Bellingcat’s Very Obviously Fake Chepiga Photo 580


Bellingcat’s attempts to gild the Chepiga lily are now becoming ludicrous. The photo they published today is a very obvious fake.

Many people have noticed that the photo of Chepiga on this wall appears to be hanging in completely different lighting conditions from the others. That is indeed a good point.

But there is a more important point here, and that is to do with sequencing. Except for Chepiga and Popov, who according to Belligncat also became a Hero of Russia in 2014, all of the people here are indeed openly and officially listed Heroes of Russia or, in the majority of cases, Heroes of the Soviet Union.

What is more, they are, as you would expect on a military honours wall, ranked in date order. ONLY CHEPIGA IS OUT OF DATE ORDER. The order runs top row let to right, then second row left to right, then bottom row left to right.
The bit of the bottom row we can see runs:
Karpushenko (2000), Ribak (2005), Maclov (2012), Popov (2014).

So why is Chepiga in a row of much earlier Heroes of the Soviet Union? Next in sequence in fact to Grigory Dobrunov who got his award in 1956!!!! The pictures are definitely otherwise all in date order.

The glaringly obvious answer – in line with the reflections anomaly – is that Chepiga’s “picture” has been photoshopped onto this wall. The military do not suddenly insert photos out of order and at random on an honours board. Bellingcat, however, have a track record of image manipulation.

None of which proves or disproves the Boshirov identification. It is however an important reminder to take Bellingcat as a source with a pinch of salt.


580 thoughts on “Bellingcat’s Very Obviously Fake Chepiga Photo

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    • craig Post author

      So they had left that space there on the middle row rather than finish it below the first, then carried on past it on the bottom? Don’t be ridiculous.

      • Spencer Eagle

        I don’t think the Russian military are that adept, or at all bothered about the niceties of graphic layout.

        • craig Post author

          You plainly don’t know them and you couldn’t be more wrong. If the pictures were put up in the wrong order, they would have no compunction about ordering someone to take them all down and put them up right. Now stop taking bullshit.

          • Jan Brooker

            The light refelction on the photo is from behind the photographer. As the rest of the photos are close on a flat plane, some of the other photos would have a similar or partial reflection. The photo has obviously been manipulated.

          • Clark

            So this is the photostream of Евгений Стаховский – Yevgeny Stakhovsky

            That particular photo is centred on the portrait of interest. Why?

          • Yeah, Right

            “Are you saying Bellingcat hacked OK?”

            There is another possibility: Bellingcat are being set up, and Eliot Higgins is falling for it.

          • Yeah, Right

            “Chepiga should be on that wall anyway, because the school lists him as a recipient of the medal here:
            http://www.dvocu.ru/index/alleja_geroev/0-36

            In which case his photo should have been up on that wall in 2014, just as Popov’s photo was placed on that display in 2014.

            Yet his photo wasn’t there in 2014, which suggests that in 2014 the school knew better than to plaster his photo in a place that members of the public are occasionally invited into.

            If the school was smart enough to know that in 2014 (and, demonstrably, they were) it staggers the mind to assume that the school had a brain-freeze in 2016 and decided to throw caution to the wind.

            It’s clearly a fake.

          • Jan

            It’s also here: http://dvoku.mil.ru/Multimedia/photo/list/46564/

            Each row was supposed to be shorter by 2 than the one above: by 1 on the left and 1 on the right. Then they ran out of space, so they continued the bottom row to the right. Then they ran out of space bottom right, so they added Chepiga in the middle row.

            Craig, another one to take back just like the parallel tunnels at the airport.

          • Yeah, Right

            “Then they ran out of space bottom right, so they added Chepiga in the middle row.”

            So why didn’t they start a forth row, Jan? I mean, it’s not as is there won’t be more HoRF recipients in the future, so a forth row is going to be needed eventually.

            And if it looks “odd” to have a forth row with just Chepiga’s photo on it then they could have easily moved Popov’s photo down to join it – both men were recipients in 2014 so a new row could start with the two of them

            Aesthetically much more pleasing.

          • Jan

            I don’t know why they didn’t start a fourth row. You’d have to ask them. But clearly they didn’t.

            Chepiga is in that same position in photographs on the Russian Ministry of Defence website. Obviously Bellingcat couldn’t have done that. The photo is genuine, just accept it. It says nothing about Boshirov being Chepiga or Petrov spreading poison on a door handle, of course, but Chepiga is an obviously real hero of the Russian Federation. It helps no one to deny that.

          • Yeah, Right

            “Chepiga is in that same position in photographs on the Russian Ministry of Defence website.”

            And? So?

            “Obviously Bellingcat couldn’t have done that.”

            Why not? You are talking about their PR web site, not a super-secure site that holds the secret launch codes to Russian ICBMs.

            There is no reason to suspect that its security is particularly, and for all we know this web site has been outsourced to a commercial vendor. I mean, why not, it’s just a PR web site.

            …”but Chepiga is an obviously real hero of the Russian Federation. It helps no one to deny that.”

            Straw man. I have never said that Chepiga isn’t real, and I have never denied that he is a recipient of the Hero of the Russian Federation.

            I have said what I have said, which is that he has obviously been awarded that gong for a career of cloak-and-dagger stuff, which means he is a man who will never allow his photograph to be taken.

            That photograph “on the wall” isn’t him. It is a photograph of Boshirov, and someone has digitally inserted it onto that wall in order to bolster a false “Boshirov = Chepiga” narrative.

            There is no way that a military school will display a photo of a HoRF recipient out of chronological order, aesthetic-wall-placement be damned.

            There is no way that a military school will decide in 2014 that they won’t put a photo of a spook on that wall and **then** decide in 2016 that “what the heck, let’s stick him up there anyway, what harm can it do, who’s going to notice anyway”.

            Both are utterly ludicrous propositions.

            They are both way, way more ludicrous than the proposition that someone hacked into those web sites and inserted digitally-altered photos.

      • Bayard

        Well, if you look at the photo of the whole wall at http://dvoku.mil.ru/Multimedia/photo/list/46564/ you can see that, on the LHS of the photos, the second row is one photo shorter than the one above and the third row likewise. So it is possible that the photo of Chepiga was put there because there was a space and that layout wasn’t considered that important, because the RHS and LHS of the layout don’t match.

        • Yeah, Right

          Bayard,
          The glass has to be removed regardless. And once the entire panel is exposed there is nothing to stop someone moving a couple of photos from the bottom row up into the “empty” space on the middle row, then shifting the remaining photos on the bottom row: March to the Left! March to the Left!

          That frees up enough space on the bottom row AND it preserves the chronological order of photos.

          “it is possible that the photo of Chepiga was put there because there was a space and that layout wasn’t considered that important”.

          Your talking about the highest honour a Russian soldier can receive.

          You can see they already ruined the symmetry of that display in 2014 when they added Ribak, Maclov and Popov in their “rightful” place at the end of the queue.

          The chronological order is therefore very clearly something that matters a great deal. As it should.

          Certainly it matters far more than the symmetrical aesthetics of that display, otherwise Ribak, or Maclov, or Popov would have been shoved into that “blank” space back in 2014.

    • Maureen

      Rubbish !
      If Chepiga received his award for rescuing Yanukovich, that would be in 2014. Others have received awards both before that time and afterwards, Chepiga should be nestled amongst Hero of Russia recipients, not tacked on the end of the Soviet awards.
      His placement there points to a photoshop job

      • Yeah, Right

        Bellingcat has argued that there was something suspicious and cloak-and-daggery about the awards in 2014 to both Chepiga and Popov. They say so in their original expose.

        Yet look at the 2014 photo. There is Popov’s portrait, bigger than Ben Hur.

        Clearly there was no problem with displaying Popov’s photo in 2014, and just as clearly in 2014 the school understood that a photo of Chepiga was Not To Be Put On Display because This Is A Man Who Should Not Be Identifiable.

        If they knew that in 2014 (and, clearly, they did) then why on Earth would they think it to be a good idea to stick his photo on that wall a mere two years later?

        Answer: they wouldn’t.
        Conclusion: it is a fake

    • Yeah, Right

      “Because they had run out of space on the bottom row Craig.”

      Quite untrue. There is enough room to the right of Popov for one more photo.

      But even if that is too tight a squeeze (it isn’t) then the obvious solution to the military mind would be to move Popov AND Chepiga to start a new, forth row. After all, according to Bellingcat they were awarded their gong at the same time, so it makes sense that they kick off a new row that will eventually fill out as newer recipients get awarded a HoRF.

      Because that’s the problem with the “put it anywhere it fits” argument – what are they going to do when a graduate wins a HoRF in 2019, 2020, etc?

    • Yeah, Right

      “Because they had run out of space on the bottom row Craig.”

      That keeps being said as if it were a self-evident truth, but is simply is not true. Go back and look at that display. There is definitely still enough room to the right of Popov to fit one more photo.

      And even if you want to argue that would be an uncomfortably tight squeeze (it isn’t) there are at least three blank spaces on the left-hand side of that bottom row.

      Indeed, the sensible move would be to move all the photos on the middle row one-to-the-left, then bring the two Hero of the Soviet Union recipients from the bottom row up into that space, then move all the remaining photos on the bottom row to the left as far as they would go. That would regain the symmetry that was lost when Maclov and Popov were added, make room for the photo of “Chepiga” AND leave more room for even newer recipients as and when they get awarded their gongs.

      There is NO good reason for a photo of a 2014 recipient to be plonked in amongst the 1970-era recipients of the Hero of the Soviet Union. Certainly not for the reason that you give.

  • MaryPau!

    I am still confused over which guy in Salisbury was Petrov and which was Boshiroff, as different MSM sources identify them differently. Do we know, definitively?

    • Jiusito

      I thought I must be imagining it, Mary. My understanding was that Chepiga is supposed to be the guy on the right in the RT interview, but now he is being identified with the guy on the left. If it’s so easy for the MSM to confuse the two, it hardly suggests that the identification is reliable.

      Incidentally, the man pictured in this DVOKU photo looks to be extremely broad-shouldered. I recall that the guy on the right in the RT interview was quite big, though he didn’t strike me as a brick shithouse. The guy on the left didn’t strike me as bulky at all.

    • Yeah, Right

      Boshirov = The guy with the beard who is wearing a cap but has no backpack.
      Petrov = The heavy-set guy with the backpack who is wearing a beanie low over his brow.

  • Clark

    Hmmm. If Chepiga has been added, has someone else been removed from the position that photo occupies? This should be checkable by sequence too.

    • Clark

      Is the bottom row all in order of date as well? It’s odd that only the second is monochrome, amid three colour photos, almost as if that one had been moved from the row above.

    • craig Post author

      It’s not checkable as its not a wall of all heroes of the soviet union, only of ones from that institution. But I think almost certainly it is over top of the actual photo in that position.

      • Yeah, Right

        Untrue, Craig. If you follow bellingcat’s link to the youtube video you will see a doco from 2011, and it momentarily zooms into that wall. That spot was always blank i.e. the “Chepiga photo” didn’t displace and existing photo.

        The additions of Ribak, Maclov and Popov ruined the symmetry of the board but – and this is important to your argument – that symmetry was ruined because the school insisted on adding them to the bottom row to preserve the chronological order. The chronology was very clearly a higher priority than the aesthetics.

        Bellingcat insists that Chepiga was awarded his HoRF at the same time as Popov. That being the case then his photo should have been added at the same time as Popov’s i.e. in the 2014 photo.

        It is obviously a fake – if the school thought it wise to have his photo up on the board then they would have done so in 2014. If they thought it unwise to do that in 2014 then they would have considered it to be just as unwise in 2016.

        And if they did decide to add it then they would have put it alongside Popov, not above Popov.

        There was a spare space in that middle row, sure, there was. But these are military minds. If there was no more room on the bottom row then someone would have been ordered to move the first three pictures on the bottom row (Hero of the Soviet Union, all three) up into the middle row and then moved all the remaining pictures three-to-the-left.

        Symmetry would have been preserved – indeed, improved. The all-important chronology would have been preserved. And the result would have aesthetically been much better (all the Heroes of the Soviet Union would be on the top two rows, the bottom row reserved for Heroes of the Russian Federation).

        That’s how the military mind works.

    • Yeah, Right

      “Hmmm. If Chepiga has been added, has someone else been removed from the position that photo occupies?”

      No.

      Bellingcat links to a youtube video from 2011. At about mid-point in that video there is a quick zoom into that display and you can see that the space is unoccupied. The photo from 2014 likewise shows it unoccupied, even when the last three recipients were shoe-horned into the bottom row.

      • LondonBob

        Photos and images are easily manipulated, Bellingcat has form with this in regard to MH17, I expect they have tightened up on their fakery since. Side issue anyway.

        • Yeah, Right

          Agreed, the question of whether that photo “displaced” an existing one or was merely photoshopped into the most conspicuous blank space is irrelevant.

          The photo of a 2014 recipient of the Hero of the Russian Federation would never have been placed in amongst the USSR-era recipients of the Hero of the Soviet Union – that would be monumental disrespect to the man.

          A military school would never use a photograph of such a recipient in a business suit – that would disrespect both the man and the school itself.

          If he’s a spook then they simply WOULD NOT HAVE PUT HIS PHOTO UP THERE.
          If he isn’t a spook then they WOULD PUT UP A PHOTO OF HIM IN HIS UNIFORM.

          It just beggars belief that anyone would think otherwise.

  • Hmmm

    When and why did Sylvester Stallone get his honour? Below left of Chepiga? Shows you can find a lookalikey anywhere…

    • squirrel

      That is really puzzling because Stallone fought against the Russians, providing crucial US support to the Taliban (later to become Al-Qaeda) as was documented in the ‘Rambo III’ motion picture.

  • Lestek

    1 In Chepiga’s name font ‘horizontal scale’ attribute different than others (similar only to Popov).

    2 Completely inconsistent height of light-yellow background behind Chepiga’s name. And that’s striking difference.

    • Mark Sheppard

      The difference in height of the yellow name area immediately jumped out at me. On further inspection I can see that the dark red border of the image is thicker and the yellow of the background of the name area is slightly deeper than for the other photos.

      The image doesn’t look Photoshopped to me, but more like a real photograph of a plaque which has had a laminated print out of the photo & name tag stuck on to it.

  • JCalvertN

    The full list of heroes of the Soviet Union is HUGE!
    The display in the picture seems to contain only a handful of names.
    So, what is this display? Is it a sort of hometown display?
    If so, WHICH hometown?

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    O/T
    I still haven’t got over MI6 claiming that one allegedly of Yulia Skriipal with that scar on her neck and wearing no glasses is the real one

    • JCalvertN

      OTT. But I too, have recently begun to wonder at the transformation from a glasses-wearing, fair-haired, very fair-skinned and slightly fulsome, girl-next-door to a slimmer, darker and hotter model. Such transformations are not impossible of course (specially in the months leading up to a girl’s wedding).
      It made me wonder. Does anyone know where the “thistledown in her hair” photo of Julia come from?
      MI6 by any chance?
      Are we seeing the real Julia Skripal?

      • Robyn

        ‘Such transformations are not impossible of course (specially in the months leading up to a girl’s wedding)’
        Or, especially if you’ve spent weeks in hospital scared/unconscious/poisoned/undergoing gruelling treatments/worried about your father or whatever. Of course the whole story’s riddle with holes, but Yulia obviously hasn’t resumed her normal life which, on its own, could explain weight loss.

  • georgk

    Sorry, but this blog really starts driftig into conspiracy territory.
    The picture at:
    https://www.glory-gallery.ru/news/ekskursiya-v-dvoku
    (linked at the billingcat site)
    seems to be genuine (except one assumes that the whole homepage is a fake) and shows the same portrait arrangement in 2016 from a different angle.
    The most recent picture (the portrait of Chepiga) is obviously printed on glossier paper.
    I would really appreciate if the author thinks twice (and does some minimum online investigation, <2min) before posting assumptions which only harm the credibility on an otherwise excellent blog.

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      Anyone who doesn’ think that this is part of a grand conspiracy is simply bonkers.

    • craig Post author

      The problem is fools who think it is very probable that the Russians sent a Colonel here to bump off an ex spy with novichok after a night with prostitutes in a low life hotel, and that the novichok took effect simultaneously on him and his daughter after several hours, but think it an impossible conspiracy that someone hacked a photo on a Russian site.

      • Trowbridge H. Ford

        Still not considering the context where Gareth Williams decided to go off the reservation because of the Manhattan affair involving New Russia, his brutal murder and others, so brutal that Putin decided to trade Sergei and other Western spies for the 10 CIA sleepers headed by Anna Chapman, Skripal proving too pro-Putoin for MI6’s James Bonds, so they used him and his daughter in a great set-up which looked like it almost killed them, but had to repeat it on another couple to look really real which killed one of them, etc., ad nauseam..

          • Jo Dominich

            Trowbridge – I smell not so much a rat as a sodding great mammal here. It is a conspiracy of monumental proportions.

      • georgk

        Sorry if I sounded offensive (German speaker here).
        But I know Russia a little bit myself. And the idea, that a secratary of a military school somewhere in the russian Far East produces a lousy printout for a “Wall of Fame” while not caring too much for the replication of the original layouts, and then someone else sticks it to the wall with transparent foil, in erratic order, because the guy who did the original layout years ago did not care about future additions – this idea is at least as believable as the hack of the DWOKU’s or the ok.ru website.
        The similarity of the faces could still be coincidal, but this is the most “Boshirov”-looking photo of “Chepiga” so far.
        By the way, I do not believe most of Bellingcat’s stuff myself, as they simply pick raisins from the digital age’s background noise to arbitrarily construct their own “reality”. But that does not imply that everything is prefabricated fake.

        • Igor P.P.

          I grew up in Russia and too don’t take Bellingcat seriously, but I agree with your assessment.

      • Phill

        Ok Craig, so if what makes this unbelievable is that “the Russians sent a Colonel here to bump off an ex spy with novichok after a night with prostitutes in a low life hotel”, then what if that is changed to “former GRU man now doing private work, is contracted to bump off Skripal”? The Russian state being involved does seem ridiculous to me….. however, Russian mafia hiring former GRU men to do their dirty work is not far fetched at all.

    • Yeah, Right

      “(except one assumes that the whole homepage is a fake)”

      Simply untrue. All that would be required is that the original photo be downloaded, “Chipega” digitally added, and then that doctored photo be uploaded to replace the original.

      The homepage would remain completely untouched, and even the most forensic analysis would conclude that it had not been altered since 2016. But every time someone clicked on the photo the server would serve up the photo, and what it would be serving up now is a photo that had been doctored.

      Honestly, it would not be that hard, it is the sort of hacking that kiddies do in their spare time.

    • Phil

      I agree with Georgk. You’re going down the rabbit hole Craig. My theory is he is “retired” GRU. He was probably still active in 2014 so his photo wasn’t put up then. It was only put up after he “retired”. I put “retired” in quotation marks because no-one really retires from a profession like that – just look at Skripal, Miller, Steele, Urban, de Bretton-Gordan etc. but he is probably no longer officially working for the Russian state, hence Putin calling them civilians.

  • Isa

    No uniform . As simple as that . He’s wearing a suit . Look at the others all in army uniform .

      • Isa

        Thank you ! I was starting to Think I was hallucinating !

        Everything Craig wrote in this entry is correct as well , but this one is a rookie mistake from bellingcat . There’s no way they’d put his picture dressed as a civilian on that wall or that a military honoured with a war hero medal would present himself in a suit . The medal looks photoshopped as well , totally blurred .

        The whole thing is so bad that either bellingcat is playing with us , someone is playing with him or he is sloppy and thinks we’re idiots . Take your pick or mix some of the above hypothesis .

      • Isa

        We don’t know that as only collars are visible and it’s mostly a picture of his head .

      • Yeah, Right

        No. He’s wearing a uniform that doesn’t have epaulettes. But all that means is that he is not an officer.

        You see the same thing in the second-from-right on the top row. He is also wearing a uniform that lacks epaulettes, so if all you see are the head-and-shoulders then at first glance it looks like a business suit.

        It’s not. It is simply a conscript’s uniform.

  • kashmiri

    Looking for conspiracy where there is none, Craig. Read @Dec’s comment above.

    The guy already appears on a photo published by the Russian Ministry of Defence in 2016!

    http://dvoku.mil.ru/Multimedia/photo/list/46564/

    Here you have same wall in 2017:

    https://ok.ru/profile/475421179769/album/856276858233/856276895865

    Read the entire history of the wall here: https://www.svoboda.org/a/29521752.html (yes it is a recent Ukrainian post, but follow the images to their source URL).

    To put it simply, photos added after 2011 were all pasted to the right of the rest.

    You are a brilliant political activist. But rather hopeless at forensics. Just looking for anything to discredit those you don’t like.

    • craig Post author

      Photos after 2011 were not all pasted to the right of the rest. That is bullshit. The spot occupied by Chepiga’s photo would already have contained a photo from approx 1956, before they started row three.
      You are just linking to the same photo. which Ukrainians have put on a hacked Russian site.

    • Manfred Neuhaus

      Thanks, kashmiri!

      The fact that the photograph (from a completely different angle, even with visitors standing in front of it) can already be spotted on the site of the Russian Ministry of Defence settles this.

      • Yeah, Right

        “The fact that the photograph (from a completely different angle, even with visitors standing in front of it) can already be spotted on the site of the Russian Ministry of Defence settles this.”

        No, actually, it doesn’t.

        If someone wanted to feed falsified information to Eliot Higgins then they won’t do it until they have found every single photo of that wall (and, let’s face it, you can count the number on the fingers of one hand). Once they have altered them all (three? or four?) then they will point Bellingcat to them.

        As for it being on “the site of the Russian Ministry of Defence”, well, I suggest you re-read this:
        https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/09/spy-games/
        “The security services are worried the Chepiga ID may be a blind alley fed to Bellingcat’s sources by the FSB. If the UK government endorses it, this could be followed by the Russians producing Chepiga and apparently discrediting the entire British narrative.”

        If this is indeed a trap that has been set for Bellingcat by the Russians then your “settles this” is going to be an overly-optimistic conclusion.

  • John2o2o

    Note too, that the yellow rectangle containing Chepiga’s full name is a different shade of yellow and has different dimensions from the others.

    I’m not sure what it’s meant to prove anyway. The photo doesn’t look anything like Bashirov. (How it should be translated).

  • SayLess

    Sorry for this comment being a bit off topic. But I have noticed that there is a lot of media reporting that Putin called Skripal a scumbag, or scum. However, in every clip of the exchange, none of the translations mention those words. The translation in the clip below uses the word “scoundrel”. Maybe I’m missing something, but where is there a translation of this exchange that uses the words “scum” or “scumbag”?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viIhCCXiY9k

    • Avery

      The voiceover translation is very inaccurate – lots of words added by the translator which has not been actually said. Still “scoundrel” meaning is really close to the “person with ignominious behaviour” in the context in this case I would say. Original word he used is “podonok” which has a vast different meanings from direct swearing to evaluation of low behavior.

  • Hatuey

    It’s laminated. All the others, except for bottom right, aren’t.

    My instinct says it’s so fake looking that it must be real.

    But please don’t anyone confuse me for someone who cares.

    I have had two people telling me that there’s news coming from Brussels tomorrow that may change the course of the Brexit negotiations. We shall see.

      • Hatuey

        I think you’re wrong about that, Craig, but since it doesn’t make any difference I’m willing to forgive you on this occasion. Seriously, if you zoom in you can see the clear trim that is characteristic of thermally sealed lamination pouches; it’s about 3 or 4mm wide. Also, one or two of them have torn corners, probably caused by drawing pins — there’s no way you can tear laminated prints like that. And you can see that in one or two others the flimsy paper has curled at the ends a little too..

    • squirrel

      Hatuey that is perverse logic. If something looks fake then you must suspect it as fake.
      If you consider looking fake to be evidence of authenticity that is madness.

      • Hatuey

        Squirrel, I think perverse is a bit strong. I’m highly skilled in graphic design, amongst other things. I hate to sound like I’m bragging about that or pulling rank but if I wanted to put a fake poster on a wall it would look unquestionably real. And it would actually be a cinch.

        I assume if someone was skilled enough to do this badly then they’d be skilled enough to do it right. It isn’t difficult. If you want I can demonstrate that.

    • Yeah, Right

      “My instinct says it’s so fake looking that it must be real. ”

      Or so obviously faked that it’s a trap, and Eliot Higgins has fallen for it.

  • Paul Davidson

    On the top left is the edge of another photo, meaning that the wall of photos extended beyond the flame of this shot. This puts the date order into question even more. Also, the ‘Chepiga’ photo is slightly smaller than the others which are all of a uniform size.

  • Honkytonkman

    fotoforensics.com says, the file date of the picture ist “2018-08-04 20:55:07 GMT”. Strange file date for a pic thats supposed to be posted to the gallery on 2017-06-26…. Just sayin…

    • Matt

      The metadata of the photo gets modified each time it is uploaded to a different service; this is basic computer literacy.

      • Hatuey

        Hmmmmmmm…. not so sure about that. What you’re calling metadata is actually the metadata associated with the script that hosts the image on the page. It’s a loose term.

        But unadulterated photographs do have real metadata that’s harder to fiddle with; this metadata as standard will tell you what camera took the photo, the lens used, aperture and shutter speed settings, and even ISO. You usually lose all that when you tamper with the original and upload to the web.

      • Yeah, Right

        So if you go back to the original source web sites – the social media sites that Bellingcat got its photos *from*, not the server that Bellingcat copied those photo *to* – then by your logic the metadata should read 2016. Correct?

  • Evgenya Antonovna

    The Russian government line has been as follows:
    1. The Skripals weren’t poisoned – it was a stunt pulled by the UK government at the behest of the US, to distract attention from the ‘fake’ chemical attack on Syria
    2. The Skripals WERE poisoned, but it was by UK operatives – Porton Down isn’t far away from Salisbury
    3. The Skripals WERE poisoned, but by Ukrainian agents, pretending to be Russians, in order to blame Russia and provoke more sanctions to bring Russia to its knees and steal our natural resources
    4. The Gatwick photo was a fake
    5. We have never heard of B & P
    6. The Gatwick photo WASN’T a fake, and we HAVE heard of B & P – they are tourists/ordinary citizens
    6. Let’s humiliate B & P on our propaganda network by implying that they are gay – not a good thing to be in Russia today (or on Russia Today)
    7. We’ve never heard of Chepiga
    8. Spies and prostitutes are the most important professions in the world
    9. Skripal is a ‘traitor’ and ‘scum’

    The next step will be:

    10. It seems that the Skripals were poisoned by rogue, but patriotic Russian agents. It wasn’t sanctioned by the Russian government and we regret the loss of life and injury to innocent bystanders, but Skripal is scum, so got what was coming to him.

    The fact that Klavidya Ivanovna or Pelageya Nikolavna from derevnya Onyushevo should believe every lie fed to them via the Pervy Channel/the despicable Kiselyov et al, is unsurprising, but that Craig Murray should toe the Russian line is a mystery.

    And again – I am not convinced of the UK government’s case, there are massive holes.

    Final point – it is laughable to assume that the Russian military is some kind of ‘elite’ outfit, which wouldn’t stoop to putting photos on a wall up in the wrong order. This is the same Russian military which held a news conference using footage from a video game to ‘prove’ how SU 25s operate in Syria.

    • Igor P.P.

      I haven’t seen Russian goverment commenting on the authenticity of any photos, nor claimimg that Skripal wasn’t poisoned. Do you have any links to prove that? Their position has been to deny involvement in whatever happened there and that’s it.

    • Avery

      The only mistake Russian government made so far was giving comments to unofficial media stories which also transformed many times from one version to another. It’s rather silly to give any replies to questions which originating not from official British structures but from mass media sources instead. I would also point out the fact that only British government uses categorical statements (some of which were proven to be direct lies – see “Novichock was 100% originated from Russia” by BJ) while Russians always avoided debating such way due to the lack of data.

      So your articles 1,2,3 you should’ve written “might’ve been” instead of “were”. And there IS indeed a chemical warfare facility nearby.
      Article 4 – logical assumption considering timestamps while I don’t see any reasons for UK to tamper these exact photos. It is not a secret P&B really were there.
      5 and 7. Imagine you are Mr. Peskov and you just watched the news. At this moment you really might not know about these persons’ existence and in few days after checking and all the fuss you can imply that you indeed have information on the matter.
      9 – it wasn’t angry swearing in my opinion, just calm statement of the fact.
      You got two number 6 btw.

      The bottom line there is too much fuss and smoke going through mass media channels and too little worthful information. Both sides have something to conceal but the way this whole matter is being handled just illogical from the start. And I doubt there are idiots on both sides playing this game. So there are some reasons to this.

      • Evgenya Antonovna

        Avery – I didn’t say it was ‘angry swearing’ – where on earth did you get that from? As an aside – your English is superb! Most of my Russian friends – even those who graduated from MGIMO with gold medals – can’t write as well as you. If anyone wants to put a bet on the fact that number 10 on my list will come to fruition, let’s do it!

        • Avery

          Thanks for the compliment (I am Russian and not hiding it – in case it might’ve been an implication, if not – I apologize for the thought). But I always been on the “get the blue diploma and reddy face, not the vice versa” lazy side if you get what I mean. So no medals for me. What a shame.

          “I didn’t say it was ‘angry swearing’” – you didn’t, correct, it’s today’s new narrative, that Putin was so upset with Skripal didn’t kick the bucket so he started swearing (thus losing the whole debate), so I kinda fell in this line answering it. 🙂

          Regarding point 10. I wouldn’t be surprised at such turn of events but this would’ve skyrocketed the level of idiocy so high that even I, who is not the highest opinion of Russian officials, would have to reevaluate a number of things and this, in turn, would push me from my comfort zone.

          Still, I find British version is to be incredibly stupid and inconsistent, while the strange Russian duo might’ve been just involved in some shady business. Let the time prove otherwise.

          Meanwhile, let’s watch the next episode of this circus and enjoy the show. So many people try to make it fun, we need to respect their efforts. Cheers!

  • mdroy

    FFS – Bellingcat with a pinch of salt – they have been lying the heads off for the past 4 years.
    They never have had the slightest bit of credibility. newspapers that use their work until recently have 9 times out of 10 refused to admit they were using Bellingcat stuff.
    The only good thing he/they have done is think up a good name.

  • wimsie52

    yet bellingcat seems to be a reliable source…
    https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Bellingcat

    “Bellingcat is an amateur run, supposedly independent, source of image analyses on controversial images. Its operator, Eliot Higgins has been praised by The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian. However, Robert Parry termed Bellingcat’s analysis of satellite photos related to the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 an “amateurish [and] anti-Russian… fraud”.[1] Another commentator claimed that Higgins has constantly been a source of dis/misinformation on Syria and Ukraine: “It’s not so much ‘Bellingcat’ as ‘smell a rat’.”[2”

  • Martin Kernick

    I’m less convinced by the look of this Chepiga than the younger one. He doesn’t seem to look like Borishov to me.

  • Andrew H

    Way back machine shows that these pictures are not recent hacks, so Craig is just wrong on this. (unless he is now go to amend his claims to include hacking of internet archive).
    https://web.archive.org/web/20171204084317/http://dvoku.mil.ru/Multimedia/photo/list/46564/

    The order of the photos is easily explained. If you look at the shape, they filled up the three rows in a V shape (each row one shorter than the one above) and there isn’t space on the wall to start a 4th row, so they are just infilling the remaining 6 slots before they come up with a new plan. This kind of thing typically happens on annual sports trophies – where the plan of where to put the next winners evolves slowly over the years.

    • squirrel

      To be fair, it would be pretty high risk to fake such a photo, as it could easily be discredited by a genuine one and everybody would know it.
      I am accepting this is genuine.

      • Andrew H

        The one photo that is quite possibly faked is the passport application. (or rather the photo is genuine, but what it has been placed on may not be)

      • Yeah, Right

        “To be fair, it would be pretty high risk to fake such a photo, as it could easily be discredited by a genuine one and everybody would know it.”

        If you read Craig’s previous article you will see that the UK Intelligence community is concerned that Higgins is being set up, and that’s why they have advised UK authorities not to comment on Bellingcat’s articles.

        So if these photos are being faked by FSB is order to ensnare both Higgins and any british politician foolish enough to endorse Bellingcat then there is no “risk”, and the more blatant and easily-disproved the fakery the better.

    • Anon1

      “unless he is now go to amend his claims to include hacking of internet archive”

      He’s already done that. Deeper and deeper he goes!

    • Yeah, Right

      Andrew, you appear not to know how the way back machine works. It does not cache the photos themselves, merely the links to the photos. If someone altered that photo again then the way back archive would display the altered version.

        • Igor P.P.

          The problem with c) as pointed out several times on this board is that it doesn’t explain their first (short) visit to Salisbiury.

        • Yeah, Right

          “https://web.archive.org/web/20181002232645if_/http://dvoku.mil.ru/upload/site31/document_images/GhQLfcf9fg.jpg”

          That link is clearly pointing to here:
          http://dvoku.mil.ru/upload/site31/document_images/GhQLfcf9fg.jpg

          That is, it is pointing to the photo that exists TODAY on that web site.

          If way back was storing the “old” photos as well as the “old” links then it would read something like this:
          “https://web.archive.org/web/20181002232645if/upload/site31/document_images/GhQLfcf9fg.jpg”

          • Elidor

            Sorry, no. The archive does archive images. Eg from its FAQ:

            “How does the Wayback Machine behave with Javascript turned off?

            If you have Javascript turned off, images and links will be from the live web, not from our archive of old Web files.”

            Just double-checked it here by fetching that URI – trace output from the browser indicating which sites were accessed on loading the page says it was fetched from https://web.archive.org/ – 207.241.225.186

            Yes, the archive URI contains the original URI, but that doesn’t mean it’s fetching from there – it’s just telling the archive which page you want. The embedded “http://” has no special meaning to your browser – it’s just sent to http://www.archive.org as part of the document name.

            If I load the original URI it is fetched from http://dvoku.mil.edu – 188.128.20.156.

            The only “it’s not archived” possibility would be that the archive is fetching it from dvoku.mil.edu itself live and forwarding it now. But that’s not the way it works. It either uses Javascript to make the links in a page point to its own copy, which it delivers, or the links in the page fetch point to the original which get fetched by your browser directly. The archive isn’t a forwarding service.

            I agree with others – Craig is a brilliant political analyst, but please leave the forensics to someone else. Or at least scale back the level of certainty on the front page?

          • Yeah, Right

            “The only “it’s not archived” possibility would be that the archive is fetching it from dvoku.mil.edu itself live and forwarding it now. But that’s not the way it works. It either uses Javascript to make the links in a page point to its own copy, which it delivers, or the links in the page fetch point to the original which get fetched by your browser directly. The archive isn’t a forwarding service.”

            So after all your long-winded explanation you concede that the photo is retrieved from the original site, and the only distinction you make is that the archive service is simply telling my web browser to go and get it itself, rather than fetch-and-forward.

            I believe that is what is known as “a distinction without a difference”.

            Q: Where is the photo coming from?
            A: From the original web server.

            Q: How is it being retrieved?
            A: That’s an irrelevant question.

        • kbbucks

          The timestamp that archive was taken is 20181002232645 (it’s in the url) or more simply put:
          Date: 2nd October 2018
          Time: 23:26:45
          That’s not very ‘way back’ at all…
          Also look at the top left of the first link you sent & you will see it’s capture history – 4 times in total, twice on 02/10/18 and twice again on 03/10/18.

          • Yeah, Right

            Exactly. The URL tells you when the “way back” was recorded.

            As in: three days ago.

    • Yeah, Right

      No idea what to make of this, but just after midnight on Saturday morning 6/10/2018 that photo went missing from http://dvoku.mil.ru/Multimedia/photo/list/46564/

      I thought it might have been taken down by the Russians, so I went to Andrew’s link at
      https://web.archive.org/web/20171204084317/http://dvoku.mil.ru/Multimedia/photo/list/46564/
      and it was missing from there too.

      So, I think to myself: OK, the Russians are scrubbing all the evidence.

      Only less than ten minutes later that photo was back up again, at both sites.

      I have no proof except my own observation, but it looked to me that last night someone took down that photo and then uploaded a new version of it.

  • Zoltan Jorovic

    I have to admit to being confused by almost every part of this story. Neither the British nor the Russian versions stack up. However, I have to say, much though I respect your work, Craig, it seems to me that this is a genuine photo. Whether the person shown is the same as seen on Salisbury CCTV I have no idea, but the picture from http://dvoku.mil.ru/Multimedia/photo/list/46564/ is dated 03/07/2017 and shows the same person in the same position on the chart. Surely this is a red herring anyway. It is clear that two Russians went to Salisbury, the question is not so much who they were, but why – were they:
    a) on a mission to murder Skripal with a nerve agent
    b) visiting the cathedral and other sites
    c) meeting Skripal for reasons unknown
    d) some other reason as yet unexplained

    Currently, c) seems most likely. The attempted “killing” could have been an accident, a retaliatory attack by those who did not want the meeting to happen, or a rather extreme cover story, using a toxin that caused similar symptoms but non-lethal. What the purpose of the meeting was would be very interesting and would probably explain a lot of the weirder happenings. I await further revelations with great interest. Presumably Skripal’s lack of visibility is linked to this.

    • Andrew H

      You don’t go to a meeting with someone and that person has an accident that almost causes their death under very suspicious circumstances. It just doesn’t happen. Coincidences are not reality – and this really this means you have to choose either the British version OR the Russian version rather than a complicated plot where everyone is lying.

      • Avery

        “this really this means you have to choose either the British version OR the Russian version rather than a complicated plot where everyone is lying”

        You know, it’s not that everything is black and white out there. In the absence of solid facts Zoltan’s cautious reasoning is actually the most logical approach.

        “Everyone is lying” plot is very feasible if you assume that P&B was doing there something Russians don’t want to admit even if this “something” was not murder attempt. Meanwhile British denials to present Skripals are also very questionable.

        I was also wondering that after diplomatic demarche by tens of countries this Spring there were not a single bit of data leaked on the matter of what the heck UK presented as proofs to these countries. This is simply unrealistic. So in my book so far this can be counted as purely political demarche, not something based on the facts presented.

        • Igor P.P.

          UK held a presentation leading up to the expulsions where some false claims were presented as facts: for example, large numbers of people affected. So it might not have been purely political from the other countries’ perspective.

        • Jo Dominich

          Avery, for what it’s worth, I am with the Russians on this one. The UK story has such a strong ordure about it that nobody can stand its stench. It is such a crock of s—t that none can abide the stench thereof. I do not believe the Russians did not one bit and there is not a shred of evidence provided to even support this theory. The Russians adopted the right channels from the start requesting the UK Government to do a joint investigation with the OPCW which our Government refused, involving the OPCW long after the evidence had been doctored. Had it been the other way around and the Russians accused the UK and the Russians had refused a same request from the UK Government all hell would have been let loose. Bellingcat is hardly a reliable source of information and I really do hope the Russians are stitching him up – it is the only way they will be discredited once and for all.

      • Zoltan Jorovic

        Andrew, I disagree that you have to choose either the Russian or the British versions. Both have many holes and are simply not believable. I do not have an explanation for the “poisoning”, other than it seems highly unlikely it was as a result of an attempt to kill them by smearing “novichok” on their front door handle. Whatever happened, it was not what either the Russians or the British are claiming. Of that I am confident.

    • Andrew H

      And after this “accident” the two visitors hop on the next flight back to Russia ??????

      • Jo Dominich

        Andrew H, timeframe is wrong – the couple were not in Salisbury at the time of the alleged assassination.

    • squirrel

      hi Zoltan,

      I would include with your c):

      The poisoning could have been carried out or facilitated by a party who knew that a meeting between Skripal and Russian intelligence operatives was going to occur that day and thus they could be framed for the attack.

      • Yeah, Right

        squirrel, that is a good point.

        I think it is very important to note that the attack took place when Yulia Skripal was visiting.
        Move it forward a few days or back a few days and the attackers avoid that unnecessary complication.

        If Sergei Skripal was meeting with Russian intelligence operatives then Yulia’s presence makes some sense: Yulia may have already been briefed by the Russians back in Moscow and the meeting arranged so that she could be there to vouch that an offer was genuine.

        If someone else knew about such a meeting then the timing of an attack becomes fixed by the timing of that meeting, and Yulia’s presence becomes Just One Of Those Unfortunate Example Of Collateral Damage, Poor Thing.

        But if the attack was being planned by Russian Intelligence and “Boshirov” and “Petrov” were in the UK to launch it then there is no reason to attack when Yulia Skripal was complicating things. What’s the rush? The old coot isn’t going anywhere, and the Russians would have known when Yulia was visiting and when she was leaving. Just delay a few days and then whack him when Yulia is safely back in Moscow.

        • Igor P.P.

          The absence of Yulia would be a bigger complicaiton. She would have to be allowed access to Sergei without means for the UK to keep her silent.

          • Yeah, Right

            “The absence of Yulia would be a bigger complicaiton.”

            Imagine that you are planning a hit on an old pensioner.

            Is it less complicated to carry out that hit when:
            a) He is an old man living alone in his house, going about his daily routine in solitary splendour
            b) He has a visitor with him, who is going to be by his side every waking moment of the day.

            Which one to choose…. which one to choose… which one to choose….

    • Hefaistos

      I think you are right, Zoltan.
      Skripal was planning to go home to Russia, and some power wanted to stop that.
      Julia Skripal came to meet her father to discuss the matter and help him.
      B and P were there in connection with Skripal’s return. But they weren’t sent out to kill him.

  • sagdan

    I think we’re seeing the real Chepiga there but IMO this picture also shows that Chepiga isn’t the person whose pictures were taken from IMO forged passport documents by Bellingcat.

    • Yeah, Right

      I don’t think anyone is arguing that Chepiga doesn’t exist, or that there is nothing unusual about the lack of photos of him. Clearly his career has required him to be extraordinarily secretive.

      The question is whether someone taking advantage of Chepiga’s undoubted secretiveness to fake up some photographs in order to claim that he is Boshirov.

      • Frodo

        the presidents spokesman said that he checked and could not find information about “hero of Russian federation” with such name
        may be he is so secretive that even president doesn’t know about it that
        and at the same time his name is on the monument and all over newspapers?

        • Matt

          Their lies are becoming entangled, just like with MH17. Unfortunately, the so-called “alternative” media has completely discredited itself as a legitimate source of discussion, resorting to blindingly fake pro-Russian conspiracy theories due to their reliance on RT as a source of information, as well as their non-resilient minds.

          • Jo Dominich

            They are not pro Russian conspiracies – so far and to date, not one single shred of bona fide evidence has been provided (confirmed by a German MP) by the UK as to Russian involvement in the Skripal case. It is a concerted attempt by NATO and Europe to wage a war against Russia to discredit them. I strongly suspect this is because Russia has rebuilt its economy and is now a serious world power and they want to stop it. God forbit, I would trust President Putin any day over Trump May and Macron. A poll of Germans found the same thing – they trusted Putin far more than Trump. So, the USA, UK and France are losing the anti Russia propaganda war. Putin doesn’t have to say or do anything, just let them dig themselves deeper and deeper. If I were Putin I would decline to make any further comments

        • Yeah, Right

          “the presidents spokesman said that he checked and could not find information about “hero of Russian federation” with such name”

          Riiiiiiiiight. And that helps to determine that the photos of “Chepiga” that Bellingcat has been waving about are genuine …. err…. how, exactly?

          I don’t doubt that a “Chepiga” exists.
          I don’t doubt that he engages in nefarious activities such that no Russian official wants to admit his existence.
          I do doubt very much that the photos that Bellingcat wave about with such fervour are genuine.

          “may be he is so secretive that even president doesn’t know about it that and at the same time his name is on the monument and all over newspapers?”

          One more time for the slow people: If Chepiga really is a special-ops dude who swept into the Ukraine and spirited the President out of the country before he could be lynched then his existence is going to be known to Ukrainian intelligence.

          It is perfectly possible that they know his name, and also know that he is a graduate of the Far East All-Arms school.

          His then becomes the perfect name to use if they want to forge some documents and paste some “incriminating” photos.
          He also becomes the perfect name to use if the Russian FSB wants to mess with Eliot Higgins mind.

          Yours too, apparently.

  • Matt

    The arrogant Murray has officially lost it. According to Murray, MI6 found a time machine, managed to hack into DVOKU’s website, and simultaneously hacked into a Russian social media website. The photo itself was uploaded to a Russian social network on June 26, 2017:

    https://ok.ru/profile/475421179769/album/856276858233/856276895865

    A photo of the same spot take from a different angle was uploaded to DVOKU’s website on April 9, 2016

    http://dvoku.mil.ru/upload/site31/document_images/GhQLfcf9fg.jpg

    Not to mention the photo from July 2014 that shows the same spot but with Chepiga’s photo missing. This proves that the spot was indeed empty, so regardless of the reason for Chepiga’s photo being out of order, we know for a fact that the spot was left deliberately blank:

    https://017qndpynh-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/without.png

    As recently as half a year ago, Russian foreign propaganda was winning, as its unabashed fakery was (ineffectively) countered by balanced, middle-of-the-road reporting by Western Media. Not any more, though. Bullshit is now being called. Seems like Salisbury was the bridge too far.

    • Yeah, Right

      Matt, the number of photos of that wall amount to, what, two? Three?

      Someone who wanted to fake that photo could simply follow the same steps as Bellingcat to identify all two (three?) such sites, and then it is a simple matter to replace those two or three original photos with doctored versions.

      The original html code would be completely untouched, and it would appear to anyone examining those sites that the photos were taken in 2016.

      It isn’t that difficult at all. All that would be required is the skill to sneak behind the web server and gain direct access to the photos themselves.

      • Matt

        Not only are you claiming that Bellingcat “photoshopped” these photos, but that they also managed to hack into multiple website, including DVOKU’s website, as well as the Russian social network Odnoklassniki, and replaced the photos with doctored photos.

        The absurdity of the anti-Bellingcat arguments becomes more and more apparent. Why can’t we all be on the same page on something like this? I just don’t get it.

        • Yeah, Right

          “Not only are you claiming that Bellingcat “photoshopped” these photos, but that they also managed to hack into multiple website,”

          Bellingcat? No. They aren’t skilled enough to do any of that.
          I have said all along that someone is stitching Elio Higgins up by feeding him falsified information and forgeries.

          “including DVOKU’s website, as well as the Russian social network Odnoklassniki, and replaced the photos with doctored photos.”

          I’m genuinely curious: when you read reports that hackers have replaced photos of politicians with photos of Hitler, or have drawn a Hitler-moustache on them, do you read those reports and shout “Impossible! That could never happen!”.

          Matt, matey, the web interface isn’t the beginning and the end of a web page. Behind it all is an operating system (usually Linux, often Microsoft) that manages all the tedious s**t of copying, storing, deleting, etc. the individual files.

          If they aren’t secured sufficiently then a hacker can simply bypass the web interface and deal directly with the underlying files and folders.

          So, yes, that’s all quite plausible, especially when you are only talking about a handful of sites and two or three photos.

    • info

      To try to prove anything via photo or video is so old fashioned, you can fake anything nowadays. And photos have always been faked but it used to be much more difficult.

      Those photos shown of “Chepiga” may be legit, they just don’t look like “Boshirov” or other photos of “Chepiga”.

      Presumably Bellingcat was pointed to Chepiga for some reason. The reason though is not necessarily Salisbury.

      • Matt

        Saying “anything can be faked” is easy but not honest. If you think the photos were faked and that Bellingcat hacked into the websites of DVOKU military academy and Russian social network Odnoklassniki, then **prove it**. Until you do that, your claims are nothing but empty words.

        • Avery

          Let’s wait till UK officials accept BC data as hard evidence and present some conclusions on official level. Then we can say these photos’ value in this case increased from “blurred pictures from the Internet” to “hard evidence”.
          What is the reason to push this crap to the average Joe in the Net? If they have something solid – let them come out with it and say it loudly.

          The discrepancies between BC revelations and lack of official reactions is killing me. I want some resolution. 🙂

        • info

          No. You have to prove that the photos are real, original, untampered with. And that they actually show what you claim they show.
          Which you can’t.
          You can’t do that with the passport documents either.

        • Aglaya

          **prove it**
          Prove it, you say? I heard they use ‘highly likely’ and ‘almost certainly’ these days. Isn’t that enough?

      • Yeah, Right

        “Those photos shown of “Chepiga” may be legit, they just don’t look like “Boshirov” or other photos of “Chepiga”.”

        There are absolutely NO “other photos of Chepiga”. None. Zip. Zero.

        The entirety of all “photos of Chepiga” that exist are those that Bellingcat have produced.

    • info

      Last URL you post is the Bellingcat website.

      Strange to have just this one image removed, but the others still there including the one to the right that looks completely out of order.

    • E R

      Well, it’s in the site URL: /upload/site31/document_images/GhQLfcf9fg.jpg what makes me think it’s some amateur design easily hackable website. Not something MoD shoul be reasonably hosted on.

      Many people noticed a glaringly obvious altering of data on flightaware.com MH17 flight path history on a second day after the event happened. One probably still can find screenshots of that on google. I saw this with my own eyes.

      That photo on the wall looks just too fishy..

    • Loftwork

      And the eternal question: Where is Sergei?

      There were two Russians in Salisbury. We have no idea why they were there but it probably wasn’t the architecture. Nor was it an assassination plot: no means, no motive, no opportunity. So why have a couple of nitwits running around Salisbury at all? Who knows, but the major Porton Down exercise must have been a magnet and Sergei was only semi-retired. They telegraphed their arrival to UK SS in advance, so there isn’t even a reliable cause-effect connection. The attack could have been set up specifically because the Beagle Brothers were available as dupes. The whole photograph question is a red herring. The real question is, where are all the witnesses? Sergei, Yulia, Pablo Miller, Nick Bailey – all vanished without trace. Petrov and Boshirov (or whoever they are) should come to the UK and demand a trial, because if the criminal justice system is worth more than a plugged shilling, on the available evidence they’d be out before half time.

  • Matt

    I posted this yesterday, but it sorta got buried:

    BREAKING: Dr. Hassan Ugail, Professor of Visual Computing at the School of Engineering and Informatics at the University of Bradford, has used his world-class face matching algorithms they even use AI), to successfully match the photo of Chepiga provided by Bellingcat and “Boshirov”s passport photo provided by the British!

    Following a press enquiry, we ran a few of our face matching algorithms on the photo of Anatoliy Chepiga and that claimed to be of Ruslan Boshirov. The results are conclusive. They are indeed the same person.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Doe5EjIX4AA7E7P.jpg

    https://twitter.com/ugail/status/1047008933045592064

    Dr. Ugail is no amateur. His principal research interest is in the area of Visual Computing. Back in my Image Processing class at Uni, we had to read/watch some of this guy’s stuff.

    • Andrew H

      It didn’t get buried. It got trashed. There is no reason to assume Dr Ugail is doing anything other than piggy-backing off other peoples previous comparisons in the interests of self-promotion as an expert. His statements lack professionalism and there is a financial conflict of interest. (This is in contrast to say Bellingcat, where you have used 3rd party software and don’t really stand to financially gain)

      • Matt

        You said a lot of words with very little meaning. What exactly is wrong with one of the world’s most prestious image recognition specialists using his algorithms to match the photos of Chepiga and “Boshirov”?

        Be specific in your criticism, rather than resort to cheap ad-hominem.

        • Andrew H

          Who owns the software rights to those algorithms? Not disclosed. What possible future benefits could he gain from sale of software or algorithms to police force / customs / anyone else wanting facial recognition. These contracts are potentially worth tens of millions. A line like “these algorithms were used to conclusively identify Boshirov as Chepiga” is great lead into a sales pitch.

        • Andrew H

          My comments were not cheap. I thought they were a fairly well explained rationale for an expert in this field not using words like “conclusive”. (Even on DNA tests the experts don’t say conclusive but provide statistics like 1 in 4 billion chance that another person has same markers). And you have to see that the possibility of significant financial is real and not a mere cheap shot.

        • Igor P.P.

          Read about what he has done and try to understand it.

          The algorithm he used is by his own admission experimental and not described in any detail. As it has not been independently tested, it has an unknown rate of false positives and is worthless for identification purposes. From his writings I got the impression that he is more interested in seeing how his ideas apply to facial recognition and getting a paper published than in building production-quality recognition sofware. Nothing wrong with that BTW, buidling production-quality software is not a job for scientists.

      • Andrew H

        The point of using computers is they can do it while you sleep. Haven’t you read George Orwell? Its mostly a very similar technology to fingerprint databases. The computer trawls all known fingerprints and produce a list of the best 5 matches – then a human will take over… There is no money to made in comparing 2 photographs – police forces are not going to dig into their budgets for that – they want something that will match people at train stations and airports and probably the shopping centre all the time.

    • Yeah, Right

      As meaningless today as it was yesterday when you posted it.

      The Good Doctor is comparing a genuine photo of Boshirov with a photograph taken from a “passport application form” whose authenticity can not be vouched for by Bellingcat.

      If that “passport application form” is a forgery then the photo is very unlikely to be a photo of the “real Chepiga”.

      It could, indeed, be a photo of Boshirov taken ten years ago, which “proves” nothing except that the forger is very resourceful.

  • Rather B. Anonymous

    Not the same person

    Despite the low resolution of the comparison picture [1] from Bellingcat, some details of the face can be made visible through ‘histogram adjustment’ (although it’s hard to distinguish from image artifacts – hopefully someone will come up with a higher resolution picture of this wall photo eventually…)

    The person on the wall has…
    – a really distinctive scar on left cheekbone,
    – pronounced horizontal lines on the forehead.

    The Interview-Bashirov has no such ‘hardened’ face.

    I only have a really old ‘Paint Shop Pro 7’ but surely others can do a similar thing in Photoshop.
    In PSP7 I did: Select face of wall-photo-person, ‘Colors’, ‘Histogram Adjustment’-dialog: Midtones -50 (expand), Low 0, Gamma 0.64, High: 182.

    [1] https://017qndpynh-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/comparison.png

    • E R

      There again: /wp-content/uploads/2018/10/comparison.png “wp-content/uploads” means this website uses an outdated engine, easily hackable.

      • Rather B. Anonymous

        misunderstanding: That picture link I’ve posted is the one that Bellingcat has published (their address, their blog, their photo).

        What I meant to say is: you can take that picture (be it genuine or faked), fiddle around with histogram adjustments using your photoshop at home and will see more details of that face – revealing that these are different persons.

        Sadly, image resolution is low, there are artefacts, reflections, and perhaps there are ‘ripples’ in the laminated print.

        Still, I think it’s simply not the same person. And I think this will become clear once someone goes there and takes a better picture of that wall. Can’t be that hard. Well, let’s wait and see…

        • E R

          The catch here is the picture is REAL.
          Here is my take on this:

          a) britts have an ukrainian sayanim working at that school. Very probable.
          He(or she) had a lil task to do: come to that stand, plaster a prepared photo in a very fresh looking plastic sleeve, take the picures and send them to britts. The task of “finding” these photos and implanting them into 3 locations is a matter of technique.
          b) The photo stands out because of its low resolution. It looks like an enlarged version of a rather low res image britts had come up with.
          c) Chepiga is a ukrainian surname. That alone is a ringing bell in this story at once.

          And look at that simultaeous photo of them passing airport corridors. Add the minutes and seconds digits..11 – what a mark of beast LoL. That’s no coincidence, it is a sign.

  • Alex

    Well, let’s face it – the lighting is okay (the next photo to the left displays a very similar, though weaker, daylight window pattern at the background), and the snap is very much undoctored. The timing discrepancy may have a myriad reasons, Chepiga getting heroed for the second time this time is not an out-of -this-world guess.
    So on this one Bcat may be right. But all the previously raised issues remain unanswered. Decoration as a rule goes along with promotion. You simply do not send a (newly decorated) Hero (and a full Colonel at that) abroad on a regular field mission (and a killer mission for a supposed professional killer is a routine). The UK is blacklisted as a vacation venue for guys from the military and agencies, actind and recently retired alike, this is mandated. But it could have been a reward of sorts for them. The UK does not issue visas for Russian guys of past -conscription age with poor “legend” – and is this case getting a visa was akin to a red-carpet treatment from Brits.
    The list goes on and on. As the Skripals remain abducted by the British state.
    This may indeed have Syria (and Israel) at its core, if we assume the S-case was planned with a really massive attack on Assad in mind. But Putin’s decision not to go for Idlib this year may have put it on hold.

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