Less than 24 hours after alleged former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, have allegedly been found in a collapsed state on a park bench in Salisbury, with no official claims of foul play and no announcement of likely cause, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is already announcing what he plans to do “If things turn out to be, as many members on both sides of the House suspect they are.”
If it turns out the “malign and disruptive” (Johnson’s own words) Kremlin poisoned them (which is what Johnson all but told the House of Commons he believed to be the case), then there are going to be more sanctions against Russia and possibly a UK boycott of the World Cup.
Speedy response is it not? Almost as if he were ready on the starting blocks for this latest tragedy to unfold.
The media of course are rolling in it like dogs in ordure. The Guardian has three front page stories going at the time of writing.
The Telegraph has two:
The Daily Mail has this going on:
And the Independent is bannering this:
Meanwhile the BBC, not content with pumping out the required xenophobic hysteria on the front page:
also takes its own tabloid track in the sub pages, with a story suggesting Putin may also have had a hand in murdering his former boss Anatoly Sobchak. This is the grimy hit piece in question:
…suddenly, just as Putin was running for president for the first time, his old friend Anatoly Sobchak died…The autopsy said it was cardiac arrest but can’t find any trace of a heart attack. Sobchak’s widow suspected foul play and had her own autopsy done.
Her name is Lyudmila Narusova. I met her recently and asked her if she thought her husband had been murdered. She paused long enough to say “Yes” 10 times over, and then replied: “I don’t know.”
Some have suggested Putin may have had a hand in his death. Did Sobchak have something on him?
Evidence presented? Zero.
Gabriel Gatehouse, Newsnight’s “Foreign correspondent” is forced to leave a gaping hole in his story where the slightest hint of genuine suspicion should be. He accepts by elision that all available sources show Putin was loyal to Sobchak and probably personally fond of him. He even admits Sobchak’s widow “dismisses out of hand” any suggestion Putin was involved. He admits Putin helped Anatoly Aleksandrovich flee Russia in 1996 when he was about to be arrested by factions loyal to Yeltsin, and – yes – even has to acknowledge Putin’s obvious grief at Sobchak’s funeral:
I went back and looked at the footage of the funeral.
Putin really is distraught. His eyes are red, he seems to struggle to swallow as he embraces Lyudmila Narusova. Putin is not an actor. Nor is he prone to public displays of emotion.
A lot of people would have had the respect to leave this particular non-story right there and find another way of working up the Russia hate. But not Gatehouse. He continues (our emphasis):
So it’s reasonable to assume that he is struggling with some genuine grief. Or is it something else. Guilt?
Well, what’s a bit of human decency when you have a narrative to sell?
Just five days after Putin’s plea for an end to the warmongering that endangers all life on earth – and this is where we are.
This is far from good.