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The farcical reality behind Theresa May’s “novichok” story

We already know UK PM Theresa May misrepresented the Russian law on executing terrorists in foreign lands, in order to bolster her currently evidence-free claims of Russian culpability in the poisoning of ex-MI6 employee Sergey Skripal. Her narrative remains, as of March 15, bald and unconvincing. But it seems things may be about to get even worse for her and what some see as her bid to “Falklandise” her flagging premiership. It seems the “nerve agent” she claims was used to attack Skripal and his daughter may not actually exist.

the 2008 book in which dissident Soviet scientist Vil Mirzayanov published the formula for “novichok” which Theresa May pretends is a secret known only to Russia


Incredible as it may seem given the tale of certitude told by May in Parliament, and given the column inches used up in the media assuring the UK public how terrifyingly toxic “novichok” really is, the evidence for this alleged super-poison’s existence currently rests solely on the unproven claims of a dissident soviet “military chemist” named Vil Mirzayanov.
Mirzayanov told his western handlers a group of new (“novichok” in Russian can be translated as “new stuff” or “new arrival”) and allegedly highly dangerous compounds which he claimed could be created by combining commonly available substances, but it turns out western scientists were far from convinced by his claims, and, even as recently as two years ago, the efficacy and even the existence, of these “novichoks” was still deemed to be entirely speculative.
For example in 2013 the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (the body the UK refuses to work with in the Skripal case) had this to say about the potential reality of novichoks:

Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention, the SAB makes reference to “Novichoks”. The name “Novichok” is used in a publication of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of “Novichoks” Report of the Scientific Advisory Boardon Developments in Science and Technology for The Third Review Conference p. 3, section 8

And again in 2016 Dr Robin Black, former head of the detection laboratory at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down made the same point:

In recent years, there has been much speculation that a fourth generation of nerve agents, ‘Novichoks’ (newcomer), was developed in Russia, beginning in the 1970s as part of the ‘Foliant’ programme, with the aim of finding agents that would compromise defensive countermeasures. Information on these compounds has been sparse in the public domain, mostly originating from a dissident Russian military chemist, Vil Mirzayanov. No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published. Robin Black (Dr), Development, Historical Use and Properties of Chemical Warfare Agents. Royal Society of Chemistry 2016, cited in “Doubts about novichoks” by Piers Robinson & Paul McKeigue

What these publications are effectively saying is – there’s no evidence any of these compounds work in the way claimed and Mirzayanov may very possibly be exaggerating or inventing.
Which raises the question – how did the scientists allegedly sourced by May suddenly feel able to not only identify this previously poorly understood and questionable substance, but identify where it came from and lay claim to it being massively deadly and toxic? As Craig Murray says (our emphasis):

…now, the British Government is claiming to be able instantly to identify a substance which its only biological weapons research centre has never seen before and was unsure of its existence. Worse, it claims to be able not only to identify it, but to pinpoint its origin. Given Dr Black’s publication, it is plain that claim cannot be true.

But that’s not all. There’s also problems with May’s claim that the “novichok” formula is a deep secret, known only to the Russians. Mirzanayov was interviewed by AFP about the Skripal case and this is what he said:

“Only the Russians” developed this class of nerve agents, said the chemist. “They kept it and are still keeping it in secrecy.”

Exactly what May said in Parliament. Great. Just one problem. Mirzayanov neglected to mention that this “secret formula” known only to “the Russians” had been published in 2008 in his own bookstill available on Amazon today.

Given the fact that anyone with an internet connection and $8.16 to spend could have obtained the “secret” recipe for novichok (which it seems most scientists don’t think would work anyway), and anyone with a decent professional laboratory could presumably manufacture it (again supposing it even works as claimed) will May correct her deceptive claims to Parliament and the British public?
Will the media continue to help her maintain her crumbling narrative? Are we watching WMD#2 with added depths of cynicism?

Read more about this at Moon of Alabama and at Tim Hayward’s blog


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jazthings656986293
Reader

i find

UK PM Theresa May misrepresented the Russian law on executing terrorists in foreign lands

amusing as the british government has executed “terrorists” in northern ireland and gibraltar, and allowed members of parliament to starve to death! the british government has also deliberately split countries in two, along blurred lines, thus necessitating british troops to separate the restive natives (northern ireland, palestine!) or allowing britain “in the interests of fair play” to arm both sides! something about motes, eyes, and beams!

vierotchka
Reader

Published on 21 Mar 2018
If you were running for the presidency of a country, and about to host a major international event – would you poison a defector, who many years earlier was in your possession, with a toxic substance that leads right back to you? It seems the Russian cookie monster always leaves a convenient cookie crumb trail – or so the Western audience is led to believe. All symptoms of a provocation are clear.
Furthermore, “Novichok” is not a widely known substance in Russia itself – it was developed by a chemist who moved to the US and published a book on his development. Make sure you watch until the end to see the briefing on the Skripal case by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The British side refuses to provide a sample of the nerve agent used in Salisbury to the Russian side – because, in order to prove a substance, one must be able to match it to an existing “control standard”, ie the country must have the formula. Where it’s truly unknown, the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons states that where a country suspects another of the use in chemical weapons – it must approach the side in question, provide a sample, and expect a response within 10 days. Britain, however, disregards international law and relies instead on public emotion and hysteria. The only sane Brit, it seems, is Jeremy Corbyn, who is heckled in parliament for his balanced approach.
In March 2018, Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious in Britain’s Salisbury. Skripal is a former Russian intelligence officer, who for the cost of a Spanish holiday home, and a couple hundred thousand one-off payments of the MI6, betrayed Russia. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, but in 2010, together with 3 others, was pardoned by the Russian president and exchanged for 10 other intel workers.
Since then Skripal continued to live in Britain and work for the MI6. Much like the case of Litvinenko – international law has little to do with the investigation, all that matters are headlines. Be wary of what you read!
[The above text is the video description on YouTube)]

jazthings656986293
Reader

oddly enough, anna chapman was swapped in that exchange!

vierotchka
Reader

A MUST watch, it is brilliant!
Andrey Vadjra: About the Coma Patients at the Service of Her Majesty

Mikalina
Reader
Mikalina

The dog barks, and the caravan moves on.
I so miss that biting wit. I would love to go back but I think I would be too embarrassed!!!!!

BigTim
Reader
BigTim

Discussions of the finer points of nerve gas do not interest me at this time. What I would like to see is some proof that this alleged attack actually occurred, nerve gas or otherwise. Since I have no confidence in the word of those could furnish proof, if it exists, I guess I won’t be getting any.

Mikalina
Reader
Mikalina

Pssst, Tim, they’re in the Bahamas.

D3F1ANT
Reader
D3F1ANT

Meh…I don’t know. It’s certainly in-fashion to defend Russia no matter what they do…but it seems to ME that they’re the ones who’d want the guy dead! Seems like a “duh” moment to me. But I remember Russian tactics and behavior from the days when the KGB ran the show openly…instead of from behind the scenes. If we were REALLY supposed to believe the Soviets were gone…they shouldn’t have “elected” a retired KGB THUG to run things for DECADES!

jazthings656986293
Reader

wow, things must be better in the ukraine if you can afford vanity licence plates! what you couldn’t afford sv0d0da? they’re not paying you enough, man!

Vic
Reader
Vic

You speak of this so called KGB thug as some sort of hitman. He was just an analyst. All you do is parrot off what other people keep saying. Russia is no longer communist. The Bolshevic jews were kicked out long ago. Under President Putin’s leadership, poverty has been reduced 50 percent, wages improved and Russia is now the biggest producer of non GMO wheat and other foods. He is also giving free land to those who will farm it. President Putin is the only sane president in the world.

Pam Ryan
Reader
Pam Ryan

God I hate to say this but if there are any people left who believe this utter bullshit, then they are fucking lazy and stupid.

vierotchka
Reader

What are you referring to when you say it is bullshit?

Mikalina
Reader
Mikalina

And, and, HE forgave Cuba her debts so that she could prosper, whereas the US have loaded Puerto Rica with more debt and privatised the electricity.

bevin
Reader
bevin

This is very low grade trolling, unworthy of any reply, except that, in times when so many children are hungry even in the rich countries, and medical care is rationed and desperately needed by millions, it seems particularly inappropriate that public funds are used to finance troll factories, and that persons skilled only in the dark arts of misleading others and bending the truth wax fat.

vierotchka
Reader

comment image

wholetale
Reader

I live near Salisbury. [I was away in Vienna from 5 to 12 March, so I come to all this with a certain freshness]. When I went into the village shop, shortly after my return, I was told that Livery Road was closed [briefly], because the Army was picking up a vehicle. Yesterday, March 17th, at about 12.45pm, I was driving to Andover, and had to wait at the lights for the Porton turn. The road was not only blocked by the traffic lights, but by police motorcyclists, to secure the passage of an Army low-loader, and ambulance marked Incident Vehicle, a police-car, and other police motor-cyclists, coming out of the Porton turn. Their blue lights were flashing, but they didn’t have the siren on, as they drove past towards Salisbury.
The restaurant is still closed, with plastic tarps in front and constables [usually one] guarding it. There’s a tent and a police van and similar tarps at the front of the cemetery in London Road, past which I drive when I go in and out of Salisbury. No problem in visiting the Library, which is next door to the restaurant. I have not heard where the park-bench was, on which the unfortunate couple were found. The market-place is twenty yards away from the restaurant. Nothing has interfered with the holding of the charter-market on Tuesdays and Saturdays since the incident.

jazthings656986293
Reader

so life in salisbury is normal enough? cool! have there ever been military exercises disrupting town life?

Paul
Reader
Paul

Your ‘article’ is utter garbage. You are only quoting one small section of Dr Black’s article (you haven’t read the whole RSC article have you?).
The section you quote is simply stating that there are no OPEN publications of the more lethal Novichok agents, which DOES not mean they don’t exist, nor that Porton don’t know about them. There is such a thing as SECRET intelligence.
There are no open publications on nuclear weapon design either, which doesn’t mean they don’t exist!

jazthings656986293
Reader

does the light hurt your eyes when you see it, or do you just keep your eyes closed all the time?

Thomas Peterson
Reader
Thomas Peterson

There are no novichok nerve gases, They are made up.

Sid
Reader
Sid

Don’t even bovva Paul. The Russian scientist put the formula for “deadly novichoks” in his book. Probly wouldn’t have been allowed to do that if it was a secret ongoing military project would he.
You numpty

alaffcreator
Reader

Last evening the Russian newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda” posted an interesting note/article about Vil Mirzayanov.
The journalist’s name is Abbas Juma (https://twitter.com/IBN_MOHAMMAD/), he is well-known in Russia (and not only) and he specializes in the Middle East and, in particular, in Syria.
In this artilce Abbas Juma is talking with a close friend of Vil Mirzayanov.
The article is not big, so i translated it:
Russophobe and Tatar separatist: who is the creator of the “Novichok” gas?
The attention of the world press is now focused on a scandalous story with the poisoned ex-colonel of the GRU Sergei Skripal. Let’s recall, in the mid 90’s, Skripal collaborated with British intelligence, he was exposed, convicted of espionage. Then he was exchanged with a group of other spies for Russian spies detained in the United States.
11 days ago, Sergei Skripal and his daughter found poisoned on a bench in a small English town of Salisbury. The British almost immediately made a statement that the most powerful gas of ever created was used against the former colonel of the GRU – nerve gas called “Novichok”. The British special services blamed Russia for everything. Vil Mirzayanov, the creator of the deadly gas, is also convinced of Moscow’s involvement in the poisoning of Skripal (although all Russian specialists who are related to chemical weapons deny the existence of the “Novichok” and assert that Mirzayanov never worked on the creation of such substances). There’s extremely small information on Mirzayanov himself in open sources. It is known that in the 90 years he went abroad, worked for the US State Department, published a book, where he described the creation of a highly dangerous poison. But what does the person who knew him personally think about this person?
When Mirzayanov was arrested in the early 1990s (he was accused of divulging state secrets – Ed.), we were very supportive of him in our organization of the Tatar national movement, – says the chemist’s friend, Tatar writer Fauziya Bayramova. – Then he was released, and he left for the United States. It was the 96th year. After that we talked for a long time only on the Internet. And in 2008 he made a proposal to our organization – that we adopted the “Declaration on the sovereignty of the Republic of Tatarstan”. He is very unhappy with the fact that Tatarstan is part of Russia. On this occasion, he wrote several appeals to the UN. He traveled around the Baltic countries, he was looking for support there. In 2009, I met with him in Ankara. There, at the conference dedicated to the separation of Tatarstan from Russia, a “government in exile” was created, and Vil Mirzayanov was elected its Prime Minister, and to this day he still occupies this posts. In this status, he visited many European countries and not only.
But where did Mirzayanov get money for such conferences, for all this separatist activity (in his profile on the page in social networks it is written that he is a pensioner)?
He has a very wealthy wife. She is from a rich family.
Probably, he treats the Russian authorities negatively…
Extremely! I would say that he treats the whole Russia and the Russians very badly.
Original – https://www.nnov.kp.ru/daily/26806/3841716/

jazthings656986293
Reader

very interesting! thanks!

Pam Ryan
Reader
Pam Ryan

Good God.

Mikalina
Reader
Mikalina

Wow, Alaffcreator, that’s mindblowing, well theory-blowing, anyway.
Thank you so much for the translation. Just more plots to split up, sow dissent and destroy Russia. President Putin mentioned several in the film on another thread (which I call “Without Russia, what’s the point?”) especially Kazakstan and Belarus.
Having this man in place plus the ultra fast appearance of the “newbie” with its very own well developed wiki page, suggests that the ‘plot’ with the Skipals was well thought out BEFORE it supposedly happened.

alaffcreator
Reader

Well, in my personal opinion, Mirzayanov now in “chemical dossier” is the same as G. Rodchenkov in “sports dossier”. He says what they (those who made this provocation) need. And he will say this as much as they will need. His “testimony” will be used (among other things) to legalize the “evidence of Russia’s guilt”.
I can be wrong, but I have no doubt that ALL this was prepared in advance – the “incident” (it was planned in advance, cuz you can’t do such a thing spontaneously), the “official reaction” (indignation, tough statements, options for response), the results of “investigation” (you’ll see – the investigation will come to the only right conclusion).
The reaction of UK’ allies is also VERY characteristic – still a few days ago most of them reacted carefully and even neutrally. France, Germany, even the US… – they said smth like this: “we are worried, of course, but first we must wait for the findings of the investigation, and then make decisions”. But suddenly, as at the snap of a finger, they (first of all France and Germany) change their position, and come out with an unequivocal and sure conviction of Russia. Wow. What could happen within 24 hours, when their position has changed so drastically? I can only find one explanation – someone influenced them.comment imagecomment image
Now we see that Poland joined them and accused Russia too. Not a big surprise. Poland for a last few years is, in fact, the biggest Russophobic country in Europe.
It’s highly likely (here I have to put a trademark badge) that soon some more Baltic/Eastern Europe countries will join the common “condemnation of Russia” – Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia. Or maybe all of them. And Ukraine, of course – very much highly likely. Actually, i’m really surprised Ukraine still did not do it.

Sceptic
Reader
Sceptic

The sudden change of position by US, France and Germany is easily explicable. They received a dossier from HMG which convinced them that there is credible evidence that Russia is the instigator of the attack in Salisbury. Whether that dossier is genuine or has been sexed up, very few of us will ever know.

vierotchka
Reader

Having this man in place plus the ultra fast appearance of the “newbie” with its very own well developed wiki page, suggests that the ‘plot’ with the Skipals was well thought out BEFORE it supposedly happened.

Indeeed, but I think they moved too quickly and contradicted themselves too often. People are waking up everywhere.

shaksvshav
Reader
shaksvshav

Operation Beluga coming to an hysterical crescendo as Russia’s Presidential Election looms: https://www.veteranstoday.com/2018/03/15/operation-beluga-the-plot-to-demonise-putin/

Peter Schmidt
Reader
Peter Schmidt

This is from a real chemist (with a title Dr) from Moon of Alabama’s comment section:
Regarding the synthesis, as I understand it, this class are binary agents, i.e. non-lethal till mixing, so the two ‘halves’ could be made without specialist kit. Even active nerve agents could be prepared using a just fume cupboard, and the right PPE. Nothing too special required other than non shaky hands. Could be made anywhere the precursors are available. We worked with HF, OsO4, Thallium etc in such environments.
Regarding the analysis. Typically small quantities are analysed (I used to install them) using GCMS. Gas Chromatography Mass spectrometry. This can detect down to femtogram levels.
OK.
So there exists databases of substances and their breakdown patterns under fragmentation, which can give possible matches to known compounds. This compound may have been on there. However, for an allegation of such seriousness, these would be ‘indicative’ rather than ‘conclusive’. For conclusive confirmation a coincidence of what is called ‘retention times’ would also be required against a standard. The retention time is the time it takes for the compound to ‘show itself’ at the end of the long thin tube inside the Gas Chromatograph. Different chemicals hold on to the tube with varying tenacities.and hence give various rates of elution.
So a professional forensic scientist, I would hope, would do the following.
Run a GC-Mass Spectrum to confirm the molecular weight.
Check against a database for possible compounds which correspond to that molecular weight and fragment pattern (there may be a few, it may not be unambiguous at this stage)
Check for the presence of other impurities, and the ratio of the main ingredient to these, which would give you the ‘fingerprint’
Run the sample of unknown concentration against a standard of known concentration to determine the amount of active ingredient in the sample.
Compare the ‘fingerprint’ to database of other ‘fingerprints’ in a library.
Only when this fingerprint matches the fingerprint from a library can you determine the origin. Even then you can not say who administered the substance, but you would have an avenue to explore.
OK so a good forensic laboratory would have access to the following.
A synthetically pure sample of known weight and impurity profile.
Finger prints of samples from ‘sources of concern’
So what is being implied here, is that the authorities have both. A control sample (to determine if the quantities found would be lethal) and samples from a few different labs to confirm that the fingerprint was from lab A not lab B for example.
(How) did they have those?

Sceptic
Reader
Sceptic

Porton Down easily has the skills to construct the molecules mentioned by Mirzayanov. Those substances get the name ‘Novichok’, even if Mirzayanov is lying. HMG is unable to identify the source, which implies that they don’t have ‘fingerpirnt’ samples.

Thomas Peterson
Reader
Thomas Peterson

Alternatively, novichoks don’t exist and the Prime Minister was simply lying or had been duped into believing something fictional existed.

Peter Schmidt
Reader
Peter Schmidt

And that’s from Craig Murray, who seems to agree:
Porton Down is still not certain it is the Russians who have apparently synthesised a “Novichok”. Hence “Of a type developed by Russia”. Note developed, not made, produced or manufactured.
It is very carefully worded propaganda. Of a type developed by liars.
UPDATE
This post prompted another old colleague to get in touch. On the bright side, the FCO have persuaded Boris he has to let the OPCW investigate a sample. But not just yet. The expectation is the inquiry committee will be chaired by a Chinese delegate. The Boris plan is to get the OPCW also to sign up to the “as developed by Russia” formula, and diplomacy to this end is being undertaken in Beijing right now.

O Lucky Man!
Reader
O Lucky Man!

Ah! I love it! Yes, this is the most beautiful piece of verbal jujitsu that I shall use at all appropriate times from now on –
“Carefully worded propaganda, of a type developed by liars”
So many occasions to use this when perusing our favourite decaying media sources.
Much obliged Craig!

Kaiama
Reader
Kaiama

UK’s claims questioned: doubts emerge about source of Salisbury’s novichok
A ceremony to mark the destruction of Russia’s stock of chemical weapons may have been held too soon
Ewen MacAskill Defence correspondent
Thu 15 Mar 2018 19.53 GMT Last modified on Thu 15 Mar 2018 22.00 GMT
note that they are saying that its Russia’sstock even though it was in Uzbekistan,andtheyfailto mentionthe involvement of the US in decommissioning the research base at Nukus.

Mikalina
Reader
Mikalina

So the ‘newbie’ chemical story fell apart. Next to go is the incident itself:
The Skripals, as I keep saying, are in the Bahamas.
First one to get a photograph………

Peter
Reader
Peter

According to Nikulin, the gas was produced in the city of Nukus in Uzbekistan. In 1992, the company was dismantled under the control of the Americans. Accordingly, the US would have samples of this substance. “In the case of using the gas, Nowitschok, I would look for any Russian track, but for an Uzbek or better American. That will be closer to the truth, “Nikulin continues. He emphasized that this nerve poison had never been used in the service of the Russian army.

Thomas Peterson
Reader
Thomas Peterson

It was never produced anywhere because it doesn’t exist.
It’s a fiction made up by a defector singing for his supper and later trying to sell his otherwise very boring book.

vierotchka
Reader

The plot thickens… Curiouser and curiouser, quoth Alice!
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/03/theresa-mays-novichok-claims-fall-apart.html

vierotchka
Reader

The ‘whistle-blower’ Vil Mirzanyanov who ‘revealed’ the ‘Novichok’ program and its poisons is furiously milking the story. He must be out of cash and wants to sell more copies of his book!

Jen
Reader
Jen

Ah yeah, he must be out of cash as you say … times must be tough when you have a million-dollar house to maintain. Electricity bills running sky-high when that electric fence is on 24/7.
( … mournful violin playing in the distance … )

Jen
Reader
Jen
Jen
Reader
Jen

He must be jealous of all the attention fellow whistle-blower dissident chemist Grigory Rodchenkov got recently, what with that “Icarus” film getting the Oscar for Best Self-Aggrandizing Propaganda flick and the attention lavished on Russia’s supposed government-sanctioned sport-doping scheme.

alaffcreator
Reader

I don’t know where it’s better to post it – here, or in “The Skripal case. An open thread” topic…
Anyways, I tried to collect several possible motives – why the UK, or someone else, could be interested to kill Skripal. Motive is the most important thing in any crime. Therefore, it is important to consider the possible reasons for what happened.
The following selection is based both on my personal opinion, and on the generalization of the versions of Russian experts, analysts and political scientists made in last 2 weeks:
(1) motive – To increase T. May’s rating and strengthen her positions in the structure of the British government.
“Bold, tough and resolute measures” of T. May is called upon to raise her rating, to show the British society that she is a strong leader.
This is a long-known method – the artificial creation of provocation (outside or inside the country), and then a “tough reaction” to this provocation. Сonsidering the weak positions of T. May, it seems very plausible to use the scandal with the poisoning of Skripal to raise her low ratings.comment imagecomment imagecomment imagecomment imagecomment imagecomment image
The analogue/example – a US attack on the airfield of Shayrat in Syria (April 7, 2017), which was done clearly to raise Trump’s rating and prove to his opponents in Congress that he is a “tough and brave” president, a “cool guy” who can use power. As in this (i.e. Skripal’s) case, the attack was carried out without any evidence.comment image
(2) motive – Direct influence on the presidential elections in Russia.
The date of the incident clearly is not accidental (10 days before Russian elections).
The goal is to create a negative background for this elections. Influence on some part of Russian society, to whom they’re showing – “look who’s your president! He’s poisoning good people in abroad! Think twice before choosing him!”.
Demonization of Putin. In particular, his past – the KGB, GRU, FSB… i.e. to discredit, to blacken Russian/Soviet force structures/services (aka “damn bloody KGB“) and thereby projecting all this personally onto Putin (“look! Russian special services are poisoning people again! Remember bloody KGB – here they go again! They are bad & evil, and if Putin was a KGB agent – it means he’s bad & evil too, a priori”).
(3) motive – Possible Skripal’s links with the United States.
This version was considered by Moon of Alabama:
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/03/spy-posions-spy-and-the-anti-trump-campaign.html
According to this version, Skripal was close to security consultant (Pablo Miller) who has worked for the company that compiled the controversial dossier on Donald Trump.
There is a possibility that Skripal helped to compile a dossier on Trump…
As Moon of Alabama wrote – “Removing Skripal while putting the blame on Russia looks like a convenient way to get rid of a potential witness
(4) motive – An excuse for boycott World Cup 2018.
I posted a detailed comment in favor of this version in this topic:
https://off-guardian.org/2018/03/11/the-skripal-case-an-open-thread/
Another/new attempt to disrupt the World Cup in Russia, given all the previous 8 years (Britain did not forget and did not forgive the loss in the lottery for the right to host the World Cup).
Another/new attempt to take away the World Cup from Russia.
Their logic/excuses – “how can we go to this terrible country, whose president is poisoning people who are disliked by him?! No no no, let’s screw this World Cup! Or let’s replace it to a normal, safe place”.
(5) motive – Maintaining the level of Russophobic hysteria in society.
In particular, it is a justification for the force structures (including special services) to ask for an increase in budgets for military needs, justified by “Russia’s aggression” (this time, “chemical aggression”).
USA is very actively using this excuse (“Russia’s aggression”, “the need to oppose Russia”) to expand budgets of their military segment.
In Europe, NATO is very actively using this same excuse to gain its capacities and move closer to the borders of Russia.comment imagecomment imagecomment image
I’m not in Britain and I don’t know the details, but I can assume that the British military may also want to increase their budgets. And for this you usually need the image of an “external enemy”.
You have to support a certain moods in society, people should feel that someone (=Russia) is threatening them, that there’s a danger, so the military (including special services) should protect them.
Their logic – “Just look what Russia is doing! They’re poisoning out people! They have almost come to our homes! We have to oppose Russia. We definitely need more money to ensure the safety of citizens”.
(6) motive – To shift the attention of society from the internal problems (consequences of Brexit etc.) to a new plot – the external “aggression from Russia”.
We have a “danger” to Britain. Alarm! T. May gives a strong & bold rebuff to the “aggressor” (even ultimatum!). Strong measures are being taken (nevermind there’s no evidence yet). 23 Russian diplomats will be expelled. Members of the royal family and officials will not go to the World Cup. Possible freezing of Russia’s financial assets. The invitation to S. Lavrov to visit London is canceled…
Let’s make more noise! Hmm, what else would we think of? Let’s ask our allies to also ignore the World Cup! Needs more, more noise. Let’s call the UN Security Council (!!!) on the issue of Skripal! Needs more, more noise. Needs to fan a scandal.
All mass media writes & talk only about this, pushing the problems of Brexit (and other internal problems) to the background. At least for some period.
An example/analogue – the incident with a humanitarian convoy in Urm al-Kubra (Syria) in 2016. The staging of “airstrike on hum. convoy” was made to distract attention from a very recent attack of US-led coalition on Syrian army in Deir-ez-Zor, when US killed more than 80 Syrian soldiers, more than 200 were wounded. It was a pure war crime. And the Russian Foreign Ministry in fact directly accused the United States of supporting ISIS.
I remind – US airstrikes on Syrian army were on September 17, 2016 – and just two days later (what a “coincidence”!), on September 19, 2016 we have an “incident with hum. convoy” in Urm al-Kubra. The international community’s attention was shifted from one incident to another.
http://tass.com/politics/901114
(7) motive – Not to allow the normalization of relations between Russia and Great Britain.
In 2016 Boris Johnson already expressed a desire to normalize relations between Britain and Russia.comment image
End of 2017 brought a barely emerging timid “warming” in relations between Britain and Russia – Johnson’s visit to Russia in late December 2017.
The visit itself is already a willingness to conduct a dialogue and normalize relations. Plus Johnson again said he would like to normalise the relations.comment image
Lavrov was planning a return visit, which also means readiness for normalization of relations between two countries.
Some third party could be interested to disrupt this emerging warming/normalization between Britain and Russia.
US? Highly likely. Someone from Europeans? Maybe…
An example/analogue – the relationship of the Russian Federation with Turkey. There was many attempts to drive a wedge into a well-established relationship between two countries – the murder of Andrei Karlov in Turkey on December 19, 2016 (someone clearly hoped that after this Russia will cease its relations with Turkey), the provocations in Syria – for example, that one with UAV attack on Russian airbase in Khmeimim in early January 2018. The attack was carried out from a territory controlled by pro-Turkish groups, and this ostensibly would have to testify that Turkey is going against Russia. President Putin then clearly said “we know that this is a provocation, and third party will not be able to embroil Russia and Turkey”.
All these provocations were in order (besides other reasons) to disrupt the construction of the Turkish stream gas pipeline.
(8) motive – Incident within the so-called “containment of Russia”.
The incident is the basis (pretext) for possible new sanctions that will not let (or at least will hamper) to fulfill all the grandiose tasks Putin outlined in the March 1 message to the Federal Assembly. Let’s note that the “poisoning incident” occurred just after this message.
The “poisoning incident” occurs in the framework of the common Western narrative – so-called “to restrain/contain Russia”.comment imagecomment image
On March 1, 2018 president V. Putin in his message outlined a lot of important, bold, ambitious and in some sense even revolution-like tasks for the country for the next many years. In the case of accomplishing these tasks, Russia in terms of economy and social conditions could become a tough competition for many Western countries, and even surpass many of them.
The economic aspect of “containing Russia” is still topical. “Containment” actions require a base, a reason, a logical justification.
And here we have a “chemical incident” – this is a good reason to introduce new sanctions against Russia, thus making it difficult (or even impossible) for Russia to fulfill all the ambitious tasks set by Putin.
Of course this is not all possible motives, but only the main ones.
I think it makes sense to consider all possible points of view, and then “taste/check” them depending on what happens next regarding this odd case…

George Cornell
Reader
George Cornell

I was reading about my 9th edition of Brittanica, the one which in 1889 refused to accept that blacks were human. I came across this comment which seems to apply here, given the American poodling foreign policy which characterizes May and colleagues. It was written when the Guardian was a relentless force for truth, justice and the moral way. It was the 100th anniversary of the sale of Brittanica to the Americans. God bless and help Jimmy Swales. How many times have Blair and May asked the question “How high?”
“The full horror of what an American editorial monopoly entails is seldom appreciated. The American editors who write short in-house articles are ignorant and parochial…The Encyclopædia Britannica is a publication so contemptuous of Britain, the land of its birth, that it cannot be bothered to ascertain correct usage when speaking of the Thames, a publication so insular as to give an entry to Alan Whicker but none to Lords Carrington or Whitelaw. It amounts to more than impertinence.
— Charles Mosley, in the Manchester Guardian Weekly (10 July 1988)

mog
Reader
mog

Richard Seymour (someone whose writing I often read appreciatively) demonstrates – well, I don’t know what:
extract:
‘Now, for what little it’s worth, I suspect the Russian state was involved in this attempted killing. It would, moreover, hardly be the worst of Kremlin actions in the post-Stalinist years, from Chechnya to Ukraine to Syria. But with relatively little to go on at a still early stage, people are entitled to reticence, if not a degree of downright scepticism. No one is obliged to agree with the British intelligence services, or Number 10. And the opposition, I would say, has a duty not to militantly fall into line behind the government.’
We are entitled to reticence. Thanks Richard for that reversal in the burden of proof masquerading as even handedness. ‘Relatively little to go on’ means what exactly ? Nothing ? MI6 briefing notes ?
This encapsulates the failed Left thinking that is so depressing. Seymour is great at quoting Lacan, Freud, Marx and postmodern babble, but when it comes to the brass tacks of what actually happened this is a secondary consideration, almost an afterthought, and one that often just bypasses critical thinking altogether.
Why Do they keep thinking they will ‘get’ Corbyn?’ 15-03-18

bevin
Reader
bevin

The clue lies in the “stalinism” reference. Seymour is a classic Cliffite tip toeing his way into a prosperous middle age by thinking up ‘leftwing’ reasons for agreeing with the imperial ruling class. He is following in the footsteps of Chris Hitchens.
I believe he was also able to detect symptoms of Stalinism in Ghaddafi and would hold a victory of the Zionist/Saudi axis in Syria as another blow against Trotsky’s enemies.The path from “Trotskyism’ to Neo-conservatism is so well worn that it is becoming a canyon.

milosevic
Reader
milosevic

It would, moreover, hardly be the worst of Kremlin actions in the post-Stalinist years, from Chechnya to Ukraine to Syria.
In other words, he’s on the side of imperialism, and their nazi/wahabi death squads. It’s convenient, these days, for the CIA’s mercenaries to pretend to be something other than what they are, so people like him can cheer for them without impairing their left-wing pose. Once you get started with the 9/11 Denial, why stop there, especially when a comfy career writing for the Praetorian Guardian awaits you?
What a f***ing asshole.

MichaelK
Reader
MichaelK

Seymour… often irritates me with his conceit, or is it merely arrogance? The point with academic life is that one has to remember that there’s always so much more to study, learn, and not least, understand. The more one learns, the more one sees how much more there is to learn. Which keeps one’s feet on the ground. There’s also the ‘uncertainty principle’ as I call it… what if I’m wrong about this? What if what I think I know and understand, is wrong?
I just don’t understand, not fully anyway, how Seymour can be so certain about events in Ukraine, Syria and Chechnya. How is it possible for him to know so much about these faraway foreign places and pronounce judgements on them with such authority? Syria, for example, is an old country with a fiendishly complex, contradictory and multi-layered history and ethnicity. The more one studies Syria the more complex it appears, at least to me, but then maybe I lack Seymour’s intellectual abilities? Then there’s Ukraine. I feel on safer ground as my father was born there, but not when it was Ukraine, when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His family came from Austria and settled close to Lemburg, which was a German city. Now they call it Lvov, or used to, now it’s Lviv. The town he lived in was full of Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Russians, Austrians, Germans. He was bi-lingual as a boy speaking both Polish and Yiddish equally. Is this starting to sound a bit complex, yet I’m only scratching the surface, believe me there’s a lot more to come? I wish I saw as clearly as Seymour.
My grandmother was murdered when the Ukrainian nationalists were let off the leash and went on the rampage in the final years of WW2. Tens of thousands of ethnic Poles and Jews were murdered. Imagine my surprise when a huge banner was unfurled in the new and free parliament in Kiev with the giant face of Stepan Bandera looking down at everyone. Bandera who led the nationalist militias that murdered my grandmother and tossed her in a ditch by the side of the road, and then I had to endure the Guardian’s journalists writing absolute tosh about Ukraine and how it won its freedom. But then there’s so much I don’t understand, unlike the Guardian and Richard Seymour.

Jen
Reader
Jen

I am sorry to hear what happened to your grandmother as well.
You understand far more than The Guardian and Richard Seymour do. They see with the clarity of simpletons.

Mikalina
Reader
Mikalina

It’s the almost gleeful detached intellectualism which doesn’t ‘disturb the surface’ as Pilger puts it, that nauseates me. The pontificating on something which others have felt, seen, experienced suffered, in order to gain kudos or money or position or fame. It is parasitical.
I am so sorry about your grandmother and that you have to suffer afresh – both from the right wing take over in Kiev and the utter crassness of the MSM.

John Gilberts
Reader
John Gilberts

Test of Theresa May’s Rule of Law, An Application For Habeus Corpus for Yulia Skripal
by John Helmer
http://johnhelmer.net/test-of-theresa-mays-rule-of-law-an-application-for-habeus-corpus-for-yulia-skripal/#more-18852
“An application to a British court for a writ of habeus corpus on behalf of Yulia Skripal is the last chance, British and international lawyers believe, to preserve for public accountability the evidence of the poison attack against her and her father, Sergei Skripal..”

Big B
Reader
Big B

John: do they have a body to produce would be a legitimate question? Four people (the Skripals, PC Nick Bailey, and an unnamed doctor) were admitted to Salisbury District Hospital with severe exposure to Novichok – yet the hospital has remained open and functional throughout. The ‘Novichok’ has persisted in ‘dusty form’ all week on a parking meter – when was the hospital quarantined and decontaminated? Reason would suggest that an open hospital would serve as a ground zero for further contamination of the community? Alternatively, it was never contaminated? The updates that we are now getting are for the Skripals and PC Bailey: what happened to the doctor? We know she treated Yulia (who had lost control of her bodily functions) for half an hour: and that after a few days she was “feeling fine” – due to that inconvenient truth: has she now been memory-holed? If they have a ‘body’; is it indeed Yulia Skripal? This is how little we actually know about this case. I wish John Helmer and his lawyers every success: but I suspect they will meet a legal brick wall.

Thomas Peterson
Reader
Thomas Peterson

Oh right, they are clamiing to have found the mythical powder form of mythical novichok now?
What an utter farce.

Big B
Reader
Big B

After a week and more than an inch of rain!

Michael McNulty
Reader
Michael McNulty

A deadly nerve agent which failed to kill? That was my first red flag, right there.

Ross Hendry
Reader

Indeed. A red flag and a deafening siren.

Jay Q
Reader
Jay Q

To be honest with everyone on here, I am actually really scared by whats going on right now and I don’t even know what to say or think about the insane things I am seeing being said by the political class and the media.

Admin
Reader

I think if anyone isn’t scared they aren’t paying attention or are living in the media fantasy that deems wars never happen here and nothing will ever interrupt the supply of chianti & avocados at Waitrose.

milosevic
Reader
milosevic

I think if anyone isn’t scared they aren’t paying attention or are living in the media fantasy that deems wars never happen here and nothing will ever interrupt the supply of chianti & avocados at Waitrose.

And then England — southern England, probably the sleekest landscape in the world. It is difficult when you pass that way, especially when you are peacefully recovering from sea-sickness with the plush cushions of a boat-train carriage under your bum, to believe that anything is really happening anywhere. Earthquakes in Japan, famines in China, revolutions in Mexico? Don’t worry, the milk will be on the doorstep tomorrow morning, the New Statesman will come out on Friday. The industrial towns were far away, a smudge of smoke and misery hidden by the curve of the earth’s surface. Down here it was still the England I had known in my childhood: the railway-cuttings smothered in wild flowers, the deep meadows where the great shining horses browse and meditate, the slow-moving streams bordered by willows, the green bosoms of the elms, the larkspurs in the cottage gardens; and then the huge peaceful wilderness of outer London, the barges on the miry river, the familiar streets, the posters telling of cricket matches and Royal weddings, the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, the red buses, the blue policemen — all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England, from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs.
— George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia

mog
Reader
mog

I have been sending emails out, trying to avoid social media, linking to critical articles.
Little response.
I think people are generally regarding this like a reality TV show featuring celebrity politicians, (text your vote to the number at the bottom of the screen and include the word ‘OMEGA’).
Shocks coming.

Jay Q
Reader
Jay Q

I simply don’t know what to do. We are talking about the most precarious situation in our lives – WTF is the government doing putting us all at risk like this? I live with family and could’t just leave to go to other side of the world. Is it worth withdrawing large amounts of money and buying supplies? Has it really come to this now? I need a hug 😉

Betrayed planet
Reader
Betrayed planet

I an sending you love and peace over the airwaves. I certainly would start buying seeds to grow food, anyone with room for chickens should invest in a chicken run.
It may not come to this but I have felt for a long time now that WW3 is on its way. We no longer have a free press in UK, we have a media, political class in cahoots , there has to be a reason. The abuse Corbyn has had to deal with has been positively insane, why? The level of chaos since May took office is terrifying, I believe she is out of control, on a roll and is too crazy to see the wood for the trees.
I find evening meditation helpful, with a wee smoke of the queer stuff before bed.

Jay Q
Reader
Jay Q

“I an sending you love and peace over the airwaves.”
Thanks – and right back at you 🙂

Admin
Reader

It’s pretty risky, but the situation in Ukraine in late Feb 2014 was a lot worse. Let’s remember though this is theatre. We can be pretty sure while they are doing all this strutting and fretting they are also contacting Russia behind the scenes to try and make reassurances it’s all for show. They have no intention of actually declaring war on Russia. The danger is they are too stupid to see they are going too far and might kick something off by accident.

Betrayed planet
Reader
Betrayed planet

I feel the very same, I am worried about my three sons all of whom are in their 20s. These people are a criminal entity, determined to bring war, determined to ensure Imperialism lives on regardless of the outcome, death, devastation and ultimately a nuclear winter at this rate of pure insanity.

avenir
Reader
avenir

I feel the same way with a 17 year old son and 20 year old daughter. We seem to be sleepwalking into another war but this time the “enemy” isn’t some defenceless state but Russia who despite the post cold war nonsense about it being spent as a military force, can shoot back. It destroyed the Georgian army in a couple of hours and, if it wanted to, could have been in the center of Kiev in a morning.
For all the propaganda about how wicked Putin is, he’s predictable, sober and not easily provoked. I feel sure he will not start a nuclear war without carefully thinking about the consequences of such an act. I can’t say the same for May, the Blairites or Trump’s merry band of torturers and war criminals.

alaffcreator
Reader

People, what are you talking about? Do you really think someone will start a WW3 because of some unknown (has anyone heard of Skripal before the incident? I doubt) old man poisoned (IF he really was poisoned) in a small English town?? This is not serious.
What we have here is a game, obviously a well directed/staged spectacle. It’s just clearly seen. The spectacle has a scenario and in-advance-designated “guilty” side. Actors play their roles, everything goes according to plan.
You should not be scared (this is what they want you to be), you should laugh on this. You should laugh right in their faces and constantly ask them inconvenient questions, every day.
Maybe dome kind of mass protests with banners and posters. Maybe there is a sense to create a petition with demands to UK’ authorities to stop lying, to answer all questions (where’s concrete evidence, why they refuse/afraid to work with OPCW in accordance with their international obligations, why they blocked a UN resolution (cuz they BLOCKED it yesterday, which means they don’t need a real investigation) designed to conduct an objective, independent and detailed investigation of the incident, and so on and so on).
“I feel sure he will not start a nuclear war”
You definitely can be sure it’s not Putin who can start a theoretical WW3. Russia will NEVER strike first. And, btw, Georgian army was forced to peace only AFTER they started aggression on South Ossetia and killed Russian peacekeepers.

avenir
Reader
avenir

Yes I know the Georgians started the conflict first, the point was that the Russian military are perfectly capable of fighting anyone and assumptions by the west particularly Americans who keep telling me that they’ll have their arses whipped by the good old USA is way off the mark and rather delusional.
The reason for our dismay is the irrational performance by politicians who should know better but seem to be hopelessly short of a brain cell or two and prepared to ramp up the jingoistic bollocks that started WWI for political advantage.

avenir
Reader
avenir

Well that was interesting, I just left a comment on the a Guardian live blog about the longstanding resentment by the establishment for its failed World Cup bid for the tournament in 2018, which the Russians won.
If you remember David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham blessed the proceedings with their presence but the FA claimed the result was a fix and we should boycott it, a constant theme in the following years although it later emerged they’d tried some bribery themselves with some watches?
I also speculated whether there would another event that would confirm a full boycott. Comment immediately deleted.
Could that be the real reason for this farce so we can boycott the World Cup!!???

George Cornell
Reader
George Cornell

Can you imagine a World Cup without England? England vs anybody are hardly marquee match ups.

avenir
Reader
avenir

Yes I can imagine the World Cup without England, but I suspect people like Boris don’t quiet understand it and would willingly sacrifice it for political advantage. It’s like some establishment figures have to have a football team, Dave’s Westham Villa and Prince William’s support of Villa which seems to be a choice of a team that offends by no one.
Of Course Boris and the rest of the Etonians went to school that played rugby and their sport of choice is ripping foxes to shreds with hounds. Millions here would be very disappointed and they would definitely be a political hit. So football pffttt.

Mikalina
Reader
Mikalina

“…..Villa which seems to be a choice of a team that offends by no one.”
Quite a few Birmingham City fans who would disagree…. Up the Blues!!