Novichok, Navalny, Nordstream, Nonsense 443

Once Navalny was in Berlin it was only a matter of time before it was declared that he was poisoned with Novichok. The Russophobes are delighted. This of course eliminates all vestiges of doubt about what happened to the Skripals, and proves that Russia must be isolated and sanctioned to death and we must spend untold billions on weapons and security services. We must also increase domestic surveillance, crack down on dissenting online opinion. It also proves that Donald Trump is a Russian puppet and Brexit is a Russian plot.

I am going to prove beyond all doubt that I am a Russian troll by asking the question Cui Bono?, brilliantly identified by the Integrity Initiative’s Ben Nimmo as a sure sign of Russian influence.

I should state that I have no difficulty at all with the notion that a powerful oligarch or an organ of the Russian state may have tried to assassinate Navalny. He is a minor irritant, rather more famous here than in Russia, but not being a major threat does not protect you against political assassination in Russia.

What I do have difficulty with is the notion that if Putin, or other very powerful Russian actors, wanted Navalny dead, and had attacked him while he was in Siberia, he would not be alive in Germany today. If Putin wanted him dead, he would be dead.

Let us first take the weapon of attack. One thing we know about a “Novichok” for sure is that it appears not to be very good at assassination. Poor Dawn Sturgess is the only person ever to have allegedly died from “Novichok”, accidentally according to the official narrative. “Novichok” did not kill the Skripals, the actual target. If Putin wanted Navalny dead, he would try something that works. Like a bullet to the head, or an actually deadly poison.

“Novichok” is not a specific chemical. It is a class of chemical weapon designed to be improvised in the field from common domestic or industrial precursors. It makes some sense to use on foreign soil as you are not carrying around the actual nerve agent, and may be able to buy the ingredients locally. But it makes no sense at all in your own country, where the FSB or GRU can swan around with any deadly weapon they wish, to be making homemade nerve agents in the sink. Why would you do that?

Further we are expected to believe that, the Russian state having poisoned Navalny, the Russian state then allowed the airplane he was traveling in, on a domestic flight, to divert to another airport, and make an emergency landing, so he could be rushed to hospital. If the Russian secret services had poisoned Navalny at the airport before takeoff as alleged, why would they not insist the plane stick to its original flight plan and let him die on the plane? They would have foreseen what would happen to the plane he was on.

Next, we are supposed to believe that the Russian state, having poisoned Navalny, was not able to contrive his death in the intensive care unit of a Russian state hospital. We are supposed to believe that the evil Russian state was able to falsify all his toxicology tests and prevent doctors telling the truth about his poisoning, but the evil Russian state lacked the power to switch off the ventilator for a few minutes or slip something into his drip. In a Russian state hospital.

Next we are supposed to believe that Putin, having poisoned Navalny with novichok, allowed him to be flown to Germany to be saved, making it certain the novichok would be discovered. And that Putin did this because he was worried Merkel was angry, not realising she might be still more angry when she discovered Putin had poisoned him with novichok

There are a whole stream of utterly unbelievable points there, every single one of which you have to believe to go along with the western narrative. Personally I do not buy a single one of them, but then I am a notorious Russophile traitor.

The United States is very keen indeed to stop Germany completing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will supply Russian gas to Germany on a massive scale, sufficient for about 40% of its electricity generation. Personally I am opposed to Nord Stream 2 myself, on both environmental and strategic grounds. I would much rather Germany put its formidable industrial might into renewables and self-sufficiency. But my reasons are very different from those of the USA, which is concerned about the market for liquefied gas to Europe for US produces and for the Gulf allies of the US. Key decisions on the completion of Nord Stream 2 are now in train in Germany.

The US and Saudi Arabia have every reason to instigate a split between Germany and Russia at this time. Navalny is certainly a victim of international politics. That he is a victim of Putin I tend to doubt.

The UK state is of course currently trying to silence one small bubble of dissent by imprisoning me, so you will not have access to another minor but informed view of world events for you to consider. Yesterday I launched a renewed appeal for funds for my legal defence in the Contempt of Court action against me for my reporting of the attempted fit-up of Alex Salmond. I should be extremely grateful if you can contribute to my defence fund, or subscribe to my blog.

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443 thoughts on “Novichok, Navalny, Nordstream, Nonsense

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  • Geoff S

    I don’t understand the connection between the navalny story and the nordstream angle.

    Yes, it looks very much like a western actor is a far more likely culprit here than Russia. But surely the narrative of ‘Evil Putin strikes again’ is only going to fool a portion of the public. Its not going to pull the wool over any intelligence agencies eyes anywhere. So whatever public announcements Merkel may make, I have to assume that neither she nor anyone else of influence in Germany believes this.

    So surely the only way this could deal any blow to nordstream is if the German decision makers wanted it. And if they want it stopped, how has it even gotten as far as it has?

    My suspicion is more that the Evil Russia story has gone cold for a while and this would be a simple, cheap ‘maintenance’ to stoke up the fire again in the public mind, so we’re primed with hate ready for when its needed.

    • Tom Welsh

      “It often happens that, if a lie be believed only for an hour, it has done its work, and there is no further occasion for it”.

      – Jonathan Swift, “The Examiner”, 1715.

        • James L

          I’ve made a further donation. The Crown’s approach is cynical and chilling in the extreme.

        • Tom Welsh

          Yes. Indeed, those days saw people like Swift, Pope, Adam Smith, Hume, Dr Johnson, Burke… what a glittering galaxy of talent.

          That particular quotation seems to have almost supernatural relevance to our life in the West today. People often put forward compelling refutations of lying propaganda – but it has practically no effect. All that counts is what is in huge headlines on the front pages of the newspapers and on the TV and radio news today.

          • Tom Welsh

            Oh, I forgot Gibbon! Apologies, Edward.

            “The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord”.

            – Edward Gibbon, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”

    • craig Post author

      States are not monolithic. The BND may be wanting to push Merkel towards canceling NordStream, for example, in co-operation with the CIA. Lots of other possible permutations.
      Merkel is superficially going along with the western intelligence narrative, while not doing anything rash.

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        From the Mesenberg Castle conference, 29th June.
        Merkel; ” We must define our relations with the world as a European Union.”.

        • wonky

          That must be why she so vehemently supports Turkish endeavours for their ‘blue homeland’ expansion phantasies, crapping -yet again – all over Greece. Merkel has been a catastrophe for Europe, and she might turn out to be the final coffin nail, working actively towards a high intensity WWIII, because multiple proxy wars and low intensity bio-warfare is not enough..
          That woman is an evil, exceptionally ugly witch, from any perspective.

      • Muscleguy

        German foreign policy has long been to tie the Russians in with trade so tightly that war is economically impossible. Not a bad strategy to take but of course it is inimical both to the US and to those who want Big Bad Russia to be our bogey man again.

        Like you I don’t buy it. Putin is no saint but neither is he entirely bad. The Russians like strong men leaders, after Yeltsin who wouldn’t? Putin has made Russians proud to be Russians again. So his continued popularity is really no mystery. He is also no fool & a fairly ruthless & realistic player of Realpolitik as the Georgians found to their cost. Regaining the Crimea was a masterstroke of Realpolitik. Facts on the ground dear boy, facts on the ground. Who is going to dislodge him?

    • Squeeth

      You only need to fool a portion of the public in faux democracies, the bent political and electoral system, the corp-o-rat media and state broadcasters do the rest. If that isn’t enough, a few judges will chime in and pauperise a dissident or set him up for the American gulag archipelago or neglect him to death.

  • Andrew Ingram

    I thought that Germany was still on the fence regarding the Skripals as they had yet to see any real proof.

      • wonky

        Merkel just took “highly likely” to “without a doubt”. In regards to the Skripals, she now uses the wording, they “went underground”..
        Go figure..

  • Laguerre

    It sounds like the whole point of novichok is not to kill the person poisoned. Otherwise how are Western agencies going to convince someone like Navalny, or indeed the Skripals, to take the stuff? A few weeks unconscious, they would agree to, but not risk of death.

    • Tatyana

      Leonid Rink, one of the Novichok developers, say you’d have to explode the mixture of those ‘common chemicals’ to make them react and become poisonous. That was the point of Novichok.
      What a strange choice of poison it is – to explode a teaspoon or even some tiny droplets of the matter to kill someone.

    • Goose

      You assume Navalny and Skripals were exposed to the same thing?

      Navalny was howling in pain. The Skripals were reportedly found unconscious. There’s also this anomaly:

      Neil Basu, the national head of counterterrorism stated Sergei his daughter Yulia were among 38 people who required hospital treatment for poisoning symptoms,

      Steven Davies, “Consultant in Emergency Medicine” at Salisbury hospital, wrote the following letter to the Times in response :

      “Sir, Further to your report (“Poison Exposure Leaves Almost 40 Needing Treatment”, Mar 14), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve-agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.
      STEPHEN DAVIES, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust”

      • Laguerre

        Mine wasn’t a very serious comment, only intended to provoke some thinking. In any case it presumes that Navalny and Skripal were in on the conspiracy, of which I don’t believe there is yet evidence. If it were so, Navalny uttering a few suitable howls of pain would be easy to organise.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    After the revelation that the NSA was bugging her calls, I suspect Merkel has little time for this nonsense. She is however on her way out and identifying a successor seems fraught with difficulties. There’s also Frau Merkel’s health and the (induced?) tremors.
    Big picture? Brexit frees the EU from its Atlanticist anchor (witness NordStream II). The BND involves itself in pathetic stunts to try and remain in the graces of its founding, American sponsors. Nae luck lads, the geopolitical die is set and no amount of Kabuki theatre will alter that.

  • Tom Welsh

    “Personally I do not buy a single one of them, but then I am a notorious Russophile traitor”.

    For the sarcasm-challenged, this means “an honest, educated, truthful person”.

  • NoTwoReally

    Am I alone in remembering the following? It was once received wisdom that chemical weapons (extant from World War II if not earlier) were so lethal that, as someone said on BBC Radio 4, “if I were to put the head of a pin in the liquid, then shake any liquid off, and then the head of the pin touched you anywhere on your body, you would be dead”. I wish I could remember the name and broadcast date of the programme in question; the thrust of it was that the government had dumped barrels of this stuff in the sea. Anyway, the idea of that degree of lethality was hardly exclusive.

  • Colin Alexander

    Are the Germans saying Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok type toxin but, it is total speculation by others that Putin’s Russian govt is responsible?

  • DiggerUK

    It will be interesting to see how the novichok in Navalny was determined. Do the germans have sample stocks to compare? Strange that the Russians who have stockpiles of the stuff, don’t seem to have the ability to detect it, but germany does.

    With Russia the home of Novichok and China the home of Covid, am I seeing a pattern…_

    • Geoff S

      “It will be interesting to see how the novichok in Navalny was determined.”

      It was reported by The Times that the Germans asked for assistance from… …Porton Down.

      I was going to add something but that writes its own punchline better than I could

    • Tom Welsh

      I think that what the Germans do have is ample stocks of TheresaMayHighlyLikelymeters. And a lively wareness of which side their Brot is Buttered.

    • Ken Garoo

      See also

      • Georgi Markov
      • Pyotr Verzilov
      • Anna Politkovskaya
      • Assassination of Boris Nemtsov
      • Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko

      Wot, no Skripals! Does that mean they were poisoned for nothing? Their case is not even good enough for a footnote in a Philip Cross Masterpiece?

  • nevermind

    I have had the suspicion form the moment I heard about Navalny collapsing on the plane and when they flew him to Berlin, it was becoming clear that Russia was not that interested in keeping control over his moves, so who had an interest to keep their fracking hell going and sending their liquefied gas all over the world, if not the USA.

    This is a dirty fossil fuel trade war and Navalny, thinking he has much support in America and the west, must now realise that he has been used. It seems that some bribe was paid to either one of his closest confidants or that a person has long been waiting for the right time, i.e. a destabilized Belorussia, with much references to Russian troops which weren’t there, and talk of Putin’s worrying that something like that might happen in Russia involving the opposition.
    Navalny was an easy choice, they knew that Putin would not cry a tear after him, he was in the wrong place at the right time.
    Thanks for your skepticism of the usual Nord stream bias, I thought I was the only one who thinks Navalny was napped by our own Novichock experts.

    Shall contribute to your free speech fund whenever next in Norwich. Best to you all and good luck.

  • Peter Moritz

    The guy went to an airport, takes a cuppa with someone, gets into a plane \nd into the flight falls ill – all triggered by a substance that is so deadly a drop can kill a hundred or more and acts as we have seen in the Skripal case “immediately” with deadly consequences (after a few hours sitting and relaxing on a park bench).
    The question: why did no one else either in the plane or airport lounge fell ill? And again, the “delayed” action toxin no on can explain.
    How was it administered without anyone noticing or falling dead from his chair or collapsing from standing?

    I think the various agencies interested in preparing a war with Russia try to build a more convincing story line.
    And from someone who knows Russia well:
    “To cut to the quick, we are being told that Vladimir Putin is a madman. And the message is coming from none other than Angela Merkel, still leader of Europe’s strongest economy, most populous nation, and determining force of policies in Brussels. In which case, suspension of Nord Stream II would be a mere tap on the wrist. The logic, if any can be salvaged from her story, is that Putin should be physically eliminated, like Saddam Hussein, like Gaddafi….for “violating all of our fundamental values” as she claimed yesterday.”

    • Peter Moritz

      To get to a point argued by the ones before me:

      “It is scarcely believable that Russian oligarchs did it, since they would then be pointing a finger directly at Putin and would not survive.”

      and his angle:

      “Trump has been twisting arms in Europe to follow the American lead on China, but resistance on this issue has been surely much greater than resistance over sanctions on Russia. As we learned during the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister to Germany two days ago, the PRC is Germany’s largest export market, with annual sales topping two hundred billion euros. Given these facts, Mme Merkel has every reason to redirect Europe and America’s lust for sanctions to her neighbor directly to the East, the Russian Federation. That is to say, she has “every reason” if logic plays any role today in state behavior.”

      by the same source linked to above

    • Tom Welsh

      Whereas, of course, the one who is really guilty of methodically “violating all of our fundamental values” is Merkel herself. In which she is merely mimicking her masters in Washington.

  • Republicofscotland

    “What I do have difficulty with is the notion that if Putin, or other very powerful Russian actors, wanted Navalny dead, and had attacked him while he was in Siberia, he would be alive in Germany today. If Putin wanted him dead, he would be dead.”

    Indeed, Putin would need to be a wee bit insane to to poison Nalvany with Novichok after the Salisbury incident which has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese. Yet Nalvany still lives, another whose miraculously survived poisoning from the deadly Novichok, as stated by Phil Ingram an ex-MI intelligence officer who said live on Sky news that less than a grain of salt sized Novichok would be enough to kill someone.

    Interestingly as the the German authorities were pushing the poisoning’ a major build up and NATO exercise was being carried out close to Russia’s border. Expect more and severe sanctions against Russia, and its allies who do business with it by the West, but not against the Tories Russian oligarch donors in London. This latest farcical staged managed poisoning will probably be an attempt to turn Germany away from purchasing Russian gas, will it succeed who knows.

  • Crispa

    Laughed out loud when I heard it on BBC news. “Nonsense” is the polite way of putting it. Just a bit surprised by the audacity of producing such nonsense though not with the Guardian’s take on it with LH to the forefront in disseminating the nonsense. I like the alliteration in the title of the piece and of course the usual masterly balloon pricking.

    • Tom Welsh

      “Laughed out loud when I heard it on BBC news. “Nonsense” is the polite way of putting it”.

      Yes, but no.

      Can you honestly call any official story “nonsense” when the entire British and US peoples have swallowed enthusiastically everything they have veen told about the “Covid-19” hoax? And MH17? And the Syrian poison gas attacks? And the Russian “interference” in Western elections? And the long-drawn out martyrdom of Julian Assange for revealing to the world the hideous crimes of the US government?

      They must reckon we will swallow anything by now. And they seem to be right.

      • Susan

        Yes, Tom, it appears that there is no ‘false flag’ that is too patently ridiculous for the sheeple not to swallow it. The raging fanatics are getting more and more outrageous in their attacks – and it works every time. I’m in despair that all is lost. If I have to give up everything in exchange for just one thing, it would be to save Julian.

  • Wikikettle

    Its been many years, but last night watched the full length movie Charge of the Light Brigade on YouTube. What I found interesting, was the use of Victorian era illustrations in little musical vignettes throughout the film, portraying the Big bad Russian Bear being beaten up by the Lion with France and Turkey in tow. Sevastopol Crimean war still being pursed by idiots.

    • Tom Welsh

      It’s worth bearing in mind that the Crimean War was a deliberate, cold-blooded invasion of Russia by Britain and France in which Russia suffered about half a million casualties – about 20 times as many as Britain and 4-5 times as many as France.

      There was no pretence of justification. The British and French just decided that Russia was “getting too big for its boots” and needed taking down a peg.

      The equivalent today would be something like Russia destroying Portsmouth, Aldershot and Farnborough when they were full of British service people. (Which, of course, they could do effortlessly in about an hour). But to get the right number of deaths they would have to incinerate Birmingham too.

      • Wikikettle

        Thanks Tom, and the Hubris of the cretins, thinking Russia would allow US, UK, French forces to just move into Crimea after all that history and its strategic position.

    • Laguerre

      “What I found interesting, was the use of Victorian era illustrations in little musical vignettes throughout the film, portraying the Big bad Russian Bear being beaten up by the Lion with France and Turkey in tow. “

      Those were not Victorian illustrations, but modern ones in the school of Monty Python, which was big at the time. Indeed probably done by the same artists. All very ironic about the disasters of British militarism.

  • Gas trader

    By repudiating nuclear power after Fukushima, it was actually the German electorate that VOTED for gas powered electricity and Nordstream 2, Pompeo can read his Schofield Commentary Bible till rapture come and nothing can change that. The expense,logistics,infrastructure for LNG by sea from the US simply makes it untenable, besides the US fracking industry that gives rise to the LNG supply is extremely fragile. The Germans may well be onto a very great deal if it has been priced in USD, since the dollar can be expected to go mugabe in the near future, and the Nordstream gas will have become ultra cheap then.

  • Geoff Reynolds

    Nice one Craig!

    …………is there any wonder you have the Wolffe at your door?

    The main stream media drip feed the population with so much crap on a daily basis and you have the skill to expose the truth at every level.

    It is a skill that not many people have and to you it is merely an art form.

    Every time you expose a lie our combined governments cringe……

    People are tossing off their blinkers and starting to realise what is going on in the big, bad world of politics and i thank you, personally, for opening up their eyes to the malevolent hate and bull that is part of our daily diet.

    They can try and restrict your testimony and your witnesses but they are only deluding themselves as everyday you highlight an injustice or lie that they pass off as news for the blind.

    Keep on opening our eyes because the Wolffe is only as big a threat to you as those you expose as pulling his strings…..

    • Goose

      You’d think after the Arkady Babchenko fiasco, with Johnson and others denouncing the Moscow ordered slaying that wasn’t, politicians would be a bit more restrained, but no, Raab’s already decided upon the guilty party and moved on to ‘actions’.

    • porkpie

      Thanks Tatyana. You will forgive my ignorance of this site, but, in your opinion, how credible is this report?

        • Peter Moritz

          That you are paranoid does not mean they not actively are working to get rid of you…remember the term “colour revolutions”?

          • Tatyana

            I don’t approve the police violence. I’ve seen videos they stopped their cars by the pavement and detained people in the streets. All of a sudden. The boys were sitting on the bench and policemen got them, put inside the car and kept in prison for several days. It was not a protest.

            I’ve seen also how they do their protests, these really nice peaceful people of Belorussia. They took off their shoes before getting on the bench seat to have better view of the scene. They had bins and packets for trash in every protest place and left it extremely clean. They are really that nice and only wanted to demonstrate they are not content with the elections.
            Absolutely different to BLM. And I can’t understand why the police were so violent in Belorussia.

  • giyane

    The BBC collected a few terse, posh expert types and a jokey, seen it all before analyst with a Russiany accent to drivel on about Skripals novichok and other extremely unconvincing tripe on the World Tonight yesterday.
    Thanks aunty giving me an early night. You forgot to mention cui bono for Boris who was Foreign Secretary when the novickok fantasy first started. Why doesn’t he just leave his skeletons in the cupboard to quietly decompose?

  • Kempe

    ” We are supposed to believe that the evil Russian state was able to falsify all his toxicology tests and prevent doctors telling the truth about his poisoning “

    However in the Skripal’s case we are supposed to believe that the police, army, NHS, MI5, Porton Down and the OPCW all conspired in faking the poisoning. Maybe Putin wants the world to know what happens to people who oppose him or maybe he just doesn’t care.

    Nordstream 2 will bypass several countries through which Nordstream 1 passes not only depriving them of valuable transit fees but they fear it’ll enable Russia to cut off their gas without affecting their European customers downstream. The only good thing is that it might encourage them and Germany to get serious about alternatives.

    • N_

      to believe that the police, army, NHS, MI5, Porton Down and the OPCW all conspired in faking the poisoning

      Is that hard to believe? Where the first five are involved, just say “national security” – job done.

    • Bayard

      “However in the Skripal’s case we are supposed to believe that the police, army, NHS, MI5, Porton Down and the OPCW all conspired in faking the poisoning. “

      No we are not. The army had little or no primary information and were just acting under orders. That’s what the army does. The NHS tried not to go along with the story, viz “inconvenient” letters to the Times, but were sat upon, as was the OPCW, Even Porton Down did what it could. So that leaves the police and MI5. No one would challenge the fact that the police were in possession of much more information than was made public. Not to do so was “conspiring to fake the poisoning”, unless you can think of some other reason, and please don’t say “national security”. So we are left with MI5 faking something. Well knock me over with a feather!

    • Jüri Eintalu

      “However in the Skripal’s case, we are supposed to believe that the police, army, NHS, MI5, Porton Down and the OPCW all conspired in faking the poisoning.”

      It is enough if some leaders of the institutions are conspiring. Moreover, faking WHAT exactly? It is possible that half of the story is true and the other half not. For example, imagine that British intelligence simply lost their little bottle with the nerve agent in the park. A catastrophe was to be expected. So, they started to search for the bottle AND the propaganda that some foreign persons were involved.

    • Tom Welsh

      “However in the Skripal’s case we are supposed to believe that the police, army, NHS, MI5, Porton Down and the OPCW all conspired in faking the poisoning”.

      Gosh, it’s almost as if all those people took their orders from one source.

    • David G

      “ Nordstream 2 will bypass several countries through which Nordstream 1 passes …”

      I don’t believe that is accurate. I think the new pipeline is being laid right next to existing Nord Stream 1, except for the easternmost bit, which is in Russian territory anyway. However, the increased capacity will reduce reliance on overland supply through countries like Ukraine, as you say.

    • RMM

      Navalny is currently just a blogger who sleuthes out corruption in the public and private sector, and general muck-racking.
      It’s said he was on his way to “investigate” some businessman out in the Russian Far East.
      That’s what he does – plus the occasional demonstration with mostly young hotheads.
      He no longer does opposition politics in the usual sense, as his current following is not really interested in serious politics.

      • Blue Dotterel

        “He no longer does opposition politics in the usual sense, as his current following is not really interested in serious politics.”

        Sounds like a good reason for the BND, MI5 and CIA to make Navalny more useful for the cause.

  • Jan

    Unlike the Skripals, in case of Navalny the Russians do have bio samples. They could at least test them and then claim they found no novichok. Won’t change minds already made up I suppose, but would look more credible (to me) than just saying “Uhh, the Germans did not inform us of their findings” or letting some ‘inventor of novichok’ claim “the symptoms don’t match”. Done that, they could demand the Germans disclose the exact compound they found.

  • NoTwoReally

    “[Navalny] is a minor irritant, rather more famous here than in Russia, but not being a major threat does not protect you against political assassination in Russia.”

    I’ve heard rumours that he is in fact an FSB* asset, which would have protected him hitherto.

    *That’s the Russian Federal Service of Security, not the UK Financial Stability Board. For the avoidance of doubt.

    • RMM

      Correct. That has been rumoured – for the reason that he does not do any actual politics, you know, with a programme, etc. He is just an agitator. So people muse that he must be a plant to meant “liven up” the political landscape, but without disturbing the status quo.
      Just speculation, really, from people who don’t understand how anyone can consider him a serious politician, and yet he is in the news regularly, especially in Western media, usually after some stunt or other, which the leaders in Russia ignore – too studiously, the public think…

  • N_

    This of course eliminates all vestiges of doubt about what happened to the Skripals, and proves that Russia must be isolated and sanctioned to death and we must spend untold billions on weapons and security services.

    I agree with this basic outlook. Most heavily publicised events that give work to politicians, ministers and experts are about contracts first and foremost. Especially when there’s change. Change means contracts.

    It’s worth recalling not only that the medical-industrial complex is about five times bigger than the military-industrial one, but that the two complexes are increasingly working together. Public hygiene, national security, defence.

    The Skripal case was a key moment in this shift. So is the large amount of conditioning and oppression that is being imposed on people supposedly in relation to the latest strain of the SARS virus.

    Today’s media stories include that a section of the population in Salford will be “selected” to undergo “regular” testing for SARSCov2. But don’t worry, the rulers have told the media to print headlines saying the tests will be “fast” and oh so helpy helpy that you would faint with pleasure if you knew how much the system has the “members of the public’s” interests at heart.

    Local councils will be involved. The truth is that the scum who run councils have been chafing at the bit to impose a Nazi-style crackdown for decades. They want to show the guys who run central government in London and who wear much more expensive clothes than they do that they’re every bit as good as them, and that they can create pools of prole blood on the streets as well as arrange for lorries to ship prole bodies to crematoria without so much as batting an eyelid, every bit as inhumanly as the Whitehall guys can. I won’t be surprised if supermarket companies such as Tesco will be involved too.

    Who is asking the fundamental question “What if someone doesn’t agree to be tested?”

    What will the German rulers do now? Commit to sanctioning Russia even if the German population have to eat grass?

  • Niall McLaren

    If the Novichok class of chemical agents consists of organophosphates, then they don’t take hours to kill and they don’t cause pain. Moreover, the entire plane and its complement would be contaminated, with the plane certainly meeting the same fate as the Skripals’ roof. If it hasn’t been destroyed yet, then somebody powerful knows the poison was not significant.

    • Sean_Lamb

      Nerve agents – if taken orally – act a lot slower and need a considerably higher dose to kill. The stomach will break some of it down and it will act on the gastro-intestinal muscles first

      • Tom Welsh

        So why on earth would any quarter-competent assassin feed nerve agent to a victim when all that is necessary is to get a drop of it on his skin?

        A fortiori, why not just stab or shoot him? Come to that, any decent assassin can kill someone with his hands alone, leaving no obvious marks.

        The whole thing is ridiculous. Why are Weapons of Mass Destruction so called? Because they are designed to kill people en masse, not individually.

      • David G

        My zero years of medical training tell me that to get to the stomach the adulterated tea or whatever would have to pass through the mouth. So nerve agents are slower to penetrate the tongue and the lining of the mouth than the skin? That sounds made-up, though I’m pleased to say I’m not an expert.

        • Rhys Jaggar

          If the nerve agents were encapsulated within certain pills, they would only be released in the duodenum, not the mouth.

          Not saying any pills were administered, but that technology has been around for decades…

          • David G

            Maybe they slipped the novichok pill to Navalny rolled up in a slice of bologna like a dog taking its heartworm meds.

  • Bob Marsden

    Some reality gaps for me are in the flight to Germany. Was the flight plan always to go to Germany, or was it changed mid-flight? At what point, and on whose authority, was Navalny transferred from hospital to plane? Did the plane wait for him, or was it flown in specially? An operational sequence of events would help.

    • Tatyana

      Jaka Bizilj from Cinema for Peace organised the flight.

      “… at 23.00 we received confirmation from the (Berlin University Hospital) Charite that they were ready to receive (Navalny), at 0.30 we received confirmation from the Russian authorities that the flight had been agreed. At 1.00-2.00 the pilots went on board, and at 03.11 the plane took off. ”

      Flight Radar:
      the Bombardier Challenger 604 aircraft took off from Nuremberg on 03.12 local time (04.12 Moscow time) and landed on the runway of the Omsk airport at 12.10 local time (09.10 Moscow time). *Friday, August 21

      There was some uncertainity if he could survive the flight, there was medical consilium and his wife also had to make decision, and russian doctors had to have proper papers from her. Boris Teplykh commented that this delay was immediately assumed as ‘Putin doesn’t allow Navalny to leave Russia’, when in fact it were German pilots who had to sleep before the flight. I mentioned it here

      Navalny was taken to Berlin on Saturday at about 8.47 (9.47 Moscow time), an hour later he was brought by ambulance to the Charite clinic.

  • Goose

    First of all, wish him a speedy recovery, nobody deserves that.

    As a general rule, if a whodunit is this well signposted pointing to one individual, it should automatically be treated as highly suspect. Especially if that individual is as powerful as Putin. Andrew Neil mocked you on twitter over this yesterday, Craig, for questioning the Skripal case. But you’ve got to wonder where’s Neil’s journalistic scepticism; that probing for answers Neil we’ve seen deployed when quizzing those with opposing politics to his?

    Unfortunate that someone like Colonel Alison McCourt didn’t happen to be just walking through that area of Siberia, she could’ve helped and then asked to remain anonymous.

    It certainly makes zero sense from Russia’s perspective with the US already demanding Nord Stream 2 be scrapped, and loudly via the ambassador. Already certain German politicians are calling for a rethink.

    • Griff

      “As a general rule, if a whodunit is this well signposted pointing to one individual, it should automatically be treated as highly suspect.”

      True, but you also get cases such as Litvinenko’s polonium poisoning, where part of the point is to send a signal.

      • RMM

        “polonium poisoning” – here also in a tea cup. All the (non-corrupted) scientists said this is nonsense.
        I don’t know who was meant to send a signal to whom, using what poison, but the poor man did not take Polonium in his tea.

    • Tom Welsh

      “But you’ve got to wonder where’s Neil’s journalistic scepticism..?”

      I am afraid that it has been buried under a mountain of cash.

      • Goose

        We do have the journalistic talent to pose awkward questions, you only have to watch Neil or Marr quizzing an SNP spokesperson on their financial projections for an inde Scotland; Neil et al simply refuse to go there believing in infallibility of securocrats and despite things like mounting evidence of intimidation at the OPCW (four whistleblowers and Bolton’s alleged threats against the former head) and Pompeo’s recent admission: “I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.”

        • Tom Welsh

          I cannot resist bringing out once again this absolute classic example of Noam Chomsky’s ability to get straight to the heart of the matter.

          Marr: “How can you know that I’m self-censoring? How can you know that journalists are…”

          Chomsky: “I’m not saying you’re self censoring. I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying. But what I’m saying is that if you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting”.

          – Transcript of interview between Noam Chomsky and Andrew Marr (Feb. 14, 1996)

  • Cavalry Come

    Novichok may not be very good at killing people, but it’s very good at generating headlines because of the drama involved with the contamination, all the updates about the condition of the victim, and then harrowing interviews with victims and first responders. All of that makes Novichok a very effective tool for intimidating political opponents. The absolute worst way for an authoritarian regime to knock off its enemies would be to make their deaths look like accidents because that’s not going to generate the climate of fear they’re after, and if they only knocked off really high profile targets, minor players might feel like they can get away with anti-government organizing so long as they keep a relatively low profile.

    From that point of view, it makes perfect sense that the Russian government would allow Navalny to be transported to Germany. They benefit from Novichok being detected, but it also makes sense for them to deny any involvement. They need the ambiguity because they simultaneously need political opponents to believe that they’re in danger of assassination, and blind supporters to believe that the government is being framed for crimes it didn’t commit.

    Secondly, I find it hard to believe that “Navalny is … a victim of international politics” designed to drive a wedge between Germany and Russia because I’m not convinced that him being transported to Germany for treatment was something that could have been reliably predicted before his poisoning. Centers of power are undoubtedly taking advantage of the circumstances that panned out to drive their agendas but I doubt they were foreseeable.

    • N_

      @Cavalry – The rulers in Russia don’t fear guys like Navalny one bit. US and British embassies in Russia are allowed to run their political ops at election time in Russia unhindered and probably think they are very clever, but who cares? I am sure there are still some middle-class Muscovites who haven’t progressed as far in their jobs as they would like and who would love either to help bring about a further westernisation in Russia (which isn’t going to happen) or to emigrate to Germany or the US where of course the streets are paved with solid gold.

      There is not going to be a “colour revolution” in Russia. At no time has that even been an appreciable possibility in the country.

      I doubt there will be one anywhere else now either, such as in Hong Kong or Belarus. If someone can think of a country where such an old-fashioned event is likely, perhaps they can name the country. I can’t think of any.

    • Griff

      Good point that they might want to strike a balance between making it too obvious and plausible deniability, but realistically, if anything at all had happened to Navalny then there would have been headlines around the world about it.

      A problem with your scenario is a point you also bring up: if it wasn’t foreseen that Navalny would be transported to Germany, neither would it have been foreseen that Novichok would be detected there. The Russian doctors were reporting that no poisons were found, and I doubt they would make public reports of ‘Novichok’ even if they did find the signs.

      There are lots of complexities involved and who knows what really happened but I tend to agree with Craig that if the Russian state wanted Navalny dead then he would have been dosed with some poison that’s actually lethal or run into some “Chechens” already or whathaveyou

    • Tom Welsh

      “Novichok” is almost as credible as some of the more outrageous hokum in the James Bond films.

      When I read Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels – I think I got through all of them, as a teenager – I realised they were fun but obviously fantasy. (The first couple were almost realistic, but never as much so as Len Deighton’s or John Le Carre’s).

      I even watched the first two or three movies. (Definitely movies rather than films). But after that they became so ludicrously self-parodying that one couldn’t even begin to suspend disbelief.

      Apparently the authorities have decided that a public willing to pay money for such garbage will believe literally anything. They have tested that hypothesis repeatedly, in more and more extreme ways, but they have never yet been disappointed.

  • N_

    How has the German chemical weapons sector been faring since its customer Saddam Hussein was removed?

    BASF, a successor to the conglomerate I G Farben which it helped form, is the world’s largest manufacturer of chemicals. They have manufacturing capacity in Russia too.

    I’m not sure what has been happening to Russia’s “chemical towns” since last I looked at them. Many were in effect “concessions” leased to western chemical companies. They employed convict labour on a large scale. To be sentenced to work in such a town wasn’t as bad as being sent to prison but it was still pretty damned bad – known as working “на химии” (“na khimii”). I’m guessing but I doubt all the residents of such places are living the life of Riley now under Putin.

    But what do the middle-class Muscovite “opposition” with their fancy hifi equipment care for the workers in such places?

    If anyone wants a good laugh, the following is an extract from Alexei Navalny’s Wikipedia page: “He is Vladimir Putin’s biggest opponent and he enjoys more support than any political figure in his native Russia, but has been unable to bring Russia into the European Union due to the power corruption at the hands of Putin and his cronies.”

    • Laguerre

      Saddam and his chemical weapons purchases were a long time ago – 1983-4. Hardly likely that the German chemical industry was very dependent on them.

      • N_

        True. But which countries does Germany sell chemical weapons to nowadays? I don’t know the answer [*], but it might help provide a handle on the Navalny story which is pitting lovely human-rightsy Germany against evil Russian chemical weapons.

        Meanwhile there is Donald Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank.


        *) It’s fascinating though that German courier company DHL operates in North Korea.

        • Laguerre

          I’m not sure that a lot of countries bother with chemical weapons these days. Israel has them, and the major powers, but they won’t be customers of Germany. The chemical industry no doubt makes the stuff as a sideline.

          One thing that’s not clearly understood is that Saddam acquired chemical weapons, and was permitted by the US to acquire them, in very specific circumstances. That is, in the second year of the Iraq-Iran war, 1982, when the initial Iraqi offensive had failed, Iran launched a counter-offensive which very nearly succeeded. It was a very desperate fight, and dreadful things happened, like the Iraqis frying Iranian soldiers by putting high-tension cables into the irrigation ditches. It was in the wake of that that the US agreed to the supply of chemical weapons, in 1983-4, in order to prevent Iraq from falling to the Iranian revolutionaries. Only Saddam misused those weapons later on, for gassing Kurds, etc.

          Old man Asad saw what was happening, and thought Syria should have some too, but as we know, they didn’t turn out to be that useful for Syria. And I think most Arab countries have abandoned the idea now.

        • wonky

          The so-called White Helmets know a thing or two about German chemical weapons.. how to use and deploy them, that is..
          In addition, Germans have been selling a hell of a lot of drones and warheads and – dig this! – amphibious landing vehicles to f*#king Erdogan!.. Those hardly make any sense in the mountains of North Iraq now, do they? Gee, I wonder what their purpose is then..

    • Tatyana

      Working on Химия is a slang phrase, means a settlement without imprisonment, a community of convicts performing very simple labor in logging. These settlements are in deep siberian forest, far from chemical plants.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      I don’t think that BASF’s corporate revenues have ever been dominated by chemical weapon sales. A niche market perhaps, but their billions in turnover is for much more boring regular stuff.

  • James L

    I’ve made a further donation. The Crown’s approach is cynical and chilling in the extreme.

  • Andy Chelt

    I guess you do not know about the bomb threat phoned in to Omsk airport just as the plane had requested there to do an emergency landing after Navalny had taken ill?. Pilot refused to accent no for an answer and landed anyway. Very likely Navalny would of died onboard otherwise. Or maybe you expected the FSB goons to phone the pilot and tell him he is not to divert the plane but fly only to Moscow as planned, and not make it all obvious what was going on?

  • Geoff Reynolds

    Consider the headlines if Navalny was to perish from Novichock and the dreaded threat to all mankind?

    Surely the PCR tests that would follow such an incident would indicate the presence of a Porton Down fridge door, an MI6 filing cabinet and a Bellingcat authors biro…………………

    He would exclusively test positive for everything defined in our false narratives.

    NOVIHOAX on steroids!……………………………………Just think of the Lockdown potential with the combination of both……….

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