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“Chepiga” and “Boshirov” – what does Bellingcat actually tell us?

Catte

“Chepiga”, Boshirov 2009 and Boshirov 2018

The alleged “citizen journalist” website, Bellingcat has, of course, recently published the results of its latest piece of alleged research on the “real identity” of one of the men accused (so far without any evidence) of attempting to poison Sergey Skripal and his daughter back in March 2018.

We’ve talked about Bellingcat, and its supposed founder, Eliot Higgins, before on OffG. Bellingcat’s work has been revealed on countless occasions to be both incredibly amateurish and incredibly biased toward a certain extreme neocon/neoliberal agenda.

Whether or not Higgins himself knows it, his outfit is almost certainly a front run by various intel agencies for the purpose of disseminating low-grade, and often fake or corrupted, data that the agencies and associated governments do not want to be associated with directly.

The stuff they put out is generally so bad it clearly isn’t intended to last very long under scrutiny. It’s function is apparently to provide a compliant and unquestioning media with disposable headlines that serve to create realities in the minds of equally compliant readers and consumers of “news” for long enough to push through short-term foreign policy objectives, generally involving ramping up hostilities with designated “enemy nations.”

Bellingcat’s sloppy, absurdly partisan and almost instantly discredited claims of having identified a Russian BUK in the hands of the Donbass rebels were trumpeted in the media as “proof” of Russian culpability in the shooting down of MH17 in good time to help justify the arming of Ukraine and the sanctioning of Russia. Their even more absurd “research” claiming to prove Syria’s use of chemical weapons was likewise timed to coincide with western government agenda and blasted all over the media just long enough to create an effect in the public mind and prepare us for a wider war.

And now, unsurprisingly, Bellingcat are here again, telling us they have “proved” one of the two Russian men caught on CCTV is working for Russian military intelligence.

Now, let’s be clear. For all we know Boshirov and Petrov could be in military intelligence. They could be anything for all we know, including ex-underwear salesmen like Higgins. We have no evidence about who these men are, beyond their own, as yet unproven claims.

But the question here isn’t ‘are they in Russian military intelligence’, the question is – has Bellingcat proved they are, or even shown us any solid evidence they are?

And the answer is – no. They haven’t. Not even close.

What Bellingcat actually did is this:

  1. They began with the a priori assumption the names the two men were using were fake and that they worked for Russian military intelligence or some other secret agency.
  2. In an attempt to locate an assumed ‘real identity’ for one of them – Ruslan Boshirov – they tried to locate more info on him using Google reverse-image searches and got nowhere
  3. They then typed “Ruslan Boshirov” into Russian online phone books and got nowhere.
  4. (At this point they stopped looking for Boshirov directly and – under the assumption that name was fake – started looking for ANY man of approximately the right age who may have connections with GRU. (We won’t discuss the methodological problems this raises, but do pause to consider them)).

  5. They approached some “anonymous sources” and asked where this still completely hypothetical GRU agent might theoretically have gone to school. These anon sources pointed them to a certain Russian military academy with the acronym “DVOKU”.
  6. They then guessed when the hypothetical agent might have hypothetically graduated and looked for yearbook photos that might resemble Ruslan Boshirov enough to be him under a different name. And got nowhere.
  7. (Well, to be fair they claim to have found “several possible but not certain” matches, and they did include a picture of one such, whom they admit probably isn’t Boshirov, but whose pic they include for “completeness of research process” (whatever that means)).

  8. At this point, having Googled themselves to a standstill, they had precisely nothing to indicate Boshirov was using a fake name, nothing to show he had ever attended military school and nothing to show he’d ever been linked to Russian intelligence in any way. But they had apparently stumbled on the name “Anatoliy Chepiga” that was “linked” to the search terms “Chechnya”, “DVOKU” and “hero of the Russian federation.”
  9. With nothing much else left to do, they allegedly googled this name – and again found nothing, but, using “leaked”(?) online “telephone databases”, the name “Anatoliy Vladimirovitch Chepiga” was found listed twice (in 2003, and 2012) in two locations. One of these addresses (2003) they claim is linked to the Russian military and Spetsnaz. They assumed these two references were to the same man and that this is the Anatoliy Chepiga named elsewhere as receiving the “hero of the Russian Federation medal.

So, at this point they have sketchy data to suggest some guy called Anatoliy Chepiga is real, about the right age to be an alter ego for Boshirov and in the military (possibly Spetsnaz). But they have absolutely nothing to show this Chepiga is anything to do with Ruslan Boshirov whatsoever. In fact, the likelihood that this one guy they allegedly randomly googled on an off-chance should just happen to be the real ID of Ruslan would be vanishingly remote.

It must have seemed at this point as if this narrative was going to be too thin and allusive even for Bellingcat to put out.

However right then their old friends the “anonymous sources” once again came to their rescue and – allegedly – gave them “extracts from the passport file” of Chepiga, including a photo (right), which is alleged to be of Chepiga.

Bellingcat claims this image proves Chepiga is Boshirov. It would be fair to say opinion remains divided over this conclusion. [See here, here and here.]

Chepiga’s physical reality has been independently established by the Russian media outlet Kommersant, who did the kind of journalism seemingly beyond most western outlets and went to talk to people in what was alleged to be Chepiga’s home town.

Opinion among those who apparently knew Chepiga seems divided about whether or not he’s potentially Boshirov. One person says they recognised Boshirov as Chepiga immediately on seeing him on the TV. Another says Boshirov can’t be Chepiga because the latter was almost totally bald when last seen by the witness ten years ago, and his face was notably different though the eyes are similar.

We currently have no independently verified second image of Chepiga for comparison. And the Russian Government denies that any Col. Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga has ever been awarded the Hero of the Russian Federation.

Let’s recap.

  1. Bellingcat has no information linking Boshirov with Russian intelligence and no evidence the name “Boshirov”is an assumed ID. He does allegedly have information linking a man called Chepiga with the Russian military and Spetsnaz.
  2. The only evidence Bellingcat claims connects Chepiga with Boshirov is this anonymously provided photograph.

So, currently the entire case for Boshirov being Chepiga rests on this photo. Nothing else in the avalanche of verbiage being created around this means anything at all.

The problem is this is an unsourced photo allegedly passed to Bellingcat by an unnamed insider source as being a photo of a Russian military intelligence officer named Chepiga. This image has some resemblance to Boshirov, true, but is by no means a perfect match and may well represent two different people even as is. And, of course, in this digital age, a single image without provenance means nothing. It could be real, sure, but it could equally be manipulated, or even entirely fake.

Is this a genuine photo of Anatoliy Chepiga? Currently no one knows. Is Ruslan Boshirov actually Anatoliy Chepiga? Maybe. In the broadest sense it can’t be ruled out. But the same could be said for almost any other Russian man of the right approximate age with a roughly approximate physical appearance.

The only way to verify this photo represents Chepiga and that Chepiga is or may be Boshirov is to provide a lot more additional data – which is all currently conspicuously absent.


204 Comments

  1. Matt says

    BREAKING: Dr. Hassan Ugail, Professor of Visual Computing at the School of Engineering and Informatics at the University of Bradford, has used his world-class face matching algorithms they even use AI), to successfully match the photo of Chepiga provided by Bellingcat and “Boshirov”s passport photo provided by the British!

    Following a press enquiry, we ran a few of our face matching algorithms on the photo of Anatoliy Chepiga and that claimed to be of Ruslan Boshirov. The results are conclusive. They are indeed the same person.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Doe5EjIX4AA7E7P.jpg

    https://twitter.com/ugail/status/1047008933045592064

    Dr. Ugail is no amateur. His principal research interest is in the area of Visual Computing. Back in my Image Processing class at Uni, we had to read/watch some of this guy’s stuff.

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    • Phelim says

      This post is comical. To refer to “face matching algorithms they even use AI)” is ridiculous uninformed hyperbole. Strictly speaking face matching algorithms are by definition a part of the AI research field. There’s no “even” about it. This is something the poster should have known from his “Uni” course.

  2. Matt says

    Murray has officially lost it:

    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/10/bellingcats-very-obviously-fake-chepiga-photo/

    According to Murray, MI6 found a time machine, managed to hack into DVOKU’s website, and simultaneously hacked into a Russian social media website. The photo itself was uploaded to a Russian social network on June 26, 2017:

    https://ok.ru/profile/475421179769/album/856276858233/856276895865

    A photo of the same spot take from a different angle was uploaded to DVOKU’s website on April 9, 2016:

    http://dvoku.mil.ru/upload/site31/document_images/GhQLfcf9fg.jpg

    That’s two different sources, with the dates plainly stated on the website.

    Not to mention that the below photo from July 2014 that shows the same spot but with Chepiga’s photo missing:

    https://017qndpynh-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/without.png

    This proves that the spot was indeed empty, so regardless of the reason for Chepiga’s photo being out of order, we know for a fact that the spot was left deliberately blank and this was not some “poor photoshop” as some are smugly claiming.

    From the above photos, the below CCTV camera photo, and the RT interview, it’s clear that “Boshirov” is Chepiga:

    http://resources.mynewsdesk.com/image/upload/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_700,q_auto,w_670/nljtgszmc3sgq7fakxwv.jpg

    RT interview photo:

    https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/320/cpsprodpb/49B5/production/_103596881_4295c99b-9603-4272-9e02-4fd851718425.png

    The last claim making the rounds is that the dastardly Bellingcat somehow found a GRU agent who happens to look exactly like the poor, innocent “Boshirov”, and is even of the same age. They then found his passport files, thus proceeding to frame the poor tourist “Boshirov” as a GRU killer. I hope I don’t have to explain the low probability of even finding a GRU agent with these exact characteristics, as well as what Occam’s razor is.

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  3. Matt says

    I found significant errors in Amb. Murray’s blogposts, and would like the opinion of everyone:

    Russian Insider is neither Russian nor an Insider. Its name is a false claim and it consists of a combination of western “experts” writing on Russia, and reprints from the Russian media. It has no track record of inside access to Russian government secrets or documents, and nor does Bellingcat.

    Murray confuses the partner media outlet that worked with Bellingcat. It is called “The Insider”, not “Russia Insider”, and it indeed is a Russian investigative media. The funny thing is that WikiLeaks made the same mistake in a tweet about the Bellingcat articles; Murray is known to be a friend of Assange’s, so presumably the latter read the former’s error-laden article and repeated the mistakes.

    Source: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/09/the-incredible-case-of-boshirov-and-petrovs-visas/

    We are to believe that Boshirov and Petrov were GRU agents whose identity was plainly obvious from their passports, who had no believable cover identities, but that neither the visa department nor MI6 (which two cooperate closely and all the time) knew they were giving visas to GRU agents. Yet this information was readily available to Bellingcat?

    Murray is confused about the fact that these passport files were private files, not accessible to the British. Not only that, but the GRU agents were travelling under false names, so there is no way the British would have known that they were GRU agents. This logical fallacy was made by many here, including Off-G.

    Source: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/03/russian-to-judgement/

    To return to Israel. Israel has the nerve agents. Israel has Mossad which is extremely skilled at foreign assassinations. Theresa May claimed Russian propensity to assassinate abroad as a specific reason to believe Russia did it. Well Mossad has an even greater propensity to assassinate abroad. And while I am struggling to see a Russian motive for damaging its own international reputation so grieviously, Israel has a clear motivation for damaging the Russian reputation so grieviously. Russian action in Syria has undermined the Israeli position in Syria and Lebanon in a fundamental way, and Israel has every motive for damaging Russia’s international position by an attack aiming to leave the blame on Russia.

    Here, Murray puts the possibility that maybe it was da Joos that did it. Hmm, was it a British false flag, Israeli false flag or Ukrainian false flag? Couldn’t have been Russia, right?

    Or how about the time when he sarcastically mocked how “Russia has developed an astonishing new technology enabling its secret agents to occupy precisely the same space at precisely the same time?” This exact conspiracy theory was repeated here, as well as on Russian state TV by the dishonest Zakharova.

    Source: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/09/the-impossible-photo/

    As recently as half-year ago, Russian foreign propaganda was winning, as its unabashed fakery was (ineffectively) countered by balanced, middle-of-the-road reporting by Western Media. Not any more, though. Bullshit is now being called. Seems like Salisbury was the bridge too far.

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    • Matt says

      Several of my other comments have not appeared, I think due to the links. @Admin, could you please approve them? Thank you.

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    • Phelim says

      This post would be a bit more credible if the author wasn’t so slavishly one sided. To refer to all Russian stories as propaganda and all “Western media” (whoever that is) as “balanced reporting” is to assert the final conclusion to the debate; its not evidence. More importantly, its factually nonsensical. Anybody who describes the output of media which includes Fox and the UK tabloids as well balanced reporting is plainly an idiot.

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  4. Matt says

    Several more updates:

    The official Eastern District Military newspaper reported Chepiga’s Hero of the Russian Federation award a month after it was issued, quoting proud General Gryzlov, provost of the military academy:

    https://twitter.com/christogrozev/status/1046655218165919744

    A reporter for a local media outlet from Blagoveshchensk city, “Teleport 2001”, was taken on a tour of DVOKU, Chepiga’s military school. His guide told him that two of the alumni became Heroes of Russia for the 2014 “events in Crimea”:

    http://www.teleport2001.ru/news/2015-12-09/72552-amurskie-geroi-izvestnye-i-taynye.html

    Here is the list of Heroes of Russia on DVOKU military school website. It says that two of the heroes, awarded for Crimea, are secret. Both Chepiga and Popov are on the list, but – unlike the others – with no description of their “heroic” deeds:

    http://www.dvocu.ru/index/alleja_geroev/0-36

    The Russian journalist behind the Skripal scoops says Chepiga received the Hero of the Russian Federation award from Putin for evacuating Yanukovych to Russia:

    https://hromadske.ua/posts/pidozriuvanyi-v-otruienni-skrypalia-ahent-hru-chepiha-boshyrov-vyvozyv-z-ukrainy-yanukovycha-zhurnalist

    Yanukovich’s former bodyguard wrote to Court today asking to be interrogated in relation to Chepiga’s role. We don’t know what Yanukovich’s former bodyguard wants to share, but it’s unlikely his statement will be “Your honour, I requested to be heard because I have never seen this man” ;]

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DoiCSXaXkAI-tzD.jpg

    Bellingcat found a photo (read their newest article for more info) of Chepiga on the “Wall of Heroes” at DVOKU:

    https://017qndpynh-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/comparison.png

    A 5th media outlet has found people who knew Chepiga. Novaya Gazeta found three of Chepiga’s comrades from his military unit. Two of them said they weren’t sure if they were the same person (they hadn’t seen him since 2006). Another said he knows it’s him by their same voice. But all three confirmed that Chepiga is a ‘Hero of Russia’ – decorated for his role in 2014 annexation of Crimea, just like Bellingcat had originally hypothesized.

    https://www.novayagazeta.ru/articles/2018/10/01/78025-za-chto-chepige-dali-geroya-rossii-novaya-nashla-troih-sosluzhivtsev-polkovnika-iz-dela-skripaley?utm_source=novaya&utm_medium=tw&utm_campaign=regular

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    • Maggie says

      @ Matt.
      Total and absolute obfuscation! IMHO….
      MI6 did the Skripals… concentrate on that and refuse to be side tracked.

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  5. Matt says

    BREAKING: Dr. Hassan Ugail, Professor of Visual Computing at the School of Engineering and Informatics at the University of Bradford, has used his world-class face matching algorithms to successfully match the photo of Chepiga provided by Bellingcat and “Boshirov”s passport photo provided by the British!

    <

    blockquote>
    Following a press enquiry, we ran a few of our face matching algorithms on the photo of Anatoliy Chepiga and that claimed to be of Ruslan Boshirov. The results are conclusive. They are indeed the same person.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Doe5EjIX4AA7E7P.jpg

    https://twitter.com/ugail/status/1047008933045592064

    Dr. Ugail is no amateur. His principal research interest is in the area of Visual Computing. Back in my Image Processing class at Uni, we had to read/watch some of this guy’s stuff. Also, he didn’t just match the two photos. Rather, he normalized them to the same age (30) and compared the results, which actually works against those who claim they are the same man, because the images are adjusted and any pre-existing similarities that many influence our bias are minimized. The numbers are off the charts.

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  6. Paolo says

    It’s obvious the Russians are not responsible for this, anyone with a clear head and some common sense can see this just as we can see that Assad isn’t using chemical weapons in Syria. There are so many glaring holes, contradictions and absurdities in the UK official story that they possibly decided to bring out Bellingcat to provide some “open source” gish galloping to bamboozle the masses and get them to shrug their shoulders and grudgingly admit that they don’t know.
    I believe the British are responsible for this attack. The entire official British stance on Russian fugitives from justice and gangster oligarchs has been puzzling in the extreme since the late 90s, so much so that its been long clear that Britain has a specific agenda regarding Russia.
    Anyone that sees the UK mainstream media and government as reliable sources of information after Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and Syria is simply a fool.

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  7. On September 29, 2018, user under nickname ‘Matt’ (furious defender of Bellingcat) posted a funny comment:

    “Boshirov” is Chepiga. The Russian government is lying and Bellingcat has been proved correct.

    Matt, Bellingcat-style dilettantish “investigations” apologists, like you, love to call those who ask logical questions a “conspiracy theorists“.
    Here I will not explain the absurdity and naivety of such statements, based on the elementary inability to bring any serious arguments that refute the arguments of the interlocutor.

    Instead, let me tell you one story.

    In 2004, after several years of surveillance, Sergey Skripal was arrested in Russia. Moreover, Putin, already having
    in his brain a cunning plan, gives the order not to eliminate the defector, but namely to arrest him — that is, observe the norms of the law. Oh, if only Skripal knew what role he was assigned to!

    The investigation is underway, evidence is being collected, information is being analyzed. It takes 2 years. During all this time, the monster Putin “covers” the traitor, knowing that Skripal will be useful to him in the future. So, 2 years
    after his arrest, in 2006, a detained average-caliber spy (there were people of more importance) is being tried on
    espionage charges. His guilt is convincingly proven, and the arrested spy is sent to a Russian prison to serve his
    well-deserved punishment.

    Sergey Skripal has spent 4 years in a Russian prison. During these 4 years, according to Putin’s cunning plan, no one has the right to eliminate the ex-spy. It would seem that during this time it could be a million times inconspicuously to poison him, strangle, slaughter, arrange a “brawl” with his cellmates (which would “accidentally” end up with
    Skripal’s death), shoot, drown, take him away in an unknown direction, and a whole bunch other ways to get rid of unwanted person.

    But no! Putin would not be Putin if he chose easy ways. The President of Russia leaves Skripal alive. Specially, intentionally, with far-reaching plans. Naturally, Putin himself deals with such issues. Personally. Meetings with presidents of other countries, ministers, ambassadors and delegates, discussing important domestic issues, participating in international forums, congresses, exhibitions, social policy issues, state development strategy, responding to emergency situations (for example, terrorist attacks), developing a country’s policy on international problems (terrorism, climate change, military conflicts, etc.)… – all this is, of course, important. But Putin must not forget to personally deal with such issues as the decision of the fate of the arrested criminals. The institute of special services (police, intelligence, security service etc) is not suitable for this. The judicial system too.

    In the extremely busy schedule of the president of the world’s largest country, a special place is taken by the time allotted for solving the fate of arrested criminals (spies, assassins, scammers etc). Other state affairs can wait! Moreover, at that time – when Skripal was imprisoned – Putin already knew that he would not be able to participate in the 2008 presidential election, so he instructed Dmitry Medvedev in advance (personally, of course) that Sergey Skripal should not be touched. Medvedev, of course, asked, “Who is that?”, but Putin lucidly explained the situation, as well as the details of his cunning plan. Well, Medvedev, who became president in 2008, fulfilled his friend’s mission with dignity.

    As a result, four years (2006-2010) spent in a Russian prison turn into the fact that the ex-spy, along with four other traitors, was exchanged for a group of Russian illegal spies arrested in the United States. Skripal was pardoned by President Medvedev (behind him was the cunning Putin!), released from prison and sent anywhere.

    A former prisoner decides to settle in the UK in the small town of Salisbury. Of all the possible places in the world (and especially in the UK), Skripal chooses the city of Salisbury. Although Skipal is a British spy, of course the British special services had no influence on his decision to settle in Salisbury. In addition, by pure chance this particular town is one of the most important centers in the UK – it is on the outskirts of Salisbury that the top-secret chemical laboratory Porton Down is located, and the town itself (being, in fact, a special-purpose city – like Sarov city in Russia) contains more surveillance cameras than the residents themselves.

    But of course Scripal is not aware of all this. He has no idea where he settled. The British spy just wants to live in peace and have no problems. Well, the UK authorities give him that opportunity. Life flows smoothly and calmly. The opportunity to see the famous Salisbury Cathedral is one of the advantages of living in Porton Down’ satellite town! Quiet life, unobtrusive neighbors. The naive Skripal does not even suspect that at this very time the monster Putin with a red marker crosses out the dates on the calendar every day, counting the time until the “X moment”. The poor fellow Skripal. Complacent British authorities also don’t realize how serious it is.

    Weeks, months, years go by. Events occur. Mad Hilary Clinton gives Sergey Lavrov a symbolic button called “overload” – some mutt mixed up, because “reset” should have been written! Russia refuses to supply Iran with S-300. Tectonic changes occur in the Middle East – the region is shaken by a series of so-called “color revolutions”. The notorious “Arab Spring”. Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia during the Olympics in China has been forgotten a bit. By the way, South Ossetia and Abkhazia gained independence. Syria plunges into the abyss of war – the opposition demands the resignation of Assad. The conflict cannot be settled, and the country is bleeding and tormented. Naturally, the Syrian opposition is good Syrian citizens, patriots who just want to taste the democracy. It is ridiculous to assume that the West has something to do with funding and organizing anti-government protests in Syria. Nonsense!

    In Ukraine, the coals of a future catastrophe are gradually swelling. The country has met 2014 already in a new appearance – the former president was displaced as a result of the coup d’état. A new people came on his place. Of course, they are not the Nazis – “There’s no Nazism in Ukraine!”(c) – as Russian propaganda claims. Airstrikes on Donbass in the summer of 2014, which resulted in the death of civilians (women, children), cannot be considered a sign of aggression by the new Ukrainian authorities against their own people. On May 2, 2014, apologists of the new Ukrainian authorities burn several dozens of people alive in a building in Odessa. Well, simple coincidence. Understanding what happened, the population of the Crimea makes a decision to return to their homeland, to become an integral part of Russia. Hey! This was an insidious cruel annexation committed by the Putin’s regime! The right of the people to self-determination (fixed in the UN Charter) is not important, the referendum (the purity of the results of which was confirmed even by foreign observers and commissions) is not important, Kosovo’s precedent is not important. All this is not important. Aggressive Russia attacked poor Ukraine!

    The new Ukrainian authorities meet with the most ardent support from their Western sponsors, therefore, in the order of things it comes seizures of Orthodox churches, persecution of journalists, murder of dissenters, glorification of Nazi criminals Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych, torchlight processions of “patriots”, heroization of the Waffen-SS division “Galicia”, discrimination against the Russian language, attacks on Gypsies and many other cute things. Not even mentioning the war against Donbass.

    Evil Russia, agreeing to take the Crimea into the country, threw another dirty trick to the West – dared to intervene in the Syrian conflict in the fall of 2015. By the way, this year also brought a joint comprehensive plan of action on Iran, which made it possible to resolve the problem of the development of nuclear weapons by an Islamic republic. The so-called “doping scandal” also became a top story. These Russians are not capable of anything good at all – even their athletes are dirty! The fact of the so-called “doping scandal” immediately after Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict, which violated all plans of the West, is simply a coincidence, of course. In 2016 suddenly the eccentric Trump becomes the president of the United States – it was a shock to the whole world! Wow, we haven’t seen this kind of stuff for a long time! Diplomatic battles between the United States and Russia, the mutual closure of consulates. Ill-fated and unexpected Brexit in the UK. Many other events worldwide…

    In short, the world is changing. Only one thing remains the same – the monstrous tyrant Putin all this time keeps in his mind his cherished idea of using poor Sergey Skripal at the right moment! Nothing can stop a tyrant. So the year 2018 has come. Everyone in the Kremlin was on high alert. “It’s soon!” – Putin mysteriously winked at his subordinates.

    In the first months of 2018, two inconspicuous men were summoned to the Kremlin. The directive read “Appear immediately!”. Only their surnames are known – Boshirov and Petrov. The structure, formerly known as the GRU, was liquidated at that time for 8 years already, but anyway, it was decided to call the duet as “GRU agents”. Sitting in his chair in the Kremlin and looking into the eyes of Petrov and Boshirov, Putin sets the task – by all means eliminate the ex-spy Sergey Skripal! The timid question “Why is this necessary?” was met by Putin’s loud roar “Not your fucking business!”. After all, agents are required to diligently perform the task, rather than ask questions.

    With difficulty finding the Skripal’s dossier in the archive on the far shelf of the cabinet with the name “closed, handed to the archive”, the Petrov and Boshirov duet blew dust from the folder and studied the documents. Laughing at the awareness of the nullity of the goal and, on the whole, of the meaninglessness of the task, the “GRU agents” went to the office to the President. A thin smile played on Vladimir Putin’s lips. His eyes were narrowed. “GRU agents” were discouraged when they heard their chief’s plan.

    The plan was this: to enter the territory of Great Britain by direct flight, personally buying tickets at the box office. Yes, yes, a direct flight, not bypassing (for example, through Ireland, from where you can get to the UK secretly). Why these precautions and proven experience of decades of successful secretive work? Forget it. It is necessary to apply in advance for a British visa. To do this, come personally to the consulate and leave the most detailed information about yourself (photos, addresses, phone numbers, etc.). Do not forget to leave your fingerprints! This is a prerequisite for the mission. Upon arrival in the UK, do not rent a car (as usual in covert operations), but wander around the city on foot, while trying to get into every possible video camera. Make all movements together. Try to leave as many fingerprints everywhere as possible (for example, leaning against a showcase). Don’t change clothes, don’t masquerade, don’t change the appearance, don’t disguise yourself.

    Comrades Boshirov and Petrov, are you writing down my directions? Ok. Next, to explore the situation on the spot, you should rent a room in the hotel. Don’t ask again why! Why the questions?! Naturally, you must rent a room in a hotel to be seen. Forget your ridiculous offers to use a secret place or a safe house to remain undiscovered. I repeat, you must rent a room in a hotel. On the eve of the operation, you guys should get a prostitute in a hotel room and fuck her hard – so that she screams with pleasure! Oh yeah, it will be cool! Fuck her real hard. Don’t forget to smoke some weed. Do it so that everyone in the hotel feet it!

    I am Vladimir Putin, and it doesn’t matter to me that the code of special services says that drugs and prostitutes are taboo. I repeat, on the eve of the operation you should smoke weed and fuck the prostitute loudly! Got it? Ok. Now the murder itself. What, what do you say…? To shoot Skripal from a distance using a rifle with a telescopic sight and a silencer? Hmm, no, I don’t like it. It’s too easy. What…? You can strangle him at home? You can do it at night when he is sleeping? Hmmm, no, I don’t like it either. Why these platitudes? “Accidentally” ride down Skripal when he will cross the road? Enough vulgarity! I already said that I don’t like all this. I want something special.

    I want… I want to use… Hmm… I want… I want chemical weapons of mass destruction!! Oh yeah! This is what I need. Guys, it will be cool! Hey, what’s wrong with you guys, why are you frozen in this position, with your mouths open and your eyes glazed? I say it will be cool! Just imagine – dangerous, prohibited weapons, designed to destroy large masses of people in large areas, we use to eliminate just one person. It will be very cool!

    I recently watched a curious television series, it mentions a substance called “Novichok”. It is associated with Russia. I really liked it, I want to use this substance! Find it. I have planned everything for a long time. You guys will have to eliminate Skripal on March 4, 2018 – exactly two weeks before the presidential election in Russia. I want to try it, find out whether the hype that rises after the incident will affect my rating and the voters’ desire to vote for me. I want to try it. In addition, soon the World Cup in Russia. I’m interested to see how the murder of Skripal by chemical weapons of mass destruction called “Novichok” – i.e. associated with Russia – will affect the image of our country before the World Cup. What, what do you say…? It may have a negative impact? C’mon guys, it doesn’t matter.

    I explain once again – being agents of one of the strongest intelligence organizations in the world, organization with many years of experience and proven techniques, you must do everything so that all the evidence points to Russia. Yes, you heard it right! I want everything to point to Russia. You must eliminate the target not in a banal way, such as strangling or using a pistol with a silencer, but using chemical weapons of mass destruction, and the substance must be called “Novichok”! You must act as amateurs who were hired only yesterday. You must leave your fingerprints everywhere, get into all possible surveillance cameras, leave traces of “Novichok” wherever possible. And don’t forget – you must fuck a prostitute and smoke weed!

    By the way, my little whim – when you’ll pass passport control, please go through the corridors at the same time, second per second! It’ll be cool! Let’s get rid of this damn Skripal! I’ve been waiting for this since 2004, when the bastard was arrested. So in 2018 I will finally carry out my insidious evil evil plan!

    And one more thing – don’t blame me if in the future I’ll ask you to appear on television and thereby find yourself for the whole world. Yes i know you are an acting intelligence agents. I don’t care. Don’t forget, before you appear on TV, you will have to go through a special unique training in order to look like “newbies”, “gawks” in interviews. That’s that! These are my whims!

    Oh, i must not forget to give an order so that previously extremely secret and inaccessible documents – information about our agents – were posted on the Internet in some databases, so that one day some bloggers could find and use these documents.

    You got the job. I order to perform!

    Well, that’s how it was. According to London, the poisoning of Skripal was Russia’s revenge for his work for Britain. A reasonable person will ask – where is the sense, given the pardon of Skripal by the Russian authorities and his unhindered deportation abroad many years ago. In other words, if the ex-spy posed any danger to Russia, he definitely would not be allowed to go anywhere. In addition, a meticulous reader will say that you may accuse Britain the same way, saying that the British authorities poisoned Skripal because of the important information that he could give to Russian special services during the detention. This is quite logical, therefore the fault of Britain in the poisoning is obvious. Especially considering very strange behavior of Britain in this whole story – stubborn refusal to cooperate, hiding Skripals is unknown place, stubborn refusal to provide “irrefutable evidence” (which they say they have), a huge number of ridiculous versions (drone, buckwheat, gel, bouquet of flowers, air conditioning in the car, perfume etc) confusing the case, prohibition of admission of Russian consuls (in accordance with international rules) to victims, direct lies of officials (Boris Johnson: “Porton Down confirmed to me that this is a Russian Novichok” \ Porton Down: “We were unable to verify the identity of the substance”), dozens of motives to commit this provocation…

    But why logic and common sense? Leave these trifles. Besides, why take into account the reputation of Britain as an international liar? Well, yes, the 2003 story with a fake test-tube was loud, and Tony Blair disgraced himself to the whole world, admitting that he was telling a lie. But who cares?

    The main thing is that everything told above – British version of events – is not a conspiracy theory. Agree?
    Yep.

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    • Matt says

      You try to imply with your story that because there is no way the GRU could have shown such unprofessional behaviour, that it must be a British false flag, and thus, it follows that all these choices were made deliberately by the British to maximize attention.

      One issue: it was the pair from Russia who were, for example, heard having sex with a prostitute and smoking weed in a hotel room. That was them. It was their choice. The British didn’t force them to do it. You can’t sarcastically describe those events to imply this was a British false flag, because those two are Russian citizens, and their bizarre behaviour was of their own volition. Unless you are implying that the British controlled the pair of Russian suspects too? The GRU can be incompetent, and your assumption of them being too smart for this is an incorrect one.

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  8. Yeah, Right says

    Interesting new claim by Craig Murray over at his website, to the effect that he has heard from a Whitehall source that the British intelligence community are very, very wary of Bellingcat’s claims.

    They believe they smell a rat, and are advising all UK authorities not to make any comment on the Bellingcat article.

    Apparently the consensus amongst the intelligence experts is that Eliot Higgins has been fed misinformation by the Russians, who have been conspicuously trying to goad the British authorities into endorsing it. At which point the Russians will produce the “real” Chepiga alongside Boshirov to discredit the entire British story.

    Heresay, of course, and completely uncollaborated, so whatever credence you give it is entirely based on the reliability of Murray’s anonymous contacts within the UK Foreign Office.

    But, still, it does explain the deathly silence from Teresa May on down.

    Not a peep, even though this should be their moment of triumph.

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    • Matt says

      Well, this proves all the people here wrong, as well as the author of the article. Because it means that British intelligence did not “feed” Bellingcat anything. Otherwise, well, they wouldn’t be so apprehensive of Bellingcat’s claims.

      Regarding the article, I think some are misinterpreting the claims: it is implied twice in that article that this does not mean British intelligence believes Bellingcat is wrong or that Boshirov is not Chepiga. All they are saying is that because some of the information is unsourced, it is possible that it is disinformation spread by the Russians. They are merely being cautious, but that in no way means they reject Bellingcat’s claims.

      “The experts are describing the Boshirov/Chepiga identification as “possible”.”

      “They genuinely believe Boshirov and Petrov are GRU agents [are] the would-be assassins. re British narrative.”

      This also proves that it was not a British false flag. Otherwise, Russia would have produced some form of proof by now and Murray’s “impeccable” contact has never entertained this theory.

      1
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      • Yeah, Right says

        “Well, this proves all the people here wrong, as well as the author of the article”

        No, actually, it doesn’t. It simply indicates that Higgins is willing to shill for anyone.

        “Because it means that British intelligence did not “feed” Bellingcat anything.”

        Define “anything”.

        The consensus view on these pages is that Eliot Higgins is a shill for MI6, and Bellingcat was set up to be a dissembler of western propaganda.

        That view is, in my humble opinion, quite correct.

        So when Higgins publishes an expose that is little more than a series of preposterously-implausible leaps-of-faith disguised as “deductive reasoning” then it is a natural reaction to assume that it is MI6 who are getting him to leap through those hoops.

        Apparently not. Apparently Higgins has gone rogue on them.

        “Otherwise, well, they wouldn’t be so apprehensive of Bellingcat’s claims”

        The alternative is that they know full well that the entire Russian/GRU angle is a pile of cow manure, and that is why they were so aghast that Bellingcat risked ruining everything by shovelling more bulls**t where it wasn’t wanted.

        “This also proves that it was not a British false flag.”

        Well, yes, it is evidence that this was not a British false flag. I never believed that it was.
        If I had to point a finger, I’d be pointing it at the Ukrainians.

        “Otherwise, Russia would have produced some form of proof by now and Murray’s “impeccable” contact has never entertained this theory.”

        Logically, that does not flow from your preceding sentence.

        If it HAD been a British false flag then there is no logical reason to argue that Russia could produce any “proof” that it WAS a British false flag. As the Russians repeatedly point out: the UK authorities are refusing point-blank to co-operate with the Russian authorities.

        Just as an aside, you do not help yourself by constantly misusing the word “proof”.
        The word you should be using is “evidence”, which is an altogether different thing.

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        • Jen says

          ‘… Apparently not. Apparently Higgins has gone rogue on them …’

          Going rogue? Sounds more like Higgins is so over-eager to please his paymasters that he has failed to see that he has walked straight into a trap by taking a juicy bait.

          Who could have been Higgins’ anonymous sources then? Possibly pranksters?

          And MI6 lose control of the whole narrative that has developed so far.

        • Jen says

          Ahhh … I see MI6 could be losing control of the Skripal saga narrative … perhaps to Ukrainians.

          https://meduza.io/en/feature/2018/10/01/one-of-the-salisbury-suspects-was-allegedly-awarded-a-hero-medal-for-helping-ukraine-s-deposed-president-escape-to-russia

          So you may be right that a Ukrainian-based anonymous source could be feeding information to Eliot Higgins. This would explain his sudden interest in the Skripal saga. It would also help explain why Anatoly Chepiga’s private information was taken from a database and attached to Boshirov … because Chepiga was honoured with a Hero of the Russian Federation award for service in Chechnya in the mid-1990s. And there have been Chechens fighting in eastern Ukraine (on both sides, it must be said).

          • Yeah, Right says

            Jen, it is obvious that Eliot Higgins was given that “passport application form” by The Insider-Russia, who would have vouched for its authenticity (Trust us, Eliot, it’s genuine).

            So if he is being fed misinformation then The Insider – Russia is the obvious conduit.

            Now, Bellingcat has collaborated with them before, and the Malaysian Airline shoot down over…. the Ukraine.

            So, yeah, either that is a front for Ukrainian spooks or it is an organization that the Russian FSB has now thoroughly penetrated.

            One or the other, but the effect on Higgins is the same: he is being spoofed untruths.

            • Jen says

              A second possibility is that as a non-resident senior fellow for the Digital Forensic Research Lab with The Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Program, Eliot Higgins could have received the misinformation from someone at The Atlantic Council or people connected with him.

              Who could that person be? Could that person have been Dmitri Alperovitch? Alperovitch is a co-founder of the cyber-security technology company CrowdStrike and a vice president of McAfee.

              Didn’t CrowdStrike handle computer security for the Democratic National Committee in 2016? It was CrowdStrike that claimed that DNC computers had been hacked by Russian intelligence agencies Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear.

              Off-Guardian has featured an article by George Eliason stating that the Fancy Bear hackers are Ukrainians.
              https://off-guardian.org/2018/06/25/who-is-fancy-bear-and-who-are-they-working-for/

              Other websites have been documenting several links between The Atlantic Council, Dmitri Alperovitch, Crowdstrike, the Chalupa sisters (Alexandra, Andrea), Viktor Pinchuk who is a significant donor to The Atlantic Council and the DNC. Here’s a link to one such website and its article:
              https://observer.com/2017/01/ukraine-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-election/

              • Jen says

                Sorry, should have posted the above as Jen, to stay consistent.

      • Maggie says

        @ Matt,

        WHY would Russia have produced some form of proof by now?? Why should they?

        They are simply doing what I do with boys who cry wolf – ignore them.
        The onus is on the British Establishment to prove what they are saying, without a shadow of doubt. Not fling half baked theories around and state them to be ‘probably true.’

        http://katehon.com/article/russophobia-uk-reveals-panic-establishment

        The “secret state”, which has no accountability to Members of Parliament, is regarded as a vital weapon by the Establishment in its underground activities against all those who pose a threat to capitalism.
        You know who the Secret State Establishment’ are, don’t you? And the Royal family are not included. They are simply tolerated and encouraged to keep the proles distracted.. Note how every time there is a ‘problem’ in the UK, a Royal Wedding or baby is dangled in front of us for our pleasure…..to keep our eyes diverted and stop us investigating too thoroughly.
        https://britishdeepstate.com/ingiliz-derin-devletinin-kontrolu-altindaki-diger-gizli-dernekler/

        Now here is a very interesting, thought provoking article.
        Warning, if you are of a delicate mental state then I would avoid reading it.
        The message is very stark and very real..
        http://finalwakeupcall.info/en/2015/10/21/agenda-21-converted-into-2030/

    • Paolo says

      For some reason i am unable to access Craig Murrays website, the start page (or any page) appears briefly before being replaced with a white one.

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  9. Is there a reason why posts containing a link to News Front Information Agency simply don’t appear? I tried to post a link to one of their excellent articles about the Skripal case, but it simply doesn’t show up.

    • Admin says

      There is no reason we have put in place or are aware of why links to that site would be auto-banned. How often did you try posting a link?

  10. Matt says

    Several of my comments have not appeared, I think due to the number of links in them.

    Quick note before I go to sleep: The Insider is saying that the 4th article in the series will discuss how Russian security services had “direct influence” on the staff in the British embassy involved in issuing visas to “Boshirov” and “Petrov”.

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    • Thomas Peterson says

      They are going to say the British Embassy staff are corrupt?

      Yeah, that’s going to go down well.

      17
  11. Matt says

    A few more new findings:

    The website for the tiny school in Berezovka that Anatoliy Chepiga attended mentions that someone who received the “Hero of Russia” awarded attended it. (The Kremlin denied that Chepiga received this award)

    https://twitter.com/sl0zhny/status/1046505130177306633

    Seems like the FSB are out to destroy the last remnants of the GRU. Their proxy newspaper KP is now citing forensic criminal experts saying “Boshirov = Chepiga”.

    Last week, this GRU colonel didn’t exist. Today, there’s a full-fledged Wikipedia page, with bio, quotes from co-villagers, etc. We live in amazing times.

    https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Чепига,АнатолийВладимирович

    A woman from the same village as Anatoliy Chepiga confirmed to the BBC that he is the same person as “Ruslan Boshirov”. She also confirmed that he had received the “Hero of the Russian Federation” award, which the Kremlin denied was received by Chepiga.

    https://twitter.com/BBCWillVernon/status/1046195016199278592

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45694123

    The Telegraph also travelled to Chepiga’s home village and found multiple people confirming his identity, as well as his award:

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/30/good-kid-skripal-poisoning-suspect-chose-russian-army-career/

    I quote:

    <

    blockquote>
    The man accused of poisoning Sergei Skripal grew up in a family with ties to the Russian army and signed up for officer training straight out of school, according to neighbours from his home town near the Chinese border.

    Anatoly Chepiga, who neighbours confirmed is the true identity of one of the alleged Salisbury nerve agent attackers, was raised in a single-storey white-brick house with a corrugated iron roof directly across a dirt road from the high school where he was a star footballer.

    With three bedrooms, central heating and indoor plumbing, it was an affluent residence for the remote village of Berezovka, where many residents live in traditional stove-heated wooden cottages to this day.

    But for neighbours here, the special forces colonel wanted by Britain for a nerve agent attack is fondly remembered as a conscientious student and keen sportsman whose glittering military career made his family proud.

    “Yes, that’s him. I was friends with his father. He was a good kid,” Anatoly Chepaikin said on Friday when shown photographs of the man British authorities named as “Ruslan Boshirov.”

    Multiple neighbours and acquaintances in Chepiga’s home village, 5000 miles east of Moscow, confirmed to the Daily Telegraph, the first Western media to visit, that Boshirov and Chepiga are the same man.

    “Oh, how he’s aged! He looks so old! That’s because he was at war,” Chepiga’s old neighbour Valentina Kharchenko said when shown a picture of “Boshirov” arriving at Gatwick airport in March.

    A former school friend who would give his name only as Alexander said he had recognised Chepiga when the first photographs of Salisbury poisoning suspects were published in the media in September. Chepiga was born in Nikolayevka, a village near the Amur River that separates the country from China, in 1979. He grew up in Berezovka, a nearby village of 3,000 people that was founded by sectarian Orthodox Old Believers in the 19th century. Located in a highly militarised zone along the Chinese border, the village was the site of a major base where a battalion of engineers and sappers was headquartered. China and the Soviet Union fought a brief border war in 1969 over disputed territories including an area along the Amur south of Berezovka. Chepiga’s father Vladimir and mother Tatyana were both employed at the base, according to records seen by The Telegraph.Neighbours said Vladimir worked as a security guard and Tatyana as an accountant there. Ms Kharchenko said Vladimir Chepiga would sell the soldiers fish he caught in the nearby Zeya river. The base was closed after a 1997 agreement with China to reduce troop numbers within 100 kilometres of the border. But even after the garrison departed, many school leavers from Berezovka chose military careers. Rather than be conscripted into the regular army like most 18 year olds, Anatoly applied to study at the Far Eastern Military Command Academy in nearby Blagoveschensk, which trains future officers for elite infantry units including the GRU’s spetsnaz. He would go on to see combat in a GRU special forces unit in Chechnya and near the Ukrainian border at the time that Russia-backed separatists were fighting Kiev’s forces there.

    Officers at the academy declined to comment, but two graduates told The Telegraph that they had studied with Chepiga, and his name is listed along with other distinguished alumni at a memorial there.

    A sign inside the school brags that a Hero of the Russian Federation once studied there, according to one Berezovka resident. The school’s deputy director said she had been warned by regional officials not to speak to reporters.

    Chepiga’s talent for sport may have been one reason he ended up in the GRU, which is known to recruit athletes for its special forces units. Several neighbours said “Tolya” was both a good student and a top player on the local football team.

    “Tolya liked football, he played well,” said Ms Kharchenko, whose daughter studied with Chepiga. “We lost sometimes, we won sometimes. Other villages would come to play us. We were just glad the kids were busy.”

    Like the other pupils, Chepiga had English classes several times a week, she added.

    Irina Shapikova, the current owner of the house the colonel grew up in, said she had bought it from Chepiga’s parents when they moved to Blagoveschensk in 2014.

    Alexander, who was in the class above Chepiga, believed his former school mate could have been capable of carrying out such an assassination, however.

    “They don’t take just anyone [in the GRU],” he said. “He could do things others couldn’t.”

    Honestly, I didn’t expect Kremlin would lie about this, contradicting not just Bellingcat, but (a) his military school, (b) his former commander, (c) his whole village.

    This now means that:

    Kommersant – https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/3753339

    BBC – https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.com%2Frussian%2Ffeatures-45694389&edit-text=

    Washington Post – https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/in-russias-far-east-villagers-recognize-a-skripal-poisoning-suspect/2018/09/28/689bc13e-c303-11e8-97a5-ab1e46bb3bc7_story.html?noredirect=on

    Telegraph – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/30/good-kid-skripal-poisoning-suspect-chose-russian-army-career/

    … have all found different people confirming that Boshirov is Chepiga.

    1
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    • Yeah, Right says

      “(The Kremlin denied that Chepiga received this award)”

      I’m not absolutely sure that is correct. They claim they have no record of that award being given to someone named “Chepiga”, which is not at all the same thing.

      “Last week, this GRU colonel didn’t exist. Today, there’s a full-fledged Wikipedia page, with bio, quotes from co-villagers, etc. We live in amazing times.”

      Excuse me for have a rather higher tolerance for “amazement”, but none of that strikes me as indicating anything other than it is hard to differentiate “the truth” from your typical run of the mill disinformation campaign.

      ” ‘Yes, that’s him. I was friends with his father. He was a good kid,’ Anatoly Chepaikin said on Friday when shown photographs of the man British authorities named as “Ruslan Boshirov.”

      “Multiple neighbours and acquaintances in Chepiga’s home village, 5000 miles east of Moscow, confirmed to the Daily Telegraph, the first Western media to visit, that Boshirov and Chepiga are the same man.”

      etc. etc. etc.

      Hmmm. If I were running a disinformation campaign then I would certainly pick a man who resembles the man who has been accused. The closer the resemblance the better the patsy.

      I certainly wouldn’t choose a man whom his old friends would say “What? Are you kidding? Ol’ Ivan is a tall man, and this is the photo of a short-arse!”.

      Because that is the problem: you show an old acquaintance a photo of someone who resembles the person they once knew and confirmation bias is pretty much guaranteed to produce the result you want.

      What is needed is a range of photos, and a discrete “can you identify any of these men?”

      If afraid those Vox Pops are not as conclusive as you appear to believe.

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      • Thomas Peterson says

        According the non Russian government Bellingcat used, Chepiga never received the award, just the honorary title.

      • Matt says

        “I’m not absolutely sure that is correct. They claim they have no record of that award being given to someone named “Chepiga”, which is not at all the same thing.”

        This the Kremlin making this claim, not a random person. The Kremlin, by definition, has access to all state records of people who received this award. It is impossible for them not to have a record of it. By saying they have no record, they are effectively denying Chepiga ever received the award. Say Chepiga did receive the award, but the Kremlin has “no record” of this – then who does? The President gives this award personally. It would be as if the White House gave an award to a CIA agent, in secret, and then when evidence came out of this, began to claim “we have no record of this”. That is a denial.

        “Hmmm. If I were running a disinformation campaign then I would certainly pick a man who resembles the man who has been accused. The closer the resemblance the better the patsy.”

        This is highly unlikely. What is being claimed by proponents of this theory is that Bellingcat managed to find a photo of a GRU agent who happened to look similar to the person in the passport photo put out by the British. How likely is it that two GRU agents have both the same hair colour, extremely similar facial structure, and even the same age, and that Bellingcat found a doppelgänger and is passing him off as Chepiga? Is this a reasonable assumption to make?

        There is a reason all the people interviewed knew Chepiga a long time ago. When journalists found out about Chepiga, they only had his birth place to start their investigative reporting from. Naturally, after having moved away, most of the people from Chepiga’s hometown (and place where he grew up) knew him from a long time ago, considering he moved away.

      • Matt says

        @Admin, I think I responded to this post yesterday, but don’t see it here. My computer did crash while writing another reply, but I’m pretty sure I had already responded to this post and it wasn’t just sitting in another tab when the crash happened.

    • Thomas Peterson says

      I could go out today and find people who think Evlis is still alive and the moon landings never happened.

      Wouldn’t make them right.

      14
  12. Yeah, Right says

    I want to point out something interesting in Bellingcat’s narrative, and it has to do with their “investigative partner”.

    Bellingcat has always used open-source material – Facebook, YouTube, Google etc are their source of data. It has never previously shown any capability or inclination to hack into secure databases.

    And that remains true right up until Eliot Higgins runs out of steam (i.e. he has the name “Chepiga”, but he doesn’t have a photo).

    And up until that point Higgins mentions “Bellingcat” (or “we”):
    “Bellingcat began”…
    “Initially we attempted”…
    “We browsed through”…
    “Bellingcat accepted the”…
    “Bellingcat searched for”…

    But the instant Higgins has to go dirty with data hacked from government databases it suddenly becomes:
    “Bellingcat and The Insider obtained”…

    Very revealing.

    I think it obvious that it was “The Insider – Russia” who is the sole source of that photo of “Chepiga” and it was they who came to Higgins with a story of hacked passport forms, it was not Bellingcat who reached out to them to hack into that database system.

    As in: “The Insider – Russia” handed him that “passport photo” and then he had to invent a series of always-right lucky-guesses that could (im)plausibly lead him to it using only open-source data.

    15
    • Matt says

      Not quite. Bellingcat and The Insider have partnered up many times in the past, including when they exposed the role of a GRU Colonel in the downing of MH17, as well as their multi-part series on the failed GRU-backed Macedonian coup earlier this year.

      Regarding where and how they received such information, I think I may have a clue.

      One of the authors of the article is Christo Grozev, who writes for Bellingcat. You can find additional commentary about these articles on his Twitter feed. Anyway, he sometimes tweets about his discussions with retired GRU agents, and other sources of information. When I read about Bellingcat contacting former GRU agents to inquire about which schools potential operatives trained in the 1990s for Western European theatre woud have gone to, I immediately knew Grozev must have been the point of contact for such discussions. Indeed, when I later checked the authors of the article, he was listed as one of them.

      When making claims about an outlet, it’s always a good idea to learn more about the authors involved, which you didn’t seem to do before concocting this conspiracy theory.

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      • Thomas Peterson says

        He or she made no comment about whether Bellingcat had or had not partnered with the Insider before.

        He or she merely pointed out that from the phrases used it looks like it was the Insider who provided this supposed hacked or whatever material to Bellingcat.

        I completely agree. No way did the halfwits at Bellingcat come up with this.

        22
      • Yeah, Right says

        “Not quite. Bellingcat and The Insider have partnered up many times in the past,”

        Irrelevant. I didn’t say that Bellingcat had never associated themselves with “The Insider – Russia”, I said that Bellingcat has no track record of using anything other than open-source material, hence their need to partner up with that organization if any hacking of online databases is to be done.

        “Regarding where and how they received such information, I think I may have a clue”

        No, you don’t. What you have is a propensity to introduce straw men into your “rebuttal”.

        I didn’t make the slightest mention of where Bellingcat first heard the name “DVOKU”, and I don’t really care.

        I was pointing out something very different: it is very unlikely that Bellingcat was the organization that hacked into that Russian passport application database.

        That is, indeed, an altogether different proposition.

        “When making claims about an outlet, it’s always a good idea to learn more about the authors involved,”

        chortle I have a good understand of who Bellingcat are, thank you very much.
        But thanks anyway for playing.

        12
    • Thomas Peterson says

      “Although it was initially financed through crowdfunding, Higgins now describes Bellingcat as a business.

      “We get a lot of our money from donors like the Open Society Foundation [the international grant-making institution funded by billionaire George Soros] and we also get about 50% of our income from workshops that we offer.”

      Clients come from a broad range of backgrounds, Higgins said: “journalists, staff from NGOs and human rights organisations, lawyers, people in the business and intelligence worlds”.”

  13. Catte says

    Just have to point out this comment from a reader named ‘Matt’.

    The standard of evidence keeps getting higher and higher. Now, Bellingcat is required to find a second photo of Chepiga, among other things.

    Perfect illustration of the decline in comprehension/expectation among the purveyors and consumers of the illogical and simplistic propagandist narrative we are served up. Critical thinking is dead for these guys. The following points should not need to be said.

    1) YES. Of course, at a very minimum we need a second and verified image of Chepiga! How else can we confirm this anonymously-provided pic is who it claims to be?

    2) It isn’t a new idea. I make this point in the article. Which this gent clearly didn’t bother to read before smashing out the above comment.

    45
    • Problem is that the standard of misinformation keeps getting higher too – I’ve just seen a report from Chepiga’s “home village” with a reporter showing Higgins’ photos to people and asking them if they remember him. One woman says yes of course, and repeats all the stuff about his being in Chechnya and moving to Moscow. The standard of verification in such reports is about the same as in a second-hand car dealership in Albania; one person saying that “I knew him the moment I saw him on RT” is sufficient to disprove every other bit of real evidence, in the mass public mind.
      What I want to know is – where is the perfume bottle? Or is the photo that we have seen of it just another look-alike?

      16
    • Matt says

      Perhaps you didn’t understand what is meant by “standard of evidence”. It goes something like this: is it a reasonable request to require Bellingcat to produce another photo of Chepiga? No.

      Where will they find such a photo? They already got one photo from his yearbook. Pray tell, how do you expect Bellingcat to magically produce a second image of a GRU agent? It’s difficult enough finding a single photo, but to nonchalantly expect another photo is a bit much.

      It’s not a reasonable request, hence my comment about the standard of evidence getting higher and higher.

      What many here are trying to do is treat this like a legal case. Indeed, if Bellingcat was trying to prove this in court, then better verification would be needed. But investigtive journalism never initially has such strong evidence, which takes time to produce and compile. The whole point of investigative journalism is to find something important or poke holes in an existing narrative and get people talking. The fact that the Russian government’s story has now had holes exposed in it is evidence enough that Bellingcat have done a good journalistic deed.

      29
      • Admin says

        They already got one photo from his yearbook.

        The photo alleged to be of Chepiga on the Bellingcat site is not claimed to be from a yearbook. It’s described simply as a ‘passport photo.’

        23
        • Matt says

          You’re right, it’s a passport photo. My mistake.

          As an aside: I suspect the 4th article in the series will come out on October 2nd. There’s been an exact six-day gap in between all three articles in the series (September 14, 20 26). So the next one should be out on the 2nd of October, going by Bellingcat’s schedule.

          18
          • Thomas Peterson says

            Was Russia using black and white or colour passport photos in 2003?

            • Matt says

              For printed images? Yes, they most likely were. Keep in mind that this is a scan of a printed photo.

              To give you an example, I recently had my health card and driver’s license renewed a few weeks ago, here in Canada. Both images were printed in black and white.

              1
              14
              • Thomas Peterson says

                I highly doubt that in 2003 if passport photos in Russia were in colour that they’d have been storing a black and white version on their passport computer system.

                • Matt says

                  We don’t even know if Bellingcat scanned this from a printed photo.

                  The only reason I can imagine these photos would be in B/W is if they were printed as such.

                  If you are implying that this isn’t possible and that it’s been faked, then you’ll also have to explain why Bellingcat would not use a colour photo for the faking. If it was faked, they would have full control over it being in colour or B/W.

                  17
                  • Thomas Peterson says

                    It’s likely black and white because they dredged up an old passport photo from Soviet times or the 1990s that looked like Boshirov. Maybe they photoshopped it a bit too.

                    ‘Chepiga’s’ photo lights up like a Christmas tree on fotoforensics, but Bashirov’s black and white one doesn’t at all.

                    http://fotoforensics.com/analysis.php?id=ebcb053946e1e5ec04d361c5b2632c3d6f9ecc7b.24650&show=ela

                    There’s no good reason for it to be black and white that I can see otherwise.

                    16
                    • Matt says

                      If they Photoshopped it, then finding a similar photo from “Soviet times” would be completely irrelevant, because the entire facial structure could be easily changed.

                      As for the fotoforensics link, the reason the rightmost photo “lights up” is because it’s in colour, so it contains much more colour noise than the other photos (that’s the rainbow-y dots you see when zoom in on the image). Normally, that noise wouldn’t be so obvious, but there’s a reason for this. If you zoom in to the photo, you’ll see that when it was printed, there was a crosshatch pattern, either due to the printer or the paper source. This is most visible when looking at the grey background right above his shoulders; you can see the squares, which are too big to be pixels. The colour noise, combined with the crosshatch pattern resulting in tiny squares being created, makes the error level higher.

                      16
                    • Thomas Peterson says

                      Matt wrote:
                      “If they Photoshopped it, then finding a similar photo from “Soviet times” would be completely irrelevant, because the entire facial structure could be easily changed.”

                      No, you wouldnt do that. You’d find a photo that was close so you needed as few alterations as possible.

                      Matt wrote:
                      “As for the fotoforensics link, the reason the rightmost photo “lights up” is because it’s in colour, so it contains much more colour noise than the other photos (that’s the rainbow-y dots you see when zoom in on the image). ”

                      It’s the LEFTHAND photo I’m talking about. Forget the far right one.

                      11
                    • Matt says

                      I think your reasoning is a bit weak regarding the B/W color. It’s perfectly reasonabe to assume that whoever gave Bellingcat the photo simply scanned a printed copy to avoid leaving a digital trail, which they would have done if they emailed the document.

                      Sorry, I thought you were talking about the rightmost photo. For the leftmost one, there’s nothing unusual in it. It has slightly more noise, in the same shape of the actual photo. That indicates that the error is normal, because noise is often concentrated near the edges of objects, hence the outline. If the noise did not match the shape of the face, then it would be considered strange. But don’t mistake the leftmost photo “lighting up” as meaning it was photoshopped. That is not the correct interpretation of the results.

                      11
                    • Thomas Peterson says

                      Matt wrote:
                      “I think your reasoning is a bit weak regarding the B/W color. It’s perfectly reasonabe to assume that whoever gave Bellingcat the photo simply scanned a printed copy to avoid leaving a digital trail, which they would have done if they emailed the document”

                      This makes absolutely no sense. First, there would be a ‘digital trail’ regardless. Second, there’s no reason why it shouldnt be printed and scanned in colour.

                      11
      • BigBro says

        Interesting interpretation of the requirements for proof. If conclusive or strong evidence is hard to find we can, according to you, pretend inconclusive or weak evidence is sufficient?

        • Matt says

          All I’m saying is that those who don’t want to believe something because it contradicts their preexisting opinions will raise the standard of evidence, while they lower the standard of evidence when confronted with something that fits their worldview.

          Asking Bellingcat to produce a second photo of Chepiga is the same as asking them to find another source of information about a GRU agent. That’s difficult enough for them to do once. Doing it twice is a tall task. I think what I’m saying is reasonable, agreed?

          14
          • Thomas Peterson says

            We don’t know they’ve produced any photos of Chepiga so far. They produced a photo of somebody or other from who knows where.

            20
    • Yeah, Right says

      To my mind the important point is this: can Eliot Higgins credibly vouch for the authenticity of that passport photo that he claims was hacked from a Russian database of passport application forms?

      If his team at Bellingcat were the people who hacked that database and copied that passport file then the reasonable answer is “Why, tes. Yes, he can”.

      If his team at Bellingcat was handed that passport form by a 3rd party who themselves claim to have hacked into that database then the reasonable answer is “No, actually, he can’t”.

      I’m on record above saying that I believe it to be the latter, not the former.

      I believe it was “The Insider – Russia” who handed that passport application form to Eliot Higgins, and he simply has to take it on trust that this form hasn’t been fake and that they haven’t stitched him up.

      I set out my reason why I believe that is the case, and I note that Matt’s attempt at a rebuttal completely ignored that reasoning.

      10
      • Hugh O'Neill says

        I am way out of my depth here, but thankful that others can use their talents to challenge the Official (Belingcat) Narrative. The harder that the likes of “Matt” defend the Belingcat story, the more transparent it becomes. Either Matt has too much inside knowledge, and his sole purpose here is to spread doubt; flawed tactics, methinks since his intervention are having the opposite effect on me. Where some measure of doubt would be reasonable, I am very wary of anyone who claims to know anything for certain.

        11
  14. The whole narrative is nonsense when you look. As Catte explains time and time again where’s the evidence in all of this? As with the Skripal affair and all attendant stories, we find no substantiating evidence, but lots of story lines.

    Higgins asked by Andrew Roth Guardian Moscow about a breakthrough moment, Higgins wrote:

    “As strange as it sounds, it’s when I saw his ear shape in all three photographs we had of him. It’s difficult to be 100% sure on facial matches, but something like the shape of the ears is very useful for confirming an ID, so that was as much… a Eureka moment as anything else.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/27/we-got-really-lucky-novichok-suspects-identities-revealed-bellingcat

    What complete crap. This is the clincher??? Also note the Roth in Moscow is corresponding with Higgins most probably in the UK. What’s this a news story reported by the Graun from Russia being sourced from the UK. The very country where Sergey and Julia Skripal disappeared! Smell a rat? Bellingcat NATO funded “Open source” organsiation?? NATO has access to loads of intelligence gathering and psyops personnel so it’s pretty clear where this story was created.

    The real story is what happened to Julia and Sergey Skripal and the people who can answer that the British government and intelligence services have provided no proof of evidence just the absence of it!

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    • JudyJ says

      “something like the shape of the ears is very useful for confirming an ID..”

      From my point of view this remark is a significant coincidence. As soon as I studied the three photos when they were published my first thoughts were that there was something not quite right with the ears in the ‘Chepiga’ photo. They somehow didn’t seen to belong to the face. It looked to me as if photo 1 had been photoshopped and what can be seen of the ears in photo 2 had been used to replace the original ears in photo 1 and then some manipulation done to try to fill in the top of the ears as per photo 3…only whoever did it made a poor job of it. In particular, if you look at the outline of the ear that we, as the viewer, see on the right of the picture the side edge drops down unnaturally in a straight vertical line, and the lobe has been squared off too much to match either of the Boshirov pictures. So it strikes me that the reason Higgins specifically mentions ‘ears’ is because he wants the viewer to focus on them, precisely because he put so much effort into trying to make them identical – but in my view failed.

      • Matt says

        No, the reasons for the ears looking like that is the low quality of the images, causing the blocky and “squarish” appearance.

        15
      • JudyJ says

        Perhaps I have an obsession with ears, but another oddity I’ve just noticed as well is that on photo 2 the bottom of the ear lobes ends in the same plane as the nostrils, whilst on photos 1 and 3 the lobes extend (as mine do as well) well below the nostrils; the difference is too great to be excused by a slight forward tilt of the head in photo 2. I can only conclude that photo 2 has also been tampered with, presumably to try to make it more in keeping with photo 1. Turning back to photo 1, I would also contend that a hint of 5 o’clock shadow has been added to the photo as well, to mirror the growth pattern on photo 2.

  15. Do go to YouTube to read the whole video description. OffGuardian is mentioned in this video!

    Published on 29 Sep 2018

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  16. Jen says

    Much easier to assume that all Eliot Higgins / Bellingcat did was to hack into a database or databases in Russia – or get someone to do this for him – to find a photograph of someone who vaguely resembles Ruslan Boshirov and then attach that fellow’s personal and biographical details to Boshirov; or then find a third person whose personal and biographical details could plausibly suggest someone in his mid to late 30s with a military or security intelligence record. Service in Chechnya or any other area of previous or current geopolitical concern, such as Ukraine or South Osseta, would be an added bonus.

    Until Higgins willingly shares the process by which he found the information that links Ruslan Boshirov to Anatoly Chepiga, explains the methodology and assumptions he used, and the work he did can be replicated by other people to get the same results or similar results, then we must assume that not only has he made up all this baloney about Boshirov = Chepiga but that also what he did, did not use open source information, and moreover could be illegal and expose him to possible criminal charges.

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      I assume that Higgins does NO ‘research’. I assume that his dirty hate propaganda is delivered to him by his Western intelligence controllers, and their Ukronazi allies.

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      5
    • Matt says

      The standard of evidence keeps getting higher and higher. Now, Bellingcat is required to find a second photo of Chepiga, among other things. It’s clear that the goal is to reject anything that proves the West’s claims. I also very much like the sudden interest in the criminality of hacking foreign government’s databases. Where was this when Wikileaks released the DNC emails? Everyone here defended Wikileaks, saying “what matters is the content of the information”. Hypocrisy.

      Peskov claimed that a man with the name Chepiga has never received the Hero of the Russian Federation award. One problem: Chepiga’s former commanding officer at the military academy just contradicted Peskov, and confirmed that Chepiga has a Hero of Russia award. In fact, that is one of the main reasons he remembers the name, he claims. Now, why would the Kremlin lie about this?

      Multiple residents who knew Chepiga were interviewed by Kommersant+Washington Post and many recognized him from the Bellingcat photo.

      A former close friend recognized his voice from the RT interview.

      Russia has not once denied that the passport files are fake, and is now frantically trying to find the those responsible for the leaks, while publicly implying that Bellingcat “hacked” their passport database. So the information is real.

      Multiple Russian media outlets, including Fontkana, have done their own investigations and cross-verified the information. This is no longer just about Bellingcat.

      His passport files list a GRU building address, as do those of other men with a similar passport number. Those other GRU agents have been identified due to their passport number range, their listed addresses as a GRU building and their foreign operations. How likely is it that all these men’s passports, with “Top Secret” markings, similar passport numbers, all had a GRU building listed as the address?

      1
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      • As has been made clear so many times, Wikileaks haven’t ever ‘hacked’ into anything. They publish leaks from insiders.
        But then again, I think you know this Matt, and that you are only here to be a staunch defender of establishment narratives or to see just how many negative votes you can get on a single comment. Take your warmongering claptrap and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

        22
        • Matt says

          You misread my comment; I never claimed Wikileaks “hacked” anything.

          What I was saying is that when the Democrats were accusing Wikileaks of unethical behaviour by publishing stolen information (even if it wasn’t stolen by them), many on the “alternative” media said that what matters is the content of the information, not the source. But now, the hypocritical Jen is making a fuss about the supposed “illegality” of hacking into Russia’s passport database. I thought that you all cared more about the information of a hack than those responsible, judging by how you all responded to the DNC leaks? Hope that clears everything up.

          Oh, and all this assumes Bellingcat did any “hacking” at all. Russian media outlets have reported that the Russian government believes an insider leaked the information to Bellingcat, and are now trying to find those responsible.

          “You are only here to be a staunch defender of establishment narratives or to see just how many negative votes you can get on a single comment. Take your warmongering claptrap and stick it where the sun don’t shine.”

          The same old fallacies and insults. If I say something that proves the West’s claims, then that doesn’t automagically mean I support the “establishment” or that Russia is always right. Nor does it have anything to do with “warmongering”. I have noticed that you “alternative” media connoisseurs frequently resort to the same blanket labels when frustrated, even when these labels don’t apply to the situation. Examples include “neocon”, “neoliberal”, “warmongering”, etc.

          Oh, and the number of downvotes I get is irrelevant. The commentators here are so illogical that they actually downvoted a post that was critical of me because the first sentence sarcastically praised me, which they obsiouly didn’t understand due to their blind rage. So they mass downvoted the comment of one of their own!

          https://off-guardian.org/2018/09/28/chepiga-and-boshirov-what-does-bellingcat-actually-tell-us/#comment-132458

          It sure says something about the state of affairs, doesn’t it?

          11
          • Admin says

            I understand you genuinely believe that you are ‘proving the West’s case’ on a regular basis, and you see our refusal to be impressed as nothing short of insane.

            The trouble is that what you regard as ‘proof’ is not proof at all. It’s barely even evidence. Citing the Atlantic Council or the Graun or the NYT making data-free claims isn’t proof. Unverified allegations don’t become verified by repetition. Propagandist narratives remain propagandist narratives even if published in a dozen different places. Ignoring facts because the ‘wrong’ people say them may strike you as legitimate methodology. Others disagree.

            What you need to understand in order to get why people can be acerbic with you is that, while you think you come across as a lone and heroic voice of truth and reason, what you actually give the impression of being is arrogant, patronising and slightly deluded.

            15
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            • Matt says

              So far, it is only the alternative media and Russia that have been proven wrong, time and time again, regarding topics like MH17, the Skirpals, and Russia’s hacking of the DNC.

              The response by the alt media was the same for all of these, either calling them “false flags” or making something else up.

              With MH17, it was first about believing the Kremlin’s lies about an SU-25 shooting down MH17, then a Ukrainian BUK, mixed in with several conspiracy theories about “false flags”, “they were aiming for Putin’s plane”, “defectors” paid by Russia to make contradictory claims (the first one said it was an SU-25, the second one said it was a BUK and then the head of the DNR also said it was a BUK). It also involved believing various fallacies designed to imply the dastardly West was “hiding” information, as well as smears against the JIT for being “biased” against Russia, as well as believing the false strawmen concocted by Russia over how its “evidence” was being “ignored” by the JIT. The list goes on.

              With the hacking claims, it was first believing that there was an internal leak or that there is “no evidence” it was done by Russia, conflating not publicizing the evidence with a lack of evidence. Until Mueller charged the 12 Russians and spelled in in extraordinary detail how the hack operated, with minute detail. Oh, but then it was claimed that the electronic intercepts were faked. The list goes on…

              With the Skirpals, it started out with the usual “false flag” claims, then when all this info came out, you all resorted to making increasingly strict demands of Bellingcat and trying to use court-level standards of evidence.

              A few weeks ago, you were all gloating about how this was a typical “Western false flag”. And look at you all know, struggling to discredit this story. Just like how you had to cope with reality after Russia’s lies about MH17 were exposed. Or when the Mueller indict of the 12 Russians came out. Either the goal posts were shifted, or the new evidence was selectively ignored to avoid having to address it.

              When calling someone “arrogant, patronising and slightly deluded”, I reccomend you take a step back and consider what sort of information you have promoted in the past, as well as this article itself, which mocks Higgins’ past life as an “underwear” salesman.

              16
              • Admin says

                The Mueller indictment had no evidence to support it. The western MH17 narrative has no evidence to support it.

                Again – look up the dictionary definition of ‘evidence.’ You are, as so often, very confused.

                11
          • Jen says

            As usual, the fake Venezuelan residing in Canada makes a fuss by drawing a false comparison between (1) Eliot Higgins / Bellingcat obtaining information of a private and personal nature belonging to a real person and attaching that information to a photograph of a second real person, in order to cook up a work of fiction; and (2) a DNC staffperson giving Wikileaks information that should have been reported by the mainstream media because it is in the public interest to know that at least one senior person in the US government was deliberately bypassing US laws governing record-keeping (and therefore committing a criminal act) in order to conduct business concerning the fate of a government in North Africa, at US taxpayer cost.

            • Matt says

              If you have any evidence that proves I am not a Venezuelan residing in Canada, feel free to present it.

              I really like the grammatical mood used to word your response, Jen. You wrote everything as if it was fact. There is no evidence that Bellingcat did any hacking, nor does it mean the the leftmost photo is of a different person than the passport photo released by the British.

              Regarding the DNC hack: it seems you still believe the hoax that it was an “insider leak”, even though various members of VIPS refused to sign off on the technical report that tried to prove this, which, by the way, was literally the only evidence to backup this claim. Also, one would have to address the mountain of evidence released by Mueller, as well as the technical analysis done by various cybersecurity companies, none of which has happened yet.

              I’m a programmer by trade and read the information released by the likes of SecureWorks and the Mueller indictment. I have not read a single rebuttal to any of that information. I suggest that you read at least a summary of this information:

              https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/07/from-bitly-to-x-agent-how-gru-hackers-targeted-the-2016-presidential-election/

              This makes a far stronger case than the dubious assertion that the transfer speeds were “too high” for it to have been a hack, and therefore, it must have been a “leak”.

              Jen, you make it too easy. Perhaps if you exercised some caution in your claims, you wouldn’t embarass yourself like this. I suppose, however, that you feel empowered by the number of supporters you have vs. the number of supporters I have. Living in a bubble must be a good feeling.

              • Admin says

                The reason to believe it was an insider leak is 1) Assange said so 2) the complete absence of any evidence* from any source that it was a hack.

                The onus of proof is on those making the accusation, not on those denying it. That’s the entire basis of the justice system. I understand you are easily confused, and wallowing in the nonsense fed you by the neolib press, but try to recall some basic common sense.

                • To save you the trouble of posting multiple links to propaganda pieces in the NYT or RFE, by ‘evidence’ we don’t mean someone with an agenda saying ‘it was a hack.’ We mean actual, old fashioned evidence. Look it up.
                • Matt says

                  Assange never claimed that. Are you referring to that nod he gave to the interviewer who asked him if Seth Rich gave him the files?

                  Regarding “evidence”, have you read the Mueller indictment? Nope. Nor have you even read a distilled summary. All the evidence you want to see is there, unless even that doesn’t reach your standard of evidence.

                  12
      • Thomas Peterson says

        Er, we don’t know that bellingcat has so far found ANY photos of Chepiga. Indeed it’s not clear that the Chepiga constructed by Bellingcat actually exists.

        Passport files listing a GRU address? Yeah, sounds legit.

        12
      • Thomas Peterson says

        Matt wrote:
        “Multiple residents who knew Chepiga were interviewed by Kommersant+Washington Post and many recognized him from the Bellingcat photo.”.

        Not sure about ‘many’. I know one said he was bald.

        14
        • Matt says

          There were two people interviewed by Kommersant who recogized him, two people interviewed by the Washington Post recogized him, and now another one interviewed by the BBC. So yes, “many” people have recognized him from the Bellingcat photo.

          12
          • Yeah, Right says

            Just curious, but did it occur to anyone at Kommersant, WaPo, or the BBC think it might have been a good idea to also carry a photo of, oh, say, Eliot Higgins with them?

            As In:
            BBC: Do you recognize this man?
            (flashes the Bellingcat photo of Chepiga)
            Villager: Why, yes. Yes, I do. He lived here decades ago.
            BBC: And what about this man?
            (flashes a photo of Eliot Higgins)
            Villager: Why, yes. Yes, I do. He lived here decades ago.
            versus
            Villager: Err, no. Should I know him?

            Might have been a useful experimental control in that little bit o’ investigative reporting.

            11
    • Thomas Peterson says

      This is the Bellingcat method.

      Find or create person or thing in Russia. Fill up the page with thousands of irrelevant words about person or thing in Russia. Claim to have proved the person or thing went to (insert country here).

      20
      • You are quite right. In his ‘Brown Moses’ guise, Mr Bllingcat regularly used his own previous assumptions as facts to prove his latest assumptions were true, along with thousands of irrelevant words and nods to himself.

        17
        • Thomas Peterson says

          He learned that from The Guardian, which frequently cites its own dodgy articles as facts.

          23
    • Catte says

      It’s even worse than that. All Higgins/Bellingcat did was try a bit of googling that got nowhere, and type ‘Ruslan Boshirov”/”Anatoliy Chepiga” into a couple of online phone books. Which also got nowhere. If that kindly anonymous chum hadn’t sent him the alleged pic of Chepiga at the 11th hour he’d have had a big fat nothing to put in his ‘report.’

      20
      • Thomas Peterson says

        Yes true, without the photo there is just an amorphous Chepiga that could actually be several Chepigas.

        18
      • Some malicious folk have alleged that Google track people to build a profile in order to foist adverts on them. It is now clear that they do so in order that the CIA can get in touch with the right answer.

        11
        4
  17. jjc says

    Higgins and his Bellingcat buddies are certainly free to pursue their online analysis hobby as much as they wish. What I find most disturbing is the repeated tendency of the corporate/mainstream media to report unproven allegation/assertion as flat fact. This tendency has been exemplified by the Skripal story.

    40
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    • Paolo says

      The madness of modern mainstream media. They’ll lie to your face, dare you to disbelieve them, and when you do, concoct a phoney storm of venomous indignation. What i find most shocking is how many from what previously might have been called the progressive left are themselves actively participating in this circus (as if their mortgages depended on it).

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  18. Matt says

    The photos don’t match if you use the overexposed passport scan photo of “Boshirov”. Here are the two Chepiga photos, on the left, and a much higher-quality “Boshirov” photo from the RT interview:

    https://i.imgur.com/y9QgMxt.png

    Note: Boshirov’s head was on an angle, so I rotated the photo to straighten it. And, of course, I cropped it.

    The two photos on the left perfectly match the one on the right. Any minor differences are due to the camera angle and the age difference.

    “Boshirov” is Chepiga. The Russian government is lying and Bellingcat has been proved correct.

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    • Catte says

      I thought I addressed this in the article, but maybe wasn’t clear. Photo comparisons between Bellingcat’s alleged pic of Chepiga and images of Boshirov can’t be used to prove anything whatsoever – until we have a provenance for the Bellingcat image and at least one verified additional photo of Chepiga to indicate the Bellingcat image is an unmodified and genuine photo of the man. Or, indeed, until the man himself turns up in the flesh and is either obviously Boshirov or obviously not.

      60
      • Yeah, Right says

        “until we have a provenance for the Bellingcat image and at least one verified additional photo of Chepiga to indicate the Bellingcat image is an unmodified and genuine photo of the man”

        You are absolutely correct. The only link between “Chepiga” and “Boshirov” is that single photo that is claimed to have come from a hacked Russian database of passport application forms, and which Higgins claims shows the same man.

        Everything in Bellingcat’s article hinges upon that passport application form being authentic. If it is a forgery, or if that photo was fraudulently added to that form to replace the original photo, then Higgins article becomes utterly worthless and any argument made by comparing that photo with this photo or those videos becomes an exercise in utter pointlessness.

        We only have Eliot Higgins word that he can vouch for the provenance of that passport application form, and I believe he is in no position to give that assurance because he and his organization did not hack any Russian database whatsoever.

        He was handed that photo, and told that “Trust us, it’s real, we got it from hacking a Russian government database”.

        11
    • Yuri Ionov says

      According to Bellingcat claims it is only the left photo belongs to Chepiga and in the middle is Boshirov’s passport photo. It is clear from your pictures that 2 right photos is the same man and the left photo is different. Look at the nose for example.

      16
      • Matt says

        You’re right that the middle photo is the passport one, not the right one, which was released by the UK police. The photo released by UK police was low quality scanned image and is overexposed, and since people were claiming that the photo is a fake because the man looked very different from the others, so that’s why I thought of using a better photo.

        The reason the photo on the left looks different is because the scale is different. The leftmost image has a different aspect ratio than the others. This can be seen by comparing the necks of the leftmost and middle photos. So that’s why spots like the nose look different.

        Also, the angle of the left photo is slightly higher than the angle for the others. That’s why you can see his nostrils more easily in the leftmost image.

        114
      • Thomas Peterson says

        yes, i tried face matching software and it could match pictures 2 and 3 as being the same person, but not picture 1 with the others.

      • Oto says

        Take a look at your photos at younger age and you will see that nose and ears never stops growing. We all had smaller and more round noses. Do the same comparision with your photos and you will see. It is definitively the same person if you look at the shape of ears and facial expression, eyes are also identical. At the moment AI can’t help match the persons as still human have greater capabiities with higher confidence.

        Can you recognize this person? https://thehill.com/sites/default/files/article_images/screen_shot_2015-02-13_at_5.42.19_pm.png
        Easily.

    • Ken Kenn says

      Here is what I see and it is only opinion – nothing else.

      Take the three photo’s left to right:

      The left one ( the young one ) looks to me like the guy who fetched up in the TV studio with a beard but older- say 20 years?

      The middle one ( the Adams family one ) looks like an amalgam of the 1st and the 3rd photo with the contours of the first beard faintly added for effect. I think it is bogus in order to confuse.

      The third photo is in my mind definitely the guy in Salisbury.

      Here’s the problem: If the guy who appeared in the Russian TV piece is the young one ( 1st photo but now twenty years older ) and the guy who pitched up in Salisbury is the 3rd photo and if as I think the 1st and the 3rd photo are no way the same people then: who is the guy in the TV interview?

      Puzzled???

      • Matt says

        “The middle one ( the Adams family one ) looks like an amalgam of the 1st and the 3rd photo with the contours of the first beard faintly added for effect. I think it is bogus in order to confuse.”

        That can’t be true, because the middle photo came out before the photo on the left was released by Bellingcat.

        The middle photo is a passport photo released by British police. The left photo is an old military academy graduation photo released by Bellingcat and the rightmost photo (original) was released by British police, looking like a scanned/CCTV photo. The new rightmost photo, above, is one I took from the RT interview of “Boshirov”.

        “The left one ( the young one ) looks to me like the guy who fetched up in the TV studio with a beard but older- say 20 years?”

        I agree to – the left image of Chepiga is a younger version of the guy who came into the RT interview. But that image is from the yearbook of a school used by the GRU to train potential operatives for the Western European theatre. The RT guy said he was involved in fitness and had nothing to do with the GRU. So he is clearly lying. Why?

        Regarding the Salisbury photo released by the British, that image is extremely overexposed. This can be either due to a poor quality scan, or the original image was bad to begin with, either using CCTV or it was printed poorly. Overexposed photos give the opposite of a washed-out look – they make the colours darker, contrast higher, and crush shadow detail. That last part is key – the lack of shadows makes the guy’s fake look wider than it actually is, as well as significantly darker the hair colour.

        There is one basic fact: only the Russian government and the pair of suspects have been caught lying. So far, the worse we can say about Bellingcat’s claims is that some of them are pending verification, until more information arrives. The ones that could be verified using the information we have, have all been proven as correct.

        A list:

        Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for the Kremlin, claimed that a man with the name Chepiga has never received the Hero of the Russian Federation award. One problem: Chepiga’s former commanding officer at the military academy just contradicted Peskov, and confirmed that Chepiga has a Hero of Russia award. In fact, that is one of the main reasons he remembers the name, he claims. Now, why would the Kremlin lie about this?

        Multiple residents who knew Chepiga were interviewed by Kommersant+Washington Post and many recognized him from the Bellingcat photo.

        A former close friend recognized his voice from the RT interview. Russia has not once denied that the passport files are fake, and is now frantically trying to find the those responsible for the leaks, while publicly implying that Bellingcat “hacked” their passport database.

        Multiple Russian media outlets, including Fontkana, have done their own investigations and cross-verified the information. This is no longer just about Bellingcat.

        His passport files list a GRU building address, as do those of other men with a similar passport number. Those other GRU agents have been identified due to their passport number range, their listed addresses as a GRU building and their foreign operations. How likely is it that all these men’s passports, with “Top Secret” markings, similar passport numbers, all had a GRU building listed as the address.

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    • Ken Kenn says

      Only opinion but here goes.

      In my view the 1st photo is a picture of the guy who appeared in the TV interview but twenty years younger.

      The 2nd photo ( the Adams Family shot ) is an amalgam of the 1st photo and the 3rd photo. It’s bogus in order to mislead.

      The 3rd photo is definitely the guy who was in Salisbury.

      Here’s the problem: If the guy in the interview is an older version of picture one and the guy in Salisbury ( who I think doesn’t look like the interviewee or the other two pictures shown at all) are different people – then who exactly is the interviewee and who is the guy in Salisbury?

    • YouWhat says

      Or the Chepiga photo could just be another photo of boshirov? Unless there are other chepiga ones. There is no date on the photos is there?

      Hey its fun writing a russian name. I once tried solzenytsin but could never get right.

      • Yeah, Right says

        If the passport application form that contains the photo is a forgery then it is perfectly possible that it is a photo of a decades-younger Boshirov.

        Mind you, that wouldn’t mean anything except that the forger was resourceful enough to be able to procure an old photo of Boshirov at the time of forging that application.

        Equally, if that passport application has not been forged then it is, again, perfectly possible that the photo that Bellingcat extracts from it is a photo of a decades-younger Boshirov.

        Mind you, that would mean that Bellingcat is correct: Chepiga = Boshirov.

        This is very simple: everything hinges on the provenance of that passport application form.

        If Bellingcat really did hack that form from a central Russian database of passport applications then it is genuine, and Eliot Higgins is correct.

        If Bellingcat was handed that application form from a 3rd party who claim to have hacked it from a central Russian database then Eliot Higgins is not in a position to vouch for its authenticity, and therefore arguing over who that photo does or does not resemble is an exercise in pointlessness.

    • Mathias Alexander says

      Or, the photo which Bellingcat claims to be from a file labeled “Chepiga” did not come from such a file file but came instead from some publicaly available file of “Boshirov” and Bellingcat are lying about that.
      Bellingcat is not even meant to be convincing, its purpose is distraction.

  19. Salford Lad says

    The purpose of Propoganda is to spread a false tale. The Truth of the tale is irrelevant. The mud is thrown and some sticks in the minds of a distracted population.. This is classic perception management

    The Truth when it eventually emerges is confined to a small paragraph at the lower end of the back pages, when the media circus caravan moves on.
    Damage done,job done

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  20. Oh my God, ‘Bellingcat’ is Brown Moses! I remember him from Guardian comments on Libya. I think he’s got Aspergers, he used to have an obsessive interest in weaponry and developed quite a following among the rebel (anti Gaddafi Islamist) supporters, he’d trot out hundreds of words in daily statements from his bedroom in Leicester followed up with equally long and difficult to make sense of replies to his followers. To my shame, I thought he was posting from Libya and assumed he had difficulty writing in English as a second language, now I’m not so sure he didn’t do it on purpose. I’d completely forgotten about him and now he has resurfaced as ‘Bellingcat’. I think he’s best described as ‘a willing tool’.

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  21. William MacDougall says

    Russia is losing the propaganda war on the Salesbury events, with the Western press almost universally believing that Russia is guilty of the murder and attempted murders, using chemical weapons, and now that “Boshirov” is “Chepiga”, a decorated GRU agent. If they aren’t the same man, then it would be greatly in Russia’s interest to prove it by the simple method of showing both men in a room together. Why don’t they do so?

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    • Matt says

      “If they aren’t the same man, then it would be greatly in Russia’s interest to prove it by the simple method of showing both men in a room together. Why don’t they do so?”

      Heh, that’s a good point. I never thought of it that way.

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      • Thomas Peterson says

        There probably is no real Chepiga to produce. He seems to exist mainly if not entirely on bellingcat.

      • Johny Conspiranoid says

        They have better things to do with their time.

    • Colin Davis says

      “If they aren’t the same man, then it would be greatly in Russia’s interest to prove it by the simple method of showing both men in a room together. Why don’t they do so?”

      Similarly if the Skripals returned home in time to touch their novichok-soaked door knob – in a way that fits the UK’s narrative – it would be greatly in the UK’s interest to produce them, as they have done before when it suits them, so they can tell us. Why doesn’t the UK do so?

      I would suggest a lot of people are concealing a lot of things in this case, and it’s not just the Russians doing the concealing.

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    • bevin says

      You are assuming that “Russia” by which I suppose you to mean the Russian government, cares what the ‘western media’ thinks.
      I suspect that ‘Russia’ is not unhappy to see the demented enthusiasm with which the media pursues what the rest of the world, yawning, realises is a non-story, another nothingburger from the C IA /MI6 kitchen which has been serving up such garbage for seventy years.
      It is “Russian’ fear that the madness might die down and sane evaluations of reality return that motivates it to keep the mystery simmering.
      Those whom the Gods wish to destroy….

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      • William MacDougall says

        I’m assuming the Russian government should care what the rest of the world thinks, as it is leading to severe and increasingly severe sanctions. Their weak response to the allegations does not help.

        • Describing the West-aligned NATO-aligned countries as ‘the rest of the world’ seems very odd to the millions who don’t live in North America, Europe, UK and Oceania. We may see ourselves as the centre of meaningful civilisation, but to the actual ‘rest of the world’ that looks arrogant and increasingly deluded I’m afraid.

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          • William MacDougall says

            Yeh, I accept your correction, and yes Russia can trade with China and India, but trade and relations with America and Europe does rather affect its prosperity, and that is under threat from increasingly severe sanctions. If it can easily disprove charges of war crimes, it certainly should try to do so.

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            • That assumes any proof they offered would be accepted by the NATO states. Given that politicisation of Russophobia is NATO/neolib orthodoxy right now, this is a forlorn assumption.

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            • Jen says

              The Russians do not have to trade with the Americans and Europe, they can trade with the real Rest Of The World: the world outside North America and Europe.

              Last I saw, Russia is already the No 1 global exporter of wheat. Egypt and Indonesia now buy most of their wheat from Russia. Other countries are also turning to Russia to buy wheat. Who are they turning away from? They are turning away from Australia, Canada and the US: all affected by drought.

              https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-30/russia-expands-grip-on-wheat-exports-as-asia-forced-to-buy-more-j6zml2eg

              I also read on John Helmer’s Dances With Bears site that Russia turned to Uruguay and other South American countries to import beef after Australia put trade sanctions on Russia in 2014. Who is the loser in this instance?

              http://johnhelmer.net/popeye-pulls-putin-punch-too-late-to-prevent-knock-out-for-australian-meat-exports-to-russia/

              Trade sanctions on Russia have had the effect of stimulating its economy and other economies outside the First World. The paradox is that the more trade sanctions that are placed on Russia, the more they actually help its agriculture and other industries. In the end, it will be the nations applying the sanctions that lose.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          NOTHING that the Russians do, but surrender, find a new Yeltsin and allow the West to vivisect their country and loot it again, as in the 90s, will change the attitude of the Evil psychopaths who rule the West.

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    • Jen says

      Dear William,

      The Russians cannot show both Anatoly Chepiga and Ruslan Boshirov in the same room together if one of them happens to be a fictional character.

      The onus is on Eliot Higgins / Bellingcat to show that Anatoly Chepiga is a real person whose features conform to the photograph that he (Higgins) found, and whose history as a Russian Colonel who supposedly served in Chechnya can be proven to be linked to him (Chepiga).

      Suppose though that all Higgins has done is snuffle around in some (illegally) hacked databases to pick and choose some juicy truffle-like data and information and then stitch those all together?

      Given Bellingcat’s past history, I would not put such activity past Higgins or his collaborators, whoever they are.

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    • Yeah, Right says

      “Russia is losing the propaganda war on the Salesbury events,”

      In the western main stream media, yes, that appears to be true.
      I’m not absolutely sure that the Russians give a rat’s arse about that.

      “with the Western press almost universally believing that Russia is guilty of the murder and attempted murders, using chemical weapons, and now that “Boshirov” is “Chepiga”, a decorated GRU agent.”

      Again, that appears to be true. But, again, I suspect that the Russians’ don’t give a s**t about what “the Western press” feed to their sheeple.

      “If they aren’t the same man, then it would be greatly in Russia’s interest to prove it by the simple method of showing both men in a room together. Why don’t they do so?”

      If you go over to Craig Murray’s web site you will see that he has been given one possible explanation, which is that the Russians are waiting until they can goad the UK authorities into giving some endorsement to Eliot Higgins claims.

      As in: It’s A Trap, Luke!

      But the Russians aren’t interested in springing that trap on small-fry like Eliot Higgins.
      They are after much bigger game. Much, much bigger game.

      According to Murray this is understood at Whitehall and that’s why nobody in the Tory government will utter a peep regarding Bellingcat’s claims -.they know that doing so is tantamount to putting their foot in a bear-trap.

      Not sure what to make of that, but Murray appears to believe that his Whitehall source is impeccable. And the lack of any comment from the May government is, indeed, otherwise inexplicable.

  22. Whether or not Higgins himself knows it, his outfit is almost certainly a front run by various intel agencies for the purpose of disseminating low-grade, and often fake or corrupted, data that the agencies and associated governments do not want to be associated with directly.

    Oh, he knows it allright – that’s how he makes his considerable amount of butter!

    Graham Phillips posted a good run-down on the man a couple or so years ago, to which he has added a recent video he made:

    https://thetruthspeaker.co/2016/02/28/eliot-higgins-of-bellingcat-who-is-he-everything-you-need-to-know/

    Another of Graham’s videos about Bellingcat and Eliot Higgins:

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    • Matt says

      That article contains numerous errors. One was a screenshot of a tweet claiming the MH17 video by Bellingcat was “digitally cropped”, Uh, even heard of compression artifacts?

      https://d2rormqr1qwzpz.cloudfront.net/uploads/0/1761/7134-jpeg_artefacts3.png

      He also falsely claims that the source of Bellingcat’s funding is “unknown”, dishonestly implying that the group is funded by some “intelligence agency”. Uh, did he forget that Bellingcat held multiple Kickstarter campaigns, during each time they received 10,000s of pounds?

      There are many, many more errors in that smear piece, but after debunking this article, I think I’m done for the day.

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        • Matt says

          My comment received 29 downvotes, and the only one brave enough to respond directly was you, with your… extremely well-thought and thorough comment.

          Thank you for addressing the two criticisms I made of the hit piece made by Graham Phillips. It destroyed my post handily.

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      • Quote, “He also falsely claims that the source of Bellingcat’s funding is “unknown”

        Right you are. Its source of funding is perfectly known, since Higgins is a fellow at the Atlantic Council. Now, where does the Atlantic Council’s funding comes from? Well, among numerous other generous donors, we have the United Arab Emirates, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, Airbus Group SE, Carnegie Corporation of New York, HSBC Holdings plc, Blackstone, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and so on.

        That’s where.

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        • Thomas Peterson says

          Higgins also gets money from the British government and various media organisations in the guise of ‘Bellingcat training courses’.

          Rather like ‘Clinton lecture tours’.

        • wschira says

          In addition you find in the board of the Atlantic Council lots of former CIA- and military executives.

      • Johny Conspiranoid says

        Yes they recieved thousands of pounds but who sent it?

  23. Matt says

    Thanks to Off-G for publishing this article, as promised. Below, I will address the numerous claims made both here and in the recent article by Ambassador Murray:

    This article, like Amb. Murray’s, repeats a claim made by many critics, including commentators here and the Russian state media: that the photos are not of the same men. Well, there’s one little issue:

    The photos being compared by everyone include the overexposed passport photo. That photo, extremely overexposed as it is, makes Chepiga’s face look wider than it actually is, by bleaching out the shadows. Let us compare the photo released by Bellingcat with the available RT footage, shot in HD:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DoIZHzXX0AABXzL.jpg:large

    You can see that the facial structure is exactly the same:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DoIe3DaUcAArJj2.jpg

    You all tell me, what is a more accurate comparison, the above or below?

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DoIY5nrWsAEWbbf.jpg

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DoIe3DaUcAArJj2.jpg

    Amb. Murray then makes a serious error in his article. I quote:

    Betaface.com, which runs industry standard software, gives the faces an 83% similarity, putting the probability of them being the same person at 2.8%.

    By comparison it gives me a 72% identity with Chepiga and a 2.1% chance of being him.

    Let me go further. I do not believe that Higgins did not take the elementary step of running facial recognition technology over the photos, and I believe he is hiding the results from you. Is it not also astonishing that the mainstream media have not done this simple test?

    This is patently false. One of the authors of the article, Christo Grozev, directly responded to these criticisms on Twitter, even using the same facial comparison website as Amb. Murray, except he used the more accurate RT screenshot rather than the overexposed passport scan:

    https://twitter.com/christogrozev/status/1045428460309630977

    I quote:

    We didn’t include (quasi-)science in our report just because something as patent as daylight does not need to be proven. But here’s a test on betaface: getting 83% euclidean match on photos nearly 20 years apart is outstanding (I get 80% on mine)

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DoIbhpXXsAAP4Kj.jpg

    We can conclude that the photos are of the same person.

    Bellingcat also published photos of Chepiga in Ukraine, helping the separatists. Amb. Murray claims that the positioning of Chepiga in the photo is “suspect” – without substantiating this claim with any analysis. In other words, he does not want to admit Chepiga participated in the Ukraine conflict, which would give further credence to the fact that he’s a GRU officer (and that Russia is clandestinely aiding the rebels), so Amb. Murray claims the photo is “suspect” and leaves it at that. If only we all could dismiss inconvenient evidence as easily as this.

    This article claims “Chepiga’s identity has been independently established by the Russian media outlet Kommersant, who did the kind of journalism beyond most western outlets and went to talk to people in Chepiga’s home town.” This is entirely incorrect. The Washington Post’s reporters did something similar, except they used social media to contact various residents, and found even more people confirming that Boshirov is Chepiga.

    I quote:

    Two people in a village in Russia’s Far East told The Washington Post on Friday they apparently recognized a suspect in recent nerve-agent poisonings in Britain as a former fellow villager and decorated military officer.

    “It’s true. He’s our guy,” said Alla, who described herself as a onetime family friend and, like some others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition that she not be fully identified, because of the sensitivity of the matter.

    “For us simple residents, this is all just crazy,” she added.

    Alla said she could not imagine him being mixed up in the Skripal affair. She said that Chepiga’s parents left the village about five years ago and that she had last seen him no more recently than 10 years ago.

    “We are totally at a loss as to how this could have happened — he was raised in the spirit of patriotism,” Alla said. “What happened has absolutely nothing to do with that.” 

    Irina Ivanova, another Berezovka resident, said in a message to The Post over Russia’s VKontakte social network that Boshirov looked “very similar” to Chepiga.

    “Anatoly Chepiga is our countryman. I know him and his family very well,” Ivanova said. “They’re a wonderful, friendly and respected family.”

    Alexey, a 37-year-old resident of Berezovka who works in the construction industry, told The Post that the man who called himself Boshirov resembled his former schoolmate Chepiga. Chepiga, Alexey said, went on to study at the Far-Eastern Military Command Academy in the nearby city of Blagoveshchensk and was known by villagers to have received the Hero of the Russian Federation award. 

    Kommersant have visited Chepiga’s hometown and a close friend of his identified him from the old photo, even saying that she recognized his voice from the RT interview, so we are no longer debating his looks. Did the dastardly CIA or Soros manipulate Chepiga’s voice in the RT interview too?

    You all remember that claims were made that there was no way Bellingcat could have received such information, that it must be fake or the British government gave these photos. Wrong again. These private passport files not accessible to the British government, and not only has the Russian government not once denied that these files are real, but they have accused Bellingcat of having hacked their passport database, even whilst they are actively hunting for those who leaked the data (which is what likely happened).

    Claims were made that Russia would never use the real names of GRU officers on passport files; well, now we know that this was a cover identity.

    One more note: it is likely that a large number of GRU officers have been outed. Since the passport numbers of the two suspects differed only by a single digit, the Russia media outlet Fontanka managed to reach a man named Alexander Polyakov, whose passport number fell within the range apparently used by the GRU, and who also listed 76B Khoroshevskoe Highway as his address on multiple documents. Read the awkward discussion here. Expectedly, he denied everything, but somewhat clumsily. Impressive work from the GRU giving their agents consecutive passport numbers, so that if you acquire the database of Russian passport details you can basically identify GRU agents, which Russian news outlets are now doing…

    In summary:

    Chepiga was photographed participating in the Ukrainian conflict
    Exposed as using a cover identity, being personally awarded by Putin
    Having his military academy photos matched with his current photo.
    His passport files list a GRU building address, as do those of other men with a similar passport number
    Multiple people interviewed by Kommersant+WaPo recognize him from the Bellingcat photo
    A former close friend recognized his voice from the RT interview
    Russia has not denied that the passport files are fake, and is now frantically trying to find the those responsible for the leaks.
    Multiple Russian media outlets, including Fontkana, have done their own investigations and cross-verified the information. This is no longer just about Bellingcat. I wonder if the alt-media will now smear these media outlets as being CIA outlets or something.
    The photo comparison, when using the high quality RT video screenshot as a sample, matches the Bellingcat photo perfectly
    Other GRU agents have been identified due to their passport number range + their listed addresses as a GRU building + their foreign operations.

    It is important to question the Western governments, especially after Iraq/Libya/Syria. But that does not mean that every claim they make is false, and nor does it mean we should uncritically accept everything the Russian government and its media claim. Between the MH17 GRU suspect shopping online with a GRU address, 8 undercover GRU officers in Ukraine outed, the failed Montenegro GRU-assisted coup and now this Skripal botch-up, it should be obvious that the GRU is incompetent, just like most other intelligence agencies.

    Before, many falsely accused the British government of masterminding a “false flag” attack to make poor Russia look bad. Once the interview came out (obviously intended by the Kremlin to embarrass the shoddy work of their operatives), it became too awkward to keep claiming this was a “false flag”. So alternative theories were created. George Galloway, for example, claimed that the pair may have been criminal GRU agents caught in the act, but were scapegoated by the British government for the Skirpal attack. My colleagues, after all the above analysis, what alternate theory will you delude yourselves into believing now, merely to avoid admitting that the West is correct and that Russia committed a terrible crime? What I am trying to get at is that time after time, the claims and theories of the alternative media have been proven wrong. You can always find “holes” in any story, if you so desire. You can raise the standard of evidence to be impossibly high for Bellingcat and conveniently lower it for yourselves enough to plaster the front page with long-debunked 9/11 conspiracy theories. But it takes a great deal of humility to perform thorough, honest analysis, and then admit that you are wrong. Compare this cheap, ad-hominem-riddled article to what I have written, and it becomes clear who is a liar and who isn’t.

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    • A couple of small corrections are needed.

      1) The photo Murray describes as ‘suspect’ is a photo of Chepiga’s name appearing on a military school honours arch, NOT a photo of Chepiga ‘in Ukraine’

      2) There is NO photo claimed to be Chepiga in Ukraine on the Bellingcat blog. There is no photo claimed to be Chepiga at all other than the alleged passport photo under discussion.

      These are embarrassingly basic and egregious errors of comprehension on your part that somewhat fatally undermine your evident hope to impress everyone with your superior erudition and command of the facts, but, on the bright side, this is, at least, a good opportunity to practice your recommendation about having the humility to admit you’re wrong. 😐

      I can add a para to your comment to that effect if you like.

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      • Matt says

        You are absolutely right, I thought the photo was in Ukraine, but read the captions and surrounding text to quickly, but it was in Chechnya.

        So I take back what I said about Chepiga being photographed in Ukraine – it was in Chechnya.

        But the location does not disprove the bulk of what I wrote. Murray claimed the photo was “suspect”, without really substantiating it. And it still proves that he participated in military-related activity. Lastly, there are plenty of other perfectly valid points I made. I’d like for you to respond to those too.

        Regarding point #2, there is this photo:

        https://017qndpynh-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/group.png

        But due the blurriness, Bellingcat explicitly state they do not claim that the man on the right is Chepiga.

        If you could, I’d appreciate it if you crossed out the text where I claim the photo was taken in Ukraine, and do the same to the first sentence after “In summary”, and perhaps edited it to point out the photo was taken in Chechnya. Thank you.

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        • You’re still struggling with this. Try harder. It’s not difficult. The Bellingcat website does NOT say the pic is too blurry to identify. It publishes the photo with a caption that says ‘we aren’t claiming this is Chepiga’.

          The implicit question ‘why are you publishing it then?’ receives no answer.

          Re. Will I help you correct all your mistakes in the above comment. Well, normally speaking, of course, I’d get right to it, because there’s nothing we enjoy more than giving our time over to fixing the embarrassing oopsies of people who abuse our open comment policy to call us liars. But right now, as luck would have it, I’m just plain swamped with a whole lot of other things to do.

          So, it looks like your rude, error-filled, pompous and hubristic offering will just have to stay there, like Ozymandias’ broken monolith – a reminder of human failure and the folly of misplaced pride

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          • Matt says

            Bellingcat never explicitly stated the bluriness of the photo as the reason for them not claiming it is Chepiga, but that can be deduced with some common sense. The man looks like Chepiga, but because it is so blurry, it’s better to not explicitly claim that it’s him. Yet, the resembance is significant enough that it merits posting it.

            “people who abuse our open comment policy to call us liars.”

            Criticizing you and pointing out mistakes now counts as “abuse” of your comment policy? This coming from the administrator of a website that was founded after The Guardian deleted certain comments and banned certain people, exactly for “abuse of their comment policy”? The hypocrisy is strong here.

            You also falsely accuse Bellingcat of being some front for “intelligence agencies” and that they blame Russia for MH17 to “advance foreign policy interests” of neocons. Using this logic, any accusation made by the West against Russia can be dismissed. Any substantive proof against Russia can be dismissed as giving fodder to neocons. How convenient.

            If you have even one ounce of moral courage and humility, you would fully respond to my article, stating whether you agree or disagree with each of my points.

            Talking about news sites and disinformation, you just re-tweeted a link to NewsFront, a confirmed Russian disinformation website that is known for producing amateurish fake news:

            https://codastory.com/disinformation-crisis/armed-conflict/meet-the-kremlins-keyboard-warrior-in-crimea

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            • Give up, Matt, you made a fool of yourself, accept it and move on. Standing in the rubble shouting and shaking your fist at the sky isn’t gonna help. You’re welcome to post neolib propaganda screeds from state and corporate media outlets because we believe in free speech. But you don’t call people liars simply because they aren’t as convinced by them as you are. Not nice. Don’t do it again.

              This discussion is now closed.

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          • Yeah, Right says

            “The implicit question ‘why are you publishing it then?’ receives no answer.”

            It is quite obvious why they published that photo.
            They even give the (slightly embarrassed) explanation in the text.

            It is this: scouring the yearbooks of that military academy gave them nothing. The trail went completely cold. A complete dead-end.

            But Higgins needs to jump from DVOKU to this “state-run volunteer web site”:
            http://www.dosaaf28.ru/stati/patrioticheskaja-rabota/gerojam-otechestva-posvjaschaetsja.html

            He needs to make that jump (it is where he first sees the name “Chepiga Anatoly Vladimirovich”), but he knows that there is nothing in those DVOKU yearbooks that would justify him making that leap.

            So he stares and stares and stares at that one particular photo and he has an ephiphany: he should type in the search terms “DVOKU”, “Chechnya” and “Hero of the Russian Federation” because, well… what the heck, why not…..

            And… wadda’ know… when he does that he ends up just where he needs to be, almost as if he knew that from the very beginning.

            Because he did.

            The narrative offered in Bellingcat’s fairy-tale is actually a story-run-in-reverse i.e. Higgins started with that passport photo in his hot little hands (because his minders had already handed it to him) and he then had to reverse-engineer a path that could lead him to it via open-source.

            Hence the astonishingly-lucky leaps-of-faith that he makes throughout that article, none of which involve any “luck” at all precisely because he always knew exactly which rabbit-hole he had to dive down.

        • Thomas Peterson says

          Matt wrote:
          “You are absolutely right, I thought the photo was in Ukraine, but read the captions and surrounding text to quickly, but it was in Chechnya.”

          Bellingcat says its not Chepiga.

          • Yeah, Right says

            “Bellingcat says its not Chepiga.”

            It’s even worse than that.

            Go to the original source of that photo:
            https://zen.yandex.ru/media/id/5a575f07256d5cbd301159d0/dvoku-sila-ili-chto-vy-ne-znali-o-voennom-uchilisce-5a5df4029e29a222c8df8e07

            Run it through Google Translate and note the caption:
            “Chechen Republic. From the archives of the graduate”

            It is an archival photo. From Chechnya. Snapped by the author.

            As in: the author of that article is not claiming that the soldiers in that photo are ex-DVOKU graduates. He is merely claiming that this is a photo that he took of his army buddies while he was serving in Chechnya.

            Compare and contrast:
            a) “Chechen Republic. From the archives of the graduate” (original)
            b) “Photo of DVOKU graduates on assignment in Chechnya, undated.” (Bellingcat)

            Eliot Higgins is simply making s**t up, which he has to do to justify the quite unbelievable leaps-of-logic he has to take to get from “DVOKU yearbooks” to “passport application photo”.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          These Ukronazis are nothing if not hyperactive.

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          • Matt says

            Weren’t you the one accusing me of being “hasbara”? According to you, I am a Jewish cyberwarrior from Ukraine who also supports Nazism.

            Don’t be mentally illl, pinhead.

    • Great work Matt. But it won’t – work that is. Because it doesn’t matter whether Chepiga is Boshirov or not, because no link has yet been established between Ruslan Boshirov and the poisoning of the Skripals with BZ incapacitant – unless you believe in fairy stories.
      Just like it doesn’t really matter that Higgins identified the BUK missile launcher as having come from Russia and made up a story to suit – which turned out to be false on the JIT’s very own analysis – because there was no visual evidence MH17 was brought down by a BUK missile as well as gunfire from the jet fighters that “separatists” were recorded talking about and shooting down.
      The only question is, for us here on OffG, why do YOU believe what this “useful idiot” says when you don’t believe the oh-so-obvious truth about the UK’s “Operation Nina”?

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      • Matt says

        What do you mean by “which turned out to be false on the JIT’s very own analysis – because there was no visual evidence MH17 was brought down by a BUK missile “?

        The JIT found various BUK missile pellets, as well as pieces of the warhead.

        Carlos, the air traffic controller claimed by the “alternative media” and RT as having evidence an SU-25 shot down MH17, was tracked down by RFE/RL and exposed as a convicted fraudster. He never went to Ukraine and was never an ATC.

        The SU-25 hoax has even been abandoned by the Russian government and its spin doctors.

        As for the separatists, you must be talking about that recoding released by an Australian TV station. I am familiar with it. It proves that Russia is lying and that the rebels accidentaly shot down MH17 with a BUK:

        http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/world/full-transcript-russianbacked-rebels-ransack-the-wreckage-of-mh17-in-shocking-17minute-video/news-story/fa8f3e7c9c3296fba0013f8a29abfeb6

        The above is a leaked video/transcript of the immediate aftermath. Notice how the rebels keep saying there was a “Sukhoi” that crashed. They claim they shot the Sukhoi down and that the 2 pilots who parachuted out had to be found.

        First issue: no Sukhoi’s wreckage has ever been found there, or any pilots.

        This means the rebels shot at something they thought was a Sukhoi, and something came down. But since it wasn’t the Sukhoi, it could only be one thing: MH17. Also, if they tried shooting down the Sukhoi, they definitely had a long-range AA weapon. A MANPAD can’t reach a Sukhoi. So what could they have used? A BUK TELAR system.

        There we have it then. Now we know where the SU-25 story from the Russian government comes from: it was from the mistaken belief of the rebels that they were shooting down a Sukhoi with a BUK, but actually shot down a Boeing.

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        • Admin says

          Unsourced claims, unverified vids, blatant intel propaganda sites quoted without any caveat. You’re one of the few people in the world who could cite RFE without irony as a verifying source! This is why we enjoy you so much. You wear your insane bias like a badge of honor! Keep the faith brother. 😉

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            • Interesting, because it was also a virtual copy and paste of several previous comments made by you elsewhere on the site. 😉

              Hmmm… so next time you auto-dismiss RT etc without critiquing their content we’ll know you’re intentionally commiting the fallacy of ‘attacking the source’ and not just blind to your own prejudice.

              Thanks mate, good to be forewarned.

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              • Matt says

                There are only so many ways to word my sentence differently; but no, I don’t copy-paste my own comments. Even if I did, though, there nothing wrong with that as long as I’m not spamming the site.

                I have never “auto-dismiss RT etc without critiquing their content”. If I need to disprove a claim, I address the claim itself, not attack RT. I have criticized RT, but I’ve never substituted direct criticism of their claims with generic criticism of RT itself.

                Let me ask again: what do you think of RT’s and the alternative media’s reliance on Carlos, a convicted fraudster from Spain, who was never a Ukrainian ATC? Putin referenced the Carlos story himself when speaking to Oliver Stone in that “documentary” he made.

          • Matt says

            PS:

            Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for the Kremlin, claims that a man with the name Chepiga has never received the Hero of the Russian Federation award.

            One problem:

            Chepiga’s former commanding officer at the military academy just contradicted Peskov, and confirmed that Chepiga has a Hero of Russia award. In fact, that is one of the main reasons he remembers the name, he claims.

            Now, why would the Kremlin lie about this?

            https://translate.google.ca/translate?hl=en&sl=ru&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Ftvrain.ru%2Farticles%2Fna_litso_ne_zapomnil_on_byl_molodoj_byvshij_komandir_chepigi_o_ego_shodstve_s_boshirovym-472364%2F

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            • Well if they’re lying about this they’re being complete fools. Much easier to say nothing than lie. Time will tell.

              • Matt says

                The Insider, the Russian investigative media outlet that partnered with Bellingcat for this, has said that there will be a 4th part to the series of articles. Going by the previous articles, they’re probably saving their strongest claims for last.

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              • Matt says

                TV Rain were the ones who did the interview with the commander, so they are probably the best source.

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            • Has it ever occur to you that it might be that man who was lying? Or mistaken? How do you know he actually was the Chepiga’s commanding officer? Just because he said so? How can you be sure that Chepiga fellow even exists?

              You are too trusting.

              • Matt says

                I know for a fact that he was Chepiga’s commanding officer, because not only was he intervied by TV Rain, but also by Russia’s state-run news agency, RIA Novosti. The commander’s name is Alexander Borzhko.

                Now, unless you are saying Russia’s state-news agency is in cahoots with the independent TV Rain and both are lying about Chepiga and/or about this officer, then there is no doubt that a man named Chepiga exists and that the man interviewed by TV Rain and RIA Novosti was his commander.

                • Thomas Peterson says

                  Nobody doubts that someone named Chepiga exists somewhere. That’s not the issue.

        • Thomas Peterson says

          several Sukhoi SU25s were indeed shot down with MANPADS. So were other aircraft types.

          a Russian SU25 was shot down in Syria with a MANPAD.

      • Matt says

        As an aside: there is great irony in the fact that your post was mass-downvoted because shortsignted readers assumed, from your first sentence, that you were praising me. It sure says something about the state of affairs.

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      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        Either because it is paid not to do so, or is some sort of Ukronazi or other Russophobe fanatic. Or it’s Freedland.

    • Utterly embarrassing. You are recapitulating demonstrably false claims as support for your faulty logic. It doesn’t matter who the photo is of because the photo is unsourced, and the photo could simply be a grab of Borisov that has been Photoshopped and then tagged as being Chepiga. You are then foolish enough to say the photos match, proving Chepiga is Borisov! It’s tragic that you then compound this by invoking facial recognition algorithms.

      Stop typing, go away, stop being a ‘dot-joiner’, and return with some actual evidence.

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      • Thomas Peterson says

        They don’t even match on facial recognition algorithms, I tried betaface and pimeye.

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        • Matt says

          I posted this in a previous comment above:

          The photos being compared by everyone include the overexposed passport photo. That photo, extremely overexposed as it is, makes Chepiga’s face look wider than it actually is, by bleaching out the shadows. Let us compare the photo released by Bellingcat with the available RT footage, shot in HD:

          You can see that the facial structure is exactly the same:

          You all tell me, what is a more accurate comparison, the above or below?

          One of the authors of the article, Christo Grozev, directly responded to these criticisms on Twitter, even using the same facial comparison website as Amb. Murray, except he used the more accurate RT screenshot rather than the overexposed passport scan:

          https://twitter.com/christogrozev/status/1045428460309630977

          <

          blockquote>
          We didn’t include (quasi-)science in our report just because something as patent as daylight does not need to be proven. But here’s a test on betaface: getting 83% euclidean match on photos nearly 20 years apart is outstanding (I get 80% on mine)

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  24. writerroddis says

    Good piece, Catte. I appreciate the careful approach to what can and cannot be established re the specifics but want here to pick up on one of the general aspects. You say:

    “The stuff they put out is generally so bad it clearly isn’t intended to last very long under scrutiny. Its function is to provide a compliant and unquestioning media with disposable headlines that serve to create realities in the minds of equally compliant readers and consumers of “news” for long enough to push through short-term foreign policy objectives, generally involving ramping up hostilities with designated “enemy nations.”

    So true, and so utterly and depravedly cynical. As it happens the new Media Lens book, Propaganda Blitz, discusses in its opening chapter this very phenomenon.

    By the way and apropos nothing, I note unusually high levels of ‘dislike’ on this thread. Even a comment as innocuous as Admin’s reply to Josh gets one. Could someone explain what’s the frigging point of that button? I mean, is it too much to ask that those who object to another’s views have the balls to say why?

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  25. Josh says

    I am very surprised no one mentioned the one very obvious possibility: that the infamous picture is not something they ‘found’, but manufactured by a simple ‘younger making’ in a face recognition software. They provide no evidence of the source. Why obsess over all this potential likeness. It’s moot.

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    • Admin says

      Catte does acknowledge the possibility of photo manipulation in the article

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  26. There was a Russian named researcher giving info to the B…..hows about using same techniques to try and see who he is…..and maybe these kinda sceptical websites B reads and is frantically using our thoughts to try and get round the holes that we have become aware of….

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  27. Sav says

    I think the photo is a close resemblance BUT we do not know who these ‘leaked’ documents come from. Nor do we really know who these guys work for. Let’s remember the faked documents over Iraq – from the enriched uranium from Niger to the Food for Oil docs left in a burning Baghdad Ministry building for a Telegraph reporter to get hold of.

    Let’s say Putin/Russian were behind it and these guys got caught – why would they then allow them to be interviewed on Russian state TV for everyone who knows them to see? It would be a ridiculous move. You would simply just say nothing. Especially if the guy is a high ranking colonel, as claimed.

    Why didn’t the UK govt come out with this information, why are they leaving it to this narcissistic outfit making easy money off the anti-Russia gravy train?

    It could be that the Russians are letting Bellingcat & co dig a big hole for themselves. We’ll see. But as usual the MSM cite this as definite proof that these are GRU guys working for Putin.

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  28. MichaelK says

    It’s disturbing that the Guardian gives Bellingcat their stamp of approval. The security services provide him with the morsels that even the Guardian and Luke Harding won’t swallow, because they could come up again in the future and make them look like complete and utter fools.

    Finding people who look like each other in very large populations isn’t hard. There are firms that do just that all the time, mostly for films and in advertising. The lady who resembles the Queen, for example.

    If it was going to be so easy to establish the ‘true’ identities of the two Russians and one was a famous and highly decorated officer in special forces; it’s odd that the Russian state would have allowed these guys to be interviewed on RT, because this would have made the hunt even easier. It seems rather risky move.

    One could imagine that these two guys came to Salisbury to talk and negotiate with Skripal, but discovered that something was wrong and left again. Perhaps their was a coded and agreed sign or message somewhere on their route that signaled that the meeting was a ‘go.’ If it wasn’t there, or visible, this meant ‘no’ and the meeting was ‘stop.’ Maybe they were there to discuss the terms for Skripal returning to Russia? This might explain why Skripa has vanished and is under detention. He isn’t at risk at all. Arguably he’s the safest ex-spy in the world at the moment.

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    • Francis Lee says

      Does anyone really take still seriously this story about the two Russian ‘hitmen’ being responsible for the poisoning – if that’s what it was – of the Skripals. Here with have two Russian citizens who fly directly from Moscow to the UK on genuine passports, exiting the Gatwick aiprort gates simultaneously, which is contrary to the laws of physics (since two objects cannot fill the same temporal-spatial location) proceed to cheap London hotel sprinkling Novichok there and in a number of other places, smile at all those CCT cameras, travel around on public transport in Salisbury on a Sunday afternoon, doing a little smearing of novichok on the Skripals’ car or was it their door? Maybe it was both. I couldn’t keep up with the narrative. Then having committed their vile deed, these two ruthless operaters hang about on a Rail Station on Sunday afternoon waiting to go home. James Bond it isn’t.

      This is just incredibly low-rent propaganda, and these lowlifes are just in it for the money. Ten a penny, or a dime a dozen as the Americans say. Russophobia? Money for old rope.

      A more pertinent question would be, where are the Skripals?

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      • William MacDougall says

        Well yes, all or nearly all Western political leaders and journalists do, leading to harsh sanctions. They may be wrong, but preaching ridicule to the converted will hardly convince them. Only calm detail rebuttal would work. Russia needs to improve its counterarguments, and on this issue the best it could do would be to put “Boshirov” and “Chepiga” in the same room, if they are different people, and prove it.

        As for the Skripals, someone just tried to kill them, possibly the Russian government; it’s not surprising they might want to hide.

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        • Admin says

          Agreed it would be helpful to see more evidence of Chepiga’s existence. But if the Russian MoD produced a man claiming to be Chepiga who looks nothing like Bellingcat’s pic, or even something like it, or even VERY like it, do you think this would do anything to change the western narrative? Wouldn’t Harding, Luhn et al just snigger about what liars the Russians are as usual?

          You can see why the Russians might think there’s little point in engaging, whatever the truth may be.

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          • William MacDougall says

            Yes there are risks, but they are a lot smaller than that of silence and ridicule. Chepiga is a real person, recognised by villagers where he grew up, and that appears to be a genuine photo. The question is whether or not he’s the same as “Boshirov”, so if he isn’t, then produce the two together, with passports and witnesses who know them; would transform the debate. It would be suspicious if they don’t. I would like to believe the Russian story on this, but it is becoming increasingly difficult…

            • Thomas Peterson says

              we don’t know he’s a real person. i don’t trust alleged interviews with anonymous villagers, i’m afraid.

            • You give too much credit to the Western establishment.

              Russia made a mistake by handing over the black boxes from MH17 to the UK – have you heard about their content, by any chance? No, you have not. Russia provided all satellite and traffic control data to the Netherland commission – has it changed anything? No, it has not. Russia recently provided documents regarding the provenance of the Buk missile that allegedly hit MH17. What was the effect? None whatever.

              The best strategy for Russia in the Skripal case is to ignore this nonsense as much as possible and to wait until the UK hangs itself on its own lies.

              • William MacDougall says

                The other cases you mention were not so clear, except to the converted, but certainly Russia gained from those actions, and would gain from serious response now.

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              • Matt says

                There is no requirment for the public to hear the blackbox recordings – the transcript is there. Publicizing it would be wrong, because it is potential evidence to be used in court. There is no obligation to release these recordings so paranoid conspiracy theorists tricked by Russia can verify the contents of the recordings.

                Russia has not provided all of the data, there are certain radar stations which the JIT has still not received data for. And some of the radar station data Russia did provide, it took 2 years to give. Oh, and all this data only confirmed that a BUK was used, so the SU-25 story was a giant hoax, as was Carlos, etc.

                MH17 is a bad example to use when attempting to absolve Russia of lying.

                • Yeah, Right says

                  “And some of the radar station data Russia did provide, it took 2 years to give.”

                  Still infinitely quicker than the Ukrainian authorities, who continue to insist that all their radars were turned off at the time, sorry, our bad, just-one-of-those-things, damn-unlucky.

                  “Oh, and all this data only confirmed that a BUK was used, so the SU-25 story was a giant hoax, as was Carlos, etc.”

                  Yeah, funny that.

                  Because it is axiomatic that if the Russians didn’t do it then it is inexplicable that they didn’t instantly know what had really happened.

                  Oh, wait, that’s right: if they didn’t do it then they would have been just as perplexed as everyone else, so it should be no surprise that their original hypotheses turned out to be wrong.

  29. Was going to make a bell end joke but got beaten to it. Bell end is all that can be said about surely one of the most punchable idiots recruited as pseudo alt media.

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  30. Tom says

    Another twist in the Skripal case. The niece of Sergey Skripal was involved in a car accident. Sometimes wheels fall off because of incompetent mechanics. Sometimes wheels fall off because said mechanic worked or was paid off by CIA or somebody tampered with the vehicle before its fateful trip.

    “I Don’t Exclude That It Was an Assassination Attempt”: Western Media Critic Viktoriya Skripal Was Involved in a Car Accident

    http://www.stalkerzone.org/i-dont-exclude-that-it-was-an-assassination-attempt-western-media-critic-viktoriya-skripal-was-involved-in-a-car-accident/

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  31. robjira says

    I recall some years ago seeing for the first time a popular DJ by the moniker of Swedish Egil and realizing we were virtual twins. Creepy feeling, but I am still reasonably certain we were/are not the same person (though I really, really would like to be a popular and talented DJ).

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  32. Rhisiart Gwilym says

    You’re relatively courteous towards Higgins, Catte. But the fact is that, if there were a modern-day (actually honest) equivalent of the post-WW2 Nurnberg Tribunals, he would already be eligible, on the strength of what he’s done so far, to be on trial as a material accessory to major war-crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Western gangsters-in-charge.He may well not grasp the enormity of what he does, and actually believe that it’s necessary and honourable. Useful idiots are everywhere in media and politics, after all. But that, even if true, doesn’t lessen his culpability. Anyone doing his sort of partisan, violence-assisting work has a clear obligation to make sure that s/he is behaving honourably and according to law. And Higgins, whatever goes on his superficial belief system, isn’t doing that. He’s a crook.

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    • Einstein says

      Higgins is the Goebbels of our time, with a compliant media every bit as servile as the “press” of the Third Reich.
      Goebbels avoided the Nuremberg trials by committing suicide.

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      • Admin says

        LOL – Higgins isn’t the Goebbels of our time! Higgins is little more than a clueless frontman being emailed garbage intel by his handlers and told to put his name on it.

        Don’t think we have a Goebbels of our time. He was much better at his job than anyone in our current propaganda ministries seems to be.

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        • Thomas Peterson says

          The most epic cringe was when they pretended to ‘geolocate’ a new Buk photo supposedly taken in Donetsk which had been mysteriously sent to the JIT.

          As if Bellingcats Ukrainian friends hadnt already told them where it was.

      • Sav says

        Higgins is just someone with serious narcissism like Luke Harding. Desperate for attention and to be famous/important. This works well for him. If you knew him on the Guardian comments you’d see. He would post a comment saying ‘Please click on this link’ and what was it? Some media outfit making reference to him.

        His reason for leaving his job as a finance admin for that lingerie company? “I was too good for them”

        When Eva Bartlett & Vanessa Beeley had a cartoon depiction as heroes against the MSM, Higgins went off on one on Twitter exclaiming ‘Look at this shit’

        Other tweets of his include ‘shouldn’t you be sucking my balls’ or..he’ll boast about how much he charges to appear somewhere.

        This week he compiled various MSM headlines and tweeted ‘Pretty much every major UK newspaper has @Bellingcat’s Skirpal story on their front page today’

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      • Hoho. says

        A Haw Haw maybe – the dancing monkey not the organ grinder.

    • There have been a number of Bellingcat ‘investigations’ resulting in – no surprises at all – ‘irrefutable evidence of Russian culpability’. I’ve enjoyed them very much, and many are collector’s items, examples of a deliberate and fabricated effort to fix blame on Russia for various crimes against humanity. Washington would dearly love a major war against Russia, but ideally, European allies would fight it.

      If I had to pick a favourite, though, it would be Bellingcat’s classic “Russia bombs Syrian Red Crescent Aid Convoy” setpiece fabrication. Here, for your enjoyment, is the original report,

      https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2016/09/22/russian-bomb-remains-recovered-syrian-red-crescent-aid-convoy-attack/

      As usual, telltale evidence of Russian complicity was ‘discovered’ by alert citizen journalists; in this case, the tailfin of a Russian bomb. Oh, but wait; as further analyzed by people who used to do it for a living in a professional capacity, (1) if the bomb exploded in the space it’s in, why aren’t the cardboard boxes it was found under blown to shreds? That must mean the bomb did not explode. So it was a dud. If it was a dud (2) where’s the rest of it? Why is there just a tailfin stabilizer, twisted and burnt as if it has been in an explosion?

      https://patrickarmstrong.ca/2016/09/26/bellingcat-proves-the-russians-didnt-do-it/

      A couple of things everyone should keep in mind; one, exposing major errors in blame-fixing operations only helps those who perpetrate them to get better at it – only a fool makes the same mistakes twice. Two; any mentions of finding identifiable fragments of a Buk missile (actually the SA-11) in the MH17 wreckage, such as a bit of the tailfin, piece of the missile body with – coincidentally – a serial number helpfully stamped on it, whatever, is certain to be a lie. The SA-11 explodes by a proximity fuse which senses when the missile is near the target, and the missile itself does not ever hit the target except for fragments of the warhead when the missile explodes. All parts of the missile except those pre-fragmented warhead shrapnel should have fallen to earth near where the plane was hit, which was about 15 miles from where the wreckage crashed.

  33. mail says

    Aren’t we lucky to have Bell-End Higgins to sort out all these things for us?
    If it wasn’t for him we’d just have to rely on the seventeen $100 billion a year US spook organisations and our very own multi billion MI5/ MI6/ GCHQ spook organisations.
    Now they can go back to swaning around in Aston Martins drinking martinis and chasing women.

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  34. I saw a twin of my mate on a train to Paris some months ago but my mate died of cancer the year before so I know it wasn’t him – these photos just created plausibility & cannot be considered as evidence.

    Sheep don’t get it though & that’s the entire point of Bell end crap !

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Please note the opinions expressed in the comments do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or of OffG as a whole