Open Thread: Skripal Suspects Interviewed on RT

For those of you who missed it – the Skripal suspects came forward, approaching RT to tell their story. The whole interview is embedded above and available here, with a transcript here.

A quick rundown of their claims:

  • They are civilians, not GRU officers.
  • They are tourists, who travelled to Salisbury to see the cathedral and visit Stonehenge.
  • They are were not carrying, and have never seen, the Nina Ricci perfume bottle.
  • They did not know Sergei Skripal lived in Salisbury and had never heard of him before he was in the news.
  • They urge the UK police to show the CCTV footage from Salisbury cathedral, which they claim serves as their alibi.

In the interests of impartiality we point out they produce no evidence to back up these claims, and the case remains very much a “he-said-she-said” situation.

These developments open up new questions

  • Will the UK request extradition?
  • Will Russian authorities invite UK police to Russia to question the men?
  • If asked, would the UK police go?
  • What prompted these men to come forward?
  • Will the UK police release the CCTV footage of Salisbury cathedral?
  • Are they really civilians? Will they produce passports and/or documentation as evidence?
  • How many tourists visit Salisbury cathedral every year? How many Russians visit the UK as tourists every year? How many Russians, excluding the named suspects, were in Salisbury around this time? These statistics could be revealing.
  • This move could bolster the UK cause, at least in the media, is it part of a quid pro quo diplomatic arrangement? Possibly with the UK making a concession in Syria?

Whatever the truth of the matter, this interview certainly serves to confuse things. Their story is possible, but not supported with evidence. They are clear on some details – and their request for the police to release the cathedral CCTV rings true – but yet they are also cagey about their business and personal life.

The talking heads in the mainstream media have already dismissed the interview as lies from start to finish – they would do this no matter what was said – but it is foolish to seize on the translated words of two obviously anxious men as evidence of guilt. Especially when the “official narrative” is so full of holes in terms of the timeline, logistics, motive and method.

However, it would equally partisan, in the opposite direction, to declare their story watertight and totally believable. There are certainly a lot of unanswered questions here, and we have a duty to withhold judgment and attempt to be impartial.

What happens now? And do you believe the two men? Comment below.