UPDATED: Skripal Case: Gaping Holes in New Narrative

The article was amended 6/9/18 to correct a factual error – it originally asserted that the perfume bottle had been discovered in Amesbury, that was a mistake. Although Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess reside in Amesbury, Rowley is alleged to have found the perfume during a shopping trip to Salisbury.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) named their suspects in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal et al. today. The two men – named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – entered the country on legal VISAs but are alleged to be travelling under aliases. The CPS has charged the men with a laundry list of offenses, but not applied to Russia for extradition as it is forbidden, by the Russian Constitution, for the Russian federation to extradite a citizen.

These are the new facts, but like all the previous announcements in this bizarre odyssey, they present more questions than answers.

1. Why did two alleged GRU agents travel under false names and fake passports, but still use Russian names and Russian passports?
If they had used EU passports – say from Lithuania or Estonia for example – they wouldn’t have needed a visa, thanks to EU freedom of movement agreements, and could still have spoken Russian without raising suspicion.

2. Was the novichok gel or liquid? We’ve never been given clear information on the actual poison – how deadly it is, how it’s made, where it was applied, how long it takes to work – all of these are complete unknowns. What sparse information we HAVE been given is contradicted by today’s announcements.

We were told previously that the novichok allegedly used on the Skripal’s was in “gel form” and “smeared” on the front door. Whereas the poison that Rowley and Sturgess later came in contact with was in a perfume bottle, and therefore a liquid capable of being atomised. These were never referenced as the same thing, until today.

Speaking to the BBC, Scotland Yard’s Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu claimed:

the manner in which the bottle and packaging has been adapted makes it a perfect cover for smuggling the weapon into the country, and a perfect delivery method for the attack against the Skripal’s front door”.

So was the poison sprayed on, or smeared on? Do they have any idea? Which brings us to the next question…

3. How did they re-seal the perfume bottle? Assuming that Basu is right, and the perfume bottle WAS used to attack the Skripal’s front door, how did they re-seal it afterwards? Rowley has always been very sure the bottle of perfume was in a sealed box and wrapped in cellophane – here’s a link, with a screencap below just in case it gets memory holed.

The police themselves don’t seem to sure on this point, Basu said:

We don’t yet know where the suspects disposed of the Novichok they used to attack the door, where Dawn and Charlie got the bottle that poisoned them, or if it is the same bottle used in both poisonings.”

We DO know where Dawn and Charlie got the bottle that poisoned them, Charlie said he took it from a charity donation bin Catherine Road in Salisbury on June 27th.

So maybe they didn’t re-seal the bottle, they just brought another one.

So did the suspects bring TWO (identical?) bottles of poison with them? Did they use one and leave the other one in a charity donation box? Why would they do that? We are told the suspects left the country after the attack on the Skripals on March 4th, so they must have dumped the “perfume” the same day? Is there CCTV footage of the “suspects” on Catherine Road that day? If not, how did it wind up there? And how did it sit undisturbed in a charity bin for nearly 3 months?

4. Why did no one at their hotel get sick? The police have claimed that the hotel the two men stayed at was “contaminated with novichok”, and yet no one has reported and symptoms at all.

How can a hotel room be “contaminated” with novichok? Novichok is not radioactive, it is a nerve agent. To contaminate the room the suspects would have to physically apply the poison to it, and since they allegedly left country on March 4th – the same days as the alleged attack – the contamination must have happened BEFORE Sergei Skripal was poisoned. How? The police are telling us the suspects must have opened their bottle of “deadliest poison ever” the day before they needed it AND in their own hotel room. Why would they do that?

We’re told that novichok is especially potent (deadlier than VX, which can kill in doses of 10mg or less) and does not degrade, and despite 2 months passing between the attack and police searching the hotel, not one single person was affected. Why not?

As usual with the Skripal Case, more questions than answers.

UPDATE:

5. What is wrong with the CCTV? Further questions have been raised regarding the released “evidence” of CCTV captures. Namely that 2 separate stills, of two separate men, from the same CCTV camera display the exact same time, down to the second:

This calls into question the reliability of all the photographic/video evidence. MoonofAlabama has an excellent write-up on this issue here, as does Craig Murray, who has done great work on this case.

6. So what is the new timeline? The Police narrative puts our two “suspects” arriving in Salisbury at 11.48am, but the Skripal’s left their home ay 9.15 that morning, so Borishov and Petrov were far too late to “smear” novichok on the front door. The two suspects then, supposedly, left Salisbury for London at 1.50pm, over two hours BEFORE the Skripals were taken ill on that park bench. So what is the timeline?

Novichok, and all nerve agents, work extremely fast (they are designed to). People usually experience symptoms within seconds of exposure. This does not fit with our supposed suspects leaving hours before Sergei and Julia were sick. The speed of nerve agents taking effect has never fit this narrative, but the open-ended nature of the window meant the police could always, eventually, change tack and claim the Skripals were attacked as they sat on the bench. This announcement cements the UK government to a timeline that is almost impossible to reconcile with both their previous statements and common sense.


Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

Filed under: empire watch, featured, latest, Skripal case

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Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

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Paul X
Reader
Paul X

It will probably be a 100 years + before we get to see the forensic examination of various phones including those of the Skripals. Did they remove their batteries for the 4 hours when their phones were ‘switched off’? Did the ‘agents’ have phones? Phone records can be illuminating in any investigation and I imagine even more so here.

Paul X
Reader
Paul X

My point is phones can still be tracked when simply turned off. Criminals say you must remove the batteries but doing that in itself suggests a guilty mind; in this case a fear of surveillance; why would that be? Who did they fear? Were the phones really switched off or is that an invention to avoid saying where they went during those 4 hours? Still unexplained is how the ‘agents’ arrived at around noon to smear the door handle but there is nothing to suggest the Skripals went back to the house after 12 noon. This is the trouble with… Read more »

WeatherEye
Reader

No doubt the steeple are uncritically swallowing this “proof” of Putin’s (as opposed to Mother Theresa’s) guilt. For a nation braying constantly into computer pockets, we are pathetic. Thank God for ‘fake news’ sites like this that keep journalism alive.

Jen
Reader
Jen

Latest news is that decontamination of the Skripal house has begun.

But how, where and when did Wiltshire Council officers consult with and obtain permission from the Skripals to start the work?

https://www.spirefm.co.uk/news/local-news/2679075/skripals-consulted-over-salisbury-house-decontamination/

And shouldn’t the neighbours have been advised to leave or even be evacuated for health and safety reasons, rather than be given a choice of whether to stay or to leave?

vexarb
Reader

“How the Brits soiled their pants in the Skripals case” by Russian humorist Ruslan Ostashko, Translated and subtitled by Scott Humor, Vineyard of the Saker,
September 07, 2018

https://thesaker.is/how-the-brits-soiled-their-pants-in-the-skripals-case-by-ruslan-ostashko/

Ruslan Ostashko is a good humorist but finds himself outclassed by the long running British farce, renovated with fresh characters at Whitehall Theatre of the Absurd.

thorella
Reader

Thus is what I think happened in the Skripal poisoning. After his wife’s and son’s death Skripal became very lonely and isolated in the UK. He wanted to go home. His mother was elderly and not in good health. His daughter was in Russia. So he made contact with the Russian government but he had to offer something valuable to the Russian government for his repatriation. Negotiations had to done through his daughter as obviously everything else would be monitored. Most probably he offered information on the dodgy dossier which he had helped compile and which had been commissioned by… Read more »

Paul X
Reader
Paul X

I don’t see the two men bringing documents but agree JULIA was key; after all they had arrived just the day before her. I imagine she had the conditions attached to his return to see his mother or stay for the last few years of his life. It would involve de briefing of course. Travelling all over Europe is likely to have involved a bit more than spinning old yarns about how he sold his ex-mates to the British. You can’t conjure up many after dinner jokes on the back of rank betrayal. Julia’s contacts with the Russian secret services… Read more »

thorella
Reader

Yes, it is horrible to think MI5/MI6 got rid of Dawn to reinforce their narrative but they’ll do anything to preserve the power of the Establishment

bill
Reader
bill

horrible but certainly likely……this is why something new must now be discovered to show how the Skripals got contaminated from their doorknob well after 11.48 before the Weds debate cus even a Jon Baron like backbench Tory might pick this one up ….otherwise May could be left with Novichok all over her mask

flaxgirl
Reader

Love it! What about the cat and the twi guinea pigs and Julia’s tracheostomy scar?

Paul X
Reader
Paul X

In the early days there were photos of the cat, a glorious pussy. Presumably he/she is now subject to a D Notice so no photos or even a mention is allowed? But what was it’s name? He/she deserves to join the famous animals of the past caught up in double dealing and murder – like poor Rinka.

Thomas Peterson
Reader
Thomas Peterson

the cat was called Van Drake, RIP.

Paul X
Reader
Paul X

Thank you. Be good if there was a candidate in Salisbury at the next election representing Cat Lovers. Residents would have a chance to register their unhappiness with the collapsing story. Van Drake would look good on posters, much more cuddly than the Tory candidate I suspect.

Allan Howard
Reader
Allan Howard

The pets are all alive and well and long reunited with the Skripals:

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5833121/russian-sergei-skripals-pet-cat/

Allan Howard
Reader
Allan Howard

In the Real World, the investigators and forensic experts would have been at the house in a matter of hours after it was determined that the Skripals and DS Nick Bailey had been poisoned with a nerve agent, and any other scenario is inconceivable, but here’s an article dated March 8th that has them in the house:

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/russian-spy-nerve-agent-plot-police-officer-talking-to-investigators-in-hospital-as-sergei-skripal-a3784531.html

Paul X
Reader
Paul X

The cat and guinea pigs are an indication of the panic within the authorities as they rushed to come up with a narrative. The Spooks took over freezing the police out so the pets got abandoned. It was a prize Egyptian cat that Sergei was apparently very fond of. Presumably the guinea pigs were kept for traditional reasons – dying in toxic circumstances. They did their job, pity Sergei didn’t notice.

Allan Howard
Reader
Allan Howard

The cat(s) and the guinea pigs are alive and well and long reunited with the Skripals – which I knew anyway, as I have believed more or less from the outset that this whole saga was staged – and as reported in an article in the Sun on March 17th, in which Sergei Skripal’s vet is quoted as saying that he contacted the police as soon as he learnt it was Mr Skripal who was involved, to let them know about the pets. Plus it was also reported a few days later that investigators and forensic experts were at the… Read more »

Paul X
Reader
Paul X

So why did a government appointed or employed vet describe to the media in graphic detail how the pets had died of neglect, (no food or water) and the cat had been in “great distress”. There were sort of apologies as well. What would be the point of inventing that? The vet said the bodies had been destroyed so there was no point in seeing if any Novo was in the blood; it sounds as if they knew there wouldn’t be otherwise surely they would have looked? It seems you have no proof, just a ‘feeling’? What’s your feeling about… Read more »

Allan Howard
Reader
Allan Howard

Did you check out the Sun article I mentioned? And is it possible – as reported at the time – that they were at the house checking for packages that Yulia may have brought with her, and that they just left the animals there when they finished. In the Real World, they would have been at the house in a matter of hours after DS Nick Bailey was admitted to the hospital with the same symptoms as the Skripals.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5833121/russian-sergei-skripals-pet-cat/

Allan Howard
Reader
Allan Howard
Norfolk Eagle
Reader
Norfolk Eagle

The chemical brothers tour of Salisbury, a recap. Saturday 3rd our intrepid assassins do a recce. We don’t know when they arrived or where they went, good spycraft there but we do know when they left as they conveniently posed for a picture at Salisbury station. Sunday 4th, the big day. We have a picture of them arriving and then, really fortuitously, a date stamped picture outside the petrol station on Wilton Road. (personally I think the shadows are not right). Maybe the spycraft on the recce wasn’t so good. To get this far they managed to avoid the cctv… Read more »

Lupulco
Reader
Lupulco

I always thought HMG [of all political persuasions] was incompetent. But the way they have dealt with BREXIT and the Salisbury incident. IMHO just proves that they are incompetent.

Paul
Reader
Paul

My contribution to the discussion (also commented this at Craig Murray’s site): Although I’m from the Netherlands this Skripal affair really intrigues me. Right from the start the scenario that the Russian state would use a chemical weapon to murder an ex-spy on UK soil, right amidst the constant karfuffle about chemical weapons in Syria, has struck me as very very very unlikely. And that it was supposed to be done using ‘novichok’, the same agent which appeared in a recent TV spy film in the UK, just added to that. The scenario is just ‘too good’ to be true.… Read more »

Mikael Kallavuo
Reader
Mikael Kallavuo

”The UK must provide fingerprints of the suspects in the Skripal case to Interpol, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated on Wednesday on the Rossiya-1 channel.
“We should start the conversation with facts, that is, with fingerprints. If according to the British side, these people have come from Russia, they must have received British visas, so, please, “fingers at the table”. Because none of us can work without Interpol here,” the diplomat stressed.
Earlier, she stated that British Ambassador to Moscow Laurie Bristow declined to provide the fingerprints to the Russian Foreign Ministry.” (TASS, September 5.)

http://tass.com/politics/1020148

Thomas Peterson
Reader
Thomas Peterson

What valid reason could there be not to give the fingerprints to the Russians?

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

Nothing but playground mentality as initiated by Johnson and Gavin Williamson in particular … aka ‘ the go away and shut up’ syndrome. Stamps foot (picture the Haribo advert if you live in the UK) “No, I’m never, never going to talk to them again…ever”. To answer your question, Thomas, there is no valid reason. My view is that someone in the UN really needs to give the UK an order to provide everyone – and not just Russia – will all the ‘evidence’ they keep claiming is being kept under wraps for security reasons. But presumably such an edict… Read more »

Alexander
Reader
Alexander

Of course it is a joke. But the right question is: why now? There is a general parliamentary debate about the Skripal affair next Wednesday – i.e. horrid Russia = chemical weapons. There has been plenty written about a false flag planned by the British in Idlib to coincide with the likely Syrian attack there. According to Thierry Meyssan of Voltaire.net the British military contractors Olive Group are planning something really nasty there (involving kidnapped children and chlorine) to be used as a casus belli for the next “Coalition” attack on Syria. So if they are going to do it,… Read more »

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

Watching the UNSC proceedings today, the US appear to have shifted the goalposts even more in favour of military intervention by them and their allies. Haley was basically stating that if ANY military assault on Idlib results in deaths of ‘civilians’ the Syrians and Russians will face the consequences … not even focusing on chemical weapons as an excuse. I couldn’t believe the hypocrisy when you think of US activities in Libya and Iraq, and specifically Mosul latterly, and Raqqa in the case of Syria.

Paul X
Reader
Paul X

As with Libya the British and French won’t put their own heads much above the parapet but expect America to obey the propaganda pressure. A war against Russia would also be very expensive. Looks as if the Americans fall for it again. Trump wants out but the Pentagon Generals see that as a retreat so they’ll disobey him just as they used to do with Obama.

AntonyI
Reader
AntonyI

Stephen McIntyre on Twitter asks an interesting question: why did the UK give visas to people who they believe to be GRU officers, while denying visas to Skripal’s closest family?

michaelantonyblog
Reader

The perfume bottle saga is interesting. Liquids cannot be brought on planes except in plastic bags. Certainly not in sealed boxes. Nothing proves this perfume came from Russia. The most likely use of this perfume bottle was as a present for Yulia, whose birthday was 17 March. It was sent to the house (by MI6) in the expectation both would sniff it and croak. But suspicious Sergei threw it out in the rubbish in its box. MI6 was of course trying to stop Sergei leaving the UK for Russia to sell what he knew about the Steele dossier he worked… Read more »

Paul X
Reader
Paul X

There were press stories of Sergei being upset because Julia had forgotten to bring his favourite buck wheat. She then is said to have arranged for a friend to fly from Moscow with the buck wheat. The fact it appeared in several outlets suggests a briefing. It was an odd story.

flaxgirl
Reader

Story being the operative word.

michaelantonyblog
Reader

If Russians entered the UK with Russian passports, they had visas. Visa applications contain full name, address, date of birth, passport number, profession etc. Why was this information not released? It would enable the Russian police to find these people immediately. Clearly that is not what the UK govt wants. It just wants to bang on about Russia and prepare the public for a new false flag gas attack in Syria.

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

Until I see irrefutable evidence (and definitely not just HMG’s word for it) of Russian passports, associated visas and travel from Moscow I shall believe nothing we are told. What I have established from online research is that there is currently (and I am presuming it was so in March) an incoming daily flight to Gatwick from Kiev (Turkish Airlines) which arrives at Gatwick at roughly the same time as the Moscow flight. Ukrainian nationals coming to the UK have to have a British visa so photographs of them could be obtained from that application. Whatever the purpose of their… Read more »

Tunde
Reader
Tunde

What strikes me is the confidence of these operatives. The Dubai assassination squad on the Hamas official consisted of 20+ odd people (non permissive environment, sophisticated surveillance environment etc). The team that attempted to kill Meshaal in Amman was 5 people. Heck even the Bangkok bombings of 2012 had a 4 to 8 person “Iranian” team. My point being actions such as these require teams to guarantee success. Assuming intelligence agencies follow pretty similar op patterns, either the “Russians” were very confident of their target, access and contingency planning and felt 2 ppl were enough or we are not being… Read more »

OTT
Reader
OTT

Yes, I had precisely the same thought. There would surely have to be a surveillance squad in addition to the hit squad, and quite a lot of traffic between the two, very likely mediated by a comms / operation management squad. Two people is simply not enough!

Frankly Speaking
Reader
Frankly Speaking

Russian agents entering the UK on Russian passports? Ridiculous notion, it’s probably the first rule of the security agencies to disguise yourself. To me, these two look to be Bulgarian or Romanian, but they could be Israeli or of other nationality too.

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

I’ve been trying – with difficulty – to identify from the shop window cctv the logo on the baseball cap worn by ‘Boshirov’. I looked at various football logos and the nearest I have come to so far is the logo for Bulgaria – a distinctive white circle (almost like a simple daisy) with a black centre and black segments round the edge. Probably a red herring but…?

Frankly Speaking
Reader
Frankly Speaking

You sleuth you! 🙂

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

FS – that maybe and I’m always up for a challenge, but some would say (myself included) that I really need to get out more!
J

Cassandra
Reader
Cassandra

Obviously the whole „Novichok“ saga is a (rather primitive) PSYOP to demonize Russia (punishment / political warfare for interference in Syria) .. when logic and analytical thinking is applied, the whole „case“ quickly falls apart … but I would like to add my two cents regarding one aspect of the „evidence“ the MET has released which (as far as I know) has not been investigated here: THE PERFUME BOTTLE From the press-release (Neil Basu): “Charlie“ told police he found a box he thought contained perfume in a charity bin on Wednesday, 27 June. Inside the box was a bottle and… Read more »

gepay
Reader
gepay

Since we’re reading, OffGuardian, we’re probably inclined to easily believe that the whole Skirpal saga is something made up by British Intelligence. Fortunately for our beliefs the facts and the holes in the official story are on our side. One thing is for sure – Either the British or the Russian tradecraft has declined in observable amounts. The same sloppiness is observed in the alleged Litivinenko assassination. One has to wonder why the Russians would go to such trouble to kill Skirpal or Litivinenko and not try to kill William Browder. I also wonder why fleeing Russian oligarchs go to… Read more »

Thomas Peterson
Reader
Thomas Peterson

Funny how the GRU always target people who are almost completely unknown in Russia, weren’t very senior when they were there, and have long since outlived their usefulness to British Intelligence. And they always carry out these plots in Britain.

Paul X
Reader
Paul X

14 deaths out of 700 Russian ‘sterling’ visas issued in recent years.it doesn’t seem a lot considering these are Mafia type gangsters. Pots of money for London Society and the Tory Party. All laundered thefts from the Russian State safely salted away in British tax havens. You bet the Government has ‘moved slowly’ to stem blatant laundering!

vexarb
Reader

Me’nwhile in the real world of Truth, Faith and Courage:

Maaloula, Syria | September 2018 |

Restoration of the Church of St George

Yonatan
Reader
Yonatan

The police claim that the two were seen on CCTV at the railway station at 11:48 am and at (or near) the Skripal home by 11:58 ie 10 minutes later. The distance appears to be about 1.2 miles which means they would have to travel at about 7 mph to cover the distance in that time (not allowing for time to cross busy roads). Normal walking is about 3.5 mph and jogging about 5.5 mph so they would have had to run all the way. These guys must be superhuman to do that without breaking into a sweat.

bill
Reader
bill

i expect an imminent release of information from the Police ,under huge political pressure, but have held to their description,havent they????, of the 2 men as Russians ( unlikely agreed as expressed elsewhere here and more probably paid Ukrainians ,Bulgarians) rather than ” Russian agents”, to rectify these ruinous time-lines for the official narrative …..something like-“new CCTV discovered evidence that Yulia returned home briefly much later say around 12 as she had forgotten something ……blah blah blah” It cant be left as it is.Will follow all these brilliant articles and comments over coming days ….as the best site out there….

Sgt. Hartmann
Reader
Sgt. Hartmann

of course, they are “GRU operatives from Putin’s Russia”

Empire Of Stupid
Reader

Here’s information from the OTHER police report. “So, Boris–” “Wait, I’m supposed to be Ruslan.” “I though I was him . . . who am I then?” “You’re, um . . . oh, just look in your fake Russian passport.” “Oh. Right. I’m Alexi.” “Okay. So we get off the plane and go through the photo booths. Keep in step so we can go through different booths at EXACTLY the same second.” “You’re kidding, right, Bor– Ruslan? Have you ever tried to get two people off a plane at exactly the same time?” (Later) “So this is the hotel room.… Read more »