UPDATED: The Skripal Case: an open thread

The reality behind the alleged poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter remains murky and apparently contradictory. Six days in to the investigation and little more is known beyond the original announcements made mere hours after the supposed discovery of the crime. Questions proliferate and answers are few.

We are opening this thread as a place for posting links to aspects of the merging story. This is going to be particularly useful as the narrative develops and changes. Today’s headlines might slip down the Memory Hole tomorrow. So documenting them as they arise may be useful.

Here are a few of the questions currently outstanding that may be answered in future (or may simply vanish from the record):

What “nerve agent” was used?

Six days in and no statement about that has been made yet.
UPDATE 13/3/2018: The UK government has now claimed to know the identity of the “agent” used. It’s allegedly Novichok (“new stuff” in Russian). It was developed in the USSR in the 70s and 80s, and has never been used before – either militarily or for espionage. May also claimed that there telltale signs that this was definitely made in Russia.
The problem with this theory is two-fold:
1. Russia destroyed their chemical weapons in 2017. Reported here in the NYT.
2. Russia was not the only country to make, or have access to Novichok. It was made in Uzbekistan, and the Uzbek goverment has been working with the United States to “destroy” their chemical weapons since 1991. WikiLeaks tweeted evidence that Cuba also had access.

With these facts in mind…the following questions need to be answered:
1. How did the UK government identify the agent?
2. What proof is there it was made in Russia?
3. How is novichok manufactured? How easy is it to make?
4. What countries had the wherewithall to make it?
5. Why would the Russians use a poison that has never been used before, and could be easily traced back to them?

Where exactly were the Skripals poisoned?

a) Was the poison “sprayed” on them in the street as suggested by police March 6-7 quoted here?
b) Was it added to Sergey Skripal’s drink at a pub he allegedly visited that morning, also suggested as a police suspicion in the same article?
c) Was it in Skripal’s home as suggested March 9 here?
d) More specifically had it arrived there by “parcel” as suggested here?
e) Was it delivered in a bunch of flowers as suggested March 10 here?
At first glance it seems as if some of these theories are incompatible with each other, and it’s initially hard to see how the same evidence could point to all of them at once.

The poisoned policeman

The story of “Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey” allegedly poisoned during his investigation on March 5 remains currently another poorly defined aspect.
How was Bailey contaminated more than any other officer called to any of the scenes?
Was he poisoned while he was “attending” the Skripals on the legendary bench where they were found “collapsed” as alleged by the Telegraph on March 8? Or was he contaminated while investigating Skripal’s house as suggested by the Telegraph March 9? If the latter, doesn’t this establish beyond doubt that the Skripals were also poisoned there?
How is Bailey doing? is he currently much improved as stated by the Chief Constable of Wiltshire on March 8 (“he’s well, he’s sat up”).Or is he still “seriously ill” as stated by an unknown source two days later on March 10.
UPDATE 22/03/2018: DS NicK Bailey was apparently released from hospital on the evening of the 22nd. No photographs, videos or interviews were made available to the press or public. Instead, Keir Pritchard, the chief constable of Wiltshire police, read written statements from both Bailey and his wife. The statements requesting the press grant them complete privacy in this matter.
Bailey’s importance as a witness cannot be over-stated. We need to know HOW, WHERE and WHEN he got poisoned by the alleged nerve agent. When Bailey was first hospitalised – when he was still anonymous – it was reported he was one of the first on the scene, and that’s why he was poisoned:

Scotland Yard assistant chief commissioner Mark Rowley said the police officer who was first to the spot where Skripal was found in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon was “seriously ill” in hospital. His condition had deteriorated, Rowley said, adding: “Wiltshire police are providing full support to his family.”

This does not fit with our other witnesses – including a young doctor who treated the Skripals on the scene for over 30 minutes and “felt fine”. The Telegraph later reported that Bailey was infected when he visited the Skripals’ house. Neither has been confirmed.
Bailey’s statement implies he’s been able to talk for days – why haven’t the police made his story known? There is important clarification to be had.
1. Was Bailey the first officer on the scene, as initially reported?
2. If so, why was a detective sergeant sent to the scene of an unknown emergency?
3. Was Bailey dispatched to the Skripal house?
4. If so, when?
5. What was the condition of the house?
6. How does this tie in with the report that the Skripals were gassed in their car?
7. Was Bailey ever in/around the Skripal’s car?
8. Assuming Bailey was never sent to these locations alone, why was he the only affected?

Why was the Sarum House office block next to Zizzi’s restaurant closed off?

And who was the woman in her 40s who was taken from the office building to an ambulance? Was this one of the unnamed 18 other alleged victims?
If so, how did the office become contaminated?

The 18 other alleged victims

The claim that 21 people in total (including the two Skripals) had been”treated following Russia spy poisoning” was first made around March 8 (see the Independent and CNN for that day). According to the Mirror March 11 the figure includes “members of the public and emergency staff, some of whom have had blood tests as well as receiving support and advice.” No further information seems to have been forthcoming.
Who are they?
How did they become contaminated?
Are they hospitalised?
With all the hysterical publicity surrounding this entire event why none of the usual “human interest” details about these innocent victims? Why no names, no background stories? Why no interviews to date with any of them or their families?
UPDATE 13/3/2018: The head of the unit investigating the Skripal case, Neil Basu, has made a statement on casualties:

The latest assessments reveal that 38 people have been seen in relation to this incident. Of those, 34 have been assessed and discharged from hospital. Three remain in hospital and that is Sergei, Yulia and [DS] Nick [Bailey], and one person continues to be monitored as an outpatient but is not showing signs at this time.

To sum up, despite the claims of victims, only three people are being treated in hospital: The Skripals and DS Bailey. The question of how Bailey was affected, when no other witnesses paramedics or doctors were, is still very important.
UPDATE 21/3/2018: On March 14th the doctor allegedly in charge of the A&E dept. where the Skripals are being treated wrote this letter to the Times:

Note he emphasises there have been NO OTHER VICTIMS except the originally reported 3 (who he does not name). Rather more curiously, he seems to be saying that – though people were poisoned – none were poisoned with a nerve agent. This could be clumsy wording, but in a correction letter to a national paper, on case of international importance, how likely is that the Consultant would fudge his words?

The 240 alleged “witnesses”

The story of “240 witnesses” emerged around March 10 (see Huffpo for that day)
What are they supposed to have witnessed and where?
With all these “witnesses” (plus CCTV footage from the most closely surveilled country in the world) how are the most basic facts of the case still proving so hard to pin down?

The spy who came back from the dead?

This was the headline today in the Times print edition:

Skripal isn’t dead, or so they tell us, so what does this mean exactly?

TOXIC DAGGER Chemical Weapons Drill

Sergei Skripal was allegedly poisoned on the 5th March, just fifteen days prior UK armed forces had been doing their “biggest ever” chemical weapons training exercise, “Toxic Dagger”.

The article, linked above, clearly states that Public Health England (PHE) was a major part of this training exercise, and yet it is being reported now that UK authorities – especially PHE – were “blind sided” by the attack, and handled it badly.

These are just a few preliminary thoughts. Please go ahead and add your own in the comments together with any links or other relevant material. We will add the most relevant to the article


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