Aaronovitch and Hodges ever evidenced to be given columns by national newspapers and called upon incessantly to give their views on TV? From what I’ve seen, they have been proved wrong time after time after time. Or have I missed something?

    • bj

      Hodges is a guy where you cannot get a word in edgewise.
      I.e. he likes self-sufficient monologues, like a little dictator.

      • Borncynical

        bj

        Has an annoying habit of stuttering his words out as if it gives what he’s saying more kudos or gives him time to compose his next nonsensical pronouncement. Seems to me like an annoying affectation but if it is the result of a nervous stammer then I apologise unreservedly.

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      I believe it’s called the McTernan effect after that hyper-opinionated, 100% reliably wrong balloon of flatulence, John McTernan. The Beeb and MSM can’t give enough airtime to people that will unerringly tout the State agenda. Reference to their previous assertions and predictions would of course devalue their status as media commentators, but mysteriously the show producers and presenters have them on fast dial.

  • Eric McCoo

    The idea that the men caught on CCTV just so happened to be Russian winter tourists is ludicrous. They are obviously connected to the case in some way,

    Possibly MI6 patsies lured to the UK for some nefarious business deal involving ‘sports supplements’ to a place just where the CCTV cameras are.

    The tourism thing is likely a cover story for that, not assassination.

    • Tom Smythe

      Their ‘nefarious business’ should be in the public domain in full detail within 48 hours if it isn’t already. Astonishing that the UK press can locate lots of other Alexander Petrovs and access their jobs, home addresses, photos, and all their travels but is drawing a blank on this one, despite what must be a gargantuan paper and electronic trail.

      In your scenario, MI6 may not have informed the police about setting them up during their staged visit including many cctv captures but just sat back awaiting the inevitable discovery — and misinterpretation — of the two by a Met desperate to show results after a long investigation and a Salisbury public angry about novichok still being on the loose.

      After the investigation was taken away very early on from the Wiltshire police, Met took a database of recent airplane arrivals/departures, filtered the visas for people from Russia and intersected that with a narrow time window of cctv arrivals at the Salisbury train station. This does not take 210 detectives six months. It was being leaked months and months ago that suspects had already been identified.

      Then came the totally unexpected perfume bottle in the downtown alley dumpster. Met couldn’t connect that up with the suspects. It remains inexplicable even today. Charlie did not store his discovery but gifted it to Dawn almost immediately according to direct interviews. It had to have been a recent discard but by whom?

  • Sharp Ears

    Johnson has been blowing his top in the US, when addressing the AEI, yet another of these right wing think tanks.
    ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Enterprise_Institute )

    He received their ‘ Irving Kristol Award, at their Annual Dinner.
    Their blurb – ‘Boris Johnson was elected Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in May 2015. He recently served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs but stood down in July 2018. Before this, he was Mayor of London for eight years. He was elected to this position with the largest personal mandate in British political history.’ LOL
    http://www.aei.org/spotlight/2018-annual-dinner/

    He used the opportunity to sound off on this affair.

    ‘YOU SAID THE BIGGEST MISTAKE YOU’D MADE IN YOUR PUBLIC CAREER IS HAVING TRUSTED THE RUSSIAN.
    00:54:56

    IT WASN’T THAT I TRUSTED THEM. I BELIEVED I WAS SUFFICIENTLY OVERCONFIDENT TO THINK THAT I COULD ENGAGE AND ACTUALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE. THEY JUST HAVEN’T CHANGED. BUT I’LL SAY ONE THING — ALLOW MYSELF TO USE THAT PHRASE. WHAT WAS SO FANTASTIC WAS AFTER SALISBURY, 28 COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD CAME TOGETHER AND THERE’S MORE TO COME BY THE WAY AND EXPELLED THE BIGGEST NUMBER OF RUSSIAN SPIES COLLECTIVELY WE’VE EVER SEEN. I JUST WANT TO PAY TRIBUTE TO THE UNITED STATES. IN THE DECISION AT EVERY LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT. BUT BY TIME YOU CAME THROUGH WITH THE GOODS. WE ARE THANKFUL FOR THE SOLIDARITY YOU SHOW. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. WE ARE AT THE END OF OUR TIME, BORIS. ON BEHALF OF OUR COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS AND PERSONALLY I WANT TO EXPRESS MY ADMIRATION FOR A LOT OF THINGS I’VE DONE, THE PUBLIC ATTITUDE OF OPTIMISM TOWARDS ALL THE PEOPLE WHO NEED MORE MOBILITY, ALL THE PEOPLE WHO ARE THE PERIPHERY WHO MIGHT SUFFER FROM DESPAIR AND CAN HEAR THE WORDS OF LEADERS AND AN OPPORTUNITY IN SOCIETY KIDMAN SHOULD BE ABLE TO EVERY PERSON IN YOUR COUNTRY AND INDEED THAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND HER AND TO SHAME. AN OPPORTUNITY TO SOCIETY SHOULD BE OPEN FOR EVERYONE. FOR THAT MISSION ON BEHALF OF ALL OF US, PLEASE JOIN ME IN THANKING BORIS JOHNSON.
    https://www.c-span.org/video/?451360-1/british-foreign-secretary-boris-johnson-receives-irving-kristol-award

    • Sharp Ears

      The para before that one:
      ‘ I DID MAKE — I’LL GIVE YOU ONE MISTAKE. IT RELATES TO THE NEWS TODAY. HOW ARE WE DOING? WILL WRAP UP ON THIS POINT. WHEN I BECAME FOREIGN SECRETARY I DECIDED OR I THOUGHT THERE WAS NO OBJECTIVE REASON WHY WE SHOULD BE QUITE SO HOSTILE TO RUSSIA. OKAY? I THOUGHT — YES, THERE WERE REASONS TO BE SUSPICIOUS AND LOTS OF REASONS TO BE WEARY AND LOTS OF REASONS TO BE CAUTIOUS BUT I THOUGHT IT WAS POSSIBLE AND I MADE THE CLASSIC, CLASSIC MISTAKE OF THINKING IT WAS POSSIBLE TO HAVE A RESET WITH RUSSIA. I WANTED TO ENGAGE WITH VLADIMIR PUTIN AND [INAUDIBLE] AND TO SEE IF WE COULD TALK ABOUT THINGS — AREAS WHERE WE HAD WHERE WE NEEDED TO ENGAGE AND DO THINGS TOGETHER. TACKLING TERRORISM AND SO ON. THEN IT JUST BECAME CLEARER AND CLEARER TO ME THAT WAS A FOOL’S ERRAND. FINALLY, ON MARCH 4th OF THIS YEAR WE HAD THIS OUTRAGEOUS EVENT IN SALISBURY WHERE TWO AGENTS OF THE RUSSIAN GRU WERE INVOLVED IN THE MURDER OF DON STURGIS (Dawn Sturgess) AND THE ATTEMPTED MURDER OF OTHERS. YOU SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW WITH THE TWO CHARACTERS PRODUCED IN THIS SATIRICAL WAY BY VLADIMIR PUTIN ON RUSSIAN TV. … I THINK IT’S ABSOLUTELY APPALLING. I SAY NOW I THINK, YOU KNOW, THE TWO GUYS WHO ARE ON RUSSIAN TV. THEY ARE MURDERERS AND IF THEY DISPUTE THAT FACT, THEY CAN SUE ME IN THE COURT ROOM.’

      !!

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    The Met Police stated on 19th July that using facial recognition software, they had identified two individuals leaving the UK on 5th March. At that point they would have had names from the Border Agency. Why the 49 day delay in releasing the names? What could the investigation possibly gain by withholding names? Difficult not to conclude that this pantomime is being used as a distraction with snippets drip fed as and when it best suits Prime Minister May.

  • joeblogs

    It has got very ugly, and un-British.
    Reminds me of the ‘five minutes of hate’ that was written of in George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’.
    I believe one fundamental social catastrophe would be enough to tip the UK fully into that mould portrayed by Orwell – a crisis in the bond market for instance.
    Perhaps nobody remembers, or has read the special ‘Exemption Clause’ that PM Major managed to introduce into the Maastricht Treaty, 25 years ago: it’s time limit expired this February.
    No wonder cunning David called a referendum on the EU – ‘on their heads be it – I’ll toddle off now, and write my memoirs.’
    The exemption allowed for the UK to avoid being part of the Euro during the time it was effective. Both John Major and David Cameron have passed the buck, now Mrs. May is left holding the bag. How long before the truth will out, I wonder?

  • David

    I said on twitter and I’ll repeat here –

    We’re not really that much further forward on this than we were at start.

    Might Russian(s), acting for govt or not, be guilty? Yes

    Are perpetrators not from Russia? Maybe

    If these two came here would they get a fair hearing following their Salmond style trial by media? No

    • bj

      On the contrary — I think most Brits can tell when a story is held together by tacks and rubber bands.

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