The Incredible Case of Boshirov and Petrov’s Visas 430


The Metropolitan Police made one statement in the Skripal case which is plainly untrue; they claimed not to know on what kind of visa Boshirov and Petrov were travelling. As they knew the passports they used, and had footage of them coming through the airport, that is impossible. The Border Force could tell them in 30 seconds flat.

To get a UK visa Boshirov and Petrov would have had to attend the UK Visa Application Centre in Moscow. There not only would their photographs be taken, but their fingerprints would have been taken and, if in the last few years, their irises scanned. The Metropolitan Police would naturally have obtained their fingerprints from the Visa Application.

One thing of which we can be certain is that their fingerprints are not on the perfume bottle or packaging found in Charlie Rowley’s home. We can be certain of that because no charges have been brought against the two in relation to the death of Dawn Sturgess, and we know the police have their fingerprints. The fact of there being no credible evidence, according to either the Metropolitan Police or the Crown Prosecution Service, to link them to the Amesbury poisoning, has profound implications.

Why the Metropolitan Police were so coy about telling us what kind of visa the pair held, points to a wider mystery. Why were they given the visas in the first place, and what story did they tell to get them? It is not easy for a Russian citizen, particularly an economically active male, to get past the UK Border Agency. The visa application process is very intrusive. They have to produce evidence of family and professional circumstances, including employment and address, evidence of funds, including at least three months of bank statements, and evidence of the purpose of the visit. These details are then actively checked out by the Visa Department.

If they had told the story to the visa section they told to Russia Today, that they were freelance traders in fitness products wanting to visit Salisbury Cathedral, they would have been refused a visa as being candidates for overstaying. They would have been judged not to have sufficiently stable employment in Russia to ensure they would return. So what story did Petrov and Boshirov give on their visa application, why were they given a visa, and what kind of visa? And why do the British authorities not want us to know the answer to these questions?

Which brings us to the claims of neo-conservative propaganda website Bellingcat. They claim together with the Russian Insider website to have obtained documentary evidence that Petrov and Boshirov’s passports were of a series issued only to Russian spies, and that their applications listed GRU headquarters as their address.

There are some problems with Bellingcat’s analysis. The first is that they also quote Russian website fontanka.ru as a source, but fontanka.ru actually say the precise opposite of what Bellingcat claim – that the passport number series is indeed a civilian one and civilians do have passports in that series.

Fontanka also state it is not unusual for the two to have close passport numbers – it merely means they applied together. On other points, fontanka.ru do confirm Bellingcat’s account of another suspected GRU officer having serial numbers close to those of Boshirov and Petrov.

But there is a bigger question of the authenticity of the documents themselves. Fontanka.ru is a blind alley – they are not the source of the documents, just commenting on them, and Bellingcat are just attempting the old trick of setting up a circular “confirmation”. Russian Insider is neither Russian nor an Insider. Its name is a false claim and it consists of a combination of western “experts” writing on Russia, and reprints from the Russian media. It has no track record of inside access to Russian government secrets or documents, and nor does Bellingcat.

What Bellingcat does have is a track record of shilling for the security services. Bellingcat claims its purpose is to clear up fake news, yet has been entirely opaque about the real source of its so-called documents.

MI6 have almost 40 officers in Russia, running hundreds of agents. The CIA has a multiple of that. They pool their information. Both the UK and US have large visa sections whose major function is the analysis of Russian passports, their types and numbers and what they tell about the individual.

We are to believe that Boshirov and Petrov were GRU agents whose identity was plainly obvious from their passports, who had no believable cover identities, but that neither the visa department nor MI6 (which two cooperate closely and all the time) knew they were giving visas to GRU agents. Yet this information was readily available to Bellingcat?

I do not know if the two are agents or just tourists. But the claimed evidence they were agents is, if genuine, so obvious that the two would have been under close surveillance throughout their stay in the UK. If the official story is true, then the failures of the UK visa department and MI6 are abject and shameful. As is the failure to take simple precautions for the Skripals’ security, like the inexplicable absence of CCTV covering the house of Sergei Skripal, an important ex-agent and defector supposedly under British protection.

A further thought. We are informed that Boshirov and Petrov left a trace of novichok in their hotel bedroom. How likely is it, really, that, the day before the professional assassination attempt, which involved handling an agent with which any contact could kill you, Boshirov and Petrov would prepare, not by resting, but by an all night drugs and sex session? Would you really not want the steadiest possible hand the next day? Would you really invite a prostitute into the room with the novichok perfume in it, and behave in a way that led to complaints and could have brought you to official notice?

Is it not astonishing that nobody in the corporate and state media has written that this behaviour is at all unlikely, while scores of “journalists” have written that visiting Salisbury as a tourist, and returning the next day because the visit was ruined by snow, would be highly unlikely?

To me, even more conclusively, we were informed by cold war propagandists like ex White House staffer Dan Kaszeta that the reason the Skripals were not killed is that novichok is degraded by water. To quote Kaszeta “Soap and water is quite good at decontaminating nerve agents”.

In which case it is extremely improbable that the agents handling the novichok, who allegedly had the novichok in their bedroom, would choose a hotel room which did not have an en suite bathroom. If I spilt some novichok on myself I would not want to be queuing in the corridor for the shower. The GRU may not be big on health and safety, but the idea that their agents chose not to have basic washing facilities available while handling the novichok is wildly improbable.

The only link of Boshirov and Petrov to the novichok is the trace in the hotel room. The identification there of a microscopic trace of novichok came from a single swab, all other swabs were negative, and the test could not be repeated even on the original positive sample. For other reasons given above, I absolutely doubt these two had novichok in that bedroom. Who they really are, and how much the security services knew about them, remain open questions.


430 thoughts on “The Incredible Case of Boshirov and Petrov’s Visas

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  • dave

    “Novichok degraded by water”?!
    Yet the Swiss lab received pure Novichok samples from the British counterparts.

    No…The Skripals were poisoned with a hallucinogenic drug, all their symptoms were signs of tripping, even eye-witnesses acknowledge their first impression of the Skripals as hallucinating.

    • Tom Smythe

      No. Hallucinogen” is an indiscriminate term with no chemical or medical meaning; the Russian lab worker who was accidentally exposed to a novichok two decades ago reported all manner of visual weirdnesses.

      Spiez lab received micrograms of exposed environmental samples on the first round and deferred to Porton Down on its chemical identification, not having enough material to determine its structure. These samples had gone unprotected and did not have chain of custody until OPCW staff arrived weeks later. It was only through twitter error that we learned the name of this lab; there are 4 labs used altogether, one presumably Porton Down.

      Nothing has been released from the other two labs, not even their names. Only the Skripal blood samples had OPCW chain of custody. Blood analysis is done in an entirely different way because of the many thousands of other chemicals present.

      On the second round, the perfume bottle provided much better sample sizes. Again, there was no chain of custody since the bottle and packaging had been taken directly to Porton Down — itself a suspect in some scenarios as it would have reference samples of common CBW OPs including the five main novichoks — long before OPCW made a second visit.

      Assuming the outside labs received authentic perfume bottle liquid, contamination at the 1-2% level has been announced: ie this was lab grade, not crude military. The chemical names of the contaminants have not been disclosed. It has not been possible to say whether the charity bin perfume bottle novichok was the same as that used in the Skripal attack because so little sample was available from the latter.

      We have no idea if a second perfume bottle exists or was used. Aerosols are extremely dangerous for whoever uses them. It would make far more sense to use an ordinary squeeze bottle (eye drops, nasal spray,…) to apply agent to a door lever.

      The symptoms reported by the eight eyewitnesses, whose videos we have reviewed here many times, as well as statements from the Salisbury Hospital about treatment and antidotes are full consistent with organophosphate poisoning. The symptoms are inconsistent with BZ (which was NEVER reported by Spiez Lab) and fentanyls. Narcan gives a near-immediate recovery from chemicals targeting opioid receptors — the Skripals would been out of the hospital in a couple of hours. Atropine and ‎pralidoxime are altogether different antidotes that manage symptoms but cannot undo covalent bonds between an OP and AChE active site serine.

      • dave

        According to official statement from the Salisbury Hospital they never had any patients with nerve agent poisoning.

        According to the Swiss lab, they received “pure” samples of Novichok which contradicts the official British explanation of a degraded Novichok hence the Skripals survived.

        You have no clue what hallucinations are, you have never used LSD or any other hallucinogen before; stroking one’s arm, staring in the sky while sitting on the bench are typical symptoms of an acid trip which i certainly recognize.

        This is in contrast with the Soviet scientist who immediately blacked out (no mention of him tripping), he did not go to a restaurant and have dinner after getting poisoned LOL.

        • dave

          one thing to add. The Soviet scientist died a slow and horrible death after being exposed to Novichok residue in his lab, oh and he did not go to a restaurant LOL

          • dave

            The Skripals were held in an artificially induced coma (out of precaution), this is what doctors do, 2 of my nearest family members were kept the same way in an artificially induced coma (also out of precaution).

            The British Novichok hoax coincided with Russian advances on the geopolitical stage (Syria) vs the Atlantic Empire, lets also not forget the Brexit debacle.

          • dave

            The Skripals were also making figures with their hands in the sky while sitting on the bench LOL. #acid

          • Jo

            I only remember reading about a scientist who “splashed a bit” but did realise the urgency and managed to very very quickly decontaminate himself……

          • dave

            A Soviet scientist working on Novichok died after 5 years when he came into contact with the residue of Novichok in the chemical lab he was working:

            “Their effect on humans was demonstrated by the accidental exposure of Andrei Zheleznyakov, one of the scientists involved in their development, to the residue of an unspecified Novichok agent while working in a Moscow laboratory in May 1987.”…

            “He was critically injured and took ten days to recover consciousness after the incident. He lost the ability to walk and was treated at a secret clinic in Leningrad for three months afterwards.”…

            “The agent caused permanent harm, with effects that included chronic weakness in his arms, a toxic hepatitis that gave rise to cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, spells of severe depression”…

            “, and an inability to read or concentrate that left him totally disabled and unable to work. He never recovered and died in July 1992 after five years of deteriorating health”

          • dave

            Spiez Lab “discovered strong concentration of traces of the nerve agent of A-234 type in its initial states as well as its decomposition products.”

            This is in contrast with British explanation the Skripals did not die because the nerve agent was degraded.

  • mike

    Corbyn now thinks Russia did Salisbury.

    Privately, I’m sure he realises that that’s utter bollocks, as anyone with a functioning neocortex can plainly see.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      Claims based on him fighting in Chechnya a long time ago. There is no evidence he is still in the military and absolutely no evidence he is an Intelligence officer.

      He may still be in the military, alternatively like many UK soldiers he may have entered civilian life. If so, it would be helpful to highlight that. I am certain the vast majority of retired UK soldiers are neither working for MI5 nor MI6.

      The BBC continues to overplay its hand.

      • Aslangeo

        Chepiga is not listed as a hero of the RF despite the bbc claims on this, something fishy. Surname is unusual

      • Resident Dissident

        No he retired so as to explore his interest in church architecture and set up a health food company as cover for mad weekends throughout Europe with his boyfriend. Putin never lies even about his income.

      • Mark Jones

        You could be right, after all, most ex military fighting men I know can tell you all the key facts about cathedrals and monuments all over the world. Why people can’t believe they were tourists I just do not know.

  • KEVIN

    If guilty, can someone please explain why they did not use disguises? You know – like in all those spy movies and books 🙂

    • Goose

      All seems very convenient, one doc after another coming out. Who is leaking this stuff to Bellingcat and when was it known?

      If this is a sprung trap Russia have fallen right in.

      There are two possibilities : One the official UK narrative is 100% accurate, it may well be , but that still leaves many unanswered questions around timeline as Craig has pointed out , visas situation, and no CCTV on Sergei’s house. And no sightings or updates from the Skripals since.Plenty of other inconsistencies too eg . broken glass .

      Or….this is a very elaborate framing exercise, in which these two were already known to agencies and were lured and baited as fall guys, possibly to switch allegiances, by Sergei himself? Solely in order to frame Russia for something that never really happened. A stretch, but not impossible.

      • Yeah, Right

        ” Who is leaking this stuff to Bellingcat and when was it known?”

        Eliot Higgins runs a front-operation for the Atlantic Council.
        Do you really need to know any more regarding the ultimate source of his information?

  • CE

    Excellent work by bellingcat.

    Come on Craig, and most of the sheep on here, just admit you made a horrific mistake and got played, far better that than continuing the intellectual gymnastics required to square this circle.

    Or, just because he’s a GRU colonel doesn’t mean he can’t take a romantic weekend break in Salisbury with some novichok, under a false name. 😆

    • Goose

      Bellingcat isn’t seen as very independent on here. And for good reason.

      Although the docs will in all likelihood be real. Even if Russia are innocent and these two are merely patsies , lured under false pretenses, Russia now look as guilty as hell, I agree.

    • MaryPau!

      Maybe like Skripal, he is a former colonel in the Russian security services, now a freelance spy for hire?

      • Goose

        If these two are GRU, as it sems, and they were invited and their intentions were to work with Sergei(?) it would explain their nervousness on TV. The security apparatus could easily set that up. Russia’s only hope is to expose the truth, if the UK’s narrative isn’t true?

        The narrative of ‘novichok’ still seems somewhat fantastical.

        Tbh, I’m prepared to believe the UK version on balance at this point, why on earth did Russia put them on TV to lie , making a fool of themselves and Putin?

        • Tom Smythe

          >>>making a fool of xxx Putin?

          That’s the key. My sense is that Russia had no idea who these guys were initially. Putin’s staff looked into it. They never would have told Putin they were civilians of no interest unless they were civilians of no interest. Putin never would have said on the record they were civilians of no interest unless they were civilians of no interest, not if two days later the UK would expose it.

          Which they have not done, even to today. GCHQ has no need of Bellingcrap.

          Even to this date, despite a hefty reward promised by a Russian newspaper, nobody seems to know who these guys are or what they really do. For example, how did they pay for the hotel room: a wad of well-used, small denomination rubles? Do they not have credit cards with all this travel? The hotel would have run it through and retained records. They bought New Balance sneakers and down vests in London, train tickets, meals, plane tickets. How hard is it for Scotland Yard to run down every purchase made the last ten years on their credit cards?

          The UK never showed any interest in pursuing their identity, they were content with aliases (wrong) and insinuations of GRU (wrong). The Russian state knows perfectly well who they are but feels it a waste of time to reveal as they know perfectly well they won’t get fair play in the western press, why try.

          >>>armchair detectives here aren’t likely to definitively figure it out.

          Actually we might have already mostly figured it out but have no way to confirm it. Internet-only has its limitations: dribbles of (mis)information from authorities, a press who makes things up and never asks questions, a lack of whistleblowers because who is there to blow the whistle to. They’d end up the nail who sticks out in a vengeful surveillance state — GCHQ is all over your identity already. Employment possibilities are very limited on a small island.

          We have people on board here who live in Salisbury, people who could visit key sites, people here who could make phone calls, people who could stop by the shops, or take key figures out for a brew. So far: abject passivity. Safer just to rant, the authorities allow venting of steam, pay no attention to it. As the NYTimes put it, there’s that Salisbury time warp: the Bosch are coming, loose lips sink ships and all that.

      • Goose

        Make for a brilliant spy thriller cum whodunnit script.

        Either something very simple or very complex.

        Amateur armchair detectives on here certainly aren’t likely to definitively figure it out.

          • Goose

            I dunno, I guess there are people who research these things rather than just comment on developments. I was a big fan of TV’s The Lone Gunmen, idk if you remember them from the X-Files?

            I guess people like that would qualify as professional armchair detectives.

    • Yeah, Right

      “Excellent work by bellingcat.”

      Did you actually go to the trouble of reading that Bellingcat article? Because it is laughable.

      Eliot Higgins goes to great length to prove that, yes, there is a wall with the name of “Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga” on it.
      And, yes, that name appears on a volunteer (!!) web site listing “Heros of the Russian Federation”

      (I shall point out, in passing, that Higgins appears to have completely missed that the last two names are the only “honorary” recipients of that title. I don’t know what that means, except that it is doubtful indeed that this was awarded for fighting in Chechnya)

      And, sure enough, Higgins goes a-lookin’ for a phone number, any phone number, for an “Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga” anywhere in the Russian Federation and, apparently, he finds that to be a darn difficult task.

      But all that is…. nothing, really. All it demonstrates is that someone named “Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga” exists/existed which in and of itself is no evidence whatsoever that this is the same person as “Ruslan Boshirov”

      Really, I mean it: strip away the verbiage that Higgins lays on with a trowel, and ask yourself what evidence does he **actually** have for his core accusation (which, again, is not that “Chepiga exists!” but is, rather, that “Boshirov and Chepiga are the same!”)?

      The answer: one single photo of Chepiga from 2003, which Higgins claims looks like two photos of Boshirov from 2009 and 2018.

      Because that photo is actually the sum total of **all** the evidence that Higgins has that Chepiga and Boshirov are the same individual.

      That is what is so misleading about that Bellingcat article i.e. it goes to great lengths to prove that “Chepiga” is a real person who earned a Very Important Gong, as if that matters in the slightest.

      But it doesn’t. On its own that is completely immaterial.

      What matters is if “Chepiga” is the same person as “Boshirov”, and on that score all Higgins has is a single photo that if you squint hard enough might just look like two other two photos.

      Hardly impressive, even by Bellingcat’s abysmal standards.

    • Agent Green

      Bellingcat long since ceased to have any credibility. No reason to take what they present on face value.

      • dave

        Yet Bellingcat is leading the JIT team investigating the downing of MH17. You can find on youtube a statement by the JIT team where they refer to (and use) EVIDENCE COLLECTED BY BELLINGCAT and giving Bellingcat a tap on his shoulder for the good investigative work.. LOL #amateurs

    • Mark Jones

      It’s get a tad embarrassing, isn’t it. Says, “OK… you know… mistakes happen” over the photos, then keeps up with the ridiculousness.

  • Olaf S

    Well, if the guy is GRU or former GRU man Chepiga, there would certainly be reason for him to be nervous, as he was in the RT interview.
    If/when the truth is revealed to him, Putin will be furious. Somebody have made him look like a fool or a liar, by telling him that these two guys were just small fishes dealing with performance enhancing drugs etc. (This must be why he confidently said: Let them show up in public, and why he used the word ”particular” as in ”nothing particular criminal about them”).

    • Goose

      They could even be traitors, who were lured into visiting Sergei in order to exchange information. I mean, if they were purely hitmen you’d think safely back in Russia, why would they look nervous?

      Remember and contrast Andrey Lugovoy laughing on camera in Russia, then made a parliamentarian in the State Duma?

      • Tom Smythe

        Nose nares and tip, brow width, distance between pupils and lips are a poor match. I cropped Chepiga (far left on Telegram’s image), resized to matching ear width and did a transparent overlay on Bolshirov (far right). Stable features like eye sockets should then superimpose over the life of an adult, they seem off in many respects. This is why the UK went to biometrics like iris scan.

      • gbrbsb

        Is that he is dead a fact or just a guess? Certainly the evidence if correct so far adds up to at very least involvement by rogue elements of the Russian security apparatus if not direct involvement by the Kremlin… but why such an abundance of evidence? Where is it really coming from, who is releasing these private documents and historic photo. A secret mission that includes noisy orgies with prostitutes that cause other guests to complain, ample CCTV of the pair wandering around London and Salisbury, travelling on apparently genuine state issued Russian passports, making 2 visits to Salisbury one the day of the contamination, etc. etc., Agatha Christies would have had a ball writing it. It’s as if the real purpose of the whole excercise was not to kill Skripal but to compromise the Russian State… no surprise there then!

        • Aslangeo

          Only chepiga on warheroes.ru , the Russian language database of heroes of the Soviet Union and Russian federation died in 1991, the HRF is equivalent to the British VC or US Medal of Honor all awards are pretty public. But no mention of this bloke

          • Aslangeo

            wikipedia article in Russian on Yuri Chepiga -https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A7%D0%B5%D0%BF%D0%B8%D0%B3%D0%B0,_%D0%AE%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B9_%D0%AF%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87 – airman who died in 1991 – as far as I know only person with surname to have been given the highest award
            – source article in Russian = http://www.warheroes.ru/hero/hero.asp?Hero_id=1610

          • Yeah, Right

            “the HRF is equivalent to the British VC or US Medal of Honor all awards are pretty public”

            The Hero of the Russian Federation is much broader than the other two: for example, cosmonauts are routinely awarded that medal, and it has been awarded to civilians such as firefighters.

            If you go to the web site that Bellingcat linked to then two things stand out immediately:
            1) The last two people on that list are the ONLY two “honorary” recipients of that award
            2) The last two people on that list are the ONLY two entries without a brief bio

            My first thought was that the web site had been hacked and those two names had been added in, after which Eliot Higgins was pointed in that direction by his handlers.

            But I am curious how anyone can be an “honorary” recipient of such an award.

            Seems very unlikely to me. And if “honorary” = “undercover” then I find it even more unlikely that the persons who maintain that web site even heard about the award, let alone thought that It Was A Good Idea To Comment On It.

          • Aslangeo

            The Hero title is Russia’s top award. It is awarded much more frequently than the VC or US Medal of Honor , there have been 970 awards since 1992 of which 440 were posthumous. The number includes some awards for services during Soviet times and some for civil services which would merit a knighthood in Britain rather than a VC or GC. However Chepiga does not appear on any official lists of recipients of the medal. It is certainly a big deal and awards are publicised. He does not appear on the official heroes website
            Several theories.
            1. Pretender – somebody claiming to have the medal and a fantasist pretending to talk themselves up – possible but subject able to ridicule – unlikely
            2. A complex scrubbing exercise by the Russians – again possible
            3. A fake person dreamt up by the Russian intelligence, fed to MI6 front man Belingcat , who the Russians can then ridicule when the facts don’t stack up

  • mike

    A colonel in the GRU waltzed through Salisbury at midday on a Sunday, in full few of numerous CCTV cameras, and sprayed a deadly (not) nerve agent on a door handle without wearing any protective gear – three hours AFTER his intended victim has left the house, never to return.

    Do me a fucking favour.

  • ZigZag Wanderer

    Bellingcat worked with their partner called either “The Insider” or “The Insider – Russia” as quoted on Bellingcats own website. A web search for either of these titles reveals no results !
    I have been aware of an organisation/website called “therussianinsider” for sometime , however this is clearly an American website with no apparent links to Russia whatsoever and merely compiles other peoples news and entertainment content for the benefit of what it calls “Russian Americans”.
    It most definitely is not an investigative type organisation.

    Here is a link to their website (showing terms of use pages) that shows all legal matters are to be dealt with in New York. https://therussianinsider.com/term-of-use/

    Anybody know who the “Insiders” are ? Bellingcat quote them as partners in their investigation. See here. https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/09/26/skripal-suspect-boshirov-identified-gru-colonel-anatoliy-chepiga/

  • Dungroanin

    A GOTCHA?

    Craig Murray and us speculators either got pwned or we are being treated to an escalation of lies.

    A new dot. To join to the others.

    JC said at conference that he has been convinced ( under privy council rools?)
    it was ruskies.

    But … but .., why?

    • SA

      JC mention of this was in a sort of embarrassed hush tone and in context of praising the police that are underfunded. I think it was by way of not opening another front to attack him in the forthcoming election as a Putinbot something that has already been done.

  • Tom Smythe

    Whoa … wasn’t the disapproving mother of Yulia’s fiance the daughter and granddaughter of two previous winners of this same medal? Which is a great honor and only given to a very few true heroes in a country that had a lot of them during WWII and before.

    Анатолий ВладимировичУ Чепига is the Russian spelling for Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga (born 5 May 1979) “colonel in the GRU who served in Chechyna and has received the order of Hero of the Russian Federation, the highest honor in the Russian Federation, and usually awarded personally by president Vladimir Putin” according to the nascent wikipedia article on Chepiga.

    I am on the awards page, there is no description of what he did to earn the award. One other person also lack this detail; all the rest have detailed accounts of the action leading to the medal. http://www.dvocu.ru/index/alleja_geroev/0-36

    The Insider, in translation, says: 39-year-old Anatoly Chepiga was born in the village of Nikolaevka in the Amur Region. In 2001, he received another passport, and it was issued by the Far Eastern Military Institute. As a place of residence, he indicated the address of the military unit in the Khabarovsk Territory – it housed a special detachment of one of the brigades of the GRU. n 2003, Chepiga received the following passport, he is not on the list of invalid documents, follows from the relevant service of the Main Directorate for Migration Affairs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. On this passport, he received a taxpayer identification number, which is also listed as valid, as indicated in the service “Find the Tax Inspectorate” of the Federal Tax Service of Russia. In addition to serving in the army, in the early 2000s, he was probably fond of cars. In 2001, Chepiga graduated with honors from the Far Eastern Higher Combined Arms Command School (DVOKU), write to Bellingcat. On the site of the academy Chepiga is listed as an “honorary graduate”. Also Chepiga is mentioned on the website of the Voluntary Society for Assistance to the Army, Aviation and Fleet in the Amur Region. In 2002-2004, a man with this name has registered several used Japanese cars. In early 2010, Chepiga officially moved to Moscow and registered in the hostel with his wife and son.

    “A native of the village of Nikolaevka, graduating from the village of Nikolaevka in 2001, Chepiga Anatoly Vladimirovich, was on a trip to Chechnya three times, has more than 20 awards and decorations, and in December 2014, Colonel Chepig AV was awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation for the fulfillment of the peacekeeping mission, reports the site.

    The name Чепигаis А В is newly up in gold letters at the bottom right of the monument to Konstantin Rokossovsky at Far East Marshal K. Rokossovsky Military Command Academy; his name is missing along with just 2 others in an image of the monument in a EurAsia article dated 22 April 2016 which has only 7 listed. Whether people on the list are awardees or dead awardees is unclear; a fallen star at the base makes me think dead but it may also just be a flag stand.

    https://eadaily.com/en/news/2016/04/22/nobody-will-be-able-to-separate-russia-and-poland-interview-with-anatoly-kibysh

    Русская версия
    April 22nd, 2016

    https://cdn.echo.msk.ru/files/2983822.jpg

    • Tom Smythe

      The other two names added to the Rokossovsky memorial are the late Maslov, Ivan Vladimirovich Маслов Иван Владимирович who has a several paragraphs describing the valor, and the more interesting Popov, Alexander Viktorovich Попов Александр Викторович who like Chepiga just has a single line entry with no further details right above Chepiga.

      Conceivably Alexander Viktorovich Popov is the actual name of Alexander Petrov, the other guy who accompanied Boshirov. Popov got the same medal as Chepiga, the “Decree of the President of the Russian Federation marked the honorary title of Hero of the Russian Federation.” there is no decree number for either (ukaz) and no date give for Popov. Viktorovich is Sergei’s patronymic; Petrov’s was Evgenevich.

      • Yeah, Right

        They are also the only two who are described as “honorary” holders of the title “Hero of the Russian Federation”.

        Can someone explain to me how a person can be awarded an “honorary” award for exceptional bravery?

  • Jan

    The data I can find, for 2015, is that the UK issued 122000 visitor visas for Russians, and about 5% of applications were denied. Doesn’t look like such an insurmountable barrier if you have the resources of a major nation state behind you to manufacture a custom identity.

  • Andrew H

    LOL. Wasn’t this all inevitable from the moment they posted the pictures of those two? drip…drip…drip. I guess the Russian denials will continue – if you keep on telling lies then sooner or later you will start to believe them, even when nobody else does. The mystery deepens indeed.

  • Tom Smythe

    Here is a refresher on this narrative that we explored before: the mother-in-law enlisted a couple of guys to murder Yulia (who had recently announced a plan to marry and start a family with Stepan) with a gift of novichok perfume. The MIL would know about the timing of Yulia’s visit to the UK, one of the enduring mysteries along with perfume targeting. An honor killing — and who else but a couple of contemporary heroes of the Russian Federation.

    Yulia’s prospective mother-in-law, Tatyana Vasilyevna Vikeeva, treated her future daughter-in-law with some coolness — with such heroic ancestors, Julia’s father Sergei would always remain for her first and foremost a traitor. Tatiana – according to Viktoria disapproved of her son’s relationship with Yulia Skripal. “The mother thought that if Yulia was the daughter of a traitor, then Yulia herself will betray,” said Viktoria.

    Moscow security sources have claimed Mr Vikeev, 30, works for a secretive company called the Institute of Modern Security Problems. The clandestine organisation is run by his mother Tatiana, 61, and is said to be an ‘integral part’ of the FSB, which replaced the KGB at the end of the Soviet Union. Several sources said the Investigative Committee (Sledstvennyi komitet) or Sledkom (Russian: Следком)) knows the whereabouts of Mr Vikeev and his mother in the suburbs of Moscow, but have failed to obtain permission from the FSB (Federal Security Service ФСБ, formerly KGB)to quiz them.

    Yulia’s fiancé Stepan’s grandfather on the mother’s side was the decorated hero Vasilii Iosifovich Piraev (born 1919), awarded the Order of the Patriotic War of 2nd degree. Another grandfather on the father’s side, the Red Army man Stepan Fedorovich Vikeev (born 1917) was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War of the 1st degree.

    Lev Speransky at mk.ru passed along that bit of history to our own Billy Bostickson back in April

    http://www.mk.ru/politics/2018/04/18/otravlenie-skripaley-nashlis-broshennaya-mashina-i-taynaya-kvartira-yulii.html

    • Andrew H

      No. That fly’s like concrete. Putin has already gone on record to state that the two culprits were civilians. That only makes sense (assuming you are willing to accept the latest identification), if he personally feels he needs to cover for this screw up. Why poison the Skripal’s in such a blatant way? – that’s easy – the message that if you sign up to be a spy for Russia, loyalty is expected. (all this crap about the Russians would never poison one of their own after a spy swap is exactly that – clearly the message was more important than all the supposed consequences combined. Yes, he could have been killed in a way that nobody in Britain would even blink, for example, like the other guy that strangled himself, that we truly don’t care about – but that’s not the point and nothing says it better than poison.).

      • dave

        The Skripals were not poisoned with a nerve agent, they were drugged and tripping out as the symptoms from eye-witness testimony point out, and the Swiss Spiez Lab discovered strong concentration of traces of the nerve agent of A-234 type in its initial states as well as its decomposition products, this in contrast with the official British explanation Novichok was degraded and hence could not have killed the Skripals. The Skripals were put into an artificial induced coma out of precaution by the doctors.

        The British planted evidence of Novichok to incriminate Russia coincided with Russian advances (Syria) in the geopolitical landscape vs the Atlantic Empire and the Brexit debacle.

        Fake Chemical Attack Syria == Fake Chemical Attack UK

        #hoax

        • Tom Smythe

          Pay attention, Dave. You are new here, talking complete nonsense, and way off course on the public evidentiary record.

          • dave

            DO NOT BE COCKY TOM smythe, you do not know shit. You have no clue about geopolitics or drugs. The Chemical False Flag in Syria Failed, immediately thereafter they tried one in the UK which was a pathetic #hoax which whole of Europe can see. It has everything to do with stopping Russian advances in geopolitics! DUH

            Fact is the Swiss Lab had samples of PURE and HIGH CONCENTRATION OF NOVICHOK, YET NOBODY DIED OR HAD ORGAN FAILURE!

            Fact is Chepiga, Borisov and Petrov ARE NOT ON THE INTERPOL LIST.

          • dave

            Western MSM and politicians all cried about SARIN nerve gas being used in Syria, yet in reality chlorine was being used and primarily by the Salafist terrorists.

            Same MSM and (primarily UK) politicians cry about the Novichok attack on UK soil, yet in reality nobody died and nobody had organ failure. #tripping #acid #hoax #False Flag #same_Uk_same_Syria #blameRussia #geopolitics

            Tom thinks he is smart because of his “intellectual” writing style LOL NOT

      • Tom Smythe

        This was actually one of the better early police theories, before the case was taken away from them by higher-ups.

        Why was Yulia targeted? Why was another woman Dawn incidentally targeted? Could Sergei be expected to spray himself with eau de cologne? Why was the timing to the first anniversary of Alexandr’s death. Who knew she was coming that weekend? Why the awful timing jeopardizing the World Cup?

        • dave

          Chepiga, Borisov and Petrov ARE NOT ON THE INTERPOL LIST, and the Brits have not asked Russia to interview them.

          Don’t be smart Tom, you are a naive fool pretending to be intellectual.

      • Igor P.P.

        All such “message” would do is make new defectors join witness protection programs, with new identities and other kids of protection. Think why Skripal, a former GRU operative who knew it inside out, lived openly under his own name.

      • Yeah, Right

        “That only makes sense (assuming you are willing to accept the latest identification), if he personally feels he needs to cover for this screw up.”

        The alternative explanations is that they are civilians.

  • A.C.Doyle

    This is certainly a curious turn of events.

    So we are to believe that Mr. Putin sent a highly decorated military officer of the GRU, Anatoliy Chepiga, to the UK travelling under the name of Mr Boshirov to knock off an ageing spook using a special “Russian” poison and, after film sequences of the “assassin” around the crime scene are released, Mr. Putin asks him to appear on TV with a story to attempting to explain his presence in the vicinity of the crime scene as a tourist excursion.

    I’d be disappointed if we don’t see some reaction from the Russian side. The ball is plainly back in their court.
    I can imagine one of the following as a likely candidate (1) that this is all now presented as a private moonlighting exercise by an ex. GRU man. (2) That a different passport photo of Anatoliy Chepiga emerges, casting doubt on the Bellingcat information source, or maybe even that a “Col. Chepiga” and Mr. Boshirov appear together in the same video clip.

    • Andrew H

      That cannot be presented as a private moonlighting expedition. For the message to stick – loyalty becomes loyalty. Russia has to stand by its officers if it wants them to stand by it.

    • Blunderbuss

      I expect the Colonel came to Salisbury for a reunion with some old army pals. Maybe Petrov is his batman.

    • Goose

      How much of this latest development is even being reported in Russia?

      Russia has some explaining to do. These two are either assassins, or fools, who were in contact with Sergei, possibly selling secrets, thus they are traitors. If it’s the latter they’ll probably be forced to come clean for a reduced sentence. But who would believe that explanation in a full confession now after the TV performance?

        • Andrew H

          But RT, like Craig has too much of a vested interest in the conspiracy theories. Perhaps the next interview should be done by the bbc/nbc who might ask more probing questions (like where do you live, are these your neighbors? have they ever seen you before?)

        • Andrew H

          Another reason “Boshirov and Petrov” should rather do an interview with western media (in russia of coarse), is that if they are telling the truth then people in Britain are more likely to buy into it. And otherwise, they could say yes, they are Russian hero’s who were assigned a job and they are sorry about Dawn and no they are not gay – I think that is something people on both sides could respect. Their careers as GRU field officers are over so they might as well come clean (and I’m sure they’ll be provided with a comfy retirement). Otherwise let the farce continue.

  • kashmiri

    Craig, if I am allowed to give you one advice (in spite of age difference and all your knowledge): trust in the First Law of Holes.

    To put it simply: The two men are a stinky affair. You will never get to the bottom of this. Viewing the case from your pre-defined position of publicly rejecting almost everything that comes from the British side won’t help: as if the Russian govt was trustworthy…

    The two “tourists” are not worth having to retract your posts one day.

    I am not saying I know the truth; I don’t. I am not saying the UK communication conveys the facts alone; it likely does not. But I know this is a smelly affair which less and less looks the way you are trying to present it.

    I will not be surprised if an anonymous Russian “businessman” or “tourist” will be found dead in a London hotel sometime soon. The British services are well used to playing the game.

    • Clark

      Kashmiri, someone has to do it. What Craig has been doing is only what the news media should have been doing, if democracy is to stand any chance of being functional.

      • kashmiri

        Clark – democracy is for the masses. Political and security interests of countries are not, or should not, be decided by the masses. Brexit is a prime example.

        Media’s objective is to sell narratives. The narrative has to be simple enough and credible enough to convince the average Joe to pay the next TV licence fee. For intelligent people, dissecting media commentaries is a waste of time as it gets us nowhere closer true democracy.

        After yesterday’s news Craig has finally admitted that the Russian pair are not who they claimed they are. Well, this was obvious from the very beginning to any keen-eyed and open-minded observer. I wrote this in my comment several weeks ago. Yet Craig kept digging. And the public clapped.

        Sure, he is doing a great job by offerring a different narrative than the mainstream. But there is a difference between offerring a credible explanation or just fighting everything that comes from the media.

    • Blunderbuss

      “First Law of Holes”. Do you mean “if you are in a hole, stop digging”? Craig only dug the first few shovels full. The rest were dug by other people. We could all be wrong but giving wrong answers sometimes pushes the suspect into admitting the true answers.

      • kashmiri

        Blunderbuss – yes I very much appreciate this forum’s atmosphere and the fact that it has given people an opportunity to publicy discuss the crap we are all fed by the mainstream media. Still, I think at times Craig goes a bit too far in his apparent hatred of neocons, neoliberals, establishment, etc. Taking a bit of distance would help not to dig one’s self too deep.

  • Tom Smythe

    As mentioned, the photo match is not strong — how do eyes migrate so they are wider set? Nose surgery? Recall the UK has refused to provide fingerprints from either visas or passports or other entry biometrics, even though the airport has iris scanners. Without something stronger than some resemblance, the case has not been made. I found it very weird that the press went forward with this without getting a balancing quote from the Russian side.

    Of course Putin could trot out the two side-by-side if they are different individuals, as the GRU guy is now exposed. If it were a rogue operation orchestrated at some level within GRU by internal enemies of Putin (hence the choice of novichok, bad timing, Yulia, obvious trail) or an extra-curricular hit by “off-duty” agents (on behalf of someone damaged by Sergei’s disclosures seeking revenge), Putin will get to the bottom of it in short order. It is unthinkable that his staff would not recognize decorated agents and knowingly give the boss such bad information that he makes a fool out of himself.

    In my view, the “UK based Russia Insider” is nothing more than a GCHQ infor outlet run through MI6. From Snowden, we know GCHQ and TAO compromised everything remotely connected to internet and telephony years ago. Putin for example uses an manual typewriter to issue orders. After what happened to Merkel, who can blame him?

  • jjc

    Regardless of their identities, the burden of proof remains with the British government to connect these Russian visitors with an (alleged) poisoned door lever and/or the direct poisoning of the Skripals. The latter is out, as the government concedes the men had already left Salisbury.

    The notion that a door lever smeared with the deadliest nerve agent known to mankind was responsible for a simultaneous collapse three or more hours after the fact remains ludicrous and absurd. Whatever happened to the Skripals occurred near the bench where they were found. It does not matter, otherwise, what Bellingcat thinks.

    • Blunderbuss

      Yes, Dawn Sturgess collapsed very quickly after getting the poison on her skin. With Charlie Rowley it took longer. This was probably because he only absorbed a small dose because he washed the stuff off immediately.

    • Andrew H

      No it doesn’t. They are fugitives. Innocent before proven guilty really only applies if you are going to stand trial. The public and the Government of the UK is entitled to make its own judgement about the guilt of these individuals based on balance of probability or whatever other criteria they wish. Proof means proof by jury – and clearly the British government should not proceed with a trial without the individuals present – so there can be no proof. In the mean time individuals have every right to form an opinion.

      • jjc

        They are not “fugitives” without being actually charged with a crime. So far all the British government and Met Police have done is level accusations through the media. The government is, one might suppose, free to “make its own judgment” and express it in public, as it has done, but it has both seriously impaired the alleged suspects right to a fair trial, along with trampling diplomatic protocol and international fair dealing. It should be recalled that this saga began with the utterance of an outright falsehood on the behalf of PM May (” a type developed solely by Russia”).

          • Igor P.P.

            Fugitive is someone actively avoiding law enforcement, and there’s no indication that they are. UK trust issues with Russia are not laws so they cannot affect their legal status. An interpol arrest warrant may, but AFAIK it has not been issued.

        • Andrew H

          And in case you don’t accept the Telegraph: “Earlier this month, British prosecutors charged two Russians – Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – with attempted murder for the Novichok poisoning of the Skripals in the southern English city in March but said they believed the suspects had been using aliases to enter Britain.”. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-russia-skripal/salisbury-poisoning-suspect-named-as-a-russian-colonel-by-uk-media-idUSKCN1M62IS

          That’s why some of the information was made public. Prosecutors had to convince a judge that there was probable cause to issue the European wide arrest warrant. And, if you haven’t been paying attention there is an arrest warrant – and if they leave the safety of Russia on a business trip to Austria, probably even the USA or wherever they will be arrested.

          • Yeah, Right

            There are no charges pending in any British court for these two men.
            None.
            Zip.
            Zero.

            There is a European Arrest Warrant, which the British prosecutor’s office issues to itself so that it has something to show when it makes an application for an Interpol Red Notice.

            But even there the British government has not actually applied for an Interpol Red Notice, so that EAW is a meaningless bit of public relations.

            But I’ll stress this again: an EAW is not obtained by going to a court, it is an administrative procedure that the UK prosecutor’s office issues to itself, and its sole purpose is to provide the necessary paperwork to satisfy a request for a Red Notice. Which the UK government has not requested.

            But in a British court of law?
            Nope, nothing. Worse, in fact: not even a whiff of anything.

          • Yeah, Right

            “Prosecutors had to convince a judge that there was probable cause to issue the European wide arrest warrant.”

            Simply untrue. The Prosecutor’s office issues the EAW to itself by administrative fiat.

            No judge is required, no “probable cause” needs to be show, precisely because the authority that requests an EAW is the same authority that issues that EAW.

          • Yeah, Right

            “And, if you haven’t been paying attention there is an arrest warrant – and if they leave the safety of Russia on a business trip to Austria, probably even the USA or wherever they will be arrested”

            Again, untrue. Their arrest would be the result of an Interpol Red Notice.
            The EAW is merely an administrative prerequisite for applying for that Red Notice.

            The UK prosecutor’s office has granted itself that EAW (it is the administrative equivalent to a self-licking ice cream) but has not taken the next step of applying to Interpol for a Red Notice.

            Which is decidedly odd, since that is supposed to be the point of an EAW.

            Or, put another way: There is very little point in giving yourself that EAW if you are *not* going to apply for a Red Notice, but that’s exactly what Teresa May has/hasn’t done.

          • Andrew H

            Yeah Right – yes this has been to court and Boshirov and Petrov have been charged with attempted murder. Please read. “A British court has charged Boshirov and another man, identified publicly as Alexander Petrov, with attempting to murder Skripal by spraying the nerve agent novichok on the handle of his front door”. (source https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/27/salisbury-skripal-poisoning-russia-calls-story-identifying-suspect-a-fabrication).

            Please pay attention to the 3rd word: “court”. (it seems plain English to me)

            Given that they have been charged with a crime (attempted murder), I hope you can now accept that they are fugitives.

          • Yeah, Right

            “A British court has charged Boshirov and another man, identified publicly as Alexander Petrov, with attempting to murder Skripal by spraying the nerve agent novichok on the handle of his front door”

            The Guardian is incorrect.

            It happens, Andrew. It happens more often than you think. It happens because newspapers like The Guardian do not do fact-checking.

            Here, some questions that I would like you to answer:
            a) Which court issued those charges?
            b) When did it issue those charges?
            c) Who was the judge who issued those charges?

            Britain is not a secret police state: if criminal charges have been laid by a court then those charges must be publically-accessible.

            I’m saying here and now that you won’t be able to answer those three questions, precisely because The Guardian is telling you something that is untrue.

            “Given that they have been charged with a crime (attempted murder), I hope you can now accept that they are fugitives.”

            I do not accept the first premise is factually accurate, so naturally I do not accept your conclusion.

            Come on, Andrew, man up: it doesn’t matter how many newspaper reports you quote (all of whom, I will wager, have “sourced” their knowledge from a single wire service). A lie repeated does not make it any truer.

            You claim that a British court has charged these two men.

            OK then:
            a) What court?
            b) When?
            c) Signed by which judge?

          • Andrew H

            I don’t know which court, which judge, what date – but I do agree with you that this is all public record. [Simply because I don’t have the resources to run around obtaining official court documents doesn’t make it wrong.] This was in all the papers (not just Guardian), and has been reported many times. You cannot seriously expect me to take your word over the Guardians – I think you are basically full of it. If you consider the mainstream media is wrong on such a basic a verifiable detail, take that up with them, or file a complaint with whoever – but not me, or get Craig to write about it (tearing holes in the mainstream media story is the kind of thing he would be interested in) . If the Guardian is wrong on this its the kind of verifiable fact they would be required to issue a correction on, so I’m not buying (not even 0%) your line until I see the correction.

          • Andrew H

            Perhaps you should disclose your source of information that the Guardian is incorrect? I have provided you with my source of information and you may not agree that I take some statements provided by generally reputable media outlets at face value, but so far you provided nothing to support your claim. If you can provide a source of information that clearly states the Guardian is incorrect on this particular issue (something a little more credible than a statement by “yeah right” on the 4-th page of comments on Craig Murray’s blog) then I’ll write to the Guardian asking for the info you want. (for example if RT is disputing this, or even some other alternative (non-racist) media outlet – I think that would be sufficient to deserve a response).

            The Guardian clearly states: “It is the policy of the Guardian to correct significant errors as soon as possible and the paper has appointed a readers’ editor to deal with questions and complaints from readers”, so let’s move this along…

          • Yeah, Right

            “Perhaps you should disclose your source of information that the Guardian is incorrect?”

            My source is the British Prime Minister, Ms Teresa May.
            https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-on-the-salisbury-investigation-5-september-2018

            “Mr Speaker, this forensic investigation has now produced sufficient evidence for the independent Director of Public Prosecutions to bring charges against two Russian nationals for”

            (Note that she is very careful not to say that the DPP *has* brought charges, merely that they are now in the position where they *can* bring changes)

            “Mr Speaker, this hard evidence has enabled the independent Crown Prosecution Service to conclude they have a sufficient basis on which to bring charges against these two men for the attack in Salisbury”

            (Again, note the weasel-words – she is saying that they *can* bring charges, she is not saying that they *have* brought charges)

            “Mr Speaker, just as the police investigation has enabled the CPS to bring charges against the two suspects,”

            (Oh, goodie! Charges! I wonder what charges she is talking about? Hmm, maybe I should read on…)

            “First, with respect to the two individuals, as the Crown Prosecution Service and Police announced earlier today, we have obtained a European Arrest Warrant and will shortly issue an Interpol red notice.”

            (Oh, dear, oh dear. She was talking about an EAW. And “shortly” a Red Notice, which is, of course, simply another way of saying that she hasn’t issued a Red Notice)

            Read the entire transcript, Andrew. Read it carefully.

            A “reputable person” (say, yourself, or the editor of The Guardian) might glance at it and make the reasonable assumption that charges have been laid in a British court.

            But that would be incorrect.

            Read her words CAREFULLY, and you will see that I am perfectly correct – the One And Only charge that has been laid is that of a European Arrest Warrant, which is not issued by a judge and does not emanate from any British court.

            The UK Prosecutor’s office issues itself a European Arrest Warrant, and since the requester and the issuer are one and the same then no evidence needs to be placed on the table.

            You are wrong, Andrew.
            The Guardian is wrong, Andrew.

            I know that for a fact, because Teresa May stood up in the Commons and told me so.
            And she wouldn’t lie to us, would she? Mislead, sure, she’d do that. But not lie.

            There. Are. No. Charges. Pending. In. Any. British. Court.

          • Andrew H

            Yeah Right,

            Based on that I will write to the Guardian to see if they have anything to say. (but I cannot promise they will respond to me). Certainly their claim of “has charged” (past tense) is not consistent with May’s statement “evidence to charge” (future tense) and to me that is an important and material distinction.

          • Yeah, Right

            Why bother with The Guardian, Andrew? They are clueless about this, as are the entirety of the mainstream media.

            Pick up the phone and ring the “independent Crown Prosecution Service” and ask them if an arrest warrant has been issued against either man.

            If they answer “Why, yes. Yes, there have” then ask them if that is referring to a European Arrest Warrant.

            Dollars to donuts the next statement you hear will be “Errrrrr, ummmm, yes… yes, I’m talking about an EAW. What are you talking about?”

            I’m sorry, Andrew, but I am absolutely correct about this: neither man is a “fugitive” from UK justice, because there have been no arrest warrants issued by any British court.

            And, so sorry Andrew, but I am absolutely correct that neither man is subject to arrest anywhere that Interpol Red Notices have effect, precisely because the UK authorities still have not requested that Red Notice.

            They have been “charged” with an offense only in the Court of Public Opinion.

            At no time – not once, not ever – has Teresa May brought charges against either man in any venue that would require her to submit her evidence to judicial (UK courts) or independent administrative (Interpol) review.

            That was true the day she stood up in Parliament to tell a pile of porkies, and it remains true to this very day.

          • Andrew H

            Why should I call CPS? Why don’t you? I don’t debunk theories. If all it takes is a call to CPS, then I am quite certain the Guardian and all the other media outlets would have done so before publishing their claims.

            The problem with your assertion that no charges have been laid is that it is nothing more than a theory created by think tank “Yeah Right” and is not supported by any actual evidence.
            1. There is a timeline issue in your theoretical argument. May’s statement was made 5th September. Guardian article published 27th September.
            2. If the Guardians statement was simply a bad translation of May’s statement they would have used wording along those lines instead of stating it as a fact. (Compare with the Guardians article on the Bellingcat research where they are careful to clarify the source – journalists understand how to release info without taking responsibility for it).
            3. Even Craig Murray in his latest ‘Spy Games’ states: “…. , and the charges are still in the name of Boshirov”. Is Craig also incorrect?
            4. Where is RT on this? Surely if mainstream media had made such a basic journalistic mistake they would be onto them.
            You are the only one. Time to move on.

            I am a little disappointed that the Guardian didn’t respond to my email, not even with sarcasm. However, their article remains unchanged so I accept it as accurate. I guess they get a lot of emails from cranks, and I supposed I am now on the list too. (probably should have created a fake email address and called myself Yeah Right instead of using my real name, but never mind.)

            I also don’t understand how you have no issue with making essentially slanderous claims against a media outlet without evidence, yet when it comes to Borishov and Petrov you are up in arms about claims that they are involved in the Skripal’s poisoning despite there being plenty of circumstantial evidence to support that.

      • Agent Green

        The onus is entirely on the UK to produce evidence and prove everything. The accused do not have to prove anything themselves.

    • Andrew H

      As I see it the British authorities are under no obligation to release all evidence at this stage, and indeed doing so could legally compromise any future trial. They were required to release some information in order to convince a judge to sign off on the arrest warrant, but there is likely other information that is being withheld. (obviously all evidence would need to be disclosed to the defence before a trial, but not to the general public – you need to be able to find a jury that hasn’t heard it all).

      • jjc

        They have already compromised a future trial by expressing, in public, absolute certainty as to the guilt of the designated parties.

        • Andrew H

          That might be a reasonable defence. (there are certainly cases where it has been impossible to bring a successful prosecution due to such technicalities as not being able to find an unbiased jury). But they would first have to come to the UK. I fundamentally disagree with the notion that someone can be deemed innocent indefinitely whilst hiding from the law. That’s not how justice works.

          • SA

            But what you are talking about is the Law and what is happening here is politics.
            Can you tell me why this sacred law has not seen fit to charge someone like Blair has not been charged?

          • Stonky

            Why haven’t they charged them with the actual murder of Dawn Sturgess? Given that they have the actual weapon, a trail of evidence, and a living witness who can tell pretty much exactly what happened?

            It seems odd. Almost as if someone had something they didn’t want exposed to public view in a courtroom.

          • SA

            The evidence produced so far would only be sufficient to want to question someone as a person of interest to eliminate in an enquiry if this was an ordinary case there would be insufficient evidence to bring up charges I would think.

          • Blunderbuss

            @Stonky

            “Why haven’t they charged them with the actual murder of Dawn Sturgess?”

            I think it might be because they were not in England at the time Dawn was poisoned.

          • Andrew H

            It is not uncommon for prosecutors to only file one charge initially. There is no statute of limitation on murder so the charge can be laid at any time in the future. (even 20+ years from now). In the unlikely event that either returns to the UK, I am fairly sure there will be additional charges.

          • Yeah, Right

            “It is not uncommon for prosecutors to only file one charge initially”

            No charges have been filed in any British court. None.

            The only thing that the British have issued is a European Arrest Warrant, which is something that the UK’s Prosecutors Office can issue to itself.

            That is the sum total of all “charges” that have been laid by the UK authorities.

            The British authorities have not requested an Interpol Red Notice (that would require showing evidence to Interpol)

            The British authorities have not sought an arrest warrant under British law (that would require showing evidence to a judge).

            The **only** thing that the British authorities have sought is the **only** warrant that they can issue to themselves i.e the only administrative procedure where they are both the applicant and the approving authority.

            You can keep going on and on that the UK government has sought and received an arrest warrant from a UK court, and you will continue to be wrong. No such warrant has been issued for the simple reason that no such warrant has been requested.

            This may shock you, Andrew, so you might want to sit down for this bit:
            a) When Teresa May stood up and insinuated otherwise she was Telling A Fib.
            b) When the main stream media repeat that fib they are doing so out of ignorance.

            It’s very simple: the UK is not a police state, so if a UK Court has issued an arrest warrant under UK criminal law then that warrant can not be kept secret. You should be able to tell me the court that issued that warrant, the date that warrant was issued, and the name of the presiding judge who signed off on that warrant.

            Take your time, I’ll wait.

          • Andrew H

            As stated above I agree this is public record but unlike you I accept that the Guardian have fact checked this. (take it up with Craig or the Guardian if you can’t accept – it’ll be a major a news item if the mainstream media got this wrong, and they all blindly copied each other – and unlike all the other stories where its mostly just a matter of opinion and one persons interpretation of information vs another’s this is a simple verifiable fact)

      • Igor P.P.

        Once we start assuming existance of unknown evidence to justify claims, all discussion becomes nonsensical.

  • SA

    The Bellingcat revelations are interesting but not in the way that they reveal any truths, but that they reveal the new mode of disseminating disinformation.
    Let us pause for a moment and think. Many countries spend billions of pounds and use sophisticated investigative and deceptive means to obtain information in a clandestine way which they can either then reveal or use for undercover activity. But a lot of this requires evidence that cannot be revealed unless everything is in place. Meanwhile what is under investigation may languish and public may loose interest. So in comes an outfit like Bellingcat, with shoestring resources and open access citizen journalism it can crack open any controversies from MH 17, to Syrian CW attacks to Salisbury and many others in between. Now if you believe this you can believe anything. If these were facts revealed by Bellingcat then they are either made up or leaked through the secret services in order to test the water, to float a theory or to spread disinformation. If we analyse in great depth what Bellingcat says, we have already fallen half way into this trap.
    The purpose of so called plausible deniability is another one of the effects of these revelations. It was very telling that Gavin Williamson, our defence secretary showed his lack of experience and finesse by tweeting congratulations to Bellingcat and the security service for exposing the real culprits of the Salisbury poisoning’s only to delete the tweet twenty minutes latter when somebody obviously told him of his mistake.
    The use of this arms length activism is now a standard. Other examples include The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, The White Helmets and Banna al Abied.

    • A.C.Doyle

      The impeccable timing of the release of information concerning this case (with a perfect Russia did it plot) has added to its “too good to be true” feel which has fueled suspicions about it and given rise to the various “conspiracy theories”.

      This case has certainly highlighted a hierarchy where “information” is promoted from hearsay to UN security council level material
      with the intermediate steps such as airing on dubious “investigative journalism” web site, acceptance and distribution by the state broadcaster and acceptance by a government minister (*in this case at least temporarily withdrawn).

      Interestingly, Barack Obama was referenced in 2016 with the headline: “President Obama urges young people to stay true to themselves and not to ‘succumb to cynicism'”
      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/23/president-obama-urges-young-people-to-stay-true-to-themselves-an/
      He did not apparently understand that that is how people react when they feel that they are being manipulated and lied to, accepting austerity so a tiny few can enjoy great wealth, inveigled into supporting wars resulting in incalculable human misery on bogus pretexts etc. etc. In the intervening 2 years, the situation has not improved. I imagine that growing cynicism, and the implied distrust of authority is just another symptom of the accelerating breakdown of this society.

      *who, incidentally, is holding British Minister of Defence Gavin Williamson’s hand?

  • SA

    And it is now a sorry state of affairs when The BBC quotes Bellingcat as an authority and that Bellingcat reports appear to get ratings as evidence in articles in Wikipedia which in itself is fast becoming an other possible channel of disinformation. I am well aware of what Clark says about Wikipedia but the resources to alter and monitor Wikipedia by ordinary citizens is far outweighed by those that can be harnessed by state resources.

    • Blunderbuss

      Wikipedia has “gatekeepers” who control what goes into certain Wikipedia articles. The most notorious is Jytdog, who controls medical articles. Anybody who disagrees with Jytdog quickly gets banned from editing. There are other gatekeepers who control climate change articles. Anybody who questions the IPCC quickly gets banned from editing. The “Poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal” article is also subject to gatekeeping. One editor received a veiled threat of a ban simply for drawing attention to the information gap between 9.15am and 1.30pm on 4th March 2018.

      • Clark

        SA – “Bellingcat reports appear to get ratings as evidence in articles in Wikipedia”

        That’s because mainstream news media cite Bellingcat; otherwise, it would be regarded at Wikipedia merely as another unreliable self-published source.

        “the resources to alter and monitor Wikipedia by ordinary citizens is far outweighed by those that can be harnessed by state resources”

        And corporate resources; never forget them (see below). But nonetheless, ordinary citizens still have far more influence at Wikipedia than they do over, for instance, the BBC or the Guardian. The trouble with dismissing Wikipedia is that it discourages ordinary citizens from editing it. We can make a difference at Wikipedia, so more of us should learn the rules and edit.

        Look at the Alisher Usmanov episode. It was me that noticed that all the critical information was being purged from the Wikipedia article about him, including citations to reliable sources. Removing well-sourced material is called “Vandalism” at Wikipedia and it breaks the rules. Wikipedia’s History function enabled me to prove this, so I alerted a more experienced editor, and a NPOV warning was added to the article – NPOV warns that an article’s neutrality is disputed; see the “Usmanov, etc” section on my talk page:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Clark42

        The NPOV warning attracted other editors, and it was discovered that Usmanov’s PR/legal company had been editing Usmanov’s page. This broke as a scandal in the mainstream media and led to a statement from the CEO of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alisher_Usmanov#English_Wikipedia
        – – – – – – – –

        Blunderbuss, as you should be able to see from the above, Usmanov could well regard me as a Wikipedia “gatekeeper”. Stop bitching about Wikipedia; get off your arse conspiracy theories, learn the damn rules and edit the damn thing. You can add your homeopathy or whatever and your climate change denial, but you have to put them on the appropriate pages, like I had to add “Interrogation Under Torture” to the “Criticism of the 9/11 Commission” page rather than the Commission page itself – that comes under the “Undue Weight” rule.

        • Clark

          If every moan I see here about Wikipedia “gatekeepers” had instead been an edit to Wikipedia itself, not only would Wikipedia be better than it is, we would also have half a dozen new Wiki editors who had started learning the rules and gaining experience.

          It’s like people who bitch about politics but won’t even vote.

          • SA

            Clark
            It is all very well to blame us all for not being Wikipedia editors. I have tried but it takes a lot of know how, something that is not always easy for everyone and knowledge if the rules. It also takes a lot of research and quite often research means using Google which in itself is biased. I am not really making excuses but stating a reality for many like me.

          • Clark

            Sorry if I seem accusatory. It’s just dispiriting. I have made a difference at Wikipedia. All the complaints about gatekeepers had me worried that my edits would be negated, but I tried anyway and found that they persisted. Effectively, I’m one of the gatekeepers that so many complain about.

            Yes, it does take time and effort to learn the rules, but people can still help with very little experience; I barely knew how to use the rules when I started the Usmanov episode, but other editors helped me. The main thing is to back your edits with citations to reliable sources; it is then against the rules to remove them. Even if your edit is poorly worded, other editors will come and clean them up; I have made those sorts of edits.

            Yes, Google has its biases. It is easiest to edit subjects with which you have some experience, because you already know where to find good citations. You can cite from books; citations need a reference, but it doesn’t have to be on-line.

            It is sad; Hasbara put us to shame. They run courses for people to learn how to make edits that will persist. Conspiracy theorists claim that Wikipedia is controlled by Israel, but if that were true Hasbara wouldn’t bother to organise courses.

          • Clark

            “Conspiracy theorists claim that Wikipedia is controlled by Israel, but if that were true Hasbara wouldn’t bother to organise courses”

            Of course conspiracy theorists can take the paranoid approach and claim that Israel really does control Wikipedia, but Hasbara run Wikipedia editing courses anyway, just for cover. But that’s the trouble with conspiracy theory; anything can be “proved” with this approach. It’s a counsel of despair, because the conspiracy theorists’ adversary seems stronger and stronger with each such rebuttal.

          • SA

            Clark
            “Of course conspiracy theorists can take the paranoid approach and claim that Israel really does control Wikipedia, but Hasbara run Wikipedia editing courses anyway, just for cover. ”

            So what you are saying is that Israel is trying hard to control the narrative and they run courses, and are probably very successful in it but not 100% successful yet which is what the conspiracists claim. So really it is only partial paranoia .

          • Clark

            There are all sorts of parties at Wikipedia trying to promote their own bit of narrative, and Hasbara is not Usmanov’s PR company, neither of which is the Phillip Cross / Oliver Kamm duo, and the CIA pro-torture advocates are yet another. Some interests converge and others are in opposition.

            On any given issue, as well as adversaries, there are likely to be powerful entities whose interests converge with one’s own. It should be remembered that other states also have their own propaganda operations, plus there are all sorts of organised pressure groups, not just Western ones. Human psychology predisposes us to suspect enemy action, but we tend to dismiss convergence with our own interests as “only what they should be doing anyway”.

            Israel doen’t get everything its own way at Wikipedia; far from it. In even writing that, I have oversimplified the matter, because “Israel” doesn’t edit Wikipedia; Israelis certainly edit Wikipedia, but there is a vast diversity of opinion among Israelis. The Israeli news media is very useful for citations; in many respects it is much better than the UK/US media. When I wanted citations for the Israeli armed forces supporting islamists in Syria, the Israeli media was far better.

  • MaryPau!

    Let us say one of these guys, it seems confused at present which one, is someone who has turned out to be a decorated Russian war hero and served as a GRU officer. If he was still a serving officer, would Putin really trot him out as a civilian of no consequence? Could he in fact be an ex GRU officer , making a living as a courier/go between for oligarchs outside of Russia? Maybe he was liaising with Skripal.?

    My sister, the woman on the Clapham omnibus, says she remains highly suspicious of the speed with which the Skripals were diagnosed as having been poisoned with a nerve agent. It is after all, the last thing any hospital in the UK would suspect, even in a Russian ex spy? She thinks the hospital staff must have had a steer.

  • Dungroanin

    Really umpressive how they manage to get the release of the new info on the day of JC’s speech. Not.

    Almost as if bellendcrat was a tory central op.

  • Igor P.P.

    As someone with plenty of experience with UK visa applications from Russia I don’t think that freelance occupations necessarily lead to visa problems. I know of people with low incomes (even by Russian standards) getting UK visas easily. I also wouldn’t say that the information is checked that thoroughly: I invited a friend from Russia recenlty and no one got contacted by authorities in relation to this, not her employer, not even myself.

    What I do agree with is that UK authorities must have a lot of verifiable information from their visa applications which they prefer not to share.

  • Olaf S

    There still may be surprises in store for us in this case, even big ones… (needless to say).
    .
    But one can speculate. An active colonel in Russia’s modernized military’s intelligence agency would be occupied with high grade military analysis, I suppose, not smearing doorhandles in Salisbury. If this fellow to some degree is what they claim, he may rather have retired from the military for different reasons. (“Colonel in retirement” perhaps). Grachev’s elegant theory may still hold water. As MaryPau! just suggested: Former military guys may be a natural choice for important courier jobs.
    British leaders hear the word “GRU” and go bananas.

    • SA

      Someone on Radio 4 BBC just now arguing that in fact incompetence is a hallmark of the GRU and proves that this botched up action is indeed proof that they did it.

  • Keith

    If Chepiga and Boshirov are different people, and both are still alive and living in Russia, then it would only take a small amount of effort for the Russian state/media to interview the two of them in the same room. Now that would be funny!!

  • SA

    So in the Victoria Derbyshire show, presented today by a stand in, three ‘experts’ discussing the Billinggoat revelations. One obviously from Bellingcat, another from the Moscow Times, that very neutral bews venue and a retired security expert or something. This very useful discussion sounded like an echochamber and very much like propaganda as there were no other points of view discussed. Is this what the BBC means by impartiality and presenting the truth? Now It may all turn out to be true in the end but the BBC has the duty to present other points of view which they now have done without and it seems official policy.

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