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.


1,067 thoughts on “The Strange Russian Alibi

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  • Observer

    Ah, fitness drugs! Maybe that is why the frumpy-dumpy Yulia went in looking like a dog and came out looking like Juliet herself?

  • Paul Barbara

    ‘On the Brink with Russia in Syria Again, 5 Years Later’:
    https://consortiumnews.com/2018/09/12/on-the-brink-with-russia-in-syria-again-5-years-later/
    ‘…Five Years Later
    In his appeal for cooperation with the U.S., Putin had written these words reportedly by himself:

    “My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is ‘what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.’ It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
    In recent days, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, has left no doubt that he is the mascot of American exceptionalism. Its corollary is Washington’s “right” to send its forces, uninvited, into countries like Syria.
    “We’ve tried to convey the message in recent days that if there’s a third use of chemical weapons, the response will be much stronger,” Bolton said on Monday. “I can say we’ve been in consultations with the British and the French who have joined us in the second strike and they also agree that another use of chemical weapons will result in a much stronger response.”…’
    Go f*ck yourself, Bolton, and carry that a**hole Trump with you to hell. As Satan will say (doubtless) ‘You are my beloved War Criminals, in whom I am well pleased. Come and join the Lodges and the Covens in Hades’ (in NO WAY is that meant sacrilegiously).

  • Observer

    Anyway, if the unintended consequence of all this is that the Russian oligarchs are being driven out of London, that’s welcome news.

    Feel sorry for the ordinary Russian people that their country is run by a bunch of mafia crooks while their country is literally raped of it’s natural resources and cash. Is this what Gorbachov had in mind? How powerless it must feel to be a Russian number, including these two twits.

    It’s time to kick out a few ambassadors now, start with the EU28+1

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Observer September 14, 2018 at 02:09
      H’mmm, ‘..How powerless it must feel to be a Russian number…’
      The same could, of course, be said for the Brits and the Yanks. Give me Putin any day over May, Trump, Merkal or Micron.

        • Clark

          Probably his Russian isn’t good enough to hold nuanced, colloquial conversation. That’s certainly my apprehension about living in countries where the first language isn’t English. Most continental Europeans speak English but it’s international English, and the differences inhibit my self expression.

    • SA

      Observer
      Your concern for the Russian people is touching. I wonder whether it extends to the Yeltsin years where under the supervision of the Chicago economists, the Russians assets were distributed to these oligarchs many of whom have been given asylum by the west. There is no question that there is still massive corruption in Russia, as there is elsewhere, but it is also clear that a lot of corruption has been combated against and that things are slowly improving. The deliberate beggering if Russia in the nineties was the original sin here.

      • Observer

        “Your concern for the Russian people is touching”

        And your is derived solely from self-loathing and therefore patently false. Try to come into the moment. Reality helps.

        • pretzelattack

          what does that even mean? your concern is not believable, SA’s is. reality is the americans absolutely screwed up russians and russia in the 90’s. stick that in your pipe and loathe it, it’s true in any event.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Not true at all. Only certain Russian Oligarchs. The Oligarchs with stolen funds that the Kremlin would like back – or at least the $60 billion looted.

      “London has so far denied requests for 60 people from the extradition list, the prosecutor said. Of those, 55 were shielded by the British government by giving them refugee status or political asylum. When denying extradition, London claimed those individuals’ rights may be violated in Russia. Karapetyan said that apparently there was a well-established mechanism in London that allowed rich Russian criminals to park their capital in London by claiming to be victims of political persecution.

      “It turned out, one only had to declare himself or herself an enemy of the ‘Putin regime’ to be granted refugee status,” the prosecutor revealed.”

      Then we have the Ukrainian looted funds invested in farmland in Lincolnshire and no doubt Viktor Blavatnik can explain how he and Vekselberg became so rich that he is now 50th richest man in UK with a Knighthood.

      Maybe Ireland can explain its sale on Non-Resident EU Passports ?

    • Stephen

      There was an interesting little interview on local television (in South Africa) with a Brazilian diplomat who said that some time ago when he was attached to the United Nations the USA wanted Brazil to vote a certain way on a vote in the security council. The diplomat disagreed with the vote and refused to fall into America’s plans. He was then visited by the self-same Bolton who informed him that he knew that the Brazilian diplomat’s children were in school in Switzerland and then stated “We know where your family is so you had better vote according to instructions”! And these are the “leaders of the free world”. I’d rather have Putin than Bolton any day.

      • Rhys Jaggar

        I have long said that Bolton should be assassinated for this kind of behaviour.

        No time should be wasted on justice for that specimen, as he so clearly favours bombs over courtrooms where Foreign Affairs is concerned.

      • Robert Harneis

        Interesting and highly relevant comment especially when you consider who or rather what the diplomat was and what Bolton’s job was at the time. José Bustani was the first Director-General of the Organisation for the prevention of chemical weapons OPCW. Bolton was Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs responsible for making sure that international organisations do what the US wants and we have seen the result of his very thorough work in various sporting bodies and of course the OPCW, in its treatment of the Skripal affair. Bustani was forced out of his job by the unscrupulous Bolton and not supported by his own government. Nobody thought it was of any importance at the time but it is clear the US has been planning its hybrid warfare tactics for a long time. Bustani is now Brazilian ambassador in Paris. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Bustani

        • Borncynical

          Bustani’s crime was to think there was merit in getting Iraq signed up to an agreement on the use of chemical weapons and effectively guarantee peace in the region. Iraq had shown a positive inclination to go along with this but the US were opposed for their own geopolitical reasons and Bustani was ‘persuaded’ to resign.

        • nevermind

          Jose Bustani was a first class diplomat, who was.just about signing up Saddam to the OPCW’s treaty objectives with a majority of world states.

          John Bolton is a.coward and a bully, firing this very able diplomat undermined UN effectiveness and set up Saddam as a legit target.
          He should be barred from public office for life.

          My best wishes to ambassador Bustani, and thank you for your service.

    • J

      There might be some truth somewhere in that, except that it feels more like the practiced rationalisation of a sociopath practising to be a psychopath.

      “How can I successfully wrestle with your beliefs to take what I desire now.”

      America happily created the shape of modern Russian oligarchic excess* yet advocates more of the same toxic laissez faire capitalism with the following logic: Russia must be raped, riding on a narrative of ‘Russia is being raped.’ Although by the the rapists it made rather than directly by them.

      To American sons everyewhere, in spirit or through birth: you have a poor grasp of history because you distort it to continue to write it. You have no sense of perspective because you have always been the centre of your own. You have little sense of responsibility because you have never been told no. And your sociopathic inclination to impose your exceptionalism has no end because it is it’s own end.

      Your pioneer mythos is at once grand and lonely, an ossuary and a charnal house. You are the ravenous child of Europe who cannot accomodate and will never be accomodated. Rather than listen, feel or learn you have always prefered to take what can be taken, burn what can be burned and destroy what you cannot understand while singing deafening treacle siren songs to your own beauty, loudly as necessary to mask the screams. Your success feeds your desires, your desires feed your fears and your fears become your fantasies. Child of Rome, you make a desert and call it peace. You sing of democratic ideals and technological progress as the world charrs and falls silent. You build newly minted ruins.

      American son, you are a penis attached to a rudder on the front of a jet engine on fire.

      *As Soros correctly opined at the begining of the nineties, what America did was a collossal missed oportunity and failure of imagination, but hardened pragmatic sociopath that he is, leaped on every oportunity that afforded to him.

      It may not all be true or the whole story, but it sure was fun. LOL.

      • joeblogs

        “America happily created the shape of modern Russian oligarchic excess”.
        Or some running under cover of that ‘Ol’ Glory’ flag, at least, created it.

  • Kate

    I’ve just watched the full interview on RT and am absolutely certain these guys are a) completely innocent and b) gay, which must be absolutely terrifying since they live in a homophobic state and at the same time are being very publicly and internationally ‘exposed’ as assasins. If they did work for the GRU they weren’t recruited for their acting skills, yet I can think of no actor who could replicate the palpable sense of fear these two demonstrated. I genuinely fear for their lives.

    • CalDre

      I agree, I immediately got the impression they were gay and really hated being outed. I think it was terrible that the Sputnik editor outed them too. Complete invasion of privacy. They could have edited out that question (why they travel together so much).

      That would also explain them traveling together on business. Couples who work together also often travel together on business trips and make them a combined vacation trip, even if there is scant business reason for both to go.

      I think the hotel story is utterly bizarre and unbelievable. Why would they douse their own sleep quarters with a nerve agent? And why would the Met wait four months – from discover in early May, 2 months after the Skripal poisoning – and early September to notify staff and interim guests that they may have been exposed to a deadly nerve agent? Given all the interim cleanings and comings/goings, it would be impossible for the Met to know initial exposures, say, on March 5 and 6, or particularly the staff who cleaned the room after the two departed. In short, this allegation is just incredible.

      So I lean toward them being innocent as well. My theory is MI6 poisoned them, and found some Russians to frame for it. Two birds, one stone (my theory is also that Sergei was actually a triple agent, and UK found out; it is even possible these two men were sent to pick something up from Sergei, perhaps told it was a business thing, and UK found out and attacked Sergei before he could deliver, but this is also speculation).

    • __alex__

      there is a lot of public gays here, and nobody gives a fuk about it. we just see homosexuality as private question, not public one. what is condemned – the open gay propaganda. if they are gays – there is no risk for their life, till their go to prison. prison rules (rules of criminal society) are too harsh towards passive gays.

      • Observer

        Are people also gay and happy about the Russian economy and the mode of function of civil society and associated freedoms?

        Where is the country that put the first man in space?

        • Paul Greenwood

          Are people also gay and happy about the British economy and the mode of function of civil society and associated freedoms ?

    • Observer

      I have heard of the milk of human kindness but I never thought I would meet the original cow.

      But then at Craig’s place anything is possible.

      • Yeah, Right

        “I have heard of the milk of human kindness but I never thought I would meet the original cow.”

        So you’ve only previously encountered the unoriginal cows?

        “But then at Craig’s place anything is possible.”

        As your presence attests.

      • Clark

        ^^ Yet another pure attack upon the person. MODS, this commenter should be on pre-mod; its constant personal attacks will have a chilling effect upon commenting – that is the intention behind trolling.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      People do not get killed in Russia for being gay. They would be treated like the British were 40 years ago.

  • Yeah, Right

    “Like many, my first thought at the interview of Boshirov and Petrov – which apparently are indeed their names – is that they were very unconvincing.”

    You could pretty much stop there, because the absolutely pivotal question is this: did these two gentlemen travel to Britain under their real names?

    If they did then THEY AREN’T GRU ASSASSINS.

    It really is as simple as that.

    They may be innocent tourists who find Norman architecture to be fascinating, as they claim themselves to be.

    They may be Russian mafioso who travel to the UK on nefarious business that may – or may not – involve Sergei Skripal, as some insinuate.

    I don’t know, and I don’t really care.

    But I do know this: if those are their real names then it is an open-and-shut, lay-down-misere, can’t-be-denied, fact that THEY AREN’T GRU ASSASSINS, because state-sanctioned assassins would very definitely travel on false passports under assumed names.

    I mean, really, is there anyone who thinks otherwise?

    • Observer

      You can change your ‘real’ name as easy as you change your suit. Anyway in the GRU/FSB you are just a number, just as is the rest of the population, unless you are an oligarch.

      • Yeah, Right

        So you agree that a state-sanctioned assassin does not carry out a “hit” while travelling under their real name?

        If Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Borishov are indeed their real names then it has been their real names since they were born.

        They would be able to prove that very easily:
        a) here are my childhood friends, ask them about me.
        b) here is the school I went to, ask my old teacher about me.
        c) here is my cousin, my nephew, my Uncle, my sister-in-law. Ask them anything you want about me.
        d) here is my work history from the day I left high school. Go to any one of those factories and ask to speak to the boss.

        I agree that you can fake a “new” identity very easily, because those are seldom subject to close scrutiny.
        But it is also very easy to prove that your identity is “real”: just invite a reporter to scrutinise its history.

        Because while a “new” identity has no witnesses from prior to its creation, a “real” identity has plenty of people who can bear witnesses to its reality.

        • Stephen

          Observer believes in the old adage, that if you are Russian, you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent. Well known tactic, throw as much mud as you can and hopefully some will stick. He’d do really well in an African parliament (Zimbabwe perhaps?)

      • Paul Greenwood

        number, just as is the rest of the population, unless you are an oligarch.

        Your inside knowledge is interesting. Did you work with the GRU HR man Sergei Skripal in your days at GRU ?

  • Yeah, Right

    I have a simple question that I cannot believe reporters are not asking either the UK Government or the Metropolitan Police.

    Think about it: we know these things to be facts:
    a) two gentlemen travelled to the UK for three days
    b) visits longer than two days requires a visa
    c) these two guys filled out those visa applications in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Borishov
    d) visa applications also require that they state their place of residence

    So here’s my simple question: did the UK government send any person from the UK embassy to the place of residence of either Alexander Petrov or Ruslan Borishov to knock on the front door?

    Because if the answer is “yes” then it would be interesting to hear what the result of that door-knock was.
    And if the answer is “no” then this is surely the most breathtaking example of incompetence since, well, ever.

    I mean, honestly, there is no downside to sending an embassy flunky to those address(es).

    UK embassy flunkies do not require a travel pass from Vladimir Putin to leave the embassy and go walkabouts.
    Such a UK embassy flunky does not require permission from the Kremlin to walk up to a house and knock on a door.

    If the place of residence doesn’t exist then the visa was obtained fraudulently, ditto if the house exists but they don’t live there.
    But if either Petrov or Borishov answered the door then they are not GRU assassins, for the most obvious of reasons.

    I mean, why WOULDN’T the UK embassy send someone to the claimed place of residence and then report back to London?

    • Observer

      Protocol calls for the British embassy to knock on people’s doors through local authorities. But i suppose if the Russians knocked on your door, you’d be jumping for joy with wet kisses all over them.

      • Paul Greenwood

        Russian Embassy staff have limited range of travel in UK. They simply cannot go where they choose

      • James

        I think Craig really should block you – just an idea. In the interests of ‘free’ speech, you might say. I suppose it’s enough for people to know what you are.

        • Observer

          Aren’t you a bit old to be a cry-baby, and with such a noble name? Lot’s of grey hair, but not an ounce of wisdom. Sad really. Still, never give up!

        • Borncynical

          James

          Not sure about how moderation on this site works but most of @Observer’s comments are simply ‘ad hom’ attacks for which he should be given due warning or banned completely.

      • Yeah, Right

        “Protocol calls for the British embassy to knock on people’s doors through local authorities.”

        Protocol would also suggest that Teresa May not stand up in parliament and throw wild accusations at Vladimir Putin.

        But, well, there she is, and here we are….

        Apparently the word “protocol” means something different in your world, Observer?
        Maybe you have mistaken it for a similar-sounding word: “prohibited”?

        “But i suppose if the Russians knocked on your door, you’d be jumping for joy with wet kisses all over them.”

        Straw man.

        If a man knocked on my door then, yes, I’d open that door and ask him what he wanted.

        And I would imagine that if a man knocked on the door of a Moscow home then, yes, the resident of that house would answer.

        I mean, really, “protocol”? you are just too funny.

        This is an accusation of state-sponsored attempted-murder, or have you forgotten? Do you really think that *protocol* would stand in the way of investigating that very, very serious allegation? Really?

        Here, let me run this by you again:
        1) A UK embassy staff is instructed to go to *this* address, and there knock on the door.
        2) If someone answers the door then ask, very politely: “I’m looking for Alexander Petrov, does he live here?”
        3) Note down the response, then return to the embassy and file a report to the Foreign Office.

        Now, explain to me what possible “protocol” could prevent him/her from completing those simple steps.

        Please, take your time, I’ll wait.

        • Observer

          Perhaps you are unfamiliar with diplomatic-mission speak. The PM is unencumbered of that detail.

          • Paul Greenwood

            Theresa May is “unencumbered” by political acumen or intellect but then again she studied Geography at St Hugh’s which was a stone’s throw from where she grew up and then moved down the track to London. she is devoid of worldly experience and supremely ungifted in foreign languages or any grasp of history or geopolitics. The woman is simply aching to be ejected from office but the LMF of those around her is telling

          • Observer

            So you got my point about diplomatic missions requiring to follow certain proptocols.

            You’re entitled to your opinion on May of course.

            What is LMF?

          • Yeah, Right

            “Perhaps you are unfamiliar with diplomatic-mission speak. The PM is unencumbered of that detail.”

            Remind me again of your argument, Observer, because you appear to be losing track of it.

            Oh, that’s right: you are insisting that UK Embassy staff can’t go and knock on doors because “protocol” requires them to go through the “local authorities”.

            Laughable.

            May I remind you that “protocol” also demands that UK embassy staff not carry out clandestine meetings with a view to recruiting Russian intelligence staff, but that didn’t stop Pablo Miller (MI6) from having many a clandestine meetings with Sergei Skripal (GRU).

            This may shock you, so you might want to sit down, but I suspect very much that more MI6 staff were sent over to replace Pablo Miller and Christopher Steele when their embassy assignment finished.

            So sorry, but this is an allegation of a Kremlin-ordered hit-squad. I do not think that the local MI6 staff in the UK embassy in Moscow are going to be much cowered by your insistence that they have to go through “local authorities” in order to investigate those allegations.

            Honestly, you really think otherwise? Really?

      • joeblogs

        If Royal Mail (a company) knock on my door to hand me a parcel, does that mean they have not followed protocol by not going through the Local Authorities? Oh, and the ‘Betterware’ rep, trying to sell me a mop – did he follow protocol, and consult with the Local Authorities (who do you mean by that, anyway – Councillors, Police..?).
        Observer – you’re not much of an observer, at all, are you?

      • Borncynical

        @Observer
        “Protocol calls for the British embassy to knock on people’s doors through the local authorities”. Well, presumably they did that then? And so what was the outcome?

  • Observer

    I think i shall write a screenplay and title it ‘The Beasts from the East.’ Craig, i’m not copyrighting that yet so please feel free to take it over. You may however lose a fair few regulars here, especially those who constantly C&P RT stuff. Disgusting aesthetics at RT though. Don’t they have qualified media graphic designers or give their anchors and staff a decent allowance to wear proper clothes? Putin is nothing but a mean bastard with no taste to boot.

    • RR

      What’s wrong with Simonyan’s clothes? In any case, she is the editor-in-chief of RT, Sputnik and RIA agencies, not an anchor. She decides what to wear.
      In the Russian press there are a lot more details – Yandex translate is your helper should you be interested.
      The “suspects” requested that they be interviewed only by Margherita, in her office and with only one camera. In eventually they used two, but decided not to show all the footage.
      RT in general has a much more sophisticated and modern format than a lot of the UK channels, which look provincial by comparison. Your criticism is not deserved.

    • Dennis Revell

      Observer writes: “Putin is nothing but a mean bastard with no taste to boot.”

      Let’s have a quick poll; OK, hands up all those who’ll chuck in for a ticket so that Observer can put that sentiment to Vladimir face to face 😉 .

      My hand’s up.

      .

      If Observer goes on much longer, Craig Murray may come to somewhat lament nuking my earlier … er … somewhat profane reply to him (c’mon, we’ve ALL thought it, even Craig, I bet). I figured him for what he was after a mere couple of posts.

      .

      .

  • Planck

    It is perfectly obvious from the long version of the very hostile RT interview kindly provided by another commenter that these two men are entirely innocent of the Skripal poisoning. They are completely terrified and any suggestion they are acting is simply idiotic – or butally malign. The worst of it is that Russians have been so demonized by the West that almost anything they say or do is interpreted in the most conspiratorial manner imaginable. We have been turned into a bloodthirsty mob.

    • Observer

      Can we measure your naivety in terms of Planck’s Length?

      This thread has really been revealing of how much Russian propaganda people have been following, sorry swallowing hook, line and sinker. It does a disservice to the hard lives that ordinary people in Russia have to eke out.

      Wake up and smell the coffee, or ok, just have another vodka.

      (And i don’t drink, but even the diet coke i had at dinner with friends has caused me insomnia, which challenge even the zolpidem is not equal to. I shall carry my own caffeine-free coke next time.)

      • RR

        This is from Roger Waters about the majority of people in the West (including you, I am afraid): “Part of the way it works is to anaesthetise people and almost make it uncomfortable for people to see anything real.”
        Neoliberalism’s pervasiveness through Western culture and politics, in Waters’ view, has left many people with the inability to see and accept anything critical of the mainstream narrative.

        • Observer

          No. 1 Don’t be afraid
          2. If you are, don’t show it
          3. I don’t need Roger Waters or Rodger Dodgers as gurus
          4. Think things through for yourself for that ‘truth’ to become yours; people are lazy, it’s understandable, but they are lazy.

      • Dennis Revell

        Observer:

        Please keep chugging the Diet Coke.

        Latest health studies indicates that it is really, Really, REALLY beneficial to the health and a promoter of long life.

        The diet version is almost as good for you as the “real thing” – the non-diet variety, but I guess if you’re a bit of a fat bastard too, then I understand that compromises have to be made.

        .

        • joeblogs

          Observer
          Something even better than that ‘diet whatever’ that you like:
          Brawndo.
          What you drink because you can’t drink your car battery.

        • Borncynical

          “beneficial to health and a promoter of long life” – unfortunately in the case of @Observer it clearly isn’t beneficial to intellect or diplomacy. Just writing that makes me think – maybe he’s a UK politician, any names plausible. I shall (rhetorically) start the ball rolling with my nomination…Gavin Williamson.

  • JohnPerth

    NB: UK Police say nothing to connect the two to Russian government. May says yes there is.

    Even RT doesn’t seem interested in noting the exact wording of the BS coming from UK. Parsing it, as Craig has pointed out previously, is obviously necessary. Sir Humphrey is always around.

    RT report: <>

    • JohnPerth

      UK government spokesperson told RT: “The Police and Crown Prosecution Service have identified these men as the prime suspects in relation to the attack in Salisbury.

      “The Government is clear these men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service – the GRU – who used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country.

      • Paul Greenwood

        CPS is simply an implant inside the Met which has to find a 51% probability before proceeding. It has a track record which is unenviable and is run by Allison Saunders who no doubt has found both men guilty of rape already

  • SA

    Incidentally this episode also illustrates one thing. That RT is actually extremely unlikely to be a propaganda outlet for the Kremlin in the way this has been handled.its just not slick enough.
    I feel sorry for those two individuals who have now been exposed to the full thrust of international exposure as assassins and now possibly outed. Who likes the world to know which hotel they stayed at and with whom?
    In this context these two have had their rights to privacy destroyed by the British state unless there is very clear proof that they have evidence which needs to be openly produced.

    • Observer

      They will be given new identities and settled in siberia or crimea wherever, with bonuses withheld for botching up the mission.

      And what of all the ‘rights to privacy’ amongst other rights that the Russian state does not even offer, leave alone destroy?

          • Борис Крылов

            Вы утверждаете , что мне каких то прав не предлагают. Каких? Что я не имею , в отличии от поданных Её Величества?

          • Борис Крылов

            Да в любую щель, Если владелец этой щели достиг совершеннолетия .
            Слышал о индийской Кама- Сутре? Так мы её редактировали.

          • joeblogs

            Interesting – when challenged by someone who appears to be a native of Russia – that Observer, faced with the impossibility of giving a true answer, then resorts to profanity – his true face is revealed, that of a common thug, masquerading as an ‘observer’.
            It would be a shame to see his comment deleted, it shows proof to the world for what he really is. He is a disgrace.

        • Dennis Revell

          😉
          In response to a profanity in Russian from Observer, (so that’s how you get away with it, eh, Craig?); Boris Krylov somewhat hilariously replies:

          “Yes to any slit, if the owner of this slit has reached the age of majority.
          Did you hear about the Indian kama-sutra? That’s how we edited it.”

          – NO prizes for guessing the precise nature of Observer’s profanity. Language training at GCHQ, mewonders?

          I really, Really, REALLY must practice this kind of hilarious non-profane “diplomacy” when confronted with such irascible, insufferable pricks.

          Bravo, Boris.

          .

          • joeblogs

            No, he just used g00gle translate, I suspect.
            He isn’t clever, at all as his one smut word reply shows – he is a reactionary at best, with no reasoning faculty. If he is trained in Russian, it got him no further than the playground: it appears that is where he learnt it.

      • Paul Greenwood

        Where do you think the Skripals will be settled ? The Ozarks ? Will they meet Jason Bateman ?

      • Dennis Revell

        Observer says (about the two Russians fitted up for this Skripal nonsense):

        “They will be given new identities and settled in siberia or crimea wherever, with bonuses withheld for botching up the mission.”

        – this was in relation to protecting them following RT exposing them to international scrutiny, possibly as homosexuals – – –

        – – – YET, he says in an earlier post that to the Russian State these men are mere numbers – as in the state has no concern at all for their welfare.

        – HIS mask is slipping, never mind anyone else’s.

        From his command of English, I would guess he’s one of these insufferable Public School products tapping out his nonsense in some MI5/MI6 funded basement (hopefully not screwing the taxpayer out of anything more than minimum wage).

        .

  • Persse

    Outside of obviously being very uncomfortable in having to do the interview, I found that when I listened to the entire interview I found it entirely believable. The idea GR agents would appear on public television if they had been using fake names is absurd. How would you silence all the people who knew them?. Nothing to see here with these two.

    • Observer

      People will believe exactly as they want to, especially where there is not ambient clarity in the brain. (For that you need to be a Zen Master.)

    • nwwoods

      This is a salient point, “covert assassins” don’t call up media editors and request to be interviewed for broadcast on international TV and internet.

  • SA

    Incidentally one of the big mysteries about all of this is: What is the exact agent that has been used? We are really non the wiser. It is referred to as ‘novichol’ which we know is s name probably unofficial, of a concept or a programme of nerve gas agent development started in the dying days of the USSR and that was never developed properly by the time that Russia gave up developing CW and that was in any case probably a group of compounds. In the more recent pronouncements by the OPCW it is refereed to indirectly and not by name and most recently our politicians have referred to as a deadly agent and other hyperbolic names with very little direct evidence of its deadliness in that we know that it has only contributed to the death of one out of at least 5 people officially exposed to it (there may be hundreds more if we are to believe the extent of contamination and it’s supposed properties).
    Now surely the way to start here is to give the acknowledged chemical name of this agent.Any proper scientific or legal process surely has to start with this disambiguation and yet to this day no authority has come out with this. That is surely the reason why this is an elaborate hoax.

    • John Bull

      SA – very good comment. Apparently, not even Porton Down know the exact agent used. On 20-22 March 2018, at the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice of the application for persmission for OPCW to take further blood samples from the Skripals, one of their analysts said under oath that:-

      “Blood samples from Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were analysed and the findings indicated exposure to a nerve agent or related compound.” It is as stated in the Judge’s Report, Para 17 i). The link to the full report is here:-

      https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/sshd-v-skripal-and-another-20180322.pdf

      One thing we can be certain of is that Prime Minister was mistaken in thinking it was definitely Novichok, and she misled Parliament, the general public, our allies and the rest of the world when she claimed this was definitely the poison used.

      She – or rather her briefers – cannot be trusted.

      • Borncynical

        “She – or rather her briefers – cannot be trusted”. I think you would have been correct with your first inclination – leave out the bit between the dashes.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      The stated Novichok was A234 (whose chemical structure is documented on the net), but that is Govt information, not medical toxicology.

      The story as to how it wounded- but did not kill the Skripals has been modified sufficiently often to tell you that when one lie is exposed, they simply make another one up.

    • begob

      Yes – this has been raised several times on the talk page of the Skripal poisoning article in wikipedia. Nobody can find a reliable source that reports the identity of the chemical, or even the fact its identity has not been revealed. Even the editors who answer the question with the word novichok don’t bother to respond anymore.

  • Carlyle Moulton

    At the core of the British story of the alleged Russian poisoners is the fallacy of circumstantial evidence.

    Circumstantial evidence is evidence consistent with a particular theory of the crime but not inconsistent with the theory being false. A guilty verdict based on circumstantial evidence is based on the assumption that it is extremely unlikely that so many pieces of circumstantial evidence could exist without the theory of the crime being true. However humans are extremely bad at estimating probabilities and especially tend to overestimate the improbabilities of coincidences. It does not in the least surprise me that so many wrongful convictions involve circumstantial evidence.

    I suspect that most people see the likelyhood of 2 Russian tourists visiting Salisbury on any particular day as being much less probable than it actually is.
    I would like to know how many images of Russian tourists going to Salisbury a trawl of CCTV record from 1 January to the day before the poisoning would turn up.

    • Kempe

      Out of 39 million tourist visits to the UK last year only 227,000 were from Russia so I would guess very few.

      • Observer

        Yes but they all make a bee-line for the Salisbury cathedral first-off because they think Pussy Riot is in residence.

        And with all the workings of intelligence agencies, such as they are, why would the UK govt feel compelled to open all the files in public?

        No doubt all the conspiracists fully agree with Russia prohibiting any extraditions. Look it’s in their constitution. Russia is nothing but control, control, control. Putin must laugh at all of Trump’s woes in the numerous investigations, which could come back to hurt him after he is no longer president. And his corporations and family, including his children are exposed. And presidential pardons are restricted to federal offences.

        Is this more about self-hate or about To Russia with Love.

        The British govt should start a scheme in which for every new immigrant, they will provide a Brit with a one-way ticket to Russia. Regular commenters here would be first in the queue. They can then write about Russian jurisprudence from the other side.

      • Matt R

        Thanks, you’ve convinced me these guys are probably innocent. Going on TV claiming they are using real names was pretty bloody weird for a couple of supposed assassins. But also, as you (unintentionally) point out, there’s something on the order of 700 (give or take) Russian visitors to Wiltshire every year, so their presence is really not surprising (114,000 overseas visitors to Wiltshire in 2013 according to Visit Wiltshire and I assume your stat is correct).

        • Isa

          I would also add that Salisbury Cathedral has guide books in Russian , which shows they do indeed have Russian Visitors . Culture and landmarks are part of the 5+ motivations for Russian leisure trips to the UK .

          so funny, I’ve never seen so many people interested in proving that Salisbury Cathedral is of no architectural or historical value .

  • Sharp Ears

    Craig’s name came up in an interview on Radio 5 Live just before the 7am ‘news’ between Nicky Campbell and a Prof Sam Greene from the Russia Institute at KCL. Ref the visit to Salisbury by the Russian pair.

    Jeering stuff.

    They played a clip from the interview with Kirsty Wark and the Russian interviewer who broke off the interview.

    BBC in overdrive. On BBC Breakfast, they are now playing a clip of Ms Simonyan’s interview with the men. More jeering and anti Putin/Russia prop from their ‘correspondent’ Jon Donnison. He used to report from Gaza.

    The BBC thinks we are stupid.

    • Garth Carthy

      “Assuming that ‘Observer’ is resident in the UK, he/she did not get much sleep last night!”

      Yep. Lack of sleep produces irrational thinking as well as verbal diarrhoea!

  • Dory4

    I had the opposite reaction for my first impression. I was agnostic but after seeing them come forward, I lean to their version.

    Why would they poison someone using their own name if they were hitmen? Well, if the police are correct and they were using aliases, I’m sure many people in the west (after all, the police admitted they had travelled many times to Europe) and Russia would come forward with their real names and identities or at least other identities/aliases.

    For them to come forward shows they have nothing to hide regarding their identities. That’s not Hitman material.

  • Mikhail

    The MSM seem to completely ignore the romantic side of the too, which, given Russia’s notoriously poor level of social acceptance of it, accounts quite a few of the otherr peculiarities of the interview.

  • Charles Bostock

    I wonder why our old friend “Tatyana” is keeping so quiet?

    But all is not lost, folks – we now have another Russian, one “___Alex____” 🙂

    • Observer

      We also have Boris clocking in at 05h58

      As for Tatyana, did you spurn her offer of baring her Russian breasts? 😉

      • Борис Крылов

        Борис в восторге от вашего утверждения , что мы тут страдаем от нашей власти. Хотелось бы ещё, что нибудь узнать о себе. Окажите услугу.

      • Charles Bostock

        @ Observer

        Yes, I’m afraid I did, but I don’t think that’s why she suddenly disappeared. They probably get rotated when their cover’s blown.

  • Charles Bostock

    Perhaps the Russians pay more attention to this blog than do the British security services?

      • Charles Bostock

        My dear Jaggar

        Do you mean “Perhaps the CIA pays more attention to this blog than do the British security services?” or do you mean “Perhaps the Russians pay more attention to this blog than does the CIA?”

        Preciseness is key to the scientific approach.

  • Monster

    The ridicule over the interview was predictable, and reluctantly I agree. It was a stupid and unnecessary interview that created more questions than answers. But if they were arrested under the European warrant what laws have they broken and what is the evidence? Not good for our tourist industry.

    • Carl

      No, they just took the chance it was the famous non-deadly variety of novichok and continued to let guests stay there in the assumption no one would be worse for wear.

    • Yeah, Right

      No.

      The first sample went to Porton Down and was recorded as a “positive”.
      All attempts by Porton Down to reproduce that result came back “negative”.

      So not even Porton Down can “confirm” that initial measurement, and afaik nobody outside of Porton Down has been given any swabs to test.

      In lab-speak the initial result has to be regarded as a “false-positive”.

  • Dungroanin

    Morning All.

    So what’s new here?

    Who’s new here?

    Have the LeMesurier/DeBretton-Gordon and their fellow tank buddies been outed yet?
    Looks like their ff has been pulled! Good. So the kerfuffle back to Salisbury.
    Trezza like Erdogan has put herself right in the middle. There is no escape from taking a hit. Funny how long a week can be in politics!
    It won’t be brexit means brexi that did for her but her careless hyperbole on what seems to be innocent tourists.
    Privvy Council rules were yet again deployed in our so called free and democratic system. Exactly how Blair got his vote using the WMD crap.

    Secrecy about what is a criminal act (attempted murder/ murder) by OUR out of control DS.

    If there is any evidence – it is time for this govt to produce it & the Skripals.
    Otherwise a legal challenge for slander by the Russian duo is how to drag the truth out.

  • Hatuey

    Funny that the Skripals aren’t able to do an interview but these guys are. Someone scared in case they tell the truth?

    • Ken Kenn

      May’s biggest fear would be if Putin agreed to send these people over to the UK or agreed to them being questioned by The Met.

      If there was a trial in the UK ( that is never going to happen ) evidence from both parties would have to be presented.

      That will never happen too as there appears to be a lot – but the vast majority of it is worthless.

      I await though some videos/pictures of the Skripals wandering round Salisbury on the Sunday afternoon in question
      as we have seen the alleged ” attackers ” but not the attacked.

      We will never see that either.

  • Carl

    Having named Putin responsible on the day of tbe event, it seems to me the burden of proof lies entirely with the British government. Yet fully six months later, and despite all the preemptive rhetoric and sanctions, evidence of Putin’s involvement or even a coherent motive for his involvement are still absent. In a healthy society that would be reason for resignations at the top of government and media organisations.

  • Sharp Ears

    Her Majesty’s prisons are in a state of collapse. Today 5,000 officers, including those at Bedford prison are walking out.

    https://twitter.com/search?q=bedford%20prison

    Thousands of prison officers to stage walk-out over ‘unprecedented levels of violence’
    The protest comes after warnings about the potential for a “complete breakdown” in order and discipline at HMP Bedford.
    08:22, UK,
    Friday 14 September 2018
    Thousands of prison officers are expected to walk out today in a protest over “unprecedented levels of violence”, a union says.
    The Prison Officers Association (POA) said it was demanding that the government improve safety in jails and reduce violence and overcrowding.
    It comes after the chief inspector of prisons warned about the potential for a “complete breakdown” in order and discipline at HMP Bedford.
    Inmates have effectively taken control at the violent, overcrowded and vermin-infested jail, the watchdog said.
    A POA spokesman said: “The unprecedented levels of violence, and failure of this government and employer to provide safe prisons has been headline news for some considerable time.
    “The rise in violence against staff in prisons is laid firmly at the feet of government and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, who have overseen the demise of the prison service over the last eight years.”
    The demonstrations across England and Wales started at 7am.
    “We expect every POA member to be stood outside every establishment, public or private, in England and Wales,” a POA spokesman told Sky News.
    The spokesman said he expected at least 5,000 prison officers to take part in the protests.’

    https://news.sky.com/story/thousands-of-prison-officers-to-stage-walk-out-over-unprecedented-levels-of-violence-11497137

    They probably saw the unconvincing and useless Prisons Minister, Rory Stewart, on QT last night. He has said he would resign if there was no improvement in 10 prisons. So that’s going to change everything for the better?

    Government should not have cut prison officer numbers so much, Tory minister Rory Stewart admits
    Minister also failed to add HMP Birmingham to a list of 10 prisons he would resign over if conditions failed to improve
    20 August 2018
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/prison-officers-cuts-hmp-birmingham-g4s-rory-stewart-justice-department-a8498981.html

    Time for him to go on another walkabout in Afghanistan? He’s had more jobs than we have had hot dinners.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rory_Stewart

    The Turquoise Mountain Foundation was set up by P Charles and Karzai. There’s a double act for you. In Saudi Arabia? and Myanmar? Stewart was the chairman until 2010 when he became an MP. Funding – USAID et al?? A front.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turquoise_Mountain_Foundation

    Shoshana is his wife.
    https://turquoisemountain.org/the-team

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