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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  • John2o2o

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

    Well, perhaps. it perhaps also demonstrates the revolting apathy of the average English man and woman to their own culture.

    Something the Scots cannot be accused of. I’m pleased to have my foot in both camps.

      • Dungroanin

        Sanity? 6 months to get this far? Speculation and
        NO EVIDENCE.
        NO CHARGES.
        NO SKRIPALS.
        TRIAL BY MEDIA!

        Insanity is what you are calling for, you’d have to pay me to read the great Fail.

        Btw have you had any sleep yet? That was a marathon shift you put in? Or are you off shore?

    • Yeah, Right

      david: “Rebut this, someone.”

      Sure, glad to help out….

      1. What about the Novichok found in hotel room?
      The first swab came back positive. All subsequent swabs came back negative. By the standard required this means that the first swab has to be regarded as a “false positive”.

      2. Why stay in East London anyway?
      Why not stay in East London? They had planned only a single trip to Salisbury on the 3rd, but the foul weather caused them to abort after an hour. It makes sense to return to already-booked accommodation to see what the weather was like the next morning: if bad then stay in London, if sunny then head to Salisbury again.

      3. Their complaints about the snowy weather
      Those complaints appear to be justified: heavy snow on the 3rd (correct), they returned to Salisbury on the 4th because the morning was sunny (correct) but by the afternoon it was raining and they became drenched.

      If you read the DailyMail article you will see that it actually concedes all those points, however begrudgingly, and however misleadingly they obfuscate by talking about “temperature” instead of “snow”, or about “damp” as a euphemism for “rain”.

      4. Wrong direction for visiting cathedral
      There is no law saying that tourists must make a beeline when sightseeing, not when there is a tourist city to explore.

      Note also the very misleading “they walked north-west and were captured on CCTV walking past a Shell garage on the way to the Skripal family home”, which is simply untrue because there is no CCTV of them taking the right-turn that would be necessary to send them “on the way” to that house.

      5. No pictures of them visiting cathedral
      Has the Met Police actually said that they have reviewed all CCTV footage at the Cathedral and found nothing?
      Or are they simply not saying anything at all?

      Those are two very different things, or didn’t you notice?

      As for their own happy-snaps, well, heck, give them a break. The Police took six months to release their footage, so I would suggest you show these two the same curtesy.

      6. Bus tours to Stonehenge were NOT cancelled
      The statement that they wanted to visit “Stonehenge, Old Sarum, the cathedral of the Virgin Mary, but it didn’t work out because it was slush” was a reference to their experience on the 3rd, so it is misleading in the extreme to talk about the bus schedule on the 4th.

      7. Airport entry photo
      Boshirov did not suggest that the Gatwick photo was faked.
      Indeed, all he does is suggest that the interviewer direct that question to the Gatwick authorities:
      “You’d better ask them why we’re seen at the same second, at the same time, but separately”
      “I don’t know how they do it.”
      “But if they printed these photos at that time then better ask them.”

      8. ‘Fake photos’ proved real
      That’s not actually a “flaw” in their testimony, as they are not the least bit responsible for what Other People say.

      9. Bad timing
      Well, yeah. If you want to pick a fall-guy then it has to be someone who was actually there at the time.
      But in what way is that a “flaw” in their story? Does it mean that EVERY tourist in Salisbury on the 4th was “in on the hit”?

      10. Two return flights and the missing luggage
      There is no “missing luggage”. The Gatwick arrival photos shows Petrov with a backpack, and Boshirov with a small wheelie-bag.
      The Heathrow photos shows…. Petrov with a backpack, and Boshirov with a small wheelie-bag.

      That Daily Mail hit-list is full of misrepresentations and errors regarding what was said in that interview, and is sloppy in the extreme in its attempt to use extraneous “evidence” to refute things that were never said.

  • Sebastian

    Oh the irony, BBC accusing someone of being state propaganda ! ( appreciated in Scotland, I’m sure ).
    Satanic panic has reached such a pitch with regards Russia that evidence has become irrelevant.
    No efforts by the kings horses and men of the compliant media can stop this thing falling, its going for WW3 or broke by this stage of ritual defamation.

  • shugsrug

    Very few were convinced about the Skripal poisoning story in the first place, apart from the unhinged Putin haters. These two hapless individuals never looked like hit men and their appearance on RT confirms that. Why on earth would Putin put his agents on show to the world. Completely unbelievable. Exactly what the two were doing in Salisbury is not the point, they were just not knowing assassins.

    • Rod

      I don’t know if very few people were convinced about the Skripal poisoning story. It’s my belief that the majority of the population of this country either believe what our main stream media hands them, or worse, don’t care enough to question the ‘official’ narrative. The fact that some poor unfortunate actually died in this farrago doesn’t seem to matter, she was only a ‘bit player’ in this ongoing drama and was probably used, and continues to be used, by others with a different agenda.

      It’s only people who like us who read these comments to Mr Murray’s blog and others who provide similar postings will question what is handed to us. Clearly, we need more readers who will contribute their research and further enlighten us all. Only in that way will the nation be persuaded not to readily accept the official narrative.

      • Ultraviolet

        There was an interesting article here, which completely ignored its own evidence that should have produced screaming banner headlines.
        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-salisbury-novichok-skripal-corbyn-a8304926.html
        In trying to demonstrate how the country was behind May and condemning Corbyn’s demand for proof, they nonetheless let the cat out of the bag with this paragraph:

        According to the poll by BMG Research, the same proportion also disapprove of the way that Jeremy Corbyn has handled the affair, with the Labour leader having refused to directly blame the Kremlin for the incident.

        It may be because almost half of those who took part in the survey are also convinced Russia was behind the attack, according to the survey.

        What stunned me about that paragraph was that is says that, when our own PM and Foreign Secretary and all the media had been telling us it was definitely the Russians wot dun it, fewer than half the country believed it.
        And I am quite sure the proportion who believe it will only have reduced with the disappearance of the Skripals, the nonsensical and changing timelines, and the complete failure to produce anything remotely resembling persuasive evidence.

        • Sue Mason

          And the accusation was used by TheresaMay to smear the leader of the opposition, JeremyCorbyn, for asking for more evidence. The evidence keeps changing as ppl like Craig step up with sensible queries on the ever changing narrative

      • James

        A comment I made just now on this page about the Burnley couple’s death in Egypt is relevant here.
        While I agree with some the sentiments you have, the reality is that such enlightenment is not and should not be publicly available, and it certainly is not going to be found on here.
        In my opinion, Mrs May be remembered in the history books as the most unsuccessful British Prime Minister. Her quest for stability is comical in its tragic ineptitude.
        There is however no clash between this strongly-felt opinion, and a similar one that certain things should be secret and remain so. It is none of our business, and HMG’s (and Murray’s) apparent determination that it should be is manipulative and wrong.

      • James

        I truly do not wish to offend Rod or anyone else on here (unless they are some trolling bellend, hardly a rare breed on here). Any idea that “the nation be persuaded not to readily accept the official narrative” via comments on here, or indeed on sites with far higher diffusion such as Facebook or twitter, seems to me both naïve and needless. The latter because they don’t accept it the official narrative , and the former because they don’t care.

  • Jeff Koons

    Average salary across Russia, which was about 32,000 rubles ($780) per month plus the cost of a Visa to the UK , costs about £100, so how did they afford to come?

    • Igor M.

      (A) who told you that “story” about the average salary? (B) they say they have their own business (hint: chances are earn more than an average 9-5 office drone). And (C) perhaps Russian income is lower than that of an average Brit, but there’s far-far-far fewer people who live in perpetual debt, and maybe that “lower” income is why they came here for a weekend, cf what an average Brit would do: go on holiday on a credit card and pay interest to a bank?!

      • EricsEars

        I distinctly remember meeting my first American tourist in Scotland a long time ago. Nice chap, told me he was on a tour of Europe.
        I asked for how long, “a month..?”. ..”Five days” was his reply. I’ve since met countless other non-Brit tourists whose itinerary leaves them to take an hour at a ‘place of interest’ and tick it off the list swiftly moving on to another destination… Behavioural norms outside of English holiday culture exist. A fact that a few of the commenters on this blog cannot get their heads around.

        • Dungroanin

          They even seem to ignore our very own weekend breaks and cheap flights.

          They are being hyped up into mob hysteria by the PsyOp thugs.

          Who needs facts when the MSM can accuse witchcraft – Old Sarum indeed!

        • Igor M.

          Again, you failed to listen to the interview or read the transcript- they came to visit London and wanted to take a trip to Salisbury for the Cathedral etc.

          In other news, we have no idea about the double booking, have you seen two different reservation numbers? It’s a supposition that hasn’t been proven- just like the US prosecutors were claiming Butina was offering sex for a job only to admit that it was a lie when challenged in a court proceedings.

      • Ilya Levin

        Fewer people who live in perpetual debt? Well, 29 million (officiall statistics, really at least twice as many) in constant poverty, not even having enough money to buy decent food, that’s almost half of all UK population.
        These guys’ story does not add up at all, starting with them telling that they came to Britain sololy to go to the Cathedral. Imagine yourself going through all the trouble to get a visa (and having to show considerable amount of money on your bank account) in some country and then going there only for a weekend (not with your family, but with your business-partner), renting a room in one of the cheepest motels with a single bed for 2 people and visiting only one place twice. Imagine going to the US for a weekend and not visiting NY or Washington, but rather going to Fort Benning down in GA.

        Second thing – they are so poor they had to buy a one-man room in a cheep motel, but they did book 2 sets of return tickets to Moscow and did not borther to refund the tickets they did not use. Would you do that if you were so short on money?
        Third thing – Simonyan said they called her on her personal cellphone. How many people, do you think, know the personal phone number of the chief editor of a massmedia station? I have alot of contacts in the media world, I don’t know it.

        This all is not to mention that the ‘interviewer’ did not ask any principal important questions and looked more like a defence lawyer protecting her clients in court.

        Yes, I’m russian and live here almost all my life. And I have alot of questions to the british version of these events. But the ammount of ridiculus and stupid lies that come from my own government (which RT is a part of) makes me cringe much more.

        • Igor M.

          You’re being obtuse. First, there’s a difference between “constantly poor” and “perpetual debt,” I suggest you look that difference up. Secondly, “fewer” obviously means as a proportion of population, otherwise it’s idiotic to compare a tiny island nation with a country that spans two continents.

          Thirdly, you’re deliberately lying: here’s a transcript of the interview: https://www.rt.com/news/438356-rt-petrov-boshirov-full-interview/ SHOW ME where they say “that they came to Britain sololy to go to the Cathedral.”

          I’m not gonna bother with the rest of your BS.

        • Борис Крылов

          Позвоните в любую редакцию мира и скажите, что вы подозреваемый по делу Скриполей. У вас будут телефон любого главреда.

        • Borncynical

          “did not ask any principal important questions”. But remember, they requested the interview and she is a journalist responding to that. It was clearly, from their touchy responses to one or two of her searching questions, a fine line between asking genuinely revealing questions – albeit on a relatively superficial level – and carrying out an interrogation. She wasn’t there interviewing them to provide ‘incriminating’ evidence for incompetent British investigators.

          • Doodlebug

            Repeat of my p.4 comment:

            September 14, 2018 at 12:18

            I’m playing late ‘catch up’ on a topic that’s moving faster than I can keep up and with a laptop that won’t let me.

            Thanks for the link (https://imgur.com/a/zdWycW0).

            Unfortunately I see absolutely nothing (literally) where I might expect to see a picture or two. Is that the link you intended? The comment beneath by nwwoods could well be mere sarcasm, I don’t know, but since you’ve taken the time to research the image you had in mind I must assume it is relevant and possibly important.

            Please keep me up to speed if poss.

            Many thanks

        • uncle tungsten

          Thank you Ilya Levin, but your contribution is silly and you did not earn your pay for that one. To be sure, it was a carefully crafted diversionary/accusatory statement but it really was silly. It is simple to deconstruct, it is clearly a poorly considered chain of guilt attribution, it avoids the real world we humans occupy and is unworthy of paid work.

          Some people like cathedrals and travel to them and some to piles of old megaliths. I am sure there are others who fly to exotic places to observe butterflys or even magnificent trees. I know of many who volunteer do dig up ancient ruins even and they have an academic respect record too.

          I also know people who walk in leach infested forests and find grandeur there even for an hour or so.

          Get real man, the englander state is the perpetrator here. Skripal worked for Orbis, you know Christopher Steele and it was that company that worked to destroy Trump’s family and presidential campaign and presidency with their grubby little dossier. The could not have done that if it wasnt accompanied by collusion with the englander state apparatus. Get it man? Theresa May backed Hillary Clinton and lost. She continues to flog the ‘hate russia’ meme and has no care for the danger and distress to world peace that follows. The englander state is a threat to us all.

    • Jack

      Jeff Koons

      Everytime I travelled abroad, one of the ethnic groups I often hear in the tourist areas are russians.
      Many russians are poor but obviously millions of them have the ability to travel abroad.

    • Spencer Eagle

      Jeff Koons – 227,000 Russian visited the UK in 2017, up more than 50% on the previous year. They made an average spend of £826 per visit. What’s interesting is that less than 10% came to the UK in organised tours, the vast majority preferring instead to make their own flight and accommodation arrangements (ONS stats). Russia ranks No. 8 in the global rank for international tourism expenditure, so contrary to salaries and preconceptions, they like to travel. All things considered it would appear that these two guys were in the wrong place, wrong time and have become convenient patsies for the British government’s narrative.
      https://www.visitbritain.org/markets/russia

    • Paul Greenwood

      Because they were not on the “average salary”. Per Capita GDP in UK is £22,000 which makes it hard to see how anyone can afford £9000 pa in tuition fees or where the ROI is

      • Борис Крылов

        Плоский подоходный…
        Нет, не иметет. Многие не платят подоходного налога. Конечно это не правильно , но печальная реальность. Да и наказание за неуплату не велико.

        • Clark

          Google Translate:

          Boris Krylov
          September 14, 2018 at 13:57

          Flat income …
          No, he does not. Many do not pay income tax. Of course this is not correct, but sad reality. And the penalty for non-payment is not great.

    • nwwoods

      1. Return flights from Moscow start at about £147.
      2. They shared a room in a fleabag hotel that advertises rooms for £42.
      3. They are probably not salaried employees but entrepreneurs, from what I gathered from the interview, assuming that their answers were mostly honest.

    • Sue Mason

      Have you ever been to Goa? Jammed packed with ‘ordinary’ Russians having a good time in the sun

  • Sharp Ears

    ALL of this Salisbury stuff is a diversion to what’s really happening.

    Turkey deploys reinforcements to Syrian border
    Al Jazeera
    12 hours ago

    Pentagon questions presence of Russian warships off Syrian coast
    CNN.com
    12 hours ago

    U.S. marines conduct big drills with rebels in southern Syria
    Reuters
    15 hours ago

    Russian Warships Are Probably Lurking Near Syria In Case Putin Orders Cruise Missile Strikes
    Task & Purpose
    16 hours ago

    A Looming Disaster in Syria
    New York Times
    17 hours ago
    (Google Syria News)

    • Rowan

      @Sharp Ears
      September 14, 2018 at 09:46
      ALL of this Salisbury stuff is a diversion to what’s really happening.

      Indeed. I usually repost ten foreign news items a day on my blog, and today is a doozy. I imagine that USUK wants to provoke Russia into providing the casus belli out of sanctions-driven deprivation, like Japan under the oil sanctions that led to their attempted breakout at Pearl Harbor.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Well at least the RAF have stopped accusing the Russians of violating British airspace in The Black Sea. The Med is of course an American Lake unless Israel decides USS Liberty needs a re-run which is where the Americans go all coy like with USS Panay and ………..kowtow

  • Roger Wise

    Interesting, why people choose different locations, millions of Chinese flock, to the Market/Garrison town of Bicester – best known for Friday night scraps and barbers, apparently, the lure, a designer retail village, why visit Stonehenge, when you can ‘shop till you drop’ in Oxfordshire.

    • Greg Park

      1. The assassins (!) made no attempts to answer why novichok traces were found in a room inside their east London hotel.
      The most glaring problem with their story is the fact that traces of novichok were found in their hotel room in East London. They were not asked, and did not explain, how this could possibly be the case.

      Perhaps you could explain, Observer, since this DM sleuth fails to, why a hotel infected with Novichok military nerve agent was not closed even for one day, remaining open to guests ever since? Because I don’t understand.

      • Igor M.

        Except that there’s no evidence of that “trace” recall how much of a show was put on in Salisbury and Amesbury with “decontamination” yet nada in London!

      • Igor M.

        It was stored in a binary form in a sealed Nina Ricci container? So how did the junkies from Amesbury mix it up to get the toxin??? You really are making sh*t up as your narrative falls apart!

      • jim bim

        If the UK police found traces of Novichok in their Hotel room, why didn`t the police seal off the room, why didn`t they exam other rooms and facility at the Hotel, why didn`t they inform/warn the Hotel owner, why did the police wait 4 month to make the Hotel findings public, why would the police be so reckless and put other hotel guests live at risk.

        • Andreas

          They expected them to come back and clean up their mess thus catching them red handed,

          However, four moths down the road they then realized that it probably was not going to happen…?

          • Dennis Revell

            Andreas:

            Don’t be RIDICULOUS. For one thing, if it was known that that was the room they were staying in, they would NOT have to return there to prove it.

            Just how would the police/other authorities sanitising and making safe what must have ALLEGEDLY been an inherently dangerous room in any way deter the two Russians from returning? You think they’d be able to smell the bleach as they walked down the road on their way back?

            They wouldn’t know about such activity, so it wouldn’t deter them at all. The cops/authorities would rather leave a location in an allegedly deadly dangerous condition, on the basis of a quick apprehension? Just to let you know that the level of logic on Craig’s blog is usually much higher than you display.

            .

          • Dish-Washer

            Clearly it’s not just Netanyahu admirers listening to Palestinian intellectuals who tend to lack an irony detector.

      • Paul Greenwood

        How can they explain what they know nothing about. No-one has yet explained how an English couple died in an hotel bedroom in Egypt run by Steigenberger hotels (which is an Egyptian company now)…………

        • James

          The Burnley couple on holiday did seem an odd one. A Pythonesque sketch about the new Olympic sport of Synchronised Heart Attacks sprung to my mind at the time. Perhaps I need help.
          That was, however, none of our business, and they have surviving family members who can kick up a fuss if there was some subterfuge. It was most likely that their tragic deaths were due to food-poisoning. I recently saw reports that a pyrethroid insecticide had been used in an adjoining room, some guff about “farm-strength” chemicals. Sounds like the place was infested, and my money would be on food poisoning all the more. Those pyrethroids are remarkably safe, unless you’re a goldfish or a honey bee.
          Mrs May’s outrageous gaslighting over the Skripal affair was pretty thinly-disguised, and over the last six months has become entirely preposterous. Quite what is going on there is almost certainly not fit for public consumption also, but in reality it is even less “our” business than the Ormerod family’s sad loss.

      • MaryPau!

        We haven’t to date been given any evidence of how much novichok agent was found, we are told it was only in their hotel room. We have not been told of any decontamination procedure,, although the hotel is now open
        for business, not have we been told who verified it (porton down? ), in fact all we know are official statements that it was found.

        • uncle tungsten

          Exactly MaryPau! there is a high probability of it being a false positive as most hotels routinely use insecticides. I wonder how many other hotel rooms would show a false positive from time to time. This is a piece of deceptive ‘evidence’ that should be set aside for now.

    • Made By Dom

      Indeed. I think The Mail has out-Murrayed Murray on this issue.

      There’s a great theory on this site about the Russian suspects being ‘in the closet’.
      I strongly suspect the references to tall spires and old clocks is some form of Russian Polari. If you look closely enough, you can see Boshirov wink at Petrov when he talks about the ‘123 metre spire’ as if to say, “Oo! We like a big spire, don’t we Mr Petrov?”

    • Yeah, Right

      The Daily Mail article that david pointed to is riddled with mistakes and contains deliberate attempts at obfuscation..

      1. What about the Novichok found in hotel room?
      The first swab came back positive. All subsequent swabs came back negative. By the standard required this means that the first swab has to be regarded as a “false positive”.

      2. Why stay in East London anyway?
      Why not stay in East London? This argument makes no sense because it requires omniscience from the two Russians.

      Think about it: foul weather on the 3rd caused them to abort their visit to Salisbury after an hour. It makes sense to return to already-booked accommodation to see what the weather was like the next morning: if bad then stay in London, if sunny then head to Salisbury again.

      The weather in the morning was good, so they went back, but they had no way of knowing that the night before.

      3. Their complaints about the snowy weather
      Those complaints appear to be justified: heavy snow on the ground on the 3rd (correct), they returned to Salisbury on the 4th because the morning was sunny (correct) but by the afternoon it was raining and they became drenched (correct)

      The Daily Mail article actually concedes all those points, however begrudgingly, and however misleadingly they obfuscate by talking about “temperature” instead of “snow”, or about “damp” as a euphemism for “rain”. You did read the article, right, Observer?

      4. Wrong direction for visiting cathedral
      There is no law saying that tourists must make a beeline when sightseeing, not when there is a tourist city to explore.

      I’ve visited many a city as a tourist, and I freely admit that when I do I go here, there, and everywhere, but never once did my meandering “prove” that I had any murderous intent.

      Note also the very misleading “they walked north-west and were captured on CCTV walking past a Shell garage on the way to the Skripal family home” – no CCTV footage shows them taking the right-turn that would be necessary to send them “on the way” to the Skripal house

      Or, put another way: the actual CCTV footage showed a direction of travel that would NOT have sent them past house, and the Daily Mail is making an *assumption* that at some point they changed direction. But that *assumption* not supported by any CCTV footage.

      5. No pictures of them visiting cathedral
      Has the Met Police actually said that they have reviewed all CCTV footage at the Cathedral and found nothing?
      Or are they simply not saying anything at all?

      Those are two very different things.

      As for their own happy-snaps, well, heck, give them a break. The Police took six months to release their footage, so I would suggest you show these two the same curtesy.

      6. Bus tours to Stonehenge were NOT cancelled
      The Daily Mail is indulging in deliberate misinformation here. The statement that they wanted to visit “Stonehenge, Old Sarum, the cathedral of the Virgin Mary, but it didn’t work out because it was slush” was a reference to their experience on the 3rd – they mention the day TWICE in that particular passage – so it is misleading for the Daily Mail to talk about how the busses were running on the 4th.

      7. Airport entry photo
      Again, the Daily Mail is simply lying about what was said.
      Boshirov did not suggest that the Gatwick photo was faked.
      All he does is ask the interviewer to direct that question to the Gatwick authorities:
      “You’d better ask them why we’re seen at the same second, at the same time, but separately”
      “I don’t know how they do it.”
      “But if they printed these photos at that time then better ask them.”

      8. ‘Fake photos’ proved real
      That’s not actually a “flaw” in their testimony, as they are not the least bit responsible for what Other People say or what Other People claim.

      9. Bad timing
      This is a facile argument, akin to arguing that if you have the misfortune to visit Japan when it has an earthquake then, du’oh!, you are responsible for Japanese earthquakes.

      If the authorities want a fall-guy then it is obvious that they have to pick someone who was actually there at the time.
      But in what way is that a “flaw” in their story? Does it mean that EVERY tourist in Salisbury on the 4th was “in on the hit”?

      10. Two return flights and the missing luggage
      There is no “missing luggage”.
      The Gatwick arrival photos shows Petrov with a backpack, and Boshirov with a small wheelie-bag.
      The Heathrow photos shows Petrov with a backpack, and Boshirov with a small wheelie-bag.

      • Ian

        Very large fail in your wall of text: “6. Bus tours to Stonehenge were NOT cancelled The Daily Mail is indulging in deliberate misinformation here. The statement that they wanted to visit “Stonehenge, Old Sarum, the cathedral of the Virgin Mary, but it didn’t work out because it was slush” was a reference to their experience on the 3rd – they mention the day TWICE in that particular passage – so it is misleading for the Daily Mail to talk about how the busses were running on the 4th”.
        Like Mr Murray you clearly omit the fact that they returned on Sunday. For what? To try and visit the attractions again after failing to to so on the Saturday? On Sunday the operator Salisbury Reds had their full winter service running and Stonehenge was again open to visitors.

        • Yeah, Right

          I can’t believe how many times I have to correct you on this.

          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.
          [That’s Petrov talking about their planned sightseeing on the Saturday]

          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.
          [That’s both of them explaining what they planned to see on their Sunday re-visit]

          So, with that fresh in our minds let’s deconstruct Ian’s mistake….

          Ian: “Like Mr Murray you clearly omit the fact that they returned on Sunday.”
          Nooooo, neither of us “omit” that.
          What I am doing is quoting those two gentlemen.
          What you are doing is refusing to listen to what they are saying.

          Ian: “For what?”
          I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve pointed out that Petrov and Boshirov had already answered that question for you

          Hint: the answer is “Old Sarum and the Cathedral”.

          Ian: “To try and visit the attractions again after failing to to so on the Saturday?”
          No, Ian, the answer to that question is “No, Ian”.

          They had planned to visit THREE attractions on Saturday, including Stonehenge.
          By Sunday (their last day in Britain, remember?) they had whittled that down to only TWO attractions.

          Ian: ” On Sunday the operator Salisbury Reds had their full winter service running and Stonehenge was again open to visitors.”
          Utterly and completely irrelevant.

          Read. The. Damn. Interview.

          The two of them explicitly say that on the Saturday they had compiled a list of THREE attractions they wanted to visit, and failed miserably at visiting any of them. By the time they set out to re-visit Salisbury on the Sunday morning they had whittled that list down to only TWO attractions, neither of which was “Stonehenge”.

          That’s not just me saying this – it’s them saying it, not once but twice.

          I have to keep pointing this out to you, but it remains true every single time I do so: you are barking up the wrong tree.

          You have become fixated on the idea that Stonehenge was open on Sunday, so much so that you don’t comprehend that they clearly and concisely state that by the time they arrived in Salisbury for the second time they had already decided to limit themselves to just TWO attractions: Old Sarum and Salisbury Cathedral.

          • Borncynical

            Yeah, Right

            I feel for you and share your exasperation. The words ‘Wall, a, hitting, against, head, brick, your’ spring immediately to mind!

  • John Goss

    One thing has occurred to me. If these two visitors to Salisbury are who they say they are, hundreds of Russians would be able to confirm it. Where are they? Come forward and support them.

    • Igor M.

      Why on earth should the innocent, let alone those who know them, have to prove their innocence, what perverse view of a legal system do you have? Prove you’re not a pedophile, for example!

      • Oliver Horne

        They don’t have to, but they might wish to based on their statements – that their lives had been torn apart by the accusations.

        Surely their business has countless customers, they have wives, children, buddies, colleagues. Just a few of these coming forward and they could go back to their normal boring lives as definitely not assassins.

        • Igor M.

          And if they do come forward, the media here would accuse those coming forward of being GRU agents too (even though GRU has not existed for eight or ten years now, shows how much the British Intelligence knows btw when the Prime Minister utters drivel like that in Parliament for the whole world to see the ignorance)… C’mon!

      • Anders Novichok

        Igor M, they don’t need to. They can stay in Russia from now on if they choose.
        I’m sure if they are so eager to travel they will want to get themselves off the Interpol Red Notice list, that is, if they are innocent.

        • Igor M.

          Are they on the Red Notice list? Interpol has no Russians wanted by the UK authorities on their Red Notice bulletin; and, as I said last night, given the requirements for proof and the ability to challenge that proof in court in the arresting country as set out by the relevant EU directives, I highly doubt there is even an EAW out for them…

          • MaryPau!

            I don’t see why they can’t roll out some Russian family and colleagues to prove they are who they say they are.

    • Pavel

      Biggest Russian tabloid offer 100.000 roubles for “substantive and proved information” about the two. Wait a bit, this drama far from end.

      • Tom Smythe

        Yes, the rush to assessment on the interview makes no sense at this time. I expect a whole lot more information on them to emerge in the next few days that will upend their lives and livelihoods but will have minimal relevance to the Skripal case. The UK can’t back off its nonsense about door handles and these two without losing face.

        In fact, given the amount of information already available, it’s a bit surprising in this age of electronic trails that we don’t already know what they eat for breakfast (same Russian buckwheat as Skripals liked???), their grades in high school (bad –> sought out by GRU), whether they played well with others in kindergarten (hardened to commit violence early on) and so forth. [[irony/black humor advisory]]

    • Tom Welsh

      One of the men said, in the interview, that he would not give any further details of their business as he did not want to involve friends or relatives – and he did not want to give the slightest clues to the Western media.

      Kind of like the advice given to those planning to visit Hannibal Lecter, come to think of it.

    • uncle tungsten

      Ah John done it again I see. I subscribe to innocent till proven guilty and all in a court if you please.

      But lets talk about people making an appearance in support of their circumstance.
      When is Julia or Sergei going to make an appearance and talk?
      When is DS Bailey going to make an appearance and talk?
      How about the Mill pub staff? aren’t they persons of interest as there seems to have been a bit of shenanigans on the premises.
      Could we hear/see some coming forth (in support of the englander state’s case) a full release of the vast cctv archive of the fateful day showing what and where the skripals went?
      What does Christopher Steele have to say about the Orbis payment to Sergei and whether that satisfied the immense contribution he made to the dirty dossier on Trump? When will he come out and talk in support?
      Then there is Joe Mifsud but…. ?

      Those people and recordings are all innocent of course. But we would like to see them sometime soon so that we can test their credibility.

  • Brian Steere

    When I looked at the behaviour of the interviewees, I noticed a preemptive denial of homosexuality, and a continued sense of fear around disclosure of some sort – but I did not sense they were in fact assassins at all. If anything they behave in a way that invites suspicion to a casual attention.
    They want it all to ‘go away’ but they are not willing or able to bring a light forth to shine it away.
    So my current sense is that they may have been involved in some morally or legally irregular activities – which could be trivial and irrelevant to the ‘Skripal event’, (or even to public attention), but of course not trivial to Borishov and Petrov if their reputations and relationships are threatened thereby.

    The ‘Skripal event’ is not just what actually did or didn’t happen, but how it is being used and what it is being used for.
    The Media have never been completely ‘free’ (imo) but in UK and elsewhere, they are now so obviously directed under orders or under firmly backed up tacit ‘understandings’ and perhaps all sorts of D notices, national security regulations and not forgetting ‘immoral and irregular’ means of persuasion.

    My sense of ‘post-truth’ politics is not just the disregard of reasoned and honest, honouring communication, but the active development and engagement in the dark arts of deceit as the assumed ability to ‘make reality’. Propaganda or PR is nothing new, but the re-structuring of a corporately captured state run society lends itself to a much more systematic ‘control’. And every ‘shock’ to the system is a means to further ‘shock test’ and modify it as a technocratic management of humans that uses our emotional manipulatability as the managed ‘identity’.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Surely it is time for ALL Freemasons in UK to admit their infatuation and come out of the closet ?

    • Bridget

      Yes, my hit exactly Brian Steere. These two have something to hide but it is probably about their business and their sexuality–not about poisoning the Skripals. We have to remember how hostile Putin and therefore Russia is towards homosexuality, and these guys may even be married and not want their wives to know. As for the business: are they smuggling?Avoiding tax? Doing something else illegal? It could be tons of things and now, with all this publicity, they are going to be found out.. They look like they are living a nightmare, which is exactly what they will be doing if they are indeed just accidental scapegoats, especially if they have something to hide.

      It’s almost funny: go to Britain for a weekend with your close ‘friend’ (maybe even secretly), 3 months later see your faces splashed all over world media accused of poisoning someone you didn’t even know about.

      What I saw in the interview was two very scared men and their story was not at all “slick as if rehearsed’. In fact it was awkward. The newspapers running all the headlines about not believing them, want to manipulate the public’s reaction.

      Definitely do not believe they are guilty of poisoning but hopefully some strong evidence either exonerating or incriminating them will turn up soon. It’s sad that I’m sure that is too much to hope for

  • Edem

    I saw more of the pairs interview on RT, these guys as intelligence operatives and assassins – a complete and utter joke

  • Edem

    I saw more of the pairs interview on RT, these guys as intelligence operatives and assassins – a complete and utter joke

  • lolwhites

    As someone who grew up in Salisbury, I can’t see any reason why a visitor to the town would walk past the Shell garage on the Wilton Road. There’s nothing for tourists to see or do in that part of the town.

    • Igor M.

      It’s called exploring the town- I went to Edinburgh once with my g/f and we just mindlessly walked around areas that had nothing of any interest just to explore the place then when we had enough of that street or it ended we just turned back… Perhaps you should post a few signs around Salisbury that set out a designated and permitted tourist route?

    • Borncynical

      lolwhites – silly comment. As you yourself say “As someone who grew up in Salisbury…” So you’re saying if you went on a weekend trip to Nantes (for the sake of argument) and found that the places you intended visiting were closed or inaccessible and you had couple of hours to spare you wouldn’t even think of having a ‘wander’ to somewhere off the beaten track. Well, perhaps you never travel independently so wouldn’t understand the mindset of those who do.

  • Coldish

    Dear Craig, thank you for this informative and perceptive post. Salisbury cathedral and Stonehenge are certainly each ‘worth a journey’. The two Russian tourists weren’t asked in the RT interview how on 4 March they came to be walking past the Shell station on Wilton Road, which (starting from the rail station) is in almost diametrically the opposite direction from the cathedral, and on just about the shortest pedestrian route from the rail station to Skripal’s house. Perhaps they just fancied a stroll around the town. They could, for instance, have taken a left turn turn just beyond the Shell station onto Cherry Orchard Road, which leads under the railway, and then walked to the city centre and cathedral along Churchfield Road or via a footpath across the water meadows. Or maybe (perhaps realising that they were going in the wrong direction) they turned back along Wilton Road and walked back past the rail station to the city centre.
    It has been suggested (I think at blogmire.xxx) that they may have had an appointment to meet somebody at or near the junction of Summerlock Approach (which leads to a large car park) and Fisherton Street, where they were filmed on CCTV at around 13.08, before catching a train back to London a little after 2pm. That might explain the rather pointless walk up Wilton Road and back as a way of wasting time before a meeting. But that is just speculation.
    To me they came across as convincing, but they weren’t asked very penetrating questions.

    • Dish-Washer

      “They weren’t asked very penetrating questions.”
      Maybe because the head of Russian Television is too busy a woman to know exactly where the Shell station on Wilton Road is? She must be very much more aware of the topography of Moscow and St Petersburg.
      And the obvious explanation of their walk is that they were trying to reach Old Sarum which they have revealed as one of their two destinations on the Sunday. They just took a wrong turning in a confusing town and ended up heading NW instead of NNW.

  • marvellousMRchops

    I accept that that Boshirov and Petrov’s tourist visit to Salisbury does, on the surface, appear to be like a ‘bucket with a few holes in it’.
    Yet I have to admit that the Y-fronts have a somewhat yellow tinge to them after seeing the establishment’s position being defended by those who wish to focus their efforts on pointing out said ‘holes in the bucket’ whilst systematically ignoring the fact the establishment/MSM are using evidence which appears to be like a ‘bucket without a bottom’.

    This farce is quite entertaining in isolation but in the context of Syria I find deeply upsetting.

  • Dave

    It looks like the Russians have allowed MI5 to advance too far, like the Germans, with their far fetched story lines and have now struck back with a pincer attack of their own. I.e. the warmongers have been lured into a trap, as the named ‘assassins’ go public, requiring the Prime Minister to produce some actual evidence to back up her claims, hence the hatred of the warmongers as the tables get turned.

    • Dish-Washer

      The British media claims that HMG and the intelligence services know the real names of the suspects and they’re not Petrov and Boshirev have been rather undermined by the recent police declaration that they don’t know their names. Furthermore May has failed to ask Interpol to arrest them, for which she would have to provide their real names. How embarrassing if she had to put in Petrov and Boshirev on the request!

    • Igor M.

      Since as you’re set on repeating the same “story,” I’ll repeat my answer:

      As I said above when this “story” surfaced:

      Isn’t it interesting how the spies are not named and this story didn’t surface until now despite the Spiez lab “business” happening what, in Spring? I call BS on that “story.”

      • Igor M.

        You’re confusing an info leak with “detained spies” who never got there! Are you that stupid or do you think your audience is?

    • Rowan

      In April Sergei Lavrov claimed that information from the Spiez laboratory showed the nerve agent was BZ. His allegations were later rejected since the BZ substance was only being used in the lab as a counter-sample to novichok. (Guardian, precis).

      Tom Smythe, would you call the 3Q precursor (which was in fact not merely ‘used within the lab’ but transmitted with the suspect sample from Salisbury) a ‘counter-sample to Novichok’ or not? I still don’t comprehend this procedure with the 3Q. What is its purpose?

  • peter

    If people find this interview unconvincing, and say it proves they somehow carried out the the event. Others could equally be unconvinced that these 2 are highly trained assassins,when they behaved with such ineptitude,not only bungling the attempt on the skripals lives, but also leaving a trail that could be easily followed. One of them came across as extremely fearful and edgy. The gru must be very poorly run if thats the best they have to offer. More laurel and Hardy than John Le Carre. With all the anti Russia Hysteria, it’s clear this event is being weaponised to neuter and demonise Russia.Why Russia would want to kill some old spy just before the world cup makes no sense.

    • Kiss me twice

      I doubt anyone can question the behaviour of the two being interviewed, if they were guilty they would “play” nervous to seem genuine and if they were genuine they would appear nervous too.
      What they said however is as they say “fantastical”.
      If you believe they are big fans of Salisbury Cathederal, why didn’t they return over the summer? Why spend hours travelling from Russia staying at a rough but expensive London hotel to spend just over an hour walking to the wrong side of Salisbury before returning to Moscow?

      • Igor M.

        Perhaps listening to their interview and words they actually say would help, instead of clutching at straws? They did expressly say they came to London and decided to visit Salisbury while they were in London!

      • Dish-Washer

        They were going more for the London nightlife than the attractions of Salisbury by day, which is why they went back to London rather than booking a hotel in Salisbury. And by the accounts in the Mail and Express they exploited the attractions of London with its drugs and prostitutes to the hilt.

  • JKW

    Judging by the people commenting here I doubt they would agree that Hitler was a bad man. I’m sure he was just the target of secret service and media plots to tarnish his reputation? I mean, they used to sing a song about him having only one testicle, that was never proved so the case against him is flawed.

    I’m calling myself out on godwins law BTW

    • Tom Welsh

      I doubt whether most of the commenters here would question that Theresa May is a bad woman. It’s sort of taken for granted, actually, partly because of the mass of lies that she has sprayed out.

      As for Petrov and Boshirov, they have been massively slandered and libelled – but I have seen no shred of evidence that either of them has done anything wrong, let alone illegal.

    • nwwoods

      We have an abundance of evidence of Hitler’s illegal acts and we have none with respect to these two Russians, but why not conflate one with the other, since xenophobia toward anything remotely Russian is so in vogue right now.

  • Jamien Bailey

    IMO these two were up to no good, flying in from Russia to visit only Salisbury for only 2 days. But equally, they were not assassins either for all the reasons stated by CM. All the characters in this drama were in place at the same time on March 4th for some reason other than an international poisoning incident, almost certainly connected in some way with the Steele / Miller dossier. The ensuing events are probably a consequence of something not going quite right, then a retrospective creation of a narrative to fit the events, continually updated, combined with a timely Russia bashing opportunity. There seems to be some game in play between the Russian intelligence services and our own intelligence service, why else would Putin put these 2 ‘suspects’ up for view, giving credence to the ‘it was the Russians what done it’ scenario. Highly likely we will never know what really went on.
    The real ‘elephant in the room’ is: 250 police officers working for 6 months, racking up a huge bill for the taxpayers on what, in crime terms, is a non story,- spooks messing around with nerve agents, drug addicts digging around in bins, 5 affected by ‘deadly’ nerve agent. 1 dead, 4 miraculously healed, then ‘disappeared’ from public scrutiny. Compare and contrast real crime; more than 100 murders in London, the murder capital of Europe, so far this year.

  • David Macilwain

    On the timing questions Craig – how did the police know to test the hotel for “novichok” only 2 months later – on May 4th? They had all this information about Petrov and Boshirov’ movements, but were biding their time to set up the Perfume Bottle murder, that two months more later would be used to link these Russians to the Skripals. This degree of planning suggests either a worrying degree of conspiracy and coordination, or that the UK was waiting for events in Syria to transpire – such as the long expected attack on Idlib. Or a combination. All that is clear is that NOTHING will derail their devious and malign scheme, nor what appears as a desire for direct military confrontation with Moscow.

  • Jenny C

    Craig – have you noticed that Simonyan and the two Russian tourists are never shown together during the entire 25 minute interview? This isn’t proof, of course, that they are GRU agents or responsible for the crimes of which they are accused, but it is interesting. If they were being interviewed by video-link, why not just say so?

    • nwwoods

      The lighting in the video suggests they were in the same room under the same lighting conditions, to my eye.

      • Jenny C

        I’m sure someone more qualified will analyse the video. Perhaps it WAS the same room, but they were in it at different times? It is very strange for an interviewer and his/her subjects to never be pictured in the same frame during an entire 25 minute piece. Does Mr Murray have a view on this?

  • Kamulegeya Haroun

    I think like many out there who’ve followed the Skripal’s saga I’ve not heard anything convincing from the #UK government and it’s real damaging their credibility. However on the other hand,it’s an eye openner on how these big powers have been manipulating facts to fit their interest. #UK has a big mountain to climb to restore its credibility in the eyes of the world.

  • Jenny C

    Forgive me, but just another small point. Kay Burley was just told off by Aleksandr Nekrasov on SKY News for referring to the tourists as possible members of the GRU. Nekrasov pointed out that the GRU no longer exists and that it has been replaced by the G.U. And yet Simonyan directly asks the two men whether they are agents of the GRU, to which they reply with complete honesty ‘no’. Because they couldn’t be members of an organisation which no longer exists. I’m not implying the Simonyan did this deliberately, Russians still refer to the GRU, but just wanted to point this out.

  • Mike

    So with this timeline, how long would the supposed Novichok gel have stayed on the Skripal’s door knob before being watered down by the rain, it couldn’t have been any time at all, how did the supposed GRU officers avoid contaminating themselves with the gel, there must have still been some in the pipe that connects to the Nina Ricci bottle after all, Novichok must be the weakest nerve agent ever created.

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