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Skripals – the Mystery Deepens
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The time that “Boshirov and Petrov” were allegedly in Salisbury carrying out the attack is all entirely within the period the Skripals were universally reported to have left their home with their mobile phones switched off.

A key hole in the British government’s account of the Salisbury poisonings has been plugged – the lack of any actual suspects. And it has been plugged in a way that appears broadly convincing – these two men do appear to have traveled to Salisbury at the right time to have been involved.

But what has not been established is the men’s identity and that they are agents of the Russian state, or just what they did in Salisbury. If they are Russian agents, they are remarkably amateur assassins. Meanwhile the new evidence throws the previously reported timelines into confusion – and demolishes the theories put out by “experts” as to why the Novichok dose was not fatal.

This BBC report gives a very useful timeline summary of events.

At 09.15 on Sunday 4 March the Skripals’ car was seen on CCTV driving through three different locations in Salisbury. Both Skripals had switched off their mobile phones and they remained off for over four hours, which has baffled geo-location.

There is no CCTV footage that indicates the Skripals returning to their home. It has therefore always been assumed that they last touched the door handle around 9am.

But the Metropolitan Police state that Boshirov and Petrov did not arrive in Salisbury until 11.48 on the day of the poisoning. That means that they could not have applied a nerve agent to the Skripals’ doorknob before noon at the earliest. But there has never been any indication that the Skripals returned to their home after noon on Sunday 4 March. If they did so, they and/or their car somehow avoided all CCTV cameras. Remember they were caught by three CCTV cameras on leaving, and Borishov and Petrov were caught frequently on CCTV on arriving.

The Skripals were next seen on CCTV at 13.30, driving down Devizes road. After that their movements were clearly witnessed or recorded until their admission to hospital.

So even if the Skripals made an “invisible” trip home before being seen on Devizes Road, that means the very latest they could have touched the doorknob is 13.15. The longest possible gap between the novichok being placed on the doorknob and the Skripals touching it would have been one hour and 15 minutes. Do you recall all those “experts” leaping in to tell us that the “ten times deadlier than VX” nerve agent was not fatal because it had degraded overnight on the doorknob? Well that cannot be true. The time between application and contact was between a minute and (at most) just over an hour on this new timeline.

In general it is worth observing that the Skripals, and poor Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, all managed to achieve almost complete CCTV invisibility in their widespread movements around Salisbury at the key times, while in contrast “Petrov and Boshirov” managed to be frequently caught in high quality all the time during their brief visit.

This is especially remarkable in the case of the Skripals’ location around noon on 4 March. The government can only maintain that they returned home at this time, as they insist they got the nerve agent from the doorknob. But why was their car so frequently caught on CCTV leaving, but not at all returning? It appears very much more probable that they came into contact with the nerve agent somewhere else, while they were out.

“Boshirov and Petrov” plainly are of interest in this case. But only Theresa May stated they were Russian agents: the police did not, and stated that they expected those were not their real identities. We do not know who Boshirov and Petrov were. It appears very likely their appearance was to do with the Skripals on that day. But they may have been meeting them, outside the home. The evidence points to that, rather than doorknobs. Such a meeting might explain why the Skripals had turned off their mobile phones to attempt to avoid surveillance.

It is also telling the police have pressed no charges against them in the case of Dawn Sturgess, which would be manslaughter at least if the government version is true.

If “Boshirov and Petrov” are secret agents, their incompetence is astounding. They used public transport rather than a vehicle and left the clearest possible CCTV footprint. They failed in their assassination attempt. They left traces of novichok everywhere and could well have poisoned themselves, and left the “murder weapon” lying around to be found. Their timings in Salisbury were extremely tight – and British Sunday rail service dependent.

There are other possibilities of who “Boshirov and Petrov” really are, of which Ukrainian is the obvious one. One thing I discovered when British Ambassador to Uzbekistan was that there had been a large Ukrainian ethnic group of scientists working at the Soviet chemical weapon testing facility there at Nukus. There are many other possibilities.

Yesterday’s revelations certainly add to the amount we know about the Skripal event. But they raise as many new questions as they give answers.

(Republished from CraigMurray by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. I am now running with these.

    1) Despite the narrow timing window, the govrenment is right and it was the GRU punishing Skripal for coming out of retirement to work with Miller and Steele.

    2) The Skripals were dealing in “novichok” themselves – May is improving, she is using Foliant. The argument against this is that the poison was found in the Bow hotel room. This suggests that the precursors were mixed there. Alternatively, they were mixed in Salisbury and brought back as contamination. The second is unlikely. It is worth noting that these two, unexceptionally dressed operatives, changed their clothing for equally drab gear in the course of a two night visit. That’s consistent with disposing of potentially contaminated clothing.

    • Replies: @Ronnie
  2. Cyrano says:

    Here is my theory: Remember that Ukrainian moron Babchenko who few months ago faked his own assassination in order to “save” himself from a real “assassination” by the Russian secret service?

    Well, I think the same thing happened here. Sergei Skripal – a seasoned spy that he was – got a wind of the situation that GRU is just about to assassinate him, faked his own assassination and saved himself and his daughter. That’s the only reason why the “assassination” didn’t succeed and the “targets” survived – because they did it themselves in order to save themselves.

    I have another clue as to why he was targeted by the GRU agents to begin with. The name Skripal is the clue word. It’s mixed Russian-English word. Skri – means hide in Russian, and pal is of course a friend in English. Put together the name Skripal – means hiding a friend. You see Sergei Skripal was hiding a renegade Russian spy in his house in Salisbury – that’s why they went after him.

    • Replies: @Oo8
    , @Tamar
  3. Soloview says:

    The possibility of this being Ukrainian op has occured to me also. The Russian passports with “near” numbers are most likely fakes because I can’t imagine GRU to manufacture identities with such an obvious admission of stupidity. People who stage a fake murder and then admit that it was an anti-Russian op may well be creative enough to conceive the Skripal saga.

  4. FKA Max says: • Website

    Salisbury poisonings: two Russian suspects named

    Source: http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/a-tale-of-two-poisonings/#comment-2502322

    Mr. Giraldi,

    these were my thoughts at first too, but I looked into the case quite extensively over the last several weeks and came to the conclusion that Putin actually had more of a motive than the British government, et al.

    This is my evolution on the Skripals’ case:
    […]
    I’m reaching here, and this is pure speculation on my part, but could it be that the Skripals were poisoned (March 4, 2018) by Putin, et al. to distract from the 200+ Russian mercenaries allegedly killed by U.S. airstrikes in Syria (February 7, 2018) http://www.unz.com/tsaker/book-review-losing-military-supremacy-the-myopia-of-american-strategic-planning-by-andrei-martyanov/#comment-2406731 before the Russian election (March 18, 2018)?

    [The story was picking up steam by mid-Februray and even pro-Kremlin/Putin-loyal Cossacks were complaining about it]

    http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/a-tale-of-two-poisonings/#comment-2420306

    • Replies: @FKA Max
    , @FKA Max
    , @FKA Max
  5. FKA Max says: • Website
    @FKA Max

    The story was picking up steam by mid-Februray and even pro-Kremlin/Putin-loyal Cossacks were complaining about it: http://www.unz.com/tsaker/book-review-losing-military-supremacy-the-myopia-of-american-strategic-planning-by-andrei-martyanov/#comment-2404648
    […]
    One of the widows wanted the Russian government to “avenge” the fallen:

    Russian Widow Says Husband Died In Syria ‘For No Reason’

    https://www.unz.com/tsaker/book-review-losing-military-supremacy-the-myopia-of-american-strategic-planning-by-andrei-martyanov/#comment-2407129

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  6. If they didn’t do it, you have to wonder why these two men flew from Moscow to London on Friday, visited Salisbury on Saturday, visited Salisbury again on Sunday for two hours, and then immediately flew back from London to Moscow. What was the purpose of their visit?

    The previous post on your personal website proposed that the British authorities had faked the CCTV images of the suspects at Gatwick Airport, because two official images appeared to show each suspect at the same spot, but the timestamps were identical to within a second. As commenters on your website, and the British police, have pointed out, Gatwick has parallel customs channels of similar appearance, and it is not surprising that the two travellers would walk through two channels simultaneously.

    Mr Murray, you have a personal bias because you have seen the British state at its worst -extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects, and character assassination against yourself. However, it should not be hard to recognise that the Russian state can be at least as depraved as the British.

    It was not a Ukrainian operation. If it were, the Russian authorities would be eager to assist the British in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

    Your suggestion that Sergei Skripal was involved with the production of the Orbis/Steele dossier against Donald Trump is interesting and deserves further investigation.

    It is also notable that Yulia Skripal flew from Moscow to London on the same day as the two suspects, although on a different flight. If the suspects were associated with a Russian state actor, it is inconceivable that they would have been unaware of this fact. Perhaps Yulia was the real target.

  7. @Philip Owen

    Still pushing the Euro as some Euro-Panacea. You’ve obviously learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  8. Ronnie says:
    @Philip Owen

    Here is another theory. Perhaps Skripal helped Miller and Steele to concoct the Trump file about golden showers. Then Skripal demanded a lot of money from MI6 to keep his mouth shut and threatened to go to the press (although the UK press are so bought out they would probably ignore him). Skripal feels vulnerable and asks Julia to join him. MI6 decided to neutralize him (lock him up short of murdering him) so MI6 gives them both a Mickey Finn and then uses the exercise to blame Putin for a nerve gas attack on the Skripals. The Mickey Finn could have an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor in it which would not be fatal like novichok but would convince the hospital that it was nerve gas (same mode of action and symptoms). So the Skripals were disappeared and everything else was invented. Poor Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley were fed an expensive perfume bottle of novichok just to demonstrate to the UK public that the Russians had brought Novichok to Salisbury. But novichok is fatal so Dawn died and the Skripals survived.

    • Replies: @James Charles
  9. @FKA Max

    She is breaking the law by discussing Russian casualties.

    • Replies: @FKA Max
    , @El Dato
  10. @Verymuchalive

    I have never pushed the Euro. I am firmly pro EU but I have no strong views on the Euro. It would be better for non metropolitan UK but not for London.

  11. FKA Max says: • Website
    @Philip Owen

    So did these ladies/mothers and these guys/Cossacks (but their faces are blurred and their voices are distorted) in the following video. I think they did not care anymore at that point:

    Exclusive: Russian mercenaries in Syria, Putin’s secret army

    Source: http://www.unz.com/tsaker/book-review-losing-military-supremacy-the-myopia-of-american-strategic-planning-by-andrei-martyanov/#comment-2403060

    This might be the reason the Cossacks lashed out at the Kremlin
    […]
    One was Cossack fighter Vladimir Loginov, 51, from Kaliningrad, a father of two who formerly worked for the Russian Interior Ministry, who died in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike on February 7.
    […]
    He fell ‘heroically defending our Motherland in its far reaches from crazy savages’, according to the Baltic Cossack Union in Kaliningrad.

    http://www.unz.com/tsaker/book-review-losing-military-supremacy-the-myopia-of-american-strategic-planning-by-andrei-martyanov/#comment-2404420

  12. LondonBob says:

    Skripal follows the false flag rythmn. Douma, Russian Presidential elections, World Cup\Helsinki and now Idlib. We know the government pressured Porton Down to lie about ‘novichok’.

    John Helmer has very good contacts in Russia so his article is either a hint at the truth or some well planted disinformation.

    http://johnhelmer.net/the-new-allegations-in-the-skripal-case-and-the-standard-of-proof/#more-19679

    It has been speculated that Skripal was involved in the Trump dossier, given his close relation to Steele and his handler now subject to a D notice it is highly likely. It is thus possible that the GRU might have had a new interest in him. Like Berezovsky and his oddly timed suicide they wouldn’t have wanted him to go back to Russia and tell all.

    A high profile way of attempting to kill him though, still suggests a false flag motivation.

  13. @LondonBob

    The standard of proof at a criminal trial is “beyond reasonable doubt”. At committal proceedings the standard is a “prima facie case”. To bring criminal charges, it is “a realistic chance of conviction”. To arrest somebody, mere suspicion will suffice.

    It is obviously not feasible to give proof “beyond reasonable doubt” at this stage, not least because in court this takes days or weeks of presentation. The evidence offered so far to the public provides grounds for suspicion, and if the British authorities were not dealing with a hostile jurisdiction this would be sufficient to have the suspects arrested and brought in for questioning.

    This is not to say that there are no unanswered questions or connections to other business of the “Deep State”. Such questions can only be resolved by investigation and ultimately, if the evidence is sufficient, by a criminal trial. It does not make sense to ask, as John Helmer does, for that evidence to be presented before the suspects have even been arrested.

    • Replies: @jjc
  14. Eagle Eye says:

    Both Skripals are almost certainly dead, having been murdered by the British Deep State to extend the useful life of the “Steele Dossier” as a propaganda weapon against Trump.

    Exhibit A is the curiously incurious treatment of the case throughout the British media, with major logical holes, obviously the result of “D-Notices” prohibiting certain statements issued by Theresa May’s administration.
    ============

    REPOSTED from http://www.unz.com/tsaker/the-skripals-will-most-likely-never-be-allowed-to-talk/#comment-2337125

    Original post dated May 20, 2018 at 6:15 am GMT

    UPDATE

    British media report that Sergei Skripal has been released from the hospital.

    A report in the Sun (and reprinted in the Australian Telegraph) repeats the canard that the “66-year-old was exposed to deadly novichok at his home in March in a suspected botched assassination ordered by the Kremlin.”

    The Russians seem to be remarkably inept poisoners. We learn that the local cop has also been discharged “following a miracle recovery.” Only a grouch would not find this heart-warming.

    As previously, the piece evinces no curiosity at all about the current whereabouts of Sergei Skripal, but reiterates a lot of rhetoric denigrating Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko.

    As before, the bizarre, uncurious, formulaic treatment of the story in the British media itself suggests that both Skripals are dead.

    The piece in the Sun does include the following quote, perhaps as a CYA against anticipated narrative collapse:

    Pressed if he really believed UK security services attempted to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, [the Russian ambassador] told Labour’s Chris Bryant: “Yes.”

    https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/russian-exspy-sergei-skripal-leaves-hospital-after-nerve-agent-attack/news-story/b26dfe400e321e8b85d65aadef4ce18b

    • Replies: @Ace
  15. Ronnie, London Bob, and John Helmer are more trustworthy than those attempting to put it on Russia. Why did it take six months for this information to leak out unless it is a planned leak to revive a failing narrative? If the stuff is so dangerous, why didn’t anybody else among the guests and employees of the purported hotel suffer any ill effects? Meanwhile, the first photos with what certainly looks like exactly the same corridor and stamped at exactly the same time showing the supposed suspects exposed the fraudulency of the story already. (the claim that there could be two corridors exactly the same in all details was developed as an excuse to buttress a narrative exposed by the date-time stamp being exactly the same to the second on the two photographs.)

    • Replies: @James N. Kennett
  16. El Dato says:
    @Philip Owen

    How can denied Russian casualties be Russian casualties?

  17. @exiled off mainstreet

    Why did it take six months for this information to leak out unless it is a planned leak to revive a failing narrative?

    Analysis of thousands of hours of CCTV. Discovering the details of the suspects’ route and the identities they used for travel. Conducting an investigation, rather than jumping to conclusions.

    If the stuff is so dangerous, why didn’t anybody else among the guests and employees of the purported hotel suffer any ill effects?

    The concentration found in the hotel was extremely low.

    the claim that there could be two corridors exactly the same in all details was developed as an excuse to buttress a narrative exposed by the date-time stamp being exactly the same to the second on the two photographs.

    There is a lengthy discussion in the comments on Craig Murray’s post The Impossible Photo. One commenter provides this URL from Google Streetview showing gates at Gatwick airport:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@51.1570389,-0.1626798,2a,75y,190.43h,71.01t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sbDP9F6o9-mzp9-7ExjG-Lg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    Craig Murray himself acknowledges that his post “The Impossible Photo” was a mistake. He has added there:

    I am prepared to acknowledge that, given the gate design, they could have passed through different gates in exact synchronicity and this may be a red herring. I am leaving this post up here as it is good to acknowledge mistakes.

  18. @Ronnie

    No one was affected by a ‘nerve agent poison’?
    ‘ . . .   he began his letter to the Times . . . with; “may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury” ‘
    “ The Times published a letter from Stephen Davies (Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust) on the 16th March. ‘Sir, further to your report (‘Poison Exposure Leaves Nearly 40 needing Treatment’), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.’ ”

    However?
    “Dr Stephen Jukes, the intensive care consultant who treated the Skripals a week after they arrived at the hospital, said once the nerve agent was detected”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-44284518/skripals-expected-not-to-survive

  19. yurivku says:

    That’s just funny to see all this. Some desperate imbeciles (May & Co) invented extremely stupid story which idiocy is clear to everybody who’s sane (not to count Philip Owen).
    Other imbeciles all around the West catch it and now running in circles with it and shouting.
    Well, we know that not all of them are imbeciles some just unscrupulous political assholes pretending to beleive this BS.

    But God save, why normal people (not to count Philip Owen) should listen it again and again, trying to explain just pure as mountains’ air, things?

    Let imbeciles talk to each other…

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  20. Oo8 says:
    @Cyrano

    Excuse me, but this theory is total crap. Skripal is an unusual, but anyway existing, name. He is from Kaliningrad and some of his relations still live there. Please research the facts before posting.

    • Agree: Per/Norway
    • Replies: @Cyrano
  21. anastasia says:

    Why did Borshirov and Petrov select aliases that betrayed they were Russian. Why not select Turkish names, or mid-eastern names, or Czech names? If they did not want anyone to trace it back to Russia, why use Russian aliases?

    One thing the media steers very clear of and omits to tell you is that Sturgess and Rowley were very clearly drug addicts, the wiry, scrawny types – very hard core drug addicts. It is written all over them. They went to a drug den that day to be sure to get their fixess, and wound up getting poisoned? What is with this perfume bottle that Rowley said he bought as a present for Sturgess. Who believes that. The only present drug addicts buy each other is drugs. They are not interested in food, perfumes, jewelry, or anything else.

    Maybe the Skirpals were looking for some recreational drugs that day and visited the drug den themselves?

    Why is the media trying to skirt this obvious fact that Rowley and Sturgess were heavy duty drug addicts.

  22. jjc says:
    @James N. Kennett

    “To arrest somebody, mere suspicion will suffice.”

    I believe to be arrested/detained some charge must be produced.

    You have mis-read Helmer’s point. He is not simply saying that the evidence in total must be presented at this stage, he is pointing out that the charges publicized by the British government have faced no legal test as yet, but PM May has already arrived at the verdict and sentencing phase of the judicial process. And that her certainty has been adopted by the British state, its allies, and most of the media. That is, the suspects and the Russian government have already been deemed guilty and the package of punishments for their alleged misdeeds is already being rolled out. Furthermore, the legal test of the accusations has been put to the side, as the British officials have no expectation of a trial and have no plans to prepare for one.

    But the British account of the Salisbury events is, on its face, ludicrous and absurd. It was such back in March and it remains so today.

  23. Tamar says:
    @Cyrano

    Skripal is a Ukrainian word meaning violinist ; Russian word for violinist is Skripatch,
    Violin is Skripka in both languages. There in no such a word as ‘Skri’ in Russian language.

    • Replies: @Cyrano
  24. Cyrano says:
    @Tamar

    Since I don’t speak Russian, sometimes I just make assumptions based on similarities between my language and the Russian. All right, the Russian word for hiding is skrivat, which is pretty close, but anyhow I wasn’t even serious when I wrote that comment.

    https://cooljugator.com/ru/%D1%81%D0%BA%D1%80%D1%8B%D0%B2%D0%B0%D1%82%D1%8C

  25. Cyrano says:
    @Oo8

    Obviously, my comedy routine needs some polishing.

  26. Ace says:
    @Eagle Eye

    Since their recovery the Skripals have been elusive and resistant to contact with Russian officials. They seem content to remain in limbo with no official explanation as to their non-release/voluntary isolation.

    As vile as the British government is it’s hard to believe any official would order their murder at this stage. “Oh, btw, we simply can’t find the Skripals.”

    Perhaps the two worked with the Brits and it is mutually convenient for them to remain out of sight. It’s astonishing that at this late date we don’t know their version.

  27. @LondonBob

    “A high profile way of attempting to kill him though, still suggests a false flag motivation.”

    Or a warning to other ex spies thinking of restarting their career. If you are swapped, your work is over, or else …

  28. @yurivku

    you’ve not read my blog on Skripal have you? I still think it could have been self poisioning by Skripal, selling on to assassins.

  29. FKA Max says: • Website
    @FKA Max

    The NY Times covered the Skripal case quite in detail over the last several days. Here a summary of their coverage:

    The Spy Who Provoked Putin

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/podcasts/the-daily/putin-sergei-skripal-russia-spy-poisoning.html

    There also seems to be a lot of the following going on in this comments thread:

    Sergei Skripal and the Russian disinformation game

    A loosely-defined network of Russian state actors, state-controlled media, and armies of social media bots and trolls is said to work in unison to spread and amplify multiple narratives and conspiracies around cases like the Skripal poisoning. The goal is no longer to deny or disprove an official version of events, it is to flood the zone with so many competing versions that nothing seems to make sense.

    What is really striking is that you no longer see the Russian machine pushing a single message, it pushes dozens of messages,” said Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who studies Russian disinformation. “The idea is to confuse people.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-45454142

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  30. FKA Max says: • Website
    @FKA Max

    This is getting amusing 😉

    Novichok Suspects: Gay Or Not Gay? That Is Russian State Media’s Question

    Commenting on reports that a separate pair of Russian spies had been apprehended in the Netherlands, lawyer Nikolai Polozov wrote, apparently in jest: “Yet another gay pair from the GRU in search of a worthy cafe.”

    Blogger Rustem Adagamov, meanwhile, tweeted a suggestion about Russian state media’s true intentions.

    “To punish Petrov and Vasechkin for their failure to execute, they’ve clearly decided to legendize [provide a cover story for] them as a couple of gays,” he wrote, playing on the theme of a popular Soviet children’s comedy, “The Adventures of Petrov and Vasechkin.”

    Amid the fallout, Simonyan took to Twitter with comments that served to add grist to the rumor mill.

    Noting that the two men “didn’t hit on me” during the interview, she wrote: “I don’t know if they’re gay or not gay. They’re stylish, as far as I can tell — with little beards and cute haircuts, taut trousers and jumpers that tighten around impressive biceps.”

    https://www.rferl.org/a/novichok-suspects-gay-or-not-russian-state-media-bashirov/29490426.html

    Bellingcat: Russian Documents Suggest Novichok Suspects Were Operatives

    https://www.rferl.org/a/kremlin-says-it-would-consider-british-request-over-skripal-poisoning-suspects/29489831.html

  31. @FKA Max

    Anyone examining the Skripal affair seroously and who is to be trusted on it might want to add to what you linked and quoted nearly six months ago the following from the FT:

    Russia spread ‘disinformation’ on Skripal attack – https://www.ft.com/content/c655aa4a-3b82-11e9-b856-5404d3811663?shareType=nongift via @FT

    Yeah, you’ll find the name George Soros in this piece…..

    Russian state media published 138 contradictory accounts of the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal last year, a new report has found, lending fresh weight to UK claims of a Moscow backed propaganda campaign.

    According to the report by King’s College, London, the Russian state broadcaster RT and the news agency Sputnik were used as a “vehicle of disinformation” through the “publication and repetition of a long list of often contradictory narratives” which painted “a confusing picture of events” in Salisbury last March.

    The report comes almost exactly one year since Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia fell critically ill after being exposed to a nerve agent from a family of nerve agents known as novichocks. The Skripals are in hiding after being discharged from hospital last year.

    British police have charged two senior intelligence officers from Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, with the attempted murder of the Skripals as well as the murder of Dawn Sturgess, who died months later after inadvertently coming into contact with a small bottle containing the agent, which had been discarded by the attackers.

    Yulia and Sergei Skripal fell ill after exposure to novichok nerve agent © Rex/Shutterstock
    In the weeks after the attack, as police raced to investigate what had happened to the Skripals, Britain accused Russia of spreading false conspiracy theories to hinder the investigation and deflect responsibility for the bodged chemical weapons attack.

    In response, the UK’s Foreign Office stepped up its own social media campaign to counter the reports and claims. “We know the tactics they use. But they don’t change the facts,” the FCO said in a Facebook video at the time.

    In December the UK media regulator, Ofcom, found RT guilty of “a serious failure” of impartiality for its coverage following the Salisbury nerve gas attack.

    The report by King’s College, which was funded by Open Society Foundations, an organisation founded by the billionaire philanthropist George Soros, said that RT and Sputnik used their English language platforms to spread seven different conspiracy theories about the attack.

    British police have charged two senior officers from Russia’s military intelligence agency with attempted murder © Metropolitan Police/Getty
    These included claims that the poisoning was staged by the UK, the US or western intelligence agencies to hurt Russia, that it was a hoax and that there was no trace of novichok found in Salisbury.

    One of the more outlandish theories included an article that claimed the UK government’s explanation of the attack had been inspired by a Sky TV drama which featured a plot involving a Russian scientist who had developed a deadly chemical weapon called novichok.

    “Understanding the extent to which these techniques can exist within state-linked outlets like RT is an important step towards preventing the spread of disinformation and its damaging effect on journalism and public discourse,” said Gordon Ramsay, one of the authors of the report.

    Moscow’s use of state media in the Skripal case echoes similar efforts to stall international action over other examples of Russian aggression, including military action in Syria and the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014.

    RT said: “We are amazed that it took some in the UK this long to jump on the tried-and-true bandwagon: blame RT for journalistic audacity to demand facts and ask questions.”

    Sputnik did not respond to a request for comment.

  32. Here, from the FT today, is just another item to give context for the doubts about NATO countries’ accounts of foul deeds:

    Iranian-Dutch diplomatic relations have deteriorated after the Netherlands accused the Islamic Republic of orchestrating two political assassinations of Dutch nationals of Iranian origin on Dutch soil. Tehran has denied any involvement.

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