Novichok, Navalny, Nordstream, Nonsense 439

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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439 thoughts on “Novichok, Navalny, Nordstream, Nonsense

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  • Sean_Lamb

    While “Novichok” are not unbelievably complicated, they do need a well equipped CSL level 4 laboratory. I don’t think there is any “novichok” lying around for any random oligarch or organ of the Russian state to use on the 3rd or 4th most popular Russian opposition leader.

    Whoever did it was counting on the exact reaction that has transpired.

    “novichoks” are not straightforward to identify – particularly if you don’t know precisely what you are looking for (for a rare compound like this you need to know the “fingerprint” it produces when chemically broken down via MS-MS, ie you generally have to possess a reference solution or at least it makes it much simpler). So I am not surprised that a city in the middle of the Siberian outback failed to identify it within 36 hours. Having said that, the Russian government’s response was the usual display of ineptitude that we have come to expect from them in the face of these admittedly deeply unfair challenges.

    When and if the German government passes the exact formula and the chemical “Fingerprint” and then the Russian police can see if they can find any environmental traces to at least locate the poisoning location. Hopefully, they would have swabbed everything already, but since this is Russia and we must expect incompetence, they may not have done. Of course, unlike in Salisbury the Russians won’t have a Nick Bailey going around spraying Novichok traces everywhere for forensics to find – when you don’t cheat like the British do, finding environmental traces is not as easy as CSI TV might lead you to think

    The last thing we want to see is to see the poor guy working in the cafe at the airport being stitched up to satisfy NATO. The Russian police should just compile a report of what they can find out and what they can’t and leave it at that.

    • Goose

      If you were writing a spy novel, Novichok, like Polonium, would be the perfect weapon for framing an adversary though; because only a few nations on earth have the resources and/or inclination to develop these substances.

      Shooting someone in a staged robbery, wouldn’t carry the same accusatory power.

    • Sarissa

      From reports at the time, I understood that a level 3 Bio lab was sufficient. Various third world charities have endorsed the suggestion of a design to construct these from a basic shipping container, for use in testing/lab work

      Cost: $200,000 + testing equipment (2014 prices) for BSL-3 capability.
      Every university life sciencies dept will likely have these facilities.

    • Hamish McGlumpha

      Any university chemistry lab (or even school at a push) on the planet could be used to synthesise the stuff – or rather its precursors. Then mix in the field.

      • karel

        Yes shortly after mixing the two components, wearing an anti-covid respirator to avoid suspicious looks, the presumed student of whatever would then smear it on the door handle of the toilet or even better on the toilet seat as he suspected that Navalny likes to lick them.

    • Wikikettle

      Pompeo is determined to stop Nord Stream. If its not invasion, its blockade. Stop the countries you can’t control from selling oil and gas. I can’t see Germany pursuing an independent path. The post war deal was that France has the military and Germany allowed to develop economically, but following US orders.

    • Blissex

      «When and if the German government passes the exact formula and the chemical “Fingerprint” and then the Russian police can see if they can find any environmental traces to at least locate the poisoning location.»

      But “novichok” is the name not of one chemical with a “fingerprint”, it was the name of a generic research programme into a family of chemicals, which share some characteristics, like all pesticides of that type. To use “Novichok” as a proper name of a specific chemical is to give credibility to some ridiculous aspects of the weird conspiracy theories by the Conservative government:

      «Of course, unlike in Salisbury the Russians won’t have a Nick Bailey going around spraying Novichok traces everywhere for forensics to find»

      I am not sure that *any* traces of one of the several chemicals that were researched in the “novichok” programme were found in Salisbury or in the Skripals’ blood, for example because:

      * The letter to the “The Times” by a Salisbury hospital consultant denying that the poisoning was from any sort of nerve agent, but from another class of drugs (probably fentanyl, but the letter does not say that).

      * The delivery method and lack of lethality reported in the various conspiracy theories are incompatible with the characteristics of nerve agents.

      * One must parse carefully some statements: tests that reveal the presence of something that is compatible with the possibility of a nerve agent, but could have many other causes, does not mean the same as proving the presence of “novichok”, a chemical that does not exist and never existed, because that is/was the name of a research programme.

      As to the latter point consider the difficulty of a reliable test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as most attempts at testing try to detect some side effects of the virus, such as the antibodies it triggers.

  • Anne

    Two points have struck me as remarkable: First, the BBC reported today that the “Novitchok” Navalny received had been “modified” for assassination purposes. Does this (serve to) explain why it is not deadly any more? Second, the oligarch allegedly having organised the plane to Berlin was a certain Mr. Zimin. Who is he? Which connections does he have?

  • Mary

    Steve Rosenberg’s report for the BBC from Moscow added some more embroidery just now on the BBC’s One O’Clock News. A commentary from Hamish de B G was included for good measure.

    • Goose

      We’ll have the same thinktank experts, wheeled out, who’ve been telling us that Putin is some dangerous, wily genius, who’s been outmaneuvering the west at every turn for the last decade.

      They’ll see absolutely no incongruity in claiming he pulled a boneheaded move like this.

          • Mary

            A review. It would have to be a quote from David Nott wouldn’t it. ‘They’ are so transparent, you san see right through them. THEY are ALL in IT TOGETHER.

            GRIPPING, MOVING AND INSPIRING: the remarkable life of a world-leading expert in chemical weapons defence.
            His work has saved lives and given hope.” – Professor David Nott, bestselling author of War Doctor
            For thirty years, Hamish has served and volunteered in conflict zones around the world. As the army’s foremost chemical weapons expert, he built a unique first-hand understanding of how to prevent attacks and train doctors on the frontline – saving countless lives in the process.
            After suffering near-death experiences time and again, Hamish discovered he had a ticking time bomb in his own chest: a heart condition called Sudden Death Syndrome that could kill him at any time. But with a new awareness for the fragility of life, he fought harder to make his count.**
            Despite facing extraordinary personal danger, Hamish has unearthed evidence of multiple chemical attacks in Syria and continues to advise the government at the highest level, including after the 2018 Novichok poisoning in Salisbury. Lifting the lid on Hamish’s unique world of battlefield expertise and humanitarian work, Chemical Warrior is a thrilling story of bravery and compassion.’

            ** Did he go to Salisbury General Hospital for treatment? 😉

  • Wim

    Nice post, however this is inaccurate:

    ” “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.”

    in fact some of the precursors of novichok family compounds are more benign than precursors to the more common nerve agents. This serves two reasons: 1. the precursor chemicals are not controlled, followed or regulated 2. some of the research was done under the cover of benign insecticide research, using precursors to similar to known chemical weapons would raise flags
    Cooking up a “batch” of novichok in a sink definitely wouldn’t be possible (and very unsafe), and a normal person (some one who does not regularly order industrial or fine chemicals) definitely wouldn’t be able to obtain these precursors in a normal store. However, it’s true that the synthesis is not that difficult and could be performed by any decent organic chemist given safe lab conditions with proper precautions for these type of compounds. Does not have to be a state actor.
    There might be some confusion because at some point there was talk of some specific formulation of nerve agents that would create the toxic compound on the spot by combining two more or less non-toxic precursors. These might have been used on the field (alleged VX precursors used in the kim jong-nam assassination) but those precursors are likewise not benign and not obtainable by ordinary citizens.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    I, of course, agree with you Craig, but would spend some effort on how the West apparently obtained novichok from the long-defunct USSR, and how all the dead or injured critics of elected President Putin were disposed of.

  • Ken Garoo

    The whole rationale of NATO was to prevent linkage between Germany and Russia. Generations of Public School Boyz have lectured interminably about this nightmare.

    As for Nordstream 2 – energy diversity is the key. For renewables, how does Germany cope on the dull, oversat, still days in autumn/winter? Even more so when ‘environmentally friendly’ electric cars come online en masse?

    • Stevie Boy

      It’s an unfortunate fact that, apart from Nuclear, carbon based fuels are the most efficient and cost effective energy sources. Renewables may have their place in the mix but with current technology they will never replace oil and gas.

      • Ascot2

        Not true. The efficiency of most internal combustion engines are less than 30%. Fossil fuels survive only because of market inertia induced by our corporate establishment.
        The technologies that will give us cheaper, cleaner, more reliable, green energy alternatives are already there to be exploited, but big oil is fighting hard, in every way possible, to delay their usage.
        The silver bullet that will eventually put the oil industry out of their misery is Hydrogen.

        • Natasha

          Ascot2, where do we get the energy to make the hydrogen? If its renewables, where do we get the energy to build and maintain and hook-up the renewable plants? And do we follow Germany’s example and switch to renewables and see our CO2 emissions increase like Germany?

          Climatologist’s who have crunched the numbers, such as Dr James Hansen asked: “Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”

          • er

            And renewables need efficient batteries. At the moment, that means lithium batteries. Bolivia has massive lithium reserves which they were developing very slowly, but under their own control under Morales. Not any more. There’s been regime change and the new government is very open to international companies arriving to exploit their resources. Of course, similar things have been happening in multiple African states for decades.

            “Big oil” is moving out of big oil, there will still be lots of companies producing fossil fuels because they will be necessary for decades if the World’s population can’t get the hang of energy conservation. Oh, and tell Mozambique, Uganda etc. not to produce their hydrocarbons to help their economies.

            When it comes to environmental impact, it is worth looking at mining, which includes minerals for renewables, and “defense” i.e the environmental impact of war. Far lower profile than the “oil” companies, but at least as bad.

          • Ascot2

            Natasha. I was afraid my comment to Stevie Boy might take us off topic, So I won’t answer at length, except to say (with apologies to the moderator) , that there are numerous non, or minimally, polluting ways to make hydrogen.
            In addition to the obvious ones like electrolysis from wind and solar. There is standby electricity that can be stored from surplus unused nuclear power. There are methods that stem from the oil industries, like methane cracking, underground oil ignition (see Proton Technologies’ hygenerator). And many more.
            In fact Alberta is already producing around 5000 tons of Hydrogen daily just to support its heavy oil refining processes.
            More energy goes into producing a liter of fuel for eventual sale, from tar sands oil, than the energy it provides when it is used. How stupid is that.

    • Natasha

      “… how does Germany cope on the dull, oversat, still days in autumn/winter? “

      It doesn’t. Germany has not reduced its CO2 emissions despite renewables increasing to almost 30% of the country’s power mix in 2018 and over 50% of its installed capacity.

      Anti-nuclear power Germany, which plans to close all of its nuclear reactors by 2022 has increased it CO2 emissions (2018 data) since its 2009 all time low, in comparison to the UK & France, which have both reduced emissions, in several important ways of presenting such data.

      The message from the German experience is clear: successful transition from high energy density fossil, to low energy density renewables will requires high energy nuclear as a significant part of the mix if anthropic CO2 emission reductions are the aim.

      As such, Craig Murray’s call for “.. Germany [to] put its formidable industrial might into renewables and self-sufficiency” doesn’t make sense. With less gas from Russia if Nord Stream 2 pipeline is cancelled (or wherever) and no nuclear power by 2022 and in light of the observation that increased renewable penetration in Germany has increased its CO2 emission (whether cause or correlation is immaterial) how does Germany ‘plan’ to power its “formidable industrial might” yet simultaneously reduce its emissions?

      • Laguerre

        No doubt it is part, if not the main element, of US policy to do down Germany’s “formidable industrial might”. The US is no friend to the EU.

  • Stevie Boy

    The initial story when this all blew up was that Navalny had a diabetic incident (low blood sugar) and that apparently he is ‘registered’ as a diabetic. Also, the Russian hospital that initially treated him apparently has retained blood samples taken at the time.
    Obviously, independent assessment and facts, whatever they are, have no place in the story once the politics start. This story will run its sad and false path with sanctions and all the other US bully boy tactics. Nothing changes, I wonder if Navalny will also be disappeared ?

    It’s interesting that the EU is potentially considering classifying dissemination of conspiracy theories as terrorism.

  • M.J.

    Navalny was kept in Russia by doctors who were leaned on by the Russians to eliinate the poison from his system, then he was benevolently released to ensure that Putin’s reputation with his useful idiot supporters in the West would not suffer.
    The Germans, who are as scientifically advanced as anybody, have stated that he was poisoned by Novichok, just like the Skripals, by villains from Moscow. It reminds me of a scene in the 60s series The Saint in which Templar (played by Roger Moore) sees delegates arrive for an international meeting and makes the following two observations in succession:
    “The good old Americans – what could we do without them!”
    “And the unscrupulous Russians – what could we do WITH them!”

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      Still don’t consider myself a useful idiot of Putin, just want to know who and how his wars with Georgia and the Ukraine were started, who and why the Kursk was sunk, and what really happened to powerless critics, etc.

        • Trowbridge H. Ford

          Of course, it was, but I don’t waste my time by writing to it about anything now,except the name of Confederate Colonel Fort Rucker to my father’s who was instrumental in winning WWII.

          Georgia failed to beat Putin to the punch by getting its troops to the tunnel linking South Ossetia and Ahkazia to Russia before Moscow’s.

          And the Ukrainian rebels in the eastern part of the country trying to shoot do down Putin’s plane when he returned from South America, but shooting down that Malaysian air liner instead.

    • Laguerre

      “The Germans, who are as scientifically advanced as anybody, have stated that he was poisoned by Novichok, just like the Skripals, by villains from Moscow.”

      I liked the bit where the Germans are reported to have consulted Porton Down. Not difficult to imagine what the advice was.

    • Jo

      If the poison was illiminated from his system in Russia as blood tests would have been taken to prove it had gone….. how could it be found in Germany?

  • Mighty Drunken

    When I first heard that Navalny was possibly poisoned and was on a flight from Russia my immediate reaction was this would become another Novichok story. This to me implies that Navalny knew about the plot and plans to never to return to Russia.

    The why may be simply to reinforce that Russia is nasty and helpfully leaves easy to find traces that they are responsible. Soon Putin will be personally emailing everyone his current secret evil plans. Of course the emails ends in maniacal laughter and are signed Putin, ruler of the Universe.

  • Dieter

    He was obviously poisoned on Russian soil. I don’t believe for one moment that the scientists at the Charite Hospital in Berlin fabricated evidence. Thus, the German government asking the Russian government to investigate the crime is only reasonable.

    In the Skripal case, the British government accused Putin without any evidence in order to score in the geopolitical game. The British even refused to share the evidence with the Russians. They just wanted the Russians to admit guilt. That is very different.

    The Kremlin now has the opportunity to investigate a crime committed on Russian soil. Only the most mindless of Russian trolls would assume that there is anything wrong with that.

    • craig Post author

      What a peculiar straw man. I have not made the slightest objection to Germany asking Russia to investigate. Nor has anyone else, to my knowledge. This exists in your head.

    • Tatyana

      The investigation started on August 20, before any foreign government asked Russia to.
      What is really needed now it’s samples of the substance, that is claimed to be found by German clinic. Earlier they said it was cholistinerase inhibitor, and russian doctors answered they tested for this in the first day and found nothing of the kind.

      Cholistinerase inhibitors are used to treat Alzheimer’s, alcohol or mushroom poisoning. Excessive substance can cause dilated pupils and foam at the mouth, btw.

      The russian doctors ruled out, first of all, a stroke, a heart attack, an aneurysm, found a very low glucose level, made a lot of tests for toxins, as it was a condition of unknown origin, they say 59 tests. They also made MRI and shared their results with Berlin.
      It’s time for Berlin to share something, I think.

    • Tom Welsh

      I don’t believe that the Charite is a secure establishment. The doctors there may not fabricate evidence, but there is no guarantee that one or more outsiders might not have got in and done what they liked.

      Quite apart from the fact that any hospital with such a large staff is almost certain to have some highly susceptible to bribery and/or threats.

    • Peter Moritz

      Funny that – that is exactly wat Germany has done up to now. And that is why a court in Russia this morning threw out the request for an investigation – because there has been no evidence supplied that contradicts the findings of the medical staff in Siberia.

  • Marmite

    I think what sickens me most about the headlines around stories like this is how they are meant to convince gullible readers in Britain and Western Europe that their governments actually care about a single life.

    Even if all the lies were real, it couldn’t disguise the hypocrisy.

    Because meanwhile there are real people losing their lives, and on British soil, on account of healthcare defunding, poverty, and channel drowning.

    Anybody with an ounce of intelligence should see how such blame games only serve to highlight the hypocrisy.

    What is terribly frightening, though, is that the media no longer assumes that once of intelligence from its viewers and readers.

    • Tom Welsh

      “Lebanese writer explains why ‘Westerners have no remorse when killing others’”

      “In short, the issue of livelihood and economic prosperity is a central issue for the Western man in terms of evaluating his government’s (legitimacy/performance). For instance, if Trump launches wars in which millions are killed, the Western man will remain largely silent before such a scene, as long as Trump (manages through such wars) to reduce the unemployment rate in (America) for instance. By merely bringing about some economic improvements, Trump secured a great percentage of votes or support (from Americans). In other words, he gained a widely popular base within American society. This scene also takes place in say Britain, France or Germany”.

  • Dieter

    “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”

    The Russians tried to prevent the transfer to Berlin. It was only when the Finnish PM asked Putin directly that they allowed the transfer. Since Putin values his relationship with the Finnish PM, he couldn’t refuse a reasonable request. Whoever poisoned him may have been hoping that after enough time had passed it would be impossible to detect the poison.

    • Sean_Lamb

      “The Russians tried to prevent the transfer to Berlin”

      My recollection is that Dmitri Peskov’s initial reaction was “fine by us” and then allegedly doctors in Omsk said he was not yet well enough to travel. I am open to the idea that they were responding to pressure from the authorities, but there are legitimate motivations from security reasons for them to object to this – since the attack on Navalny is essentially a terrorist attack – an attack designed to achieve political (albeit murky) goals. While I can see the Omsk medical authorities were thrown into a situation completely beyond their skills and abilities, they were have been far better advised to have said something along the lines of “We aren’t entirely sure what the matter with Mr Navalny is. We look forward to any light our Berlin colleagues can shed on the matter.”

      I expect the Finnish PM suggested it was probably in Russia’s national interest that he be allowed to leave and Putin presumably decided that as well. The idea the Finnish PM forced anyone to do anything is absurd.

      As far as it, no I don’t suppose the Charite Hospital poisoned anyone. However, in the long term I think was rebound most badly on Angela Merkel and on the German state and not on Vladimir Putin. She should have played it by the book rather than politicise it.

    • Tatyana

      I dare say that if I were a doctor treating a patient with unknown poisoning, comatose, with a temperature of 34 degrees Celsius (is it already a corpse or not yet?), whose health is closely watched by the whole world, then I would also be extremely careful to decide whether to transport him abroad by plane. If a Russian citizen dies during the flight e.g. from a change in pressure, then the Russian doctor who released him would be to blame for his death.
      I believe they only wanted to stabilize his condition as much as possible. The delay in the return flight and the rest of the pilots indicate that the German doctors also did not find reasons for super-urgent transportation.
      The Navalny family and support should be less hysterical and suspicious. Doctors in Omsk and Moscow experts who arrived to help were shocked by their manners.

      • Jo

        They want it to be a poisen…so he can claim asylum….be a running sore against Putin…unite and motivate all oppositionists whether Nato EU USA etc…get Russia labeled as state terrorist…..avoid having to defend the two big big legal cases against him. Some people like being martyrs to vindicate their psychlogical delusionism self conditioning and raisond’etre. Skripals made a miraculous recovery…so we are being led to believe…I would be surprised if N did not also….

    • karel

      Putin is very afraid of that Finnish PM, whatever the name of this obscure man is. I heard on BBC that this shadowy man from Finland is giving directly orders to Putin, which makes entirely feasible that he actually ordered Putin to poison Navalny and I would not entirely exclude the possibility that Porton Down lab supplied the ingredients to this Finnish bloke to be smuggled to Siberia.

  • Eoin

    I don’t doubt either the USA or Saudi Arabia had the means, and could well engineer the opportunity to poison Navalny. But the motive? To alienate Russia further from the West and particularly to trigger hostility from Germany and to particularly manifest that hostility towards the new gas pipeline? How could a poisoner predict that Navalny would end up in Germany, and not, say, Switzerland or the USA with their fabled medical facilities or even up the road at the Cromwell Hospital in London.

    Having said that, I am surprised how quickly the media has turned its attention to Nord Stream 2.

    • Griff

      I think you might have partially answered your question at the end there. But you’re right, there’s no logical connection between the poisoning and Germany, apart from the fact that Navalny happens to have ended up there. That seems more like opportunistic political maneuvring after the fact to me.

      Just as a general point though, it would seem to be in nato’s interest (practically its raison d’etre) to further isolate Russia, and now talk of sanctions and questioning of nordstream aligns with that interest while it’s awaiting and watching developments in Belarus

  • Vyatka Forestry Service

    Too many posters giving credence to “novichok” poisoning. Both medical teams (Russian/German) founds evidence of acetylcholinesterase inhibition, but did not find a specific compound. Atropine was administered for that reason. There are medicines that can also produce the same symptoms. The German Bundeswehr think it is “Highly Likely” he was poisoned with a “Novichok Class” poison without providing any evidence. Sound familiar? To be clear, the Russian State (medics) saved the life of Navalny. It is possible he was poisoned by “other” actors, be they members of the Navalny entourage or affiliates of agencies who stand to gain the most from this drama. As Craig states, Qui Bono?

    • Tom Welsh

      “Too many posters giving credence to “novichok” poisoning. Both medical teams (Russian/German) founds evidence of acetylcholinesterase inhibition, but did not find a specific compound. Atropine was administered for that reason”.

      That is a sign of good technique on the part of those who set up the scenario. By not explicitly mentioning “Novichok”, they allow the media to feel as though they are exercising keen powers of deduction – whereas they are only noticing the lump of cheese that has been carefully placed a foot in front of their nose.

  • Jüri Eintalu

    The motive of attacking Navalny is important but we do not know the motive. Craig Murray relates the Navalny case with the Nord Stream. However, the timing of the attack hints to another possible motive: to instigate the demonstrations in Russia in addition to the demonstrations in Belarus; or to avoid demonstrations in Russia. If Putin did it, then the aim was to avoid demonstrations in Russia that Navalny might start. However, Navalny is not so powerful in Russia. He also has not been so active concerning Belarus demonstrations than Nemtsov was concerning Ukraine conflict. Therefore, an alternative is that by killing passive Navalny the demonstrations in Russia were instigated.

    Unfortunately, if Navalny was poisoned with the nerve agent at the airport, he never could arrive on the plain. But if he was poisoned with the nerve agent on the plane, then all the people on the plane were in danger. There has been no news about searching this plane and its passengers.

  • Griff

    What I’m not understanding from the currently public narrative is the prominence, from the very beginning, of the cup of tea at the airport. I think this came from Navalny’s people, but what’s the envisaged scenario? That an fsb agent was planted as a worker at the tea kiosk waiting for Navalny to show up and order from that very guy? (This is also a problem for narratives involving cia or other agencies planting tea kiosk workers)

    Another question is that if Putin is responsible, then why now? Navalny has been around for ages and has been somewhat tolerated apart from some relatively mild harassment (much milder than what happens if the Kremlin really wants you gone that is). Was Navalny up to something else recently that might have crossed some line?

    Just on a general level, I feel that there might be a Belarus angle in here somewhere. NATO is obviously prepared for an escalation of the situation there and an attempt on Navalny has the obvious consequence that sanctions are being discussed and the nordstream2 being brought into question. Notwithstanding the possible strategic implications there’s still a lot of hyocritical pearl-clutching about the German response, since it’s a secret to no one that they’re doing business with a gangster state.

    • Blue Dotterel

      “since it’s a secret to no one that they’re (Germans) doing business with a gangster state.”

      I assume you mean the US of A. Can’t think of a bigger group of thugs and thieves that anybody could be doing business with, albeit the UK also comes to mind.

  • Leon Nesbeth

    The first thing I thought when I read Navalny was poisoned by novichok is, they say he was poisoned by novichok, we don’t what he was poisoned by. I do know this, the world is being run by the wealthy and the wicked who care very little for human life and will tell us anything to suit the narrative they wish to portray.

    • Tatyana

      When I saw the first news Navalny collapsed during the flight, I thought he might be poisoned by Novichok. Something of this kind was expected since he was awarded a huge fine and even decided to close his foundation. I also knew he will be quite well in some days, because it’s Novichok. Victims of Novichok poisoning leave Russia forever and get immunity to russian legislation, you may know. I think he will settle near his daughter in the US, because there’s nothing for him to do in russian politics now, with new Constitution amendments.

      • Jack


        What do regular russians think about Navalny from your understanding? Is he even a known figure in Russia like western media try to paint him as?

        • Tatyana

          Sure he is a known figure! I’d say his support is not extensive, but very loud. Most ordinary people (including me) approve his anti-corruption activity. Most also think he is not fit for presidency. If he were the head of anti-corruption department, it would be the best possible use of his initiative. Unfortunately, for some reasons he didn’t accept Putin’s offer.
          Navalny and co. are absolutely intolerant to those who are outside of their political views. It makes people scared to have him as the head of the state. I think Navalny would have made another Stalin and would have repressed and executed Putin’s supporters 🙂 His support never looks for compromise, rarely explain or elaborate if asked a question, but mostly bark, scold, libel etc. I see them like teenagers playing rebell, revolution, resistance …not mature to take positions yet.

          • NoTwoReally

            Hi Tanya! I am enjoying your contributions particularly, if it is not indiscreet to say so! As I have said to Tom Welsh, I wish I could ‘friend’ you somehow.

          • Tatyana

            Jack, hard to say because I don’t follow him. I don’t know what was his programme when he stood for 2018 elections. His daily slogan is ‘United Russia is the party of thieves’. He also publishes guides for people, detailed instructions for regions and districts, how they should vote to prevent United Russia from winning, preferred candidates. Like Mr. Murray did once here on this site.

      • Royd

        I must say Tatyana that one of my first thoughts on this ‘mystery’ was what would become of Mr Navalny? Will we know if he lives, where he is and how he is? Will he be inclined to say anything about the events that befell him? Like the Skripals, might he just disappear into the ether leaving, we the ever-gullible, none the wiser?

        The ‘great’ British public have no curiosity as to what actually happened to the Skripals beyond the bizarre story of their poisoning and I suspect the same will result from this most similarly bizarre of stories.

        The over-riding question I am left with is what exactly are we being asked to accept here and why? Why was this ever brought to our attention, it having no seeming impact on our everyday lives in the here and now?

        Could it be we are being groomed to mistrust and hate another country? For what purpose, if so? Are the powers that be playing the long game? Might our ‘boys and girls’, at some point in the future, be sent into needless combat on the basis of games that are engineered to maintain the Western hegemony?

        • karel

          Nothing much. Unlike Skripal, Navalny is a politclown and would be used to travel round in private jets to lecture and smear others. He may find in the ”playboy philosopher” Bernard-Henri Lévy, who tends to forget to button up his shirt, a good company.

      • Ort

        Perhaps the Navalnys will move in with the Skripals, wherever they may be.

        After all, now they have so much in common! I’m sure that the Skripals will happily make Navalny a present of one of their “I Survived Russian Novichok Poisoning, and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt” shirts. 😉

    • FraPer

      When I first saw the news my first thought was that Navalny has run out of viable options in Russia, taken some nasty but not deadly stuff and screamed “help, take me to the West” where once he has a miraculous recovery will be feted as a “political” celebrity, funded and live a nice lifestyle (giving paid interviews, writing a book etc etc). Perhaps it’s as simple as that?

      Tatyana confirmed some of my thoughts in Mr Murray’s post before this one – thank you for that by the way Tatyana. You mentioned a daughter in the US so that could be the ultimate target. Perhaps we can expect to see him on CNN in due course as a “Russia expert”?

      On the other hand, like Dieter above said, I would certainly also doubt that German doctors at the Charite in Berlin would falsify medical diagnosis or records. I shall scan the German media with great interest.

      Lastly, best of success with your defence Mr Murray. have donated and happy to do so again if required. Keep us posted!

      • Tatyana

        You’re welcome FraPer 🙂
        Navalny wrote about a company which prepares food for Moscow schools, didn’t look into details, but he wrote something like they made bad foods or even poisoned children. Anyway, he stated that the company belongs to Prigozhin.
        The company lost the contract and sued Navalny, successfully. 88 million roubles.
        Prigozhin was insulted, he signed a treaty with that company and now he is the holder of the debt.

        Now I think Navalny, though closed his Foundation, anticipates that russian police will investigate his other assets. Perhaps that is what he doesn’t want us all to know – what else does he have, how much does it cost and how he obtained it.

      • francesca

        But it wasn’t the hospital which analysed the blood samples
        It was a German military laboratory
        The doctors will be treating Navalny in good faith as a novichok victim
        It takes only one person to spike the samples with novichok, from then on everyone is acting in good faith.
        And as the treatment is basically caring for the patient while cholinesterase levels stabilise, not much harm is done.

      • wonky

        “On the other hand, like Dieter above said, I would certainly also doubt that German doctors at the Charite in Berlin would falsify medical diagnosis or records.”

        Why, because Germany and its governments are angels and never do anything wicked? Have you forgotten Genscher’s role in Yugoslavia and how that paved the way for all the colourful regime change operations that followed? Was it not Berlin, that invited the White Helmets and fake Hong Kong “dissidents” to shower them with awards? May I remind you, that the Charite hospital is at the forefront of the Corona psyop in Germany, working hand in hand with the oh so trustworthy Paul Hopkins Institute and the Gates Foundation? Germany can no longer be trusted in anything! It is an integral part of the one-party neoliberalcon NWO swamp.

  • pnyx

    From Russophile traitor to Russophile traitor; what I don’t understand – Putin, who is known to be smart, must have figured out what would happen if he allowed Navalny to be transferred to Berlin. I, for one, am not a bit surprised and the Swiss nzz also mentioned Novichok more than a week ago.

    Regardless of what really happened, why did he allow it? Not allowing it would of course have led to similar accusations, but then the Germans would not have been able to claim they had evidence.

    • Yuri K

      The demand put Putin in a no-win situation. He could have easily kept Navalny in Omsk but this, apparently, was a greater evil. So he knew the Germans demanded Navalny so they will “find” Novichok, but still Putin allowed Novalny out of the country. He actually violated Russian law because Navalny was under court order to stay in the country.

    • Sven Lystbæk

      I think it is a very simple answer. Any Russian is free to travel whereever they want so there is no legal ground to not allow it.

  • Julia Gibb

    If you want someone dead then sadly it doesn’t cost that much. It will be a hit and run, a mugging gone wrong, a trip of the pavement into the path of a truck.
    You would not for one second use a complex method, easily identifiable and proven not to work.

    If you want to send a message to “other” enemies
    a) you kill the target
    b) you kill the target

    These James Bond yarns are just stupid.

  • Anon

    My previous post appears to have disappeared. Does this happen to anyone else?

    [ Mod: Yes, it routinely happens to anyone who uses “Anon” as a screen name, because that name has been used and abused too often in the past. (And if the regulars here believed you were the person previously most associated with that name, you would probably encounter a great deal of hostility.) Furthermore, your email address is obviously fake and you appear to be using an anonymous proxy connection. These characteristics are often associated with trolling behaviour.

    The comment was suspended, with a note from the moderators asking you to use a different name: “Unfortunately, the name ‘Anon’ is reserved. You’re welcome to repost the comment under a unique name.”. You should have been able to read it if you continued using the same internet connection.

    If you adopt a unique screen name and supply a genuine email address, while respecting by commenting etiquette, your comments will not be blocked or removed. ]

  • Stevie Boy

    Talking about hypocrisy of the ‘west’ ….
    I don’t recall that there was a huge fuss when our ‘strategic partners’ decided to apply surgical saws to Jamal Khashoggi.
    It would appear that enemies of Russia (China, Iran, Venezuela, etc.) are more important than enemies of Saudi (Israel, USA, UK, Scotland, etc.)

  • Steve Hayes

    I invite everyone to remember the bottle of perfume that killed Dawn Sturgess. If you were a male Russian agent entering the UK, would you think that a good place to hide your poison? Customs Inspector: “What’s this? Do you have a girlfriend here? Are you planning to stay with her? I’ll just call over my colleague from Immigration.” Having dodged that hazard, you’re on a train to Salisbury with your perfume bottle. You might need it any time during the operation. But you can’t be arsed to remove that fiddly cellophane wrapping just yet. Plenty of time to do it on the street as your targets are making a sharp exit. Ha ha. We’re supposed to believe that. But what if it was Yulia Skripal who was supposed to take that perfume bottle back to Moscow? What might have been planned for the poison it contained? Have we just found the answer?

  • Hamish Kirk

    Craig, the sad fact is that the great public out there either believe all these fairy tales from The English Security Services, or they are not interested. “Bread and Circuses” continue to work. Alas it is not only the proles and the underclass that believe all this.. Every day I speak to friends and neighbours who think this is all the work of the Evil Mastermind Putin

  • Ort

    The UK government and state-security apparatus, with a little help from its Western friends, concocted a farcical story about the Skripals being poisoned by a “Russian nerve agent”. They cling to this preposterous, tawdry, and incredible tale, and “disappeared” the alleged victims in the process to preserve the operation’s tattered shreds of credibility.

    At the time, everyone with two or more working brain cells and a modicum of common-sense skepticism saw through this farce, and collectively murmured, “Now pull the other one!”

    It took a while, but by God, the NATO Rogues’ Gallery now has pulled the other one! This time, Germany is playing the part of the innocent bystander “coincidentally” constructing the same “Novichok” scenario and pointing a quivering finger at Putin and Russia.

    As many have already observed, this ostensible fiendish “Russian” super-weapon is not only ubiquitous, it causes a bewildering assortment of illnesses, incapacity, and death– and it mysteriously works in multiple and mutually exclusive ways. It behaves sometimes as a solid, sometimes as a liquid or “gel”, sometimes even as a gas. It sometimes causes instantaneous severe reactions, and on other occasions causes a delayed reaction– reactions that differ dramatically.

    Gee, a cynic might suspect that the use and effects of this “nerve agent” vary to fit the dubious circumstances supporting the desired narrative.

    This new manufactured scandal does demonstrate that despite the differences between Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel, both the UK and German governments are ready, willing, and able to perpetrate utterly incredible Big Lies to advance their realpolitik agendas.

  • Jack

    Very scary to see how easily brainwashed westerners have become, a war with Russia would be no problem to legitimize, people would buy any reason now.

    Plausibly Navalny was indeed poisoned but he surely wasnt poisoned by Putin.
    Just the fact that Putin OK’ that Navalny could be sent to Germany to get help just disprove that claim so clearly.
    And for what? What on earth did Putin benefit from this?

    Another question is, could the germans be trusted at all? After all a secret military lab in Germany was the ones that made the claim about Novichok.

  • Chris+Leeds

    Spies, spooks and diplomats exist in a sort of hyper-space, and they occasionally bleed into ours, murderous types with vague objectives and purposely obfuscated methods, like aliens from another dimension, and we all wonder at their antics. Usually they contain it all, but sometimes they are drawn, by ‘their masters’, into overt action which always goes wrong because they lose control instantly. I heard someone on Radio 4 yesterday say something along the lines of Novichok now being “Russia’s trademark method of assasination” – does that mean it was a success for those behind it? I would have thought that Mr Putin would rather have Navalny being a live, useful “opposition” to debate with, rather than a dead or wounded heroic freedom fighter.

  • Yuri K

    It does not make sense to use Novichok-type agent against a civilian target. Let me try explain why.

    Military poisons known as “nerve gases” work by killing acetylcholinesterase, the essential enzyme in human bodies. This enzyme is involved in the process of muscle contraction and relaxation; w/o acetylcholinesterase, muscles can’t relax. Nerve gases such as Sarin do so by binding to the enzyme active center, forming a covalent bond between the amino acid serine of the enzyme and phosphorus of the nerve gas molecule. Serine has a -OH (hydroxyl) group, the nerve gas has either P-F (in Sarin or Soman) or a -P-SR (-mercapto) element (in VX) which react forming P-O-(serine) structure and the enzyme becomes inactive. There is a second chemical reaction that is slower, the hydrolysis of this initial product. In this process, the phosphorus atom of the product of the 1st reaction is attacked by water and loses another group, an alkoxy group -OR (isopropyloxy- in the case of Sarin, dimethylbutyloxy- in the case of Soman). This secondary reaction does not change anything in the state of the poisoned person, the enzyme is still dead. But here is when the Novichok comes in.

    There are 2 kinds of antidotes against nerve gases, both included into the US military Mk I kit. One antidote is a simple chemical agent known by its trade name, Pralidoxime. The other one is an alkaloid, Atropine. Their mode of action is different. Pralidoxime reacts with the inactivated enzyme, liberating it from the nerve gas molecule. Atropine reverses the effects of the excessive acetylcholine, relaxing the muscles. The important consequence of this difference in mechanisms is that while a soldier who gave himself a shot of Pralidoxime is still battle-worthy, the soldier who shot Atropine is not cause there are too many side effects. So, Pralidoxime would be an antidote of choice. However, Pralidoxime only works with the initial product of the enzyme inactivation. Once this product is hydrolyzed, there is no way back and only Atropine can help.

    So the Novichok group of nerve gases was designed to overcome the action of Pralidoxime. Novichoks have good leaving secondary groups and the initial product of the reaction with the enzyme in their case is hydrolyzed quickly. A group of soldiers sprayed with Novichok must shoot Atropine to survive but they will be useless for quite some time after this.

    Now, would you expect a civilian to carry a syringe with Pralidoxime, or would you be concerned with his battle-worthiness? Probably not. If he gets a treatment, he’ll get Atropine anyway. So, if I was to poison Navalny (for argument sake) I would use good old Sarin or VX and do it at night or before he goes to bed. His toothpaste would be the perfect choice. He’d die in his bed, alone and unnoticed.

    Sorry for the boring lecture in Chemistry but I figured you may be interested.

    • David G

      I wasn’t bored. You’re the first person I’ve read since we all learned the word Novichok who seems to know something about the topic.

    • NoTwoReally

      Very interesting, and speaking as someone conscious of the Patrice Lumumba story I would say it has the ring of truth. If I may, however, play Devil’s Advocate for a moment, while the organic chemistry checks out wrt amino acids and so forth, I am aware of no way that I can verify the part about why Novichoks were developed, nor the crucial point about rapid hydrolisation. Could you expand on that point a little, perhaps?

      • Yuri K

        If you need detailed information, I suggest read this paper:

        There are some data on toxicity there and all the chemical formulas. Note, however, that they acknowledge some contradictions about why Pralidoxyme type antidotes do not work with Novichoks; some point to accelerated aging process (i e, the hydrolysis of the 1st product that I’ve mentioned), while others claim that the aging rate for the Novichoks and Soman are the same and the inability of Pralidoxyme to work in the case of the former is explained by the debilitated partial positive charge on phosphorus atom.

  • Laguerre

    I’m very struck by how feeble the Navalny story is, much more so than that of Skripal. As Craig says, if Putin wanted him dead, he would be dead; there was plenty of opportunity. I don’t blame the doctors of the Charité. They contacted Porton Down, according to report, no doubt to ask how to detect novichok, and they received a version which allowed them to detect novichok. Was it correct, or was it adapted to fit desires?

    As a result there are now German politicians demanding that Nordstream 2 be abandoned. Not that I know a lot about German energy policy, but I would think at the moment Germany cannot afford to abandon Russian gas. Renewables are not yet adequate, and Germany has decided to close down nuclear. Great opportunity for the US to break Germany. The politicians are mainly Atlanticists, I would guess, but I haven’t seen a breakdown.

    There must be a degree of opportunism here, as it was not certain that Navalny would be transported to Germany, but it could have been one of the options.

  • Goose

    Reading the comments of Germans on news site Welt, a few examples that are typical of opinion expressed:

    ‘It’s the usual dodgy game: now the Navalny poisoning is being used by those who have been against the pipeline for a long time.’ –
    ‘While reading it, I also had the thought that it might have been poisoned by the Americans.
    Röttgen is entirely on the American line anyway.
    America needs leverage against Nord Stream 2. They want to sell their fracking product to Europe.
    Why should we seriously ditch the entire energy supply strategy because of one person?
    Is it worth it for Mr. Navalny?
    Where is the relation here?’ –
    ‘Somehow I can’t shake the impression that someone was waiting for an occasion to torpedo Nord Stream 2.
    There should be back rooms everywhere.’ –
    “Navalny offers the excuse for a voluntary exit – before the US enforces it.”
    ‘Merkel kneels down so that she can get out of the project without losing face.’
    ‘The headine gives precise information about what the matter is really about. Nord Stream 2 is to be stopped. Behind this are the interests of the USA, Poland and the Baltic states. Only it hurts the Russians.’

      • Goose

        The US ambassador to Germany has been widely criticised for his interference and overreaching behaviour. He’s been making all sorts of threats and demands over NS 2. It’s understandable purely from the US ‘interests’ perspective: they want to protect Ukraine/Poland energy route supplies; deny Russia funding for its weapons programmes and sell their[US] liquefied (shale)gas.

        A wider point. 75 years after WW2 is it not time to close European US bases; thank the US, but tell them it’s time to go home? We certainly wouldn’t want to host Russian military bases or Chinese, but we don’t need the US ‘big brother’ interference either. I think the US, and specifically US interests ,are the major hindrance to improved European Russian relations and cooperation.

          • Goose

            Amazing how this has been so normalised to the point where people don’t even think how Nato and US bases impact on sovereignty. It wasn’t always thus…

            1945 – 1989 clearer justifications. After 1989’s events there should’ve been a major rethink. Will Europe ever escape from under the US’s footprint?

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