empire watch, latest, Skripal case
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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


  1. John Marks says

    It seems more important than ever to get witness statements from DS Bailey and the doctor who treated the Skripals for 30 minutes without being contaminated. An appeal should be made for her to come forward.
    For justice to be seen to be done, it is imperative that these two presumably reliable witnesses be interviewed and free to comment.

  2. This just in:

    Published on 23 May 2018

    Yulia Skripal – the woman poisoned in the UK alongside her double-agent father – gives her first media interview since the incident, saying her life’s been turned upside down, and that she wants to return to Russia.

    READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/95×2

  3. There was an interview with Gary Aitkenhead, the CEO of Porton Down where he was asked about the Russians saying the Novichok had come from the UK, not Russia.

    The guy’s response was highly interesting – he didn’t at any point say there is no Novichok at Porton Down (or in the UK). Instead he talked at some length about security at Porton Down. ‘Strangely’ the interviewer didn’t seem to notice this was an odd response, and didn’t ask him if there is novichok at Porton Down.


    Here is th moment, at 2.22 in this video: https://youtu.be/R23AQAFvZ-4

  4. Published on 6 Mar 2018

    The military and science worlds have joined forces to combat the threat of chemical weapons. Exercise Toxic Dagger brought together 40 Commando, the Defence Science Technology Laboratory and the Atomic Weapons Establishment. In the final stage of the exercise, Royal Marines must attack a building with a potential chemical threat…

    • As you can see by the date of the posting of the article in my above post, this exercise began on March 6 and not fifteen days before the alleged poisoning of the Skripals on March 5. 🙂

  5. Old Pepper says

    Completely brazen limeys continue to keep the rest of the world for idiots. The British special laboratory indicated that the origin of the poison for Skripals could not be established. Immediately not respected The Times publishes a fake that ” intelligence agencies have established that the poison was produced by the laboratory in Shihany.” It’s an old lie, the British dumped it on the allies immediately after the incident with the poisoning. First of all, this lies with reference to the data of special services was presented without any evidence. Secondly, identification of the poison may be carried out only in a special laboratory. In this way, the British continue to involve their allies in the confrontation with Russia. A crazy old mare, Theresa May, and her boyfriend-cretin Boris Johnson want the whole West bore collective responsibility for British stupid provocation. I don’t want my country to take the rap for the filthy limeys and came into collision with the Russians. I urge the West to say to the crazy old lady and her comrade-in-arms: fuck you, shut up and get out.

  6. Old Pepper says

    I am surprised by the behavior of the Russians-how long they can tolerate boorish behavior of the Brits. In place of the Russian authorities, I would recall the Ambassador for consultations.

  7. Old Pepper says

    I see the chain of “Great” Britain’s (Rothschild’s) crimes, three attempts:
    1. smear Russia with shit – clumsy theatrical production “poisoning Skripals”, don’t worry, the Russian intelligence services have already received copies of the relevant British documents on the organization of this provocation. By the way, Julia told the nurse on the phone that healthy, well and her father too. After applying a chemical warfare agent that does not happen. Especially, according to messages of the Britons Skripals wandered around the city a few hours and were fine after contact with the poison. So poisoning HIGHLY LIKELY was not.
    2. intimidate Russia – fire in Kemerovo-security guard locks the door to the cinema, turns off the alarm and smoke ventilation, and then disappeared.
    3. in which the Brits had smeared shit on himself-sent to the aid of ISIS in the Eastern ghouta own military trainers for the organization of provocative the chemical attack, which would accuse Russia and Assad, but these soldiers were captured by al-Assad together with two trucks of chemical weapons marked “made in Salisbury”.

    • Yulia talked on the phone with her cousin in Russia, not with a nurse.

      What happened in Kemerovo had absolutely nothing to do with the Brits.

      • Old Pepper says

        HIGHLY LIKELY these two incidents were the work of the Britons. According to their approach to the investigation, it is the Brits who have to prove that they are innocent.

      • What’s the basis for assuming it was most likely Yulia? I’m not saying you’re definitely wrong but from my experience of 20-30 somethings in the West it’s not really that strange on the face of it that someone in her friend group or family would know her password and check in as part of trying to figure out how she ended up incommunicado in the UK. I’ve once or twice logged in to family members’ FB accounts in semi-emergencies to check if they’ve left messages or whatever.

            • Lots of modern devices store passwords. If someone had her computer they could easily use a stored password option to get into her account. And if it was a boyfriend or close family member or friend they might know her pword or be able to guess it.

              I’m aware of the favorite passwords of several people close to me.

        • It would be interesting to find out who did that – VK has the means to identify who it was by identifying the computer or phone as well as the ISP. Nobody in my family knows my passwords. My impression is that it is a very small minority of people who share their passwords with family members.

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