The Strange Russian Alibi 1067

Like many, my first thought at the interview of Boshirov and Petrov – which apparently are indeed their names – is that they were very unconvincing. The interview itself seemed to be set up around a cramped table with a poor camera and lighting, and the interviewer seemed pretty hopeless at asking probing questions that would shed any real light.

I had in fact decided that their story was highly improbable, until I started seeing the storm of twitter posting, much of it from mainstream media journalists, which stated that individual things were impossible which were, in fact, not impossible at all.

The first and most obvious regards the weather on 3 and 4 March. It is in fact absolutely true that, if the two had gone down to Salisbury on 3 March with the intention of going to Stonehenge, they would have been unable to get there because of the snow. It is therefore perfectly possible that they went back the next day to try again; and public transport out of Salisbury was still severely disrupted, and many roads closed, on 4 March. Proof of this is not at all difficult to find.

This image is from the Salisbury Journal’s liveblog on 4 March.

Those mocking the idea that the pair were blocked by snow from visiting Stonehenge have pointed to the CCTV footage of central Salisbury not showing snow on the afternoon of 4 March. Well, that is central Salisbury, it had of course been salted and cleared. Outside there were drifts.

So that part of their story in fact turns out not to be implausible as social media is making out; in fact it fits precisely with the actual facts.

The second part of their story that has brought ridicule is the notion that two Russians would fly to the UK for the weekend and try to visit Salisbury. This ridicule has been very strange to me. Weekend breaks – arrive on Friday and return on Sunday – are a standard part of the holiday industry. Why is it apparently unthinkable that Russians fly on weekend breaks as well as British people?

Even more strange is the idea that it is wildly improbable for Russian visitors to wish to visit Salisbury cathedral and Stonehenge. Salisbury Cathedral is one of the most breathtaking achievements of Norman architecture, one of the great cathedrals of Europe. It attracts a great many foreign visitors. Stonehenge is world famous and a world heritage site. I went on holiday this year and visited Wurzburg to see the Bishop’s Palace, and then the winery cooperative at Sommerach. Because somebody does not choose to spend their leisure time on a beach in Benidorm does not make them a killer. Lots of people go to Salisbury Cathedral.

There seems to be a racist motif here – Russians cannot possibly have intellectual or historical interests, or afford weekend breaks.

The final meme which has worried me is “if they went to see the cathedral, why did they visit the Skripal house?” Well, no evidence at all has been presented that they visited the Skripal house. They were captured on CCTV walking past a petrol station 500 yards away – that is the closest they have been placed to the Skripal house.

The greater mystery about these two is, if they did visit the Skripal House and paint Novichok on the doorknob, why did they afterwards walk straight past the railway station again and head into Salisbury city centre, where they were caught window shopping in a coin and souvenir shop with apparently not a care in the world, before eventually returning to the train station? It seems a very strange attitude to a getaway after an attempted murder. In truth their demeanour throughout the photographs is consistent with their tourism story.

The Russians have so far presented this pair in a very unconvincing light. But on investigation, the elements of their story which are claimed to be wildly improbable are not inconsistent with the facts.

There remains the much larger question of the timing.

The Metropolitan Police state that Boshirov and Petrov did not arrive in Salisbury until 11.48 on the day of the poisoning. That means that they could not have applied a nerve agent to the Skripals’ doorknob before noon at the earliest. But there has never been any indication that the Skripals returned to their home after noon on Sunday 4 March. If they did so, they and/or their car somehow avoided all CCTV cameras. Remember they were caught by three CCTV cameras on leaving, and Borishov and Petrov were caught frequently on CCTV on arriving.

The Skripals were next seen on CCTV at 13.30, driving down Devizes road. After that their movements were clearly witnessed or recorded until their admission to hospital.

So even if the Skripals made an “invisible” trip home before being seen on Devizes Road, that means the very latest they could have touched the doorknob is 13.15. The longest possible gap between the novichok being placed on the doorknob and the Skripals touching it would have been one hour and 15 minutes. Do you recall all those “experts” leaping in to tell us that the “ten times deadlier than VX” nerve agent was not fatal because it had degraded overnight on the doorknob? Well that cannot be true. The time between application and contact was between a minute and (at most) just over an hour on this new timeline.

In general it is worth observing that the Skripals, and poor Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, all managed to achieve almost complete CCTV invisibility in their widespread movements around Salisbury at the key times, while in contrast “Petrov and Boshirov” managed to be frequently caught in high quality all the time during their brief visit.

This is especially remarkable in the case of the Skripals’ location around noon on 4 March. The government can only maintain that they returned home at this time, as they insist they got the nerve agent from the doorknob. But why was their car so frequently caught on CCTV leaving, but not at all returning? It appears very much more probable that they came into contact with the nerve agent somewhere else, while they were out.

I shall write a further post on these timing questions shortly.

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1,067 thoughts on “The Strange Russian Alibi

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  • Janet Sabin

    Should have read why anybody in the hotel who went in that room after the Russians had no effec5from novochock which was supposed to have been found later?

    • Paul Greenwood

      Since we now hear they were partying with a hooker in the room she no doubt brought her own Nina Ricci perfume from the MI5 sales office with her. I see the room price has gone up in later editions from £58 to £75 but why let facts get in the way of good fiction. This could be a series – I always found the X-Files had the aura of a warehouse in Vancouver without any light bulbs but I think this could be a much better TV series provided there are some decent roles for Old Etonian actors who seem to be the preferred casting nowadays

  • Alison Broinowski

    We are all looking forward to your further findings on this murky event. If you can, please tell us what if anything is known about the two DCs who were each admitted to hospital after the Skirpals and Sturgess. What has Rowley remembered about where he got the perfume bottle and where he disposed of it? What has the hospital said about what killed Sturgess? Why did it take two months for the police to take swabs in Soho? And now, following the latest news from the Dutch, who were the two Russians who tried to get into Speiz? Surely not our tourist friends who go to European cities regularly?

    • Paul Greenwood

      Rowley has been to prison for drug wraps – is he out on licence ? I bet the police and probation service keep him aware of his status

      • Ian

        “is he out on licence ? I bet the police and probation service keep him aware of his status”
        Here we jump from is he to he is. Well done.

  • Progressive Press

    Excellent points. Millions of people travel from Europe to the UK for the weekend. It’s a short flight.

    Scotland Yard seems to have succeeded in making it look bad for the Russians. UK media say

    “Investigators said they had identified the suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack by crossing referencing CCTV feeds with records of people who entered the country around that time. ”

    The question is, did they do this CCTV work after the “Skripal poisoning” — or beforehand?

    Were MI6 and Porton Down scanning the CCTV for some Russians to frame, then pick the time frame of their target victim “suspects,” and then stop by from Porton Down to poison the Skripals?

    Coincidence in time is not proof of causation — although it MAY look like it.

    So now they choose the time to “reveal” the photos — when they most need war hysteria for the attack on Syria.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Why scan CCTV when you have advance warning of anyone entering UK from passenger manifests transmitted pre-flight. You also have visa data specifying date of travel. You know who is entering the country unless they come in the back of a truck through Calais and smuggling Chechen hit men in that route would be totally undetectable

  • John

    Thank you Craig. This is the only piece I have read so far which actually pieces together the details of this case in a provably coherent manner. I am curious as to what you think of the claim made by the police that traces of Novachok were found in the Russian men’s hotel room.

    • Ian

      It does not piece anything together, the following is missing: “Stonehenge
      ‏Verified account @EH_Stonehenge
      Mar 4 We’re looking forward to giving all our visitors a warm welcome to Stonehenge today. We’re open until 5pm with last tickets at 3pm”.
      On Sunday Stonehenge was open and public transport ran services to the monument as they do on every day the site is open to the public.

      • Paul Greenwood

        So there was no snow and no roads were obstructed in any way ? The train companies were making tired excuses again about weather ! Figures….you simply cannot trust British institutions

      • Yeah, Right

        Ian, give it a rest.

        The two Russians had plenty of time to look around Salisbury on the Saturday (i.e. there were no time constraints on them), so their planned itinerary on that day was to visit Salisbury Cathedral and Old Sarum (both within walking distance) then hop on a bus to visit Stonehenge.

        But the bad weather on THAT day meant that they didn’t manage to reach any of those attractions.

        But the situation on the SUNDAY was very different – this was their last day, and there was a flight to catch – so they decided (sensibly, in my book) to limit themselves to those places that could be reached on foot.

        Stonehenge wasn’t dropped from their SUNDAY itinerary because of the weather.
        It was dropped because of TIME i.e. catching a bus, poking around the stones, then catching another bus back to Salisbury was not a viable proposition when they still had to get back to London, pick up their bags, and then head off to the airport.

        Ian: “On Sunday Stonehenge was open and public transport ran services to the monument as they do on every day the site is open to the public.”

        Who f**king cares?

        Boshirov and Petrov certainly didn’t, precisely because they didn’t have the TIME left to waste on that bus trip.
        Saturday, yes, if the weather had been good. But on the SUNDAY, no, time would have beaten them.

  • Lucia Tilyard

    It’s very clearly a set-up, a very incompetent set up.While May’s hand points determinedly towards two innocent Russians, most of us see the hand pointing towards her. My reaction, from the word ‘go’, has been, “What is she up to?” “Why is she trying to copy American False Flag operations? How much was Charlie Rowley paid to corroborate with their bullshit story? May is probably the worst, and most unconvincing liar I’ve ever come across, which is odd, because she seems to practice constantly!

  • Roger Westmoreland

    If these two Russians are guilty as charged, then they must be the most incompetent agents on Earth, serving the most incompetent organisation.
    The whole thing is just too ridiculous to believe.

    • Ian

      Why is this snipped off the bottom of your twitter cut and paste Mr Murray?
      ‏Verified account @EH_Stonehenge
      Mar 4 We’re looking forward to giving all our visitors a warm welcome to Stonehenge today. We’re open until 5pm with last tickets at 3pm”.
      Buses from the town ran on the Sunday and many visitors made the trip from town to the stones. The visitor centre is well equipped with end to end disabled access. Was the page not long enough to fit in the tweet saying that the monument would be open to visitors on Sunday, the second day of the “tourists” visit?

      • Yeah, Right

        Because it is irrelevant, Ian. Utterly and completely irrelevant.

        This is what these two Russians wanted to visit on the Saturday:
        PETROV: “We travelled there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, and the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But it didn’t work out because of the slush.”

        Got that? On the Saturday they wanted to visit:
        Old Sarum
        Salisbuty Cathedral.

        And this is what they had to say about the Sunday visit to Salisbury:
        PETROV: And we thought – we really wanted to see Old Sarum and the cathedral. So we decided to give it another try on March 4.
        SIMONYAN: Another try to do what?
        PETROV: To go sightseeing.
        BOSHIROV: To see this famous cathedral. To visit Old Sarum.

        So on the Sunday they had two places in mind:
        Salisbury Cathedral
        Old Sarum.

        They had already dropped the idea of visiting Stonehenge when they looked out their hotel window on Sunday morning and thought “Yeah, the sun is shining, let’s try Salisbury again”.

        So pointing out that the buses were running to Stonehenge on the Sunday is simply irrelevant: they had already dropped it from their to-do list.

        • John Kerr

          Your Stonehenge visit hobby horse here and elsewhere on this thread is weird. I was going to call it an obsession or a mania, but I have no formal psychiatric training.
          Why do you think the thwarted visit to Stonehenge is such a crucial detail? You have gone to great lengths in several similar comments about this apparently minor discrepancy. Are you part of a Ra worship cult, or is it just a mania?

          • Borncynical

            It is not @Yeah, Right’s ‘hobby horse’. I am more than sure he would prefer NOT to have to keep saying the same thing over and over and over again simply because other posters on here can either not be bothered to watch the interview with B & P in full, or they are incapable of absorbing what is clearly said in the interview. The point is that posters trying to pick holes in B & P’s story keep saying that they must be lying because they said they wanted to visit Stonehenge yet they didn’t go there on the Sunday even thought the bus service was back in operation after the hiatus on the Saturday. @Yeah, Right’s (correct) point is that by the time Sunday came, and we know this from the interview which he quotes in full, B & P no longer had any plans to visit Stonehenge so whether the buses were running or not is completely irrelevant to any analysis of the ‘whys and wherefores’. So it’s definitely not @Yeah,Right who thinks “the thwarted visit to Stonehenge is such a crucial detail”. His view, like mine, is the precise opposite i.e. it IS NOT a crucial detail and he is refuting suggestions that there is a discrepancy, and suggests that everyone just forget about this irrelevant point – but some on here persist in resurrecting it.

          • Yeah, Right

            “Why do you think the thwarted visit to Stonehenge is such a crucial detail?”

            You might want to look up the dictionary definition of “irrelevant”, John.

            My point in all those posts is that Stonehenge is NOT a crucial detail, it is easily explained by simply reading the transcript of that interview, and that everyone who insists on pointing out that Stonehenge was open on Sunday is indulging in an irrelevancy.

            Oh, heck, there’s that word again…..

            As to why I keep posting on that point, well, you are an excellent example of why it takes multiple attempts to get simple concepts across to people who refuse to comprehend.

        • Reginald Dixon

          The consensus is that the story of the two men was unconvincing. Whatever the if’s and but’s, Stonehenge closed one day and open the next, slush, 123m spires and clocks and on and on, no matter which way you slice it, did not convince me, or the interviewer, or the wider world including most on here that they were MERELY tourists. I agree that Stonehenge is an irrelevant detail, but that is itself irrelevant. ALL that matters is whether they were convincing or unconvincing to a majority. If they convinced Ian, or Yeah Right, or Craig, or me (or not) is also irrelevant. The consensus of the majority of the British public, the consensus of the majority of the Russian public, and of the wider world is what matters. They came across as shifty, awkward and frightened. Whether this was because they were in fact hit men, wicked drug dealers, or simply closeted homosexuals is irrelevant too, what matters is their lack of plausibility, whatever the reason.
          In fact that does not matter either. None of this Boshirov and Petrov stuff does. The British government’s version of events was already in tatters in the court of public opinion (the thing that really matters), and any attempt to patch things up by pulling rabbits out of a hat with ludicrous stories of Russian spies is not very clever. Unlike the interest on here, the majority of the British public don’t really care about any of it. The idea that we are all being fed a pack of lies is widespread, at least in the under 70s. An important difference is that most who come to this and similar blogging sites are evidently very concerned and angry with all this lying, whereas most folks don’t really care. They don’t like it or approve of it, but they realise they cannot do anything about it, it does not affect them anyway, and so they don’t care. Maybe there is nothing so wrong in that. Since the great political cartoonists of the seventeenth century, “something had to be done”. The question remains as to what.
          Furthermore, they

  • Ian

    My employment pays me a sum substantially above the average UK rate and I like to take holidays just as much as these two hapless tourists from Russia. If I took a weekend break in another country 4 hours flying time away to see a single attraction I would do my utmost to see it.
    Wasting time and a good chunk off money is frustrating for all nationalities, the monument was open on the Sunday and the ripoff Stonehenge tour bus operated on the Sunday. English Heritage are probably becoming irritated at nosy people like myself telephoning and emailing them.
    The notion that two handy looking men taking the trouble of a one stop, one attraction to another country fail at the first hurdle and instead have a wander around the suburbs of Salisbury is risible.

    • Dish-Washer

      On Sunday they returned to Salisbury with the intention of seeing Salisbury and Old Sarum. They seem to have wanted to walk to Old Sarum on foot as it is merely just outside the town to the NNW. No problem for two young men into fitness. If they took finally took a road, Wilton Road, heading more West than North, it’s easily explainable by their getting confused and taking a wrong turning, ending up by the Shell Station. English towns are not laid out in a grid pattern, with streets running straight North South and East west. Our streets twist all over the place, making it extremely difficult for those without a good map and training to find their way. Foreigners in Britain are often afraid to use the telephone, as they have great difficulty understanding the multiplicity of different accents used there. If you’re not a member of the EU ( Russians are not)i roaming charges for the internet on smart phones can be prohibitively high.

  • Ian

    “transport out of Salisbury was still severely disrupted, and many roads closed, on 4 March”. Give English Heritage a call Craig, you being a forensic journalist should know that that the question is “could I have travelled from Salisbury centre to Stonehenge on Sunday without a car”?
    The simple answer is yes, the ludicrously expensive “Stonehenge Tour bus” operated their winter timetable as usual on the Sunday, it can easily be checked. Your story here omits the Sunday as evidential and instead focuses on Russophobia and the Saturday. The two men visited Salisbury on the Sunday and apparently made no attempt to visit the monument after making a 4 hour 1,600 mile plane journey to visit but one attraction. They look like handy lads to me and show Russian men to be quite wussy if they failed at the first after spending a good chunk of cash.

    • MaryPau!

      I think we are arriving at a view, well know I have, that the P + B trip to Salisbury was a cover for something else. I don’t know what. Was it to plant Novichok agent on the Skripals? I am doubtful to say the least. Do GRU operatives, if that is what they are, wander around flaunting their presence on CCTV , when on an assassination mission like they did? I am sceptical. Has anyone got some other examples?

      The Russians who have died in the UK in recent years, have all met unexplained deaths which the UK police then swept under the carpet. Why should Skripal be different?. It smacks of a set up.

      And then there is the fake perfume bottle.The UK security minister has decided to square the circle by announcing there was only one fake perfume bottle, ( apparently carefully reassembled after being used on the Skripals, ) which was discarded in a charity bin where it languished for several months before being found, looking brand new, by Charlie Rowley. If you believe that………

      Can anyone tell me how they test for the presence of Novichok agents? As the police apparently did not identify the perfume bottle as a source until Charlie recovered and spoke to them. Also was there any rain or sleet in Salisbury on the Sunday or was it dry all day?

      • Paul Greenwood

        Unexplained deaths is hardly uncommon in UK. Regional papers find Poles hanging in woods, or people fished out of rivers…….I think if you google Unexplained Deaths/Murders in UK you will find PCX Plod is not up to the task. Remember the “Crossbow Killer” in Bradford ? He dumped dismembered bodies in River Aire but police had no clue until a doorman returned after the weekend and reviewed CCTV footage to see his PhD student dragging a female body into his room having killed her with a crossbow.

        This was the same police “service” that spent how many years solving the unexplained murders of women in the same area before deciding Sutcliffe might fit the bill.

        There is nothing strange in Unexplained Deaths be they Russian or Polish or English or Pakistani – they are nothing more than that and WY Police has a station in Pakistan to assist in tracking contractors flying in to UK for “terminations” then flying straight back to Pakistan.

        Because people live in a Skinner Box they have no idea what s going on at street level in this country and are simply waiting for a cattle prod from the Daily Mail to start baying at the moon

      • Dish-Washer

        Furthermore Charlies Rowley says the packet was still sealed in its original cellophane. He had to break it open.How did the clowns reseal it?

    • Yeah, Right

      “Your story here omits the Sunday as evidential and instead focuses on Russophobia and the Saturday. The two men visited Salisbury on the Sunday and apparently made no attempt to visit the monument after making a 4 hour 1,600 mile plane journey to visit but one attraction.”

      That statement is demonstrably false.

      This is what those two gentlemen wanted to visit on the Saturday:
      PETROV: “We travelled there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, and the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But it didn’t work out because of the slush.”

      They are therefore explicitly stating that they had planned to visit THREE places in Salisbury, not ONE as you are claiming.
      And they failed: the weather on Saturday did not allow it, and so they returned to London after a frustrating hour in Salisbury.

      Now let’s look at Sunday, when they opened the curtains in their hotel room and saw that the sun was shining.
      PETROV: And we thought – we really wanted to see Old Sarum and the cathedral. So we decided to give it another try on March 4.
      SIMONYAN: Another try to do what?
      PETROV: To go sightseeing.
      BOSHIROV: To see this famous cathedral. To visit Old Sarum.

      Note the difference: this was their last day, and so they made the decision to drop Stonehenge and limit themselves to Salisbury Cathedral and Old Sarum. Clearly those two places were higher on their list of tourist destinations, and a visit to Stonehenge was disposable.

      I’m sorry, Ian, but Craig Murray is right and you are completely wrong.

    • Anton

      They did not say that was their main or sole purpose of vising to England. Te were based in London at night. Salisbury was a side day trip

      I think the hotel room trace of poison that can not be found is telling.. I also agree with Craig that the timing does not match the accusations. The government has to get its story right if it is to have any credibility.

      It is a bit like the lies they came out with to ban Russian from the Olympics. A so called tamper proof bottle that they claimed was tampered with. but could not say how. They said it could be tapered with but could not explain how.

      They certainly need to produce much more evidence than what they have if they are to be believed.. Most likely is not enough. Sort out the timing issue and their story first. Interview the suspects as has been offered by the Russian State.

  • Mark Fielding-Pritchard

    Covers up for police cuts if we just skip the evidence stage and prosecute directly. Apparently going to Salisbury twice in a weekend is definitive proof you are a serial killer. Ted Heath lived there so maybe there is something in it.

    • James

      Aha, perhaps Colonel Fielding-Pritchard, you managed to read one of my Messrs Wint and Kidd fairy stories about gay Dutch organists on a pilgrimage to Arundells, via a recital they gave in the Cathedral. A foolish attempt on my part to bring some levity to all the angst on here about Deep State, phone tracking, Israel bashing, et hoc genus omne. Foolish because I had posted under multiple obviously satirical names based on past Directors of MI’s 5&6. The Mods on high were intolerant of this abhorrent infraction, and swiftly expunged them.
      Unfortunate, as I suspect my egregious version of events may well have gained some traction on here, particularly now the Cathedral visit has been revealed. It would have been excellent sport to read the arguments about what kind of music they played in that recital.
      The Police cuts in 2010 was a surprise to me. Although UK crime had been falling steadily, I had always assumed Law & Order was a holy cow. I was wrong, but I don’t care for politics.

      • James

        Caveats to the Mods
        Not excellent sport for you wading through the additional madness generated. I’m sure if you allowed such spoofery the credibility of this blog would be undermined, which was not my intention.
        Apologies again. I am off here soon, what I said about getting bored and better (fingers crossed) is 100% true. Hope you liked the zeugma.
        please burn when read
        prosperum iter facias

  • Araphel

    1) When asked about the reason to visit Salisbery, they do NOT mention Stonehenge. They talk about “world famous cathefral and clock”? Whatever issues the Stonehenge might have had that day, is irrelevant.
    2) weekend break is a nice option, but they had TWO sets of return tickets while staying at the cheapest one room in a cheapest hotel. Do you not see any discrepancy here , consudering it is 4 hours flight from Russia to the UK (not 1-2 like for Europeans taking weekend breaks to the UK?).
    3) Skripal house is on the opposite side of the railroad. Being seen at cameras just 500 yards from Skripal house, they are apparently making the other way fyon the “world famous cathedral” the so desperately wanted to visit so they spent good 2 days on this mission.
    4) they complain on ” bad weather” preventing them from visiting the cathedral on say 1 and the cathedral is just 15 min walk from the train station. Just the other way fro Skripal’s house.
    Are you seriously buying this?

    • Ian

      I am not buying it. It is Craig who pasted pictures of the Salisbury countryside and takes trouble to say “Those mocking the idea that the pair were blocked by snow from visiting Stonehenge have pointed to the CCTV footage of central Salisbury not showing snow on the afternoon of 4 March. Well, that is central Salisbury, it had of course been salted and cleared. Outside there were drifts”.
      But yes I am with you. I fully expect them to be rewarded medals in time, just to rub the UK’s nose in it like with the other bloke who topped Litvinenko.

    • Paul Greenwood

      “Europeans” ? “railroad” ? I presume you are not-British but foreign. Tourists are often dejected by the dire transport links in England and chaotic signposting. Sometimes arguments ensue as to whether it is all worthwhile and you walk while arguing until you end up desperate to get out.

      I have not been to Salisbury but if it is a typical English city it will have a few landmarks and lots of copycat housing with conservatories and boring shops full of the chains and charity shops. In short, a few old buildings hyped in travel brochures and the tedium of betting shops, takeaways, Boots, Next and assorted trash.

      It already feels like a wasted journey in prospect

    • Dish-Washer

      They were trying to walk to Old Sarum which is only just outside the town. They got a bit lost. Fed up with that, they traced their way back to the town centre.

  • DaveB

    Not that it matters here but Salisbury Cathedral is NOT “one of the most breathtaking achievements of Norman architecture” – it’s Early English Gothic. It’s certainly well worth anyone paying it a visit. Russians even.

    But, just as you think it can get any worse or journalists can’t get any more scurrilous, I see that that nincompoop Ben Macintyre is claiming that the KGB paid Michael Foot. Anyone would think there was a leftie leading the Labour Party . . .

      • DaveB

        Sorry – it was meant to be ironic. The suggestion doing the rounds that there’s something odd about people from Russia visiting Salisbury Catherdral is not just absurd, it’s chauvinist. One can’t argue with such irrationality but one can try to laugh at it.

    • James

      “The devil is in the detail” might serve CM well as a vade mecum. I noted in a comment, buried deeply in all this shite and quite possibly now redacted, that a closer perusal of his previous post, qv, (or should that be: polemic?) placed Bashirov and Petrov 500 yards from the Skripal residence. In this one, they are 400 yards away when they walk past the Salisbury Shell.

      It seems strange that on a site needs fixated on detail, this significant slip was not noticed. Messrs B&C will be at the Skripals midweek by extrapolation. Dear me, you can’t get the staff.
      I always thought the late, great FRSL blew his Foot off with the donkey jacket. Good that Corbyn learned from that mistake and now sports a lounge suit.

      • Yeah, Right

        “In this one, they are 400 yards away when they walk past the Salisbury Shell.”

        And if they continued on in the direction of travel indicated by that photo, how much closer would that take them to the Skripal house? No closer than 400 yards, perhaps? Or Right Up To The Front Door? Which one?

        Because one thing we do know is that you can’t smear nerve-agent on a door knob from 400 metres away.

        If those two Russians needed to change direction and cross some roads in order to send them in a direction that ends within door-knob-smearing distance of the Skripal house then the Metropolitan Police has to release footage showing that these two did, indeed, do exactly that.

        Without that footage all we have is evidence that they got no closer than 400 metres from the Skripal house, which is nowhere near close enough.

  • Andrés Perezalonso

    I watched the whole interview and, reading between the lines, it seems like they might be a gay couple who naturally don’t want to discuss their private lives on the media. They ‘protested too much’ with any issues that could point in that direction, and when asked what was the personal relationship between them, they said it was private and didn’t appreciate feeling under interrogation. That would explain their reluctance to speak and nervousness. If that’s the case, I feel sorry that they got caught in this.

  • Ivan Jordan

    I take your point about racist dismissal of them, Regarding the cathedral, but there are a few things here which are glaringly odd; why start in London, if you are going to Salisbury fro the weekend? Stonehenge is what – 15 miles from Salisbury? If they are innocent culture vultures, why are they quoting Wikipedia about the cathedral, where’s the human back story to this interest (I always wanted to ses Stonehenge because..) It’s so contrived and silly. I can’t say I know what’s going on here, but actually giving their cover story any credence is unsupportable in my view.

  • Borncynical

    Question to anyone else on here – am I the only one who thinks that at least one whole page of comments has disappeared from this thread; if not a whole page then a significant number of exchanges? Surely they can’t all have been moderated and, if so, why? I myself had a number of exchanges yesterday evening and earlier today with @Doodlebug and @Igor M and Yeah,Right to name but three but they all seem to have gone. Perhaps I’ve gone mad – quite possible.
    Some of them were theorising about the possibility that the UK security services had pre-determined who they might pin the blame on before the purported nerve agent attack took place.

  • Anton

    I must admit that if I was vising Britain Stonehenge would be high on my list of places to see. If I was in the area I would also most likely visit the Cathedral also.

    Bat would be the other place of interest.

  • Jenny C

    The only reason I ended up on here in the first place, was because one of my very good friends, of over 30 years standing, told me that Craig Murray was a decent bloke, who could explode the stinking pile of shyte we’re being fed by the media, who could tell it like it is and who was even-handed and fair. What I’ve seen so far is that Mr Murray has decided to question ONLY the (admittedly very dodgy) scenario presented by the British government, but has fallen hook, line and sinker for the version presented by the Russian powers that be. I’m at a loss to understand. Do you all know that it’s perfectly possible to despise both May AND Putin and that it’s perfectly possible to think that both sides are lying through their teeth?

    • pretzelattack

      fallen hook line and sinker for what exactly? if this is british propaganda, based on no solid evidence, what are the russians supposed to say? it’s like people looking for equal time between climate scientists and oil company shills in debates about climate science.

    • Cynicus

      Jenny C

      “What I’ve seen so far is that Mr Murray has decided to question ONLY the (admittedly very dodgy) scenario presented by the British government, but has fallen hook, line and sinker for the version presented by the Russian powers that be. ”
      As an admirer of Craig’s, I regret to say there is some truth in this. Most recently, he has swallowed the Russian media’s bait that this pair are gay. Last night Russian TV broadcast a picture of Salisbury Cathedral’s spire, coloured like the rainbow flag. ( Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink).

    • Yeah, Right

      “What I’ve seen so far is that Mr Murray has decided to question ONLY the (admittedly very dodgy) scenario presented by the British government, but has fallen hook, line and sinker for the version presented by the Russian powers that be”

      Well, quite apart from the fact that the burden of proof lies with the accuser, there is the indisputable fact that the “Russian powers that be” are responding in a calm and quite measured manner, whereas it is the British authorities who appear to be hyperventilating in an increasingly shrill manner ill-befitting the government of a country dedicated to the rule of law and the presumption of innocence.

      It was on the car wheel!
      No, no, in the restaurant!
      No it wasn’t, it was on the door-knob!
      Deadliest nerve agent known to mankind!
      Except it takes four hours to strike you down!
      DS Bailey was struck down when he came to their assistance!
      Who said that? Nonsense! He was poisoned when he opened the front door!
      OK, sure, we had police stationed outside that door for days but… look! A squirrel!

      Craig is taking the British government to task precisely because their explanation(s) are an internally-contradictory and increasingly hysterical pile of shyte.

      He isn’t taking the Russian government to task because they aren’t actually saying all that much except:
      A) It wasn’t us, why would we give a rat’s arse about fat old ex-spies?
      B) What the f**k has Teresa May been snorting?

  • Anton

    They did not say thatvisiting Salisbury was their main or sole purpose of vising to England. They were based in London at night. Salisbury was a side day trip.

    I think the hotel room trace of poison claim that can not be substantiated is telling.. I also agree with Craig that the timing does not match the accusations. The government has to get its story right if it is to have any credibility.

    It is a bit like the lies they came out with to ban Russian from the Olympics. A so called tamper proof bottle that they claimed was tampered with. but could not say how. They said it could be tapered with but could not explain how.

    They certainly need to produce much more evidence than what they have if they are to be believed.. Most likely is not enough. Sort out the timing issue and their story first. Interview the suspects as has been offered by the Russian State.

  • exiled off mainstreet

    It is interesting that the easily refuted lies of the paid media propagandists were what compelled the ambassador’s conclusion that the Russians were telling the truth. The evidence reviewed fully backs up this story, and its absurdity should be apparent to anyone with an open mind.

  • Paul Greenwood

    Does anyone know if Rowley or Sturgess existed before 2017 ? Do they have any biographical information ? Did Rowley get a Housing Association flat through the Prison Service ? Who paid his rent ? Who paid Sturgess an income ? Who was their GP ? Did Sturgess have any police record ?

  • lubo

    The reason that they appeared so “unconvincing” during the interview is simply the fact that it was not staged or prepared – it is how the real life looks like and not a polished propaganda.
    And what they said made perfect sense. Of course they tried to avoid the “gay issues” – but again that makes perfect sense.

    • Borncynical

      Indeed. “Not staged or prepared” – And nor was it edited. And as far as I know B&P didn’t know in advance what they would be asked, as indicated by their reluctance to reveal specific details about their private lives. It was filmed with two cameras, one directed at Simonyan and one at B & P, and was filmed in one go with no cuts or retakes. By comparison, I doubt very much that the unconvincing interview with Charlie Rowley was filmed in one go or without practice runs, yet I didn’t see the British media dissecting everything he said in fine detail.

  • Candice

    1) They didn’t talk about desperately wanting to see Stonehenge. They mostly wanted to see the cathedral, its spire and its clock (thr oldest working clock in the world, don’t you know!). Well they could quite easily achieve that on their first visit. The walk from the train station to the cathedral is 13 minutes according to Google Maps, and the CCTV images show that the streets certainly were not knee high with snow. The cathedral would have been open for them to look around. Job done. Also, they come from Russia. Having been there myself in winter, I know that Russians are familiar with cold and snow. They’re unlikely to let a bit of slush put them off seeing what they’d gone to see. I’d be surprised if they saw anything of Old Sarum on either day – wouldn’t it just be a field of snow?

    2) Flights to and from Russia – England are not like flights to Spain. You can’t just Easyjet it for £16.99. Firstly you have to buy a visa. I dont know how much it costs for them, but for us to visit Russia it costs £108 plus 4 weeks to get the documents. It’s really not comparable to a European break at all. Which leads to my next point.

    3) Last time I looked, flights were at least £200 return. Plus the visa cost. Would you really spend £300 minimum plus hotel plus transport for less than three days holiday? Surely if you are going to all that effort and expense, you’d make it a week? Or at least five days, to fit in the cathedral, Stonehenge, Old Sarum and the multitude of things to do across London (given that your last day is always a bit of a write off since you have to get to the airport).

    Those are just my major sticking points. I have quite a few more minor ones. Suffice to say my 8 year old comes up with better lies than this pair.

    • Dish-Washer

      Actually they said they wanted to go to London for fun, and according to the Daily Mail and Express they found it, a booze and marijuana filled night bonking loudly on the bed and shouting. The trips to Saiisbury were to fill the daylight hours before the fun started for real.

  • Garth Carthy

    Jenny C says: “Do you all know that it’s perfectly possible to despise both May AND Putin and that it’s perfectly possible to think that both sides are lying through their teeth?”

    Well, of course you’re right, except that Putin has no rational motive to have authorised a state assassination and therefore has less motive, on this occasion at least, to lie.
    On the other hand, the West have every reason to lie and set up a “false flag” because there has been a deliberate ramping up of anti-Russian propaganda from well before the Skripal event. The nut-jobs in the US administration (aka lunatic asylum) are increasingly hawkish against Russia and several other countries. Our pathetic government, with the aid of Mi6 and the CIA are hand-in-glove with the US in all this.

    Russia may be involved in the assassination attempt but surely the countless unanswered questions and blatant discrepancies (lies?) by the UK authorities need a lot more explaining than the story of the two “Russian spies”.

      • Len Linkov

        Plausible?? It presents the motive in the Holywood cliché of a rivalry between Skripal and Putin. Nobody and the President of Russia. My question is, if you buy that c**p, why did the all powerful president of Russia not destroy this minnow when he had him in his grasp, but instead retuned him to the West, only to undertake a botched attempt 8 years later?

    • Dish-Washer

      As the British press largely makes use of idle speculation, gossip and lies in a one-sided direction, a bit of counter-analysis provides a refreshing change.

  • Sir Keef

    At the risk of being repetitious (I posted this comment on another of CM’s Skripal related articles) I just wanted to share a thought: If MI6 had wanted to frame the Russians for the a nerve agent attack on the Skripals (an event which would have certainly been months in the planning) they may have just needed to sit and wait, monitoring flights from Russia (as they would routinely do), keeping potential patsies under surveillance and picking their moment to pounce. The slightly erratic and inexplicable movements of the two hapless Russian tourists who made their way to Salisbury on that day would have been a perfect fit for the rap, and they may have unwittingly been victims of a plot that was effectively built around them. Whilst seemingly convoluted and far fetched, this theory is far from impossible to conceive, but goes some way towards accounting for some of the otherwise mysterious aspects of this case.

    For example, this scenario might account for the apparently genuine incredulity of the two subjects at being thrust into the media spotlight, the palpably feeble narrative that they just happened to be in Salisbury by sheer coincidence when the attacks were taking place, (a weakness in their story which the UK Government and media have, perhaps cynically, milked for all its worth), their seemingly inexplicable reliance on public transport, the way they made no efforts to avoid surveillance cameras, in fact their general demeanor throughout, being that of a pair of normal tourists on a sightseeing trip (which is what they were) and not remotely consistent with the praxis of a pair of highly trained professional killers – I could go on…

    Of course I might just be losing the plot myself, but the way this thing is playing out, anything seems possible…

    • flatulence'

      Why wait for such a miracle of coincidence, when they could set them up with a phoney meeting with a client. All in ideal timing for their moves in Syria.

      • Sir Keef

        Yes but if the trip was set up by someone else they (R&B) surely would have divulged that information to the press. It may be that there was some way that they were influenced into taking the trip when they did but the decision had to look as though it was theirs. Of course this is all highly speculative, but I think it is a definite possibility that the British security services were just waiting for the right Russian visitor to pin something on. If there is a steady flow of tourists to Salisbury and Stonehenge, it would only be a matter of time before the right candidate came along, and then the operation could have been launched to coincide with that visit. As I said, it does help to provide an explanation for a lot of the other more baffling aspects of this bizarre case.

          • Borncynical

            You’re not alone! I found myself writing R&B as well a couple of times but realised just in time before posting it.

        • flatulence'

          Yeah I get you, but they would not know that they were heading yards away from the Skripal’s turn off or neighbouring street until minutes before hand, not to mention it being an unlikely detour for any sightseers, so they would have to have a team ready to act at all the times, and even then, they would have to be sure they would not be given an alibi at the last second by meeting a friend or relative or getting publicly hammered at the pub and on camera the whole time.

          The reason Rhythm and Blues, (lets call them the Blues Brothers) didn’t disclose this info could be because they are playing this as a holiday, not a business trip, and they may have shady dealings they do not want out in the open. They may not be brightest bless ’em. They may even be working for someone else who would have them or their families killed if the real nature of their dealings were disclosed. Rock and a hard place. Who knows. It’s conjecture, but all our theories are still more reasonable than the conspiracy theory we are being fed by the press et al.

        • Borncynical

          I have put forward your scenario previously on this thread. I wondered what B&P might have said on their visa application, which would presumably have been processed several weeks before they travelled. If security services had some sort of ‘sting’ in mind they could check applications mentioning a visit to Salisbury over a specified period, select an appropriate applicant or applicants and arrange the Skripal ‘incident’ to coincide with the intended Salisbury visit.

          This would have to suggest as well that the Skripals were in on it as their movements that weekend would be crucial to make it all work. It could even be that Skripal was behind them coming over through various underground contacts, although B&P might never have known his name so they wouldn’t even be aware restrospectively that he was behind it; if this was the case it wouldn’t even matter if they mentioned Salisbury on their visa applications because they were already selected to fit the profile.

          If the reason they came over was illegal then that would explain their reticence to talk about it so in a sense they’ve effectively been blackmailed into silence but didn’t understand what they were getting themselves into. Precise timings wouldn’t be an issue because – as we have seen – the intelligence services would only have to select a few CCTV images to prove that the ‘culprits’ were in Salisbury that weekend and pin the blame on them with nothing more. The police would probably have been monitoring their movements from the moment they arrived at Gatwick. After ‘the incident’ the weeks spent analysing CCTV images would have been devoted entirely to looking for and sifting through appropriately incriminating images of B&P who were already earmarked as the culprits. Had B&P not gone to Salisbury, the police could simply have said that they had been unable to identify anyone on CCTV whilst still throwing out a few red herrings about ‘suspicious’ vehicles that they hadn’t been able to identify. Even in the absence of a direct Salisbury link they might even have somehow identified them through a contrived novichok incident at the hotel they stayed at in London.

          For professional security and intelligence services all this would be a relatively simple scenario to enact.

          • Borncynical

            My post at 21.17
            Just to clarify my penultimate sentence: I should have written “Even in the absence of a direct Salisbury link they might even have purportedly ‘identified’ them through a contrived ‘novichok’ incident at the hotel they stayed at in London.

          • Borncynical

            Another thought – perhaps Yulia’s ‘mysterious’ boyfriend/fiancé could be the ‘go-between’ responsible for getting B&P over to Salisbury. And Yulia may have come over to be part of the ‘sting’ (with her father a willing participant for whatever reason), knowing that P&B were on their way to be set up.
            I haven’t any suggestion for Dawn and Charlie’s apparent involvement in all this but I do think they were in someway connected to the Skripals and the Skripal ‘poisoning’ incident. I certainly do not believe that P&B were in any way responsible for their fate.


          • Sir Keef

            Agreed – I don’t know whether the Skripals would necessarily have known anything about it though – it would have been a very simple thing to dose them with the substance that incapacitated them, and this could have been done with relatively little forward planning. If the intelligence services knew they were heading for Salisbury, the only variable would have been that the Skripals would have needed to stay in town when the two ‘suspects’ were there. As I said before, this is all conjecture and best guessing, but the notion that the incident was fitted around these two subjects, who may have been in Salisbury on that day for perfectly innocent reasons and (crucially) whose intention to travel there was already known by the real perpetrators, does help to make sense of many of the otherwise inexplicable parts of the narrative.

          • Borncynical

            Sir Keef (09.32)

            Thanks for your comments.

            On the basis of the scant undisputable evidence we have on this event from beginning to end, whatever we say has to be conjecture, as you say. My one reason for possibly drawing the Skripals in as ‘willing partners’ is because (a) it would make the circumstances much easier to explain and (b) I personally (conjecture of course!) am uncomfortable at the moment with what we do or don’t know about the couple on the bench and whether they were actually the Skripals; especially in the absence of any released CCTV footage or ‘stills’ putting them in that immediate area before the ‘incident’. For interest’s sake, you might like to see this hyperlink about the CCTV couple and Charlie and Dawn. Hopefully it will open for you – I provided it previously for @Doodlebug, for his own research on this, but he was unable to open it.

            The question asking why this whole, arguably fake, scenario might have been set up is the $64,000 question! I know a number of possible explanations have been put forward by fellow theorists (and you may have your own ideas) but we can, I think, safely argue that – whatever the reasons – it would have had to be done with MI6 (and possibly CIA) involvement. I am not knowledgeable enough myself to put forward any views on this so I am limiting myself to simply scrutinising the events of the weekend in question.

          • Borncynical

            Further to my post at 21.17, and just for the record, @Doodlebug was able to open the link to the website but no images appeared. As I say, hopefully others trying it may have more luck.

          • Borncynical

            I’m obviously still half asleep this morning and wasting everyone’s time by taking up space with unnecessary posts as a result! I must get some coffee. Anyway my post at 10.47 should have referred to my post at 10.24.

  • Elle

    As Russian is my native tongue, I have been trying to catch any possible nuances in the suspects’ interview that might have hot lost in translation.
    If I may, I’ll give my impression on the guys and the way they spoke. Both are not great talkers, to be honest. They definitely sound like Brice speaking, no doubt as they don’t have ant accent, but their vocabulary is poor. The grammatical structure of their sentences is poor as well. They do not finish one sentence before starting a new one. Do they look like people with the Uni educational background? Well, no.
    From what they said, it was difficult to figure out 1 thing: whey they spent fo much time on talking about the adverse weather conditions and closed roads. Whether they failed to explain what that meant for their trip to Salisbury on 4 March or it was sencored (a possibility) but after listening to the interview for a dozen of times, after scrutinising the weather news from Salisbury at the time, I think I am able to offer my own hypothesis of events on 4 March.

      • Borncynical


        I am grateful for your insight as a native Russian speaker. It is particularly useful to see what you say about their likely social/educational background. To me they seem the kind of men who would be tempted by promises of a good ‘salary’ and the opportunity to travel at no cost to themselves, in return for delivering something or collecting something (if you understand what I mean!) and following basic instructions. I would not consider them suitably competent people to undertake a professional assassination attempt using “one of the deadliest nerve agents known”.

        I shall try to explain simply the implications of the discussions in the interview about the weather. The incident with the poisoning of the Skripals took place on Sunday 4 March. Apart from CCTV showing Boshirov and Petrov in Salisbury on 3 March and 4 March there is no evidence that has been released to the public linking them to the ‘attack’ on the Skripals. But they have still been named by the UK Government as the perpetrators.

        In the interview Boshirov and Petrov were asked to explain what they did over that weekend when they visited Salisbury. They explained that their original plan was to go from London to Salisbury only on the Saturday to visit the Cathedral, Old Sarum (an old Roman settlement, I think) and Stonehenge. But they explained that the weather was so bad when they arrived in Salisbury they couldn’t get to visit these tourist sites so they only stayed a short while, got themselves a coffee and returned to London. They decided to return to Salisbury the following day (Sunday) to visit the Cathedral and Old Sarum ( presumably from what they said, they had decided not to bother with a visit to Stonehenge). They claim to have visited the Cathedral (it wasn’t clear whether they managed to get to Old Sarum or tried to get there) and then returned to London early in the afternoon because sleet started to fall. They mention the weather a lot because they were asked to explain why they couldn’t do what they wanted to do on the Saturday and had to return to Salisbury on the Sunday.

        Overall, what they say with regards to the weather and travel disruption does appear valid. But there are people in the UK who are sceptical about their brief weekend visit to the UK to have fun in London and fit in a visit to Salisbury, so the suspicion is that they may have been doing something illegal which required them to go to Salisbury on both the Saturday and the Sunday. Of course many people think that the information about them supports the contention that they must have had something to do with the (purported) attack on the Skripals. My view, given in my earlier posts, is that they may have been following instructions to go to Salisbury on some ‘illegal’ errand but were actually simply being set up to be identified as the ‘nerve agent attackers’. I can’t guess whether they might have been under instruction to go there on both days or whether when they got there on the Saturday they might have received an instruction to return the following day. They don’t want to say too much because they were possibly doing something illegal under Russian law, their livelihoods could be affected and, most significantly, they might have been told that if they reveal anything they are not likely to live to an old age!

        Hope this is of help.

        • Elle

          Thank you for your insight. From what they said it is possible to assume that they did visit Old Sarum. Because when Margarita asked them about the 4th of March, Petrov said “The original plan was to see Old Sarum and the Cathedral”. When asked if they managed to do that, Petrov said, “Yes”.
          From the train station they headed left in the opposite direction from the Cathedral but in fact towards Old Sarum.
          Google maps show a few walking routes from the train station to Old Sarum, the fastest being turning right from Fisherston Rd on the St Paul’s roundabout to A36, the other being heading straight on that roundabout to A360 and the last one – first left onto Wilton Road, on which there is the Shell garage where they were pictured.
          Boshirov went into a lengthy explanation about most rouds being closed on their visit. And his words are confirmed by from that date stating that A360 was closed till afternoon, not sure about the A36 though.
          So if we assume that that are innocent people whatsoever heading to Old Sarum, the chances are they were really heading there via the only accessible route that day which is Wilton Road. The route via Wilton Road to Old Sarum lies in a very dangerous proximity to the Skripal’s address which makes any supposition about their innocence extremely difficult to sustain. But on the other hand, the history has seen even stranger coincidences.

  • Suzanne Riney

    There is something seriously wrong with the whole thing. On the news reports, it was said, small drops
    of the nerve agent were found in the hotel, where the two Russians who were accused, had stayed. That hotel was not cornered off, like places in Sailsbury, I believe we are not being told the real truth from our government, which makes me suspicious of them

    • Borncynical


      I think you will find the majority of people who post comments on here, including me, would go along with your assessment. If you can spare the time (!), it is worth reading through past comments – as well, of course, as Craig Murray’s own commentaries on the various issues raised by the whole Skripal scenario. You will be reassured to see how many people would agree that we are being kept in the dark and lied to by the Government.

    • Gunvald

      The big question need an answer : Who left the perfume in Amesbury, and of what reason ?
      Borshinov and Petrov did not visit Amesbury. So then, was the perfume accidently lost, og placed there with some intention. If so, by who?
      Finding traces of Novichok at the room the Russians lived in for three days, visited by other people also, sounds weird. If the substance they found had no harm to human health, then the chemical fingerprints identifying Novichok, must be revealed.
      Is it by occasion that Porton Down is situated midway between Salisbury and Amesbury? And from where came Novichok? I tend to believe it is easier to smuggle out a small amount of Novichok from Porton Down, than to smuggle it into Britain from Moscow.

    • flatulence'

      And you may be right to be suspicious, and therefore naturally suspicious of anything they try to feed you.

      Welcome to the entrance to the rabbit hole Riney. Once you smell the bullshit, there’s no going back. So you’re already down the rabbit hole really. Try not to get too carried away though. It’s all bullshit, but you still gotta live. Just stay aware, and keep your mind open. Some here are loonies, like me, and some spout the government line. Possibly too much… The rest are well meaning, open minded, intelligent and friendly for the most part, even if their views, ideas, political persuasions are different. Welcome.

  • Andy

    The claim of UK government and releasing details of these two gentleman has been a very cruel unlawful action against the human rights. These two have the right to sue our government. They could be hurt due to irrisponsible revelation of their travels and private affairs. For example one of them has lost the girl that he admired through the facebook after the girl heard the news about him. She also though that she might get into trouble due to her connection, and who knows perhaps she is now in trouble as she leaves in an EU country. Their story cmpletely fits together.

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