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    Since nobody knows anything, as Alexander Mercouris points out, I haven't bothered following this closely. Still, I suppose it's big enough that I should post something about it. This comment from for-the-record seems not entirely implausible: What seems eminently clear is that whoever did it knew that this would be attributed to the Russians, and...
  • @Daniel Chieh
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/world/europe/uk-russia-spy-poisoning.html

    “What it says to Russians living in the U.K. or those thinking of leaving the country is: disloyalty is always punishable, you will never be free of us and you will never be safe, wherever you live,” John Lough and James Sherr, Russia specialists at the British think-tank Chatham House, wrote. “What it says to the British government is: We believe you are weak, we have no respect for you.”
     
    There are people who say this in real life. Now we need Louise Mensch's powerful take next.

    Oh!
    Louise Mensch!

    I’m really looking forward to hearing from her.
    She always has the most thoroughly thougt through commentary to offer.

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  • @Hugh
    My understanding is that Skripal was sentenced to only 13 years for his offences against Russia. That suggests that he is not Public Eneny Number One in Russian eyes.

    Hell, Amber Rudd wants to lock Brits up for 15 years for visits to naughty internet sites.

    My understanding is that Skripal was sentenced to only 13 years for his offences against Russia. That suggests that he is not Public Eneny Number One in Russian eyes.

    Indeed.

    Hell, Amber Rudd wants to lock Brits up for 15 years for visits to naughty internet sites.

    The big punishments here are mostly reserved for crimes by harmless people, such as minor perverts and (white) speech and thought criminals.

    The official English Court of Appeal approved sentence applicable to a previously convicted criminal thug for killing a man in a violent assault on a stranger in the street, for supposedly “disrespecting” his mate by telling him he shouldn’t be cycling on the pavement, is four and a half years, (out after two years or so, in practice, with good behaviour while inside).

    At least, that’s for specially privileged groups such as blacks. It might well be higher if it had been a white guy who had killed a black victim.

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  • @Randal

    I don’t know if they ever killed exchanged spies
     
    Not to my knowledge. I stand to be corrected if there is such a case. The point is significant because an exchanged spy has been unmasked, and generally tried, convicted and jailed. In other words, they've been punished and if it were deemed appropriate to kill them that would already have been done. And if Russia made a practice of murdering people they exchanged then there would be "witness protection" style programs in place for them.

    The important case is the exchanged spies, because that is what Skripal was, and that is why, as for-the-record has pointed out, he seemingly felt perfectly safe living openly in Britain, and his handlers presumably shared that confidence.

    My understanding is that Skripal was sentenced to only 13 years for his offences against Russia. That suggests that he is not Public Eneny Number One in Russian eyes.

    Hell, Amber Rudd wants to lock Brits up for 15 years for visits to naughty internet sites.

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    • Replies: @Randal

    My understanding is that Skripal was sentenced to only 13 years for his offences against Russia. That suggests that he is not Public Eneny Number One in Russian eyes.
     
    Indeed.

    Hell, Amber Rudd wants to lock Brits up for 15 years for visits to naughty internet sites.
     
    The big punishments here are mostly reserved for crimes by harmless people, such as minor perverts and (white) speech and thought criminals.

    The official English Court of Appeal approved sentence applicable to a previously convicted criminal thug for killing a man in a violent assault on a stranger in the street, for supposedly "disrespecting" his mate by telling him he shouldn't be cycling on the pavement, is four and a half years, (out after two years or so, in practice, with good behaviour while inside).

    At least, that's for specially privileged groups such as blacks. It might well be higher if it had been a white guy who had killed a black victim.
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  • @Randal

    I suppose it is possible someone at Porton Down got bored and did it for kicks. Realistically however, it was an FSB operation, although maybe the line manager was exceeding their orders on some pretext. Why the higher reaches of Russian government have authorized their secret service to go on like this this is anyone’s guess.
     
    Well no, it's your guess and the guess of people like you who for whatever reason seem to have a animus against Russia.

    After the FSB used about 15 million pounds worth of Polonium on Alexander Litvinenko, contaminated themselves, and left a trail back to Moscow like a radioactive mammoth in six feet of snow, perhaps Putin decided a Soviet era nerve gas attack was the ideal way to show the world how subtle and high tech his country could be! Proof, if proof were needed, that Russians, not only take sledgehammers to crack nuts, they think the cracking of nuts is what sledgehammers were invented for.
     
    You mean this Litvinenko:

    "The report admits that there are no hard facts to support the claims against Putin, noting that “evidence of Russian state involvement in most of these deaths is circumstantial”. But “circumstantial” is used here as a euphemism for “factually unsupported”. "

    It's entirely unsurprising that "circumstantial evidence", "bias" and "hearsay" is enough to convince someone like you with a pre-existing animus against Russia of Russia's supposed guilt, but there's no reason why anybody else should take it seriously.

    Guilt is a legal definition in a court of law, and that has little relevance to the case of a country assassinating someone in another state. An insurance company does not have to prove a claimant guilty of fraud, they will refuse to pay out on a policy if they think they have enough evidence to win a civil case. I suspect that the FSB benefit from the association with Putin in much the same way Georgians were above criticism in Soviet Russia because of Stalin.

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  • @Sean
    I suppose it is possible someone at Porton Down got bored and did it for kicks. Realistically however, it was an FSB operation, although maybe the line manager was exceeding their orders on some pretext. Why the higher reaches of Russian government have authorized their secret service to go on like this this is anyone's guess.


    After the FSB used about 15 million pounds worth of Polonium on Alexander Litvinenko, contaminated themselves, and left a trail back to Moscow like a radioactive mammoth in six feet of snow, perhaps Putin decided a Soviet era nerve gas attack was the ideal way to show the world how subtle and high tech his country could be! Proof, if proof were needed, that Russians, not only take sledgehammers to crack nuts, they think the cracking of nuts is what sledgehammers were invented for.

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  • @Sean
    I suppose it is possible someone at Porton Down got bored and did it for kicks. Realistically however, it was an FSB operation, although maybe the line manager was exceeding their orders on some pretext. Why the higher reaches of Russian government have authorized their secret service to go on like this this is anyone's guess.


    After the FSB used about 15 million pounds worth of Polonium on Alexander Litvinenko, contaminated themselves, and left a trail back to Moscow like a radioactive mammoth in six feet of snow, perhaps Putin decided a Soviet era nerve gas attack was the ideal way to show the world how subtle and high tech his country could be! Proof, if proof were needed, that Russians, not only take sledgehammers to crack nuts, they think the cracking of nuts is what sledgehammers were invented for.

    I suppose it is possible someone at Porton Down got bored and did it for kicks. Realistically however, it was an FSB operation, although maybe the line manager was exceeding their orders on some pretext. Why the higher reaches of Russian government have authorized their secret service to go on like this this is anyone’s guess.

    Well no, it’s your guess and the guess of people like you who for whatever reason seem to have a animus against Russia.

    After the FSB used about 15 million pounds worth of Polonium on Alexander Litvinenko, contaminated themselves, and left a trail back to Moscow like a radioactive mammoth in six feet of snow, perhaps Putin decided a Soviet era nerve gas attack was the ideal way to show the world how subtle and high tech his country could be! Proof, if proof were needed, that Russians, not only take sledgehammers to crack nuts, they think the cracking of nuts is what sledgehammers were invented for.

    You mean this Litvinenko:

    The report admits that there are no hard facts to support the claims against Putin, noting that “evidence of Russian state involvement in most of these deaths is circumstantial”. But “circumstantial” is used here as a euphemism for “factually unsupported”.

    It’s entirely unsurprising that “circumstantial evidence”, “bias” and “hearsay” is enough to convince someone like you with a pre-existing animus against Russia of Russia’s supposed guilt, but there’s no reason why anybody else should take it seriously.

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    • Replies: @Sean
    Guilt is a legal definition in a court of law, and that has little relevance to the case of a country assassinating someone in another state. An insurance company does not have to prove a claimant guilty of fraud, they will refuse to pay out on a policy if they think they have enough evidence to win a civil case. I suspect that the FSB benefit from the association with Putin in much the same way Georgians were above criticism in Soviet Russia because of Stalin.
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  • I don’t know if they ever killed exchanged spies

    Not to my knowledge. I stand to be corrected if there is such a case. The point is significant because an exchanged spy has been unmasked, and generally tried, convicted and jailed. In other words, they’ve been punished and if it were deemed appropriate to kill them that would already have been done. And if Russia made a practice of murdering people they exchanged then there would be “witness protection” style programs in place for them.

    The important case is the exchanged spies, because that is what Skripal was, and that is why, as for-the-record has pointed out, he seemingly felt perfectly safe living openly in Britain, and his handlers presumably shared that confidence.

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    • Replies: @Hugh
    My understanding is that Skripal was sentenced to only 13 years for his offences against Russia. That suggests that he is not Public Eneny Number One in Russian eyes.

    Hell, Amber Rudd wants to lock Brits up for 15 years for visits to naughty internet sites.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • I suppose it is possible someone at Porton Down got bored and did it for kicks. Realistically however, it was an FSB operation, although maybe the line manager was exceeding their orders on some pretext. Why the higher reaches of Russian government have authorized their secret service to go on like this this is anyone’s guess.

    After the FSB used about 15 million pounds worth of Polonium on Alexander Litvinenko, contaminated themselves, and left a trail back to Moscow like a radioactive mammoth in six feet of snow, perhaps Putin decided a Soviet era nerve gas attack was the ideal way to show the world how subtle and high tech his country could be! Proof, if proof were needed, that Russians, not only take sledgehammers to crack nuts, they think the cracking of nuts is what sledgehammers were invented for.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Randal

    I suppose it is possible someone at Porton Down got bored and did it for kicks. Realistically however, it was an FSB operation, although maybe the line manager was exceeding their orders on some pretext. Why the higher reaches of Russian government have authorized their secret service to go on like this this is anyone’s guess.
     
    Well no, it's your guess and the guess of people like you who for whatever reason seem to have a animus against Russia.

    After the FSB used about 15 million pounds worth of Polonium on Alexander Litvinenko, contaminated themselves, and left a trail back to Moscow like a radioactive mammoth in six feet of snow, perhaps Putin decided a Soviet era nerve gas attack was the ideal way to show the world how subtle and high tech his country could be! Proof, if proof were needed, that Russians, not only take sledgehammers to crack nuts, they think the cracking of nuts is what sledgehammers were invented for.
     
    You mean this Litvinenko:

    "The report admits that there are no hard facts to support the claims against Putin, noting that “evidence of Russian state involvement in most of these deaths is circumstantial”. But “circumstantial” is used here as a euphemism for “factually unsupported”. "

    It's entirely unsurprising that "circumstantial evidence", "bias" and "hearsay" is enough to convince someone like you with a pre-existing animus against Russia of Russia's supposed guilt, but there's no reason why anybody else should take it seriously.
    , @reiner Tor
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  • @Randal
    LOL! Course it was, Sean.

    I suppose now you're going to provide your fantasy about how his doing that made it worth the Russian government's while to change their standard procedure and - for the first time ever as far as I'm aware - kill a jailed and exchanged former spy? And be damned to all the costs and inconvenience it would create for Russian business, diplomacy and soft power generally.

    After all, evil people just like to be evil, even when it costs them, eh Sean?

    I don’t know if they ever killed exchanged spies; they have certainly killed ex-spies. They always did it in a professional way. Suspicious accidents were I think the preferred method, so much so, that the suspicious death some of the killed ex-spies (or that of some of their family members) is still unsure whether it was murder or just accident.

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  • @Sean
    Skripal was going for chats with people from the Russian Embassy In London. That was a fatal error.

    LOL! Course it was, Sean.

    I suppose now you’re going to provide your fantasy about how his doing that made it worth the Russian government’s while to change their standard procedure and – for the first time ever as far as I’m aware – kill a jailed and exchanged former spy? And be damned to all the costs and inconvenience it would create for Russian business, diplomacy and soft power generally.

    After all, evil people just like to be evil, even when it costs them, eh Sean?

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I don’t know if they ever killed exchanged spies; they have certainly killed ex-spies. They always did it in a professional way. Suspicious accidents were I think the preferred method, so much so, that the suspicious death some of the killed ex-spies (or that of some of their family members) is still unsure whether it was murder or just accident.
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  • @Randal
    Indeed. Contrast it with the heavily protected locations and assumed identities of organised crime turncoats, where there actually is an established practice of applying a principle of "death to traitors".

    Skripal was going for chats with people from the Russian Embassy In London. That was a fatal error.

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    • Replies: @Randal
    LOL! Course it was, Sean.

    I suppose now you're going to provide your fantasy about how his doing that made it worth the Russian government's while to change their standard procedure and - for the first time ever as far as I'm aware - kill a jailed and exchanged former spy? And be damned to all the costs and inconvenience it would create for Russian business, diplomacy and soft power generally.

    After all, evil people just like to be evil, even when it costs them, eh Sean?
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  • @for-the-record
    On the contrary, the attitude of both sides has generally been that after punishment and exchange, the matter is closed.

    Which would seem to be confirmed by the fact that you can find Skripal's home address on the Internet, as well as that of the Novichok "whistleblower" Vil Mirzayanov (who was initially tried for treason, then held under house arrest before being permitted to "relocate" to the USA), very comfortably ensconced on a 2.5 acre estate in Princeton, New Jersey.

    Protestations to the contrary, they clearly didn't see a great need to preserve the secrecy of their whereabouts.

    Indeed. Contrast it with the heavily protected locations and assumed identities of organised crime turncoats, where there actually is an established practice of applying a principle of “death to traitors”.

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    • Replies: @Sean
    Skripal was going for chats with people from the Russian Embassy In London. That was a fatal error.
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  • @Randal

    My argument was based around the principle of Russia killing its traitors, which I stand by
     
    But this is not a principle that has been in evidence in practice, at least in relation to exchanged former spies. On the contrary, the attitude of both sides has generally been that after punishment and exchange, the matter is closed.

    On the contrary, the attitude of both sides has generally been that after punishment and exchange, the matter is closed.

    Which would seem to be confirmed by the fact that you can find Skripal’s home address on the Internet, as well as that of the Novichok “whistleblower” Vil Mirzayanov (who was initially tried for treason, then held under house arrest before being permitted to “relocate” to the USA), very comfortably ensconced on a 2.5 acre estate in Princeton, New Jersey.

    Protestations to the contrary, they clearly didn’t see a great need to preserve the secrecy of their whereabouts.

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    • Replies: @Randal
    Indeed. Contrast it with the heavily protected locations and assumed identities of organised crime turncoats, where there actually is an established practice of applying a principle of "death to traitors".
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  • @Polish Perspective

    I think it’s normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.
     
    I don't disagree. I also think it's normal for a country like Russia to send a message to potential traitors that you'll never be safe, ever. Which is entirely their right to do.

    Then there’s the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others
     
    Yup, and this is why I have lingering doubts about the narrative that Russia did it. They have been much more sophisticated in the past and I don't see a good reason as to why that would suddenly change. My argument was based around the principle of Russia killing its traitors, which I stand by. The use of Novichok is not part of that argument, and I frankly have a hard time seeing Russia using such a crude nerve agent. That's what raises the (false) flag here.

    My argument was based around the principle of Russia killing its traitors, which I stand by

    But this is not a principle that has been in evidence in practice, at least in relation to exchanged former spies. On the contrary, the attitude of both sides has generally been that after punishment and exchange, the matter is closed.

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    • Replies: @for-the-record
    On the contrary, the attitude of both sides has generally been that after punishment and exchange, the matter is closed.

    Which would seem to be confirmed by the fact that you can find Skripal's home address on the Internet, as well as that of the Novichok "whistleblower" Vil Mirzayanov (who was initially tried for treason, then held under house arrest before being permitted to "relocate" to the USA), very comfortably ensconced on a 2.5 acre estate in Princeton, New Jersey.

    Protestations to the contrary, they clearly didn't see a great need to preserve the secrecy of their whereabouts.
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  • @LondonBob
    Actually I think the Kremlin is playing it better than they usually do, just keep on pushing the OPCW approach and questioning motive, means and who might have done it as well as the bizarre reaction by the government and media here.

    I would say we are determined to find who attempted to murder a Russian citizen on British soil and that they will be punished, and duly punish them if they have a good idea who did.

    I agree. As is often (but not always, as you previously pointed out) the case, they are so far playing a weak hand as well as can be expected. They are usually better at doing this in the military and strategic areas than in the diplomatic and soft power areas.

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  • @reiner Tor
    That’s not impossible, but most of the evidence for that theory is the word of honor of a bunch of inveterate liars.

    We haven’t yet heard the names of the suspects or their description or how they know they were Russians. Basically, it’s really just a lot of secret evidence, so far.

    But at least this explanation makes sense.

    But at least this explanation makes sense.

    No it doesn’t. At most, it’s superficially plausible until one actually thinks it through. Then it becomes clear that it’s nonsensical.

    When you read it, you have some vague notion that raising the heat of the confrontation will make Russians in London uncomfortable, and so it seems plausible. But in reality the Russians in London have lived through much worse and the UK regime certainly isn’t going to take any measures that directly encourage any departure of Russian wealth from London, especially in the present Brexit circumstances. So again, there is no real benefit beneath the veneer of plausibility presented by the anti-Russian propagandists.

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  • @Randal

    So what is going to be Kremlin’s explanation this time? “That doesn’t prove anything! Propaganda!” Which is of course totally correct, but that’s not the point. So what should they do?
     
    The problem is that there is really no other plausible way of responding than to deny it and say there is "no proof" (assuming a defiant confession is out of the question). And as you point out, that just looks weak, and in a situation in which the mainstream media are pretty much all in the grip of the accusers it is almost as good as a confession.

    After that, it gets worse, because Russia has to choose whether to downplay it and ride it out (weak, again), or to respond aggressively to any accusations and subsequent measures. The latter of course plays right into the hands of those pushing the "Russian state murder" narrative, because a confrontational relationship between Russia and the US along with the component countries of its sphere is exactly what those people want in the first place.

    Fwiw I don't believe for a second that the Russian state was responsible for this incident. It makes no sense on too many counts, not least on the fundamental "cui bono" basis. Like the idea of the Syrian government conveniently using just enough chemical weapons to provide a pretext for US attacks but nowhere near enough to actually benefit them materially, it is literally absurd.

    I don't know who did it, but I do know who is exploiting it to the maximum, and it's the usual neocon and other suspects amongst the US sphere elites. They are pushing it precisely because they know that it creates a "no win" situation for Russia.

    Actually I think the Kremlin is playing it better than they usually do, just keep on pushing the OPCW approach and questioning motive, means and who might have done it as well as the bizarre reaction by the government and media here.

    I would say we are determined to find who attempted to murder a Russian citizen on British soil and that they will be punished, and duly punish them if they have a good idea who did.

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    • Replies: @Randal
    I agree. As is often (but not always, as you previously pointed out) the case, they are so far playing a weak hand as well as can be expected. They are usually better at doing this in the military and strategic areas than in the diplomatic and soft power areas.
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  • @Sean
    It was Russian secret agents. One imagines they have to have authorization to get
    Novichok. Ergo Putin OKed it.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/13/spy-poisoning-why-putin-may-have-engineered-gruesome-calling-card

    Grigol Chkhartishvili, best known for writing detective novels under the pen name Boris Akunin, suggested Putin was betting on a British retaliation that would drive wealthy and prominent Russians out of London. The community of Russian émigrés (and families of wealthy businessmen and officials) was “one of the weak points of the regime”, he wrote, and forcing them out would be “useful and beneficial” for Putin.

    Well it is a theory…

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  • @Sean
    It was Russian secret agents. One imagines they have to have authorization to get
    Novichok. Ergo Putin OKed it.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/13/spy-poisoning-why-putin-may-have-engineered-gruesome-calling-card

    Grigol Chkhartishvili, best known for writing detective novels under the pen name Boris Akunin, suggested Putin was betting on a British retaliation that would drive wealthy and prominent Russians out of London. The community of Russian émigrés (and families of wealthy businessmen and officials) was “one of the weak points of the regime”, he wrote, and forcing them out would be “useful and beneficial” for Putin.

    Putin was betting on a British retaliation that would drive wealthy and prominent Russians out of London. The community of Russian émigrés (and families of wealthy businessmen and officials) was “one of the weak points of the regime”, he wrote, and forcing them out would be “useful and beneficial” for Putin.

    Fatuous.

    The prospect of this contributing significantly to “forcing out” Russian emigres is zero. Meanwhile the costs to Russia of the raised heat in the confrontational relationship with the US sphere will likely be significant (as intended, of course).

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  • @Sean
    It was Russian secret agents. One imagines they have to have authorization to get
    Novichok. Ergo Putin OKed it.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/13/spy-poisoning-why-putin-may-have-engineered-gruesome-calling-card

    Grigol Chkhartishvili, best known for writing detective novels under the pen name Boris Akunin, suggested Putin was betting on a British retaliation that would drive wealthy and prominent Russians out of London. The community of Russian émigrés (and families of wealthy businessmen and officials) was “one of the weak points of the regime”, he wrote, and forcing them out would be “useful and beneficial” for Putin.

    That’s not impossible, but most of the evidence for that theory is the word of honor of a bunch of inveterate liars.

    We haven’t yet heard the names of the suspects or their description or how they know they were Russians. Basically, it’s really just a lot of secret evidence, so far.

    But at least this explanation makes sense.

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    • Replies: @Randal

    But at least this explanation makes sense.
     
    No it doesn't. At most, it's superficially plausible until one actually thinks it through. Then it becomes clear that it's nonsensical.

    When you read it, you have some vague notion that raising the heat of the confrontation will make Russians in London uncomfortable, and so it seems plausible. But in reality the Russians in London have lived through much worse and the UK regime certainly isn't going to take any measures that directly encourage any departure of Russian wealth from London, especially in the present Brexit circumstances. So again, there is no real benefit beneath the veneer of plausibility presented by the anti-Russian propagandists.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • It was Russian secret agents. One imagines they have to have authorization to get
    Novichok. Ergo Putin OKed it.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/13/spy-poisoning-why-putin-may-have-engineered-gruesome-calling-card

    Grigol Chkhartishvili, best known for writing detective novels under the pen name Boris Akunin, suggested Putin was betting on a British retaliation that would drive wealthy and prominent Russians out of London. The community of Russian émigrés (and families of wealthy businessmen and officials) was “one of the weak points of the regime”, he wrote, and forcing them out would be “useful and beneficial” for Putin.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    That’s not impossible, but most of the evidence for that theory is the word of honor of a bunch of inveterate liars.

    We haven’t yet heard the names of the suspects or their description or how they know they were Russians. Basically, it’s really just a lot of secret evidence, so far.

    But at least this explanation makes sense.
    , @Randal

    Putin was betting on a British retaliation that would drive wealthy and prominent Russians out of London. The community of Russian émigrés (and families of wealthy businessmen and officials) was “one of the weak points of the regime”, he wrote, and forcing them out would be “useful and beneficial” for Putin.
     
    Fatuous.

    The prospect of this contributing significantly to "forcing out" Russian emigres is zero. Meanwhile the costs to Russia of the raised heat in the confrontational relationship with the US sphere will likely be significant (as intended, of course).
    , @LondonBob
    Well it is a theory...
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  • @for-the-record
    It’s just that I don’t think we can be 100% sure of it.

    Of course you're right, so let's assign probabilities ("based on the information we have"):

    1. Putin did it

    2. rogue Russian intelligence operation

    3. false flag by the Empire or its affiliates

    4. false flag by anti-Putninists

    5. suicide attempt (or suicide-murder)

    6. accident

    7. other

    It’s the reverse vampires.

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  • @michael dr
    Litvinenko and Skripal both happened in UK. Not France, not Germany, not even Canada. Has anyone heard of a similar claim elsewhere?
    Which suggest to me that the CIA act particularly closely with UK intelligence services.
    Also 1 week on the Skripal's are not dead!! What else does that remind you off.
    Mrs Litvinenko though was available for interview the next day with a prepared script.
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  • @Kimppis
    That is a good point, but the overall MSM narrative is damning for Russia, and this incident is just part of it. I'm really not talking about their Russophobia as a whole, but about the narrative that The Dark Lord Putler is a butcher, who "kills masses of journalists, 'dissidents', 'opposition' 'politicians'... little babies... your pet dog..........."

    Just really, really nasty demonization, statistics and facts do't matter. Just an anecdote, but I had a chat about Putin and Russia with a friend recently, who's reasonably well informed, but we usually don't talk about this kind of stuff. So anyway, he said that while "Putin seems like a decent leader, a good counterweight vs. the US and I also don't like how the media is so hysterical towards Russia, it's still not great that he has murdered so many of his competitors and critics."

    And it's just a very common Russophobic argument against Russia and especially Russian media (and non-Western MSM in general now?). "Why the hell are you reading/working for RT!? Don't you know that Putin personally kills 1000 journalists every year?"

    I don't know, I just get really get triggered by that meme, it just sounds particularly... well, nasty, and by the current standards of Russia-bashing, that's an achievement.

    And you know what's the worst thing? The usual Russian/non-Russophobic/Russophile counter-argument is pathetic (Stephen Cohen recently is a great example): "there's no proof." Yeah, that sounds so convincing. That, especially in the current environment, is not good enough. More people should read Karlin's posts, especially on this subject. Depressing.

    And reiner Tor is IMO correct as well:

    Then there’s the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others, including not only his daughter (who had continued to live in Russia), but also innocent bystanders like the policeman who first came to help them.
     
    So what is going to be Kremlin's explanation this time? "That doesn't prove anything! Propaganda!" Which is of course totally correct, but that's not the point. So what should they do? I don't know, RT copy pasting these would be a good start (with a permission, of course lol):

    http://akarlin.com/2012/05/russian-journalists-are-far-safer-than-mexican-journalists-ordinary-russians-and-their-own-counterparts-under-yeltsin/

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/trump-right-on-putin/
     
    And I know Skripal isn't (luckily he... or rather they are still alive, I suppose?) a journalist, but that is IMO very much on topic.

    So what is going to be Kremlin’s explanation this time? “That doesn’t prove anything! Propaganda!” Which is of course totally correct, but that’s not the point. So what should they do?

    The problem is that there is really no other plausible way of responding than to deny it and say there is “no proof” (assuming a defiant confession is out of the question). And as you point out, that just looks weak, and in a situation in which the mainstream media are pretty much all in the grip of the accusers it is almost as good as a confession.

    After that, it gets worse, because Russia has to choose whether to downplay it and ride it out (weak, again), or to respond aggressively to any accusations and subsequent measures. The latter of course plays right into the hands of those pushing the “Russian state murder” narrative, because a confrontational relationship between Russia and the US along with the component countries of its sphere is exactly what those people want in the first place.

    Fwiw I don’t believe for a second that the Russian state was responsible for this incident. It makes no sense on too many counts, not least on the fundamental “cui bono” basis. Like the idea of the Syrian government conveniently using just enough chemical weapons to provide a pretext for US attacks but nowhere near enough to actually benefit them materially, it is literally absurd.

    I don’t know who did it, but I do know who is exploiting it to the maximum, and it’s the usual neocon and other suspects amongst the US sphere elites. They are pushing it precisely because they know that it creates a “no win” situation for Russia.

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    • Replies: @LondonBob
    Actually I think the Kremlin is playing it better than they usually do, just keep on pushing the OPCW approach and questioning motive, means and who might have done it as well as the bizarre reaction by the government and media here.

    I would say we are determined to find who attempted to murder a Russian citizen on British soil and that they will be punished, and duly punish them if they have a good idea who did.
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  • We get 24/7 fake “Russian Hacking” propaganda so why shouldn’t the Skripal murder also be a False Flag aimed at Russia?

    After all, it’s all coming from the same people who did WMD and 9/11, and they know that the Americans and W. Europeans fall for it every time.

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  • @for-the-record
    I agree. As long as Germany and Brazil don’t boycott, who cares.

    Not sure it's as simple as that. There are 8 groups (A-H) of 4 countries each, and it is not at all inconceivable that 1 or more countries from groups A, B, C, D, F, G, H might boycott (and even in Group E Switzerland is a possibility, after all just last month they froze the bank accounts of the World Chess Federation because its Russian president was supposedly aiding Islamic terrorists).

    So what happens then? Do they invite other countries (who?) to fill the missing gaps, like the case of Denmark (replacing evil Yugoslavia in the 1992 European Cup)?

    Or do they rearrange the groups, say 5 groups of 4 countries? This is also not so easy on such short notice.

    Not sure it’s as simple as that. There are 8 groups (A-H) of 4 countries each, and it is not at all inconceivable that 1 or more countries from groups A, B, C, D, F, G, H might boycott (and even in Group E Switzerland is a possibility, after all just last month they froze the bank accounts of the World Chess Federation because its Russian president was supposedly aiding Islamic terrorists).

    So what happens then? Do they invite other countries (who?) to fill the missing gaps, like the case of Denmark (replacing evil Yugoslavia in the 1992 European Cup)?

    Or do they rearrange the groups, say 5 groups of 4 countries? This is also not so easy on such short notice.

    Americans have actually bought a huge amount of tickets for the World Cup- the most of any country, despite it actually being the Americans who are behind all this anti-Russian propaganda. I think they would jump at the chance to appear in Russia were another team to drop out.
    Chile are an amazing team, South Americans champions the last 2 teams, easily deserve to be in Russia…though they have normal been an American satellite politically…..they have such a good team there is no chance they wouldn’t go to the World Cup if invited.
    Italy isn’t anti-Russia and would never boycott,

    Those are 3 teams who didn’t qualify but could easily come in ( and in the case of Chile and Italy, easily win it)

    If France,Spain or Portugal …and obviously Brazil and Argentina were to not participate, then yes it would be a disaster….but there is zero chance of that.

    I would love to see one of the other former Soviet Union sides ( Kazakhstan/Armenia) ,who are easily at the same level of some of the European teams, going to the World Cup. Too many average Scandinavian sides are going. Turkey on their day can be decent…..not a bad team to replace any dropouts.

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  • @reiner Tor
    I stand corrected. In any event, it's a bit different from giving refugee status to Chechen warlords or fleeing oligarchs.

    Or supporting the Saudis in their starvation of hundreds of thousands of Yemeni women and children. Oops, wait, that was West Pakistan, I mean “Great” Britain.

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  • @Dmitry
    To my ignorant of these issues, personal view (for what very little it is worth), it seems the successful operation.

    It sends a message to traitors (they are not safe anywhere, even if they want to hide out in a 'spy swap' in the country they betrayed you for).

    And it sends an important message to the British (don't hide traitors).

    What are the drawbacks? The British won't do anything real in response (they have no options), and the British public do not care that a foreign spy was killed - they know it's nothing targeting them personally. But the important people - will get the message.

    --

    ^ All that said, with the disclaimer. I am office nobody who knows nothing about this subject or field. And I have no idea how the actual 'important somebodies' of the world are thinking or doing things, or what is considered normal for them, beyond having read some bathroom spy fiction. Maybe my view is a completely childish or inaccurate one.

    The issue with this is that the bloke wasn’t in hiding. He was listed on public registers and lived entirely in the open. Killing him to send a message that the Russians are capable of killing someone who isn’t even hiding wouldn’t exactly teach Russian traitors anything new. There is zero value in it for Russia and a whole lot of potential downside.

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  • @Anon
    He was exchanged, so killing him a) jeopardizes future exchanges and b) puts other exchanged spies at risk. Not worth doing (especially in this messy way) if there was no other reason to kill him.

    He was exchanged, so killing him a) jeopardizes future exchanges and b) puts other exchanged spies at risk. Not worth doing (especially in this messy way) if there was no other reason to kill him.

    My theory raises as many questions as it answers, true, and these are strong arguments against it. Let’s wait and see.

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  • @for-the-record
    My argument was based around the principle of Russia killing its traitors

    Fair enough, but why not kill him during the 4 years he was in a Russian prison (2006-2010) before he was exchanged?

    Fair enough, but why not kill him during the 4 years he was in a Russian prison (2006-2010) before he was exchanged?

    Why not, indeed? Possible answers: (1) for whatever reason, someone decided that now was the right time to set an example; (2) Kremlin couldn’t afford the PR backlash back then, either because it still held out hope to join the Washington/Brussels set or because it felt itself too economically vulnerable. (And [3] reiner Tor’s speculation that exchanging him for Chapman and Co. was seen as the better deal at the time.)

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  • @Swedish Family

    No, if the MSM story is correct, then this was a bit more than just “killing a Russian traitor hidden by the British.”

    He was sentenced to prison like fifteen years ago. Then he was swapped for a Russian spy in 2010. Since he had spied for the British, he was being hidden by them. I think it’s normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.
     

    Yes, but this is a legalistic argument. Most normal people will go by their gut feeling, which is, I suspect, that a traitor got his just deserts. Much like no one I know of has ever shed a tear for Litvinenko or the many jihadis assassinated by Mossad.

    Then there’s the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others, including not only his daughter (who had continued to live in Russia), but also innocent bystanders like the policeman who first came to help them. I think even some passers-by needed to be taken to hospital for inspection.
     
    This is more troublesome, yes, and it adds a question mark to my theory. Why employ such a shotgun approach when the target was so easy to get to?

    He was exchanged, so killing him a) jeopardizes future exchanges and b) puts other exchanged spies at risk. Not worth doing (especially in this messy way) if there was no other reason to kill him.

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    • Replies: @Swedish Family

    He was exchanged, so killing him a) jeopardizes future exchanges and b) puts other exchanged spies at risk. Not worth doing (especially in this messy way) if there was no other reason to kill him.
     
    My theory raises as many questions as it answers, true, and these are strong arguments against it. Let's wait and see.
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  • @for-the-record
    Reiner, on several occasions you have mentioned the Bologna massacre in 1980 as a false flag without apparently feeling any necessity to use the word "alleged". This impressed me in the sense that you are quite evidently very careful in what you say, and not an embracer of conspiratorial theories in general. The official story of course is that it was a leftist terrorist attack.

    Can you recommend some credible sources -- I presume you are referring to Operation Gladio?

    Thanks.

    Actually, you just caught me in the wrong.

    I read about it a long time ago, and I read at the time that the Italian intelligence services supported far right terrorists to commit terrorist attacks against the population at large which would discredit left-wing terrorists committing terror attacks in a more targeted manner. I read that the bombing was “too good” for false flag purposes (i.e. the military intelligence didn’t expect “their” terrorists to kill so many people), so no one claimed responsibility. But apparently I remembered wrongly. Thanks for pointing this out.

    What seems to be proven (well… not really, but at least that’s the official version for which people are serving sentences) is that it was committed by a far right organization. There was some shady military intelligence involvement (someone from the Florence office of the military intelligence called a press agency claiming responsibility in the name of… the same far right organization which was later found responsible by the authorities…), but nothing of the sort I remembered seems to be proven at all.

    Again, thanks for pointing this out.

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  • Reiner, on several occasions you have mentioned the Bologna massacre in 1980 as a false flag without apparently feeling any necessity to use the word “alleged”. This impressed me in the sense that you are quite evidently very careful in what you say, and not an embracer of conspiratorial theories in general. The official story of course is that it was a leftist terrorist attack.

    Can you recommend some credible sources — I presume you are referring to Operation Gladio?

    Thanks.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Actually, you just caught me in the wrong.

    I read about it a long time ago, and I read at the time that the Italian intelligence services supported far right terrorists to commit terrorist attacks against the population at large which would discredit left-wing terrorists committing terror attacks in a more targeted manner. I read that the bombing was "too good" for false flag purposes (i.e. the military intelligence didn't expect "their" terrorists to kill so many people), so no one claimed responsibility. But apparently I remembered wrongly. Thanks for pointing this out.

    What seems to be proven (well... not really, but at least that's the official version for which people are serving sentences) is that it was committed by a far right organization. There was some shady military intelligence involvement (someone from the Florence office of the military intelligence called a press agency claiming responsibility in the name of... the same far right organization which was later found responsible by the authorities...), but nothing of the sort I remembered seems to be proven at all.

    Again, thanks for pointing this out.
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  • @for-the-record
    My argument was based around the principle of Russia killing its traitors

    Fair enough, but why not kill him during the 4 years he was in a Russian prison (2006-2010) before he was exchanged?

    I guess to use him to extract some Russians, like Chapman. That way they can eat their cake and have it, too.

    Anyway, there are easier ways to kill someone without having to rely on extremely dangerous and easy to detect substances being smuggled into the UK.

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  • @Polish Perspective

    I think it’s normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.
     
    I don't disagree. I also think it's normal for a country like Russia to send a message to potential traitors that you'll never be safe, ever. Which is entirely their right to do.

    Then there’s the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others
     
    Yup, and this is why I have lingering doubts about the narrative that Russia did it. They have been much more sophisticated in the past and I don't see a good reason as to why that would suddenly change. My argument was based around the principle of Russia killing its traitors, which I stand by. The use of Novichok is not part of that argument, and I frankly have a hard time seeing Russia using such a crude nerve agent. That's what raises the (false) flag here.

    My argument was based around the principle of Russia killing its traitors

    Fair enough, but why not kill him during the 4 years he was in a Russian prison (2006-2010) before he was exchanged?

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I guess to use him to extract some Russians, like Chapman. That way they can eat their cake and have it, too.

    Anyway, there are easier ways to kill someone without having to rely on extremely dangerous and easy to detect substances being smuggled into the UK.
    , @Swedish Family

    Fair enough, but why not kill him during the 4 years he was in a Russian prison (2006-2010) before he was exchanged?
     
    Why not, indeed? Possible answers: (1) for whatever reason, someone decided that now was the right time to set an example; (2) Kremlin couldn't afford the PR backlash back then, either because it still held out hope to join the Washington/Brussels set or because it felt itself too economically vulnerable. (And [3] reiner Tor's speculation that exchanging him for Chapman and Co. was seen as the better deal at the time.)
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  • @reiner Tor
    “Theresa May: ‘Highly Likely’ Russia Is Responsible for Poisoning Former Spy”

    When it comes to Russia, the Brit establishment has been noticeably nuanced in their prose. Recall the UK legal finding saying that the Russian government “probably” ordered a hit on Litvinenko.

    To date, there has been no clear debunking of another possibility. Litvinenko’s Italian friend was arrested for arms smuggling. Said friend was also infected with polonium. Litvinenko was known to be sympathetic to the Chechen separatist cause. He also had ties to the sleazy propaganda, put out by the Boris Berezovsky associated Alex Goldfarb.

    One can reasonably surmise the likelihood Litvinenko was poisoned in a manner not having to do with the Russian government.

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  • @jimmyriddle
    One interesting thing is that Skripal was living openly, in a house that was bought under his real name.

    A simple Land Registry search would have revealed his address - rather odd, considering that several close relatives are reported to have died in dodgy circumstances.

    (As usual) “rather odd” seems fairly appropriate.
    See (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/48973.htm) for some interesting “facts”.
    Skripal was involved with Sharpe & that whole grotty “dossier” affair ?
    Skripal was convicted of treason in Russia, then quickly pardoned by the State & put on the Spies to be exchanged List ?
    Skripal was visiting the Russian embassy in London roughly once a month ?
    The British produce the SAME nerve agent, oddly enough, at Porton Downs very close to Salsbury.
    His daughter remains a resident of Russia.

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  • @Robert Pinkerton
    If Col. Skripal was GRU, this represents a significant retreat from "... there is only one way out of the GRU...," referring to the incinerator in the quadrangle courtyard of the Aquarium. ("Prologue," Inside the Aquarium, by "Viktor Suvorov.")

    “Viktor Suborov” was also once in the GRU. Did he leave it that same day? Were there any attempts on his life?

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  • @reiner Tor
    OT

    Anatoly, are you planning to write something about the conspiracy theory surrounding the 1999 apartment bombings? Your commenters melanf and Dmitry wrote a lot of valuable information about it in the other thread, so maybe you wouldn't have to work with it much (though of course it'd be better if you added your own insight and possibly your results). I'm offering $50 as an incentive. Are others maybe interested, too?

    It's basically the most important anti-Putin conspiracy theory which mainstream people believe, and which - at least superficially - looks somewhat plausible. For example reading the English Wikipedia, it seems obvious that it was the FSB. Of course, your commenters gave a number of details which make it look like a ridiculous conspiracy theory. (Which it probably is.)

    But it'd be great to have an article which could be used as a resource for later reference.

    BS aside, there’s nothing substantive to support the claim made against the Russian government on this matter.

    At the time of the apartment bombings, the growing lawlessness in Chechnya had already been quite clear. Hence, the Russian government didn’t need to risk getting caught in a conspiracy involving its murder of innocents.

    The only “evidence” concerns someone reportedly arrested for witnessing a clandestine Russian government anti-terrorist operation, which involved explosives in an empty building. Nothing really special in that it’s a perfectly reasonable exercise, coupled with an understandable desire to not have the methodology so well advertised to others.

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  • @reiner Tor

    And as far as I remember, nothing of that sort has ever happened.
     
    The boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympics in 1980 was similar.

    The communists, being communists, couldn't help themselves from shooting themselves in the feet. They boycotted the 1984 LA Summer Olympics in response, and forced all of their satellites to join them in the boycott, which made them extremely unpopular, but didn't do any damage to the Americans.

    I'm actually unsure if a boycott would hurt Russia that much. Especially if it was only a partial boycott, like England and maybe a couple other major European countries boycotting, but most European countries would go on to participate, along with all of Asia and Latin America. I guess everyone would just be happy to see their chances increased.

    Warsaw Pact member Romania went to the 1984 LA Summer Olympics, with their team receiving a rousing ovation at the opening ceremony. Classic example of how the US establishment and the many Americans duped by, it hypocritically play the human rights card.

    For now, I don’t see much of a boycott of the 2018 World Cup. BoJo’s suggestion for such was met with a good deal of Brit opposition. At present, the evidence of a Russian government orchestrated hit in this latest episode, as well as the prior one seems quite suspect. Regarding this recent matter, I understand that Mary Dejevsky noted a main theme of the Misha Glenny inspired “McMafia” TV series, which indicates that not everything done in Russia is Russian government controlled.

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  • @Polish Perspective

    I think it’s normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.
     
    I don't disagree. I also think it's normal for a country like Russia to send a message to potential traitors that you'll never be safe, ever. Which is entirely their right to do.

    Then there’s the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others
     
    Yup, and this is why I have lingering doubts about the narrative that Russia did it. They have been much more sophisticated in the past and I don't see a good reason as to why that would suddenly change. My argument was based around the principle of Russia killing its traitors, which I stand by. The use of Novichok is not part of that argument, and I frankly have a hard time seeing Russia using such a crude nerve agent. That's what raises the (false) flag here.

    They might kill providing that he did something detrimental to Russia. So, if that be the case one should ask what Skripal did so terrible to motivate the kill. Otherwise it would be killing a fly with a sledgehammer, thing that Russians are not that stupid to do.

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  • @reiner Tor
    No, if the MSM story is correct, then this was a bit more than just "killing a Russian traitor hidden by the British."

    He was sentenced to prison like fifteen years ago. Then he was swapped for a Russian spy in 2010. Since he had spied for the British, he was being hidden by them. I think it's normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.

    Then there's the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others, including not only his daughter (who had continued to live in Russia), but also innocent bystanders like the policeman who first came to help them. I think even some passers-by needed to be taken to hospital for inspection.

    So this matter is quite serious.

    I think it’s normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.

    I don’t disagree. I also think it’s normal for a country like Russia to send a message to potential traitors that you’ll never be safe, ever. Which is entirely their right to do.

    Then there’s the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others

    Yup, and this is why I have lingering doubts about the narrative that Russia did it. They have been much more sophisticated in the past and I don’t see a good reason as to why that would suddenly change. My argument was based around the principle of Russia killing its traitors, which I stand by. The use of Novichok is not part of that argument, and I frankly have a hard time seeing Russia using such a crude nerve agent. That’s what raises the (false) flag here.

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    • Replies: @Seraphim
    They might kill providing that he did something detrimental to Russia. So, if that be the case one should ask what Skripal did so terrible to motivate the kill. Otherwise it would be killing a fly with a sledgehammer, thing that Russians are not that stupid to do.
    , @for-the-record
    My argument was based around the principle of Russia killing its traitors

    Fair enough, but why not kill him during the 4 years he was in a Russian prison (2006-2010) before he was exchanged?
    , @Randal

    My argument was based around the principle of Russia killing its traitors, which I stand by
     
    But this is not a principle that has been in evidence in practice, at least in relation to exchanged former spies. On the contrary, the attitude of both sides has generally been that after punishment and exchange, the matter is closed.
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  • @German_reader

    Even if Putin personally did OK the assassination, I don’t really see a problem
     
    Sending assassination teams to other countries is a serious infringement of national sovereignty, there's also the matter that something could go wrong and uninvolved bystanders could get hurt or killed (e.g. there was that case in the 1970s when the Israelis hunted down the people they held responsible for the Munich attacks...and mistakenly killed a completely innocent Moroccan waiter in Norway). Such things definitely shouldn't be tolerated...would you really want foreign intelligence services committing murders in your country?
    That being said, I have difficulty believing Putin would be insane enough to order something like this, so I'd suppose it was either done by some rogue elements in the Russian security services acting on their own initiative, or is something concocted by actors unrelated to Russia. But tbh I don't think we can really know.

    Sending assassination teams to other countries is a serious infringement of national sovereignty

    Depends who the target is. If the target is a traitor which said country has decided to shield, then nobody can be surprised if the traitor is punished for his treason. As Raul pointed out, if the Brits would have been able to kill Philby during the Cold War, they’d do it.

    would you really want foreign intelligence services committing murders in your country?

    You’re mixing a general principle with a particular circumstance. The target in question is a Russian traitor, not a random waiter at a restaurant. I still doubt the story, because I have a hard time seeing how Russia would use Novichok when they have been far more elegant in the past.

    But if the Russians used polonium again or something similar, then I’d have zero qualms about them going after a traitor.

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  • @Beckow
    Someone would have to get to UK with a dangerous and detectable 'military grade nerve agent'. Then they would have to go to Salisbury, do some surveillance, poison the victims, and get away. It would have to be a small team. Britain is an island, movement in and out is controlled - they just found a 'populist' Canadian girl, Lauren Southern, on a public bus trying to enter UK and stopped her, they know who is coming and going.

    Given today's levels of surveillance, how is that a rational plan to assassinate anyone? There must be zillions of pieces of data that UK security can go through to find suspects. In addition, just like with Litvinenko, any retired 'foreign' spy is under surveillance - all contacts and movements.

    I don't want to beat Occam's razor to death, there are certainly exceptions. But the discrepancy in this case between a local act versus someone 'sent by Russia' is very large. On all three basic crime criteria - motif, opportunity and means - it is a stretch to go looking all the way to Russia.

    One can argue that there are sleeper cells in UK willing to do the dirty work, or that the assassins were dropped by a submarine on a beach somewhere and then undetected got to Salisbury - but that is a too James Bondish, why do it that way?

    We have to assume that the method was meant to be the message. The nerve gas was meant to be the heart of the story. A car accident, or even a shooting would get almost no publicity. Cui bono? Is it beneficial for Putin to be tagged as using complicated chemical weapons in UK? I don't know, maybe if they plan to wipe out all life on earth and laugh gregariously while doing it, it would be a good start. But if they are not, why the hell would they do this? Putin doesn't strike me as a nihilist.

    If you talk about motives, means and opportunities then the culprit is definitely the British Government.

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  • Someone would have to get to UK with a dangerous and detectable ‘military grade nerve agent’. Then they would have to go to Salisbury, do some surveillance, poison the victims, and get away. It would have to be a small team. Britain is an island, movement in and out is controlled – they just found a ‘populist’ Canadian girl, Lauren Southern, on a public bus trying to enter UK and stopped her, they know who is coming and going.

    Given today’s levels of surveillance, how is that a rational plan to assassinate anyone? There must be zillions of pieces of data that UK security can go through to find suspects. In addition, just like with Litvinenko, any retired ‘foreign’ spy is under surveillance – all contacts and movements.

    I don’t want to beat Occam’s razor to death, there are certainly exceptions. But the discrepancy in this case between a local act versus someone ‘sent by Russia’ is very large. On all three basic crime criteria – motif, opportunity and means – it is a stretch to go looking all the way to Russia.

    One can argue that there are sleeper cells in UK willing to do the dirty work, or that the assassins were dropped by a submarine on a beach somewhere and then undetected got to Salisbury – but that is a too James Bondish, why do it that way?

    We have to assume that the method was meant to be the message. The nerve gas was meant to be the heart of the story. A car accident, or even a shooting would get almost no publicity. Cui bono? Is it beneficial for Putin to be tagged as using complicated chemical weapons in UK? I don’t know, maybe if they plan to wipe out all life on earth and laugh gregariously while doing it, it would be a good start. But if they are not, why the hell would they do this? Putin doesn’t strike me as a nihilist.

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    • Replies: @Seraphim
    If you talk about motives, means and opportunities then the culprit is definitely the British Government.
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  • If Col. Skripal was GRU, this represents a significant retreat from “… there is only one way out of the GRU…,” referring to the incinerator in the quadrangle courtyard of the Aquarium. (“Prologue,” Inside the Aquarium, by “Viktor Suvorov.”)

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    “Viktor Suborov” was also once in the GRU. Did he leave it that same day? Were there any attempts on his life?
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  • @What if Skripal, living alone in the UK, then decided that his life would be more meaningful (and longer) if he were to return to Russia and be close to his daughter?

    You know that is what many people (including truly yours) thought in the first place? They did not forget the ‘suicide’ of Berezovsky exactly when he was prepared to return to Russia and spill the beans.

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  • Skripal was in the telephone directory, sounds like a pretty amateur attempt, not sure about the poison being what is claimed or how complex so if it were an assassination attempt then it could have been any number of actors, including less sophisticated ones.

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  • @LondonBob
    Wouldn't be unusual for him to have maintained contacts with the CIA, and he would certainly have asked them for their opinion on Litvinenko. The CIA is more nuanced on Russia than recent events would imply.

    I have read several of Dr Epstein’s books. He is a painstaking researcher, unlike most modern journalists.

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  • @for-the-record
    I agree. As long as Germany and Brazil don’t boycott, who cares.

    Not sure it's as simple as that. There are 8 groups (A-H) of 4 countries each, and it is not at all inconceivable that 1 or more countries from groups A, B, C, D, F, G, H might boycott (and even in Group E Switzerland is a possibility, after all just last month they froze the bank accounts of the World Chess Federation because its Russian president was supposedly aiding Islamic terrorists).

    So what happens then? Do they invite other countries (who?) to fill the missing gaps, like the case of Denmark (replacing evil Yugoslavia in the 1992 European Cup)?

    Or do they rearrange the groups, say 5 groups of 4 countries? This is also not so easy on such short notice.

    If some teams boycott, FIFA can just go further down the list and pick replacement teams that almost made it originally.

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  • @Verymuchalive
    Epstein has written over 20 books and numerous articles. He did interview James Jesus Angleton numerous times before the latter's death in May 1987 and wrote Angleton's biography shortly thereafter. But that was 30 years ago, during the Cold War. I don't see the relevance to the Litvinenko case. Epstein is very aware that present day Russia is very different from the Soviet Union, unlike many of the loons who infest the US Congress or British Parliament.

    Wouldn’t be unusual for him to have maintained contacts with the CIA, and he would certainly have asked them for their opinion on Litvinenko. The CIA is more nuanced on Russia than recent events would imply.

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    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
    I have read several of Dr Epstein's books. He is a painstaking researcher, unlike most modern journalists.
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  • @LondonBob
    Epstein had a close relationship with James Angleton, he published articles and books on how Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone assasin and there is nothing more to it. So I wonder how good are his connections to the CIA are, and how much input they had in to his Litvinenko research, given his past as an information/disinformation agent for the CIA.

    Epstein has written over 20 books and numerous articles. He did interview James Jesus Angleton numerous times before the latter’s death in May 1987 and wrote Angleton’s biography shortly thereafter. But that was 30 years ago, during the Cold War. I don’t see the relevance to the Litvinenko case. Epstein is very aware that present day Russia is very different from the Soviet Union, unlike many of the loons who infest the US Congress or British Parliament.

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    • Replies: @LondonBob
    Wouldn't be unusual for him to have maintained contacts with the CIA, and he would certainly have asked them for their opinion on Litvinenko. The CIA is more nuanced on Russia than recent events would imply.
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  • @Not Raul
    I agree. As long as Germany and Brazil don’t boycott, who cares.

    I agree. As long as Germany and Brazil don’t boycott, who cares.

    Not sure it’s as simple as that. There are 8 groups (A-H) of 4 countries each, and it is not at all inconceivable that 1 or more countries from groups A, B, C, D, F, G, H might boycott (and even in Group E Switzerland is a possibility, after all just last month they froze the bank accounts of the World Chess Federation because its Russian president was supposedly aiding Islamic terrorists).

    So what happens then? Do they invite other countries (who?) to fill the missing gaps, like the case of Denmark (replacing evil Yugoslavia in the 1992 European Cup)?

    Or do they rearrange the groups, say 5 groups of 4 countries? This is also not so easy on such short notice.

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    • Replies: @Not Raul
    If some teams boycott, FIFA can just go further down the list and pick replacement teams that almost made it originally.
    , @Gerard2

    Not sure it’s as simple as that. There are 8 groups (A-H) of 4 countries each, and it is not at all inconceivable that 1 or more countries from groups A, B, C, D, F, G, H might boycott (and even in Group E Switzerland is a possibility, after all just last month they froze the bank accounts of the World Chess Federation because its Russian president was supposedly aiding Islamic terrorists).

    So what happens then? Do they invite other countries (who?) to fill the missing gaps, like the case of Denmark (replacing evil Yugoslavia in the 1992 European Cup)?

    Or do they rearrange the groups, say 5 groups of 4 countries? This is also not so easy on such short notice.
     
    Americans have actually bought a huge amount of tickets for the World Cup- the most of any country, despite it actually being the Americans who are behind all this anti-Russian propaganda. I think they would jump at the chance to appear in Russia were another team to drop out.
    Chile are an amazing team, South Americans champions the last 2 teams, easily deserve to be in Russia...though they have normal been an American satellite politically.....they have such a good team there is no chance they wouldn't go to the World Cup if invited.
    Italy isn't anti-Russia and would never boycott,

    Those are 3 teams who didn't qualify but could easily come in ( and in the case of Chile and Italy, easily win it)

    If France,Spain or Portugal ...and obviously Brazil and Argentina were to not participate, then yes it would be a disaster....but there is zero chance of that.

    I would love to see one of the other former Soviet Union sides ( Kazakhstan/Armenia) ,who are easily at the same level of some of the European teams, going to the World Cup. Too many average Scandinavian sides are going. Turkey on their day can be decent.....not a bad team to replace any dropouts.
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  • @Polish Perspective
    Even if Putin personally did OK the assassination, I don't really see a problem. If a Russian betrays his nation, why should he feel safe anywhere? If the UK has a penchant for hiding Russian traitors then this should be seen as a way to extract a price from the Anglos. If the UK persists in hiding and helping Russian traitors, then the cost should escalate. This is natural and nobody should be surprised over it.

    If Russia killed native Britons, then that would be a different story. But just because someone got UK citizenship in return for being a traitor doesn't mean other people have to respect that treachery.

    This all assumes the MSM narrative is correct - most likely not. However, my point is to show that even the MSM narrative is not really damning in any way for Russia. A better question to ask is why the UK is shielding so many of these traitors compared to other Western countries. That is a choice they made.

    I agree. If the UK got their hands on Kim Philby, they’d kill him, regardless of whether the USSR had given him citizenship or not.

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  • @reiner Tor

    And as far as I remember, nothing of that sort has ever happened.
     
    The boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympics in 1980 was similar.

    The communists, being communists, couldn't help themselves from shooting themselves in the feet. They boycotted the 1984 LA Summer Olympics in response, and forced all of their satellites to join them in the boycott, which made them extremely unpopular, but didn't do any damage to the Americans.

    I'm actually unsure if a boycott would hurt Russia that much. Especially if it was only a partial boycott, like England and maybe a couple other major European countries boycotting, but most European countries would go on to participate, along with all of Asia and Latin America. I guess everyone would just be happy to see their chances increased.

    I agree. As long as Germany and Brazil don’t boycott, who cares.

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    • Replies: @for-the-record
    I agree. As long as Germany and Brazil don’t boycott, who cares.

    Not sure it's as simple as that. There are 8 groups (A-H) of 4 countries each, and it is not at all inconceivable that 1 or more countries from groups A, B, C, D, F, G, H might boycott (and even in Group E Switzerland is a possibility, after all just last month they froze the bank accounts of the World Chess Federation because its Russian president was supposedly aiding Islamic terrorists).

    So what happens then? Do they invite other countries (who?) to fill the missing gaps, like the case of Denmark (replacing evil Yugoslavia in the 1992 European Cup)?

    Or do they rearrange the groups, say 5 groups of 4 countries? This is also not so easy on such short notice.
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  • @German_reader

    Even if Putin personally did OK the assassination, I don’t really see a problem
     
    Sending assassination teams to other countries is a serious infringement of national sovereignty, there's also the matter that something could go wrong and uninvolved bystanders could get hurt or killed (e.g. there was that case in the 1970s when the Israelis hunted down the people they held responsible for the Munich attacks...and mistakenly killed a completely innocent Moroccan waiter in Norway). Such things definitely shouldn't be tolerated...would you really want foreign intelligence services committing murders in your country?
    That being said, I have difficulty believing Putin would be insane enough to order something like this, so I'd suppose it was either done by some rogue elements in the Russian security services acting on their own initiative, or is something concocted by actors unrelated to Russia. But tbh I don't think we can really know.

    Sending assassination teams to other countries is a serious infringement of national sovereignty, there’s also the matter that something could go wrong and uninvolved bystanders could get hurt or killed (e.g. there was that case in the 1970s when the Israelis hunted down the people they held responsible for the Munich attacks…and mistakenly killed a completely innocent Moroccan waiter in Norway). Such things definitely shouldn’t be tolerated…would you really want foreign intelligence services committing murders in your country?

    We know it happens all the time by NATO countries – America, Turkey – or Western allies – Israel.

    But I would not be so innocent to claim that – for example – Britain, Italy, Germany and France are never conducting assassinations.

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  • I currently assign the highest probability to the Empire, with some relation to the Steele-dossier, and executed in such a way so as to make it easy to blame Russia, also using it to drum up Russophobic hysteria, perhaps sanctions, World Cup boycott, etc.

    But the main motivation might have been to get rid of him.

    But I really don’t know, it’s just speculation. Not worth much.

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  • @reiner Tor
    Life might be complicated. It’s easy to take a contrarian view and explain how it was a warning to the UK (or to NATO, or a tangential warning to the US, etc.) that you are ready to do anything in some sort of game of chicken. There could have been some sort of back and forth threats and more, with Wagner and whatnot, and maybe this was some kind of retaliation.

    In short, I think we have too little information to categorically exclude the possibility.

    That said, based on the information we have, I don’t think Putin ordering this particular thing is the most likely explanation. Far from it. It’s just that I don’t think we can be 100% sure of it.

    It’s just that I don’t think we can be 100% sure of it.

    Of course you’re right, so let’s assign probabilities (“based on the information we have”):

    1. Putin did it

    2. rogue Russian intelligence operation

    3. false flag by the Empire or its affiliates

    4. false flag by anti-Putninists

    5. suicide attempt (or suicide-murder)

    6. accident

    7. other

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    • Replies: @Pontius
    It's the reverse vampires.
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  • To my ignorant of these issues, personal view (for what very little it is worth), it seems the successful operation.

    It sends a message to traitors (they are not safe anywhere, even if they want to hide out in a ‘spy swap’ in the country they betrayed you for).

    And it sends an important message to the British (don’t hide traitors).

    What are the drawbacks? The British won’t do anything real in response (they have no options), and the British public do not care that a foreign spy was killed – they know it’s nothing targeting them personally. But the important people – will get the message.

    ^ All that said, with the disclaimer. I am office nobody who knows nothing about this subject or field. And I have no idea how the actual ‘important somebodies’ of the world are thinking or doing things, or what is considered normal for them, beyond having read some bathroom spy fiction. Maybe my view is a completely childish or inaccurate one.

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    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
    The issue with this is that the bloke wasn't in hiding. He was listed on public registers and lived entirely in the open. Killing him to send a message that the Russians are capable of killing someone who isn't even hiding wouldn't exactly teach Russian traitors anything new. There is zero value in it for Russia and a whole lot of potential downside.
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  • @for-the-record
    But Putin himself ordering something like this (what would he gain from it?) seems hard to believe.

    That is the bottom line, and even if in some alternative universe he actually did order it, would he have done it in such a way that (for 99% of the world it seems) he is the one and only suspect?

    Life might be complicated. It’s easy to take a contrarian view and explain how it was a warning to the UK (or to NATO, or a tangential warning to the US, etc.) that you are ready to do anything in some sort of game of chicken. There could have been some sort of back and forth threats and more, with Wagner and whatnot, and maybe this was some kind of retaliation.

    In short, I think we have too little information to categorically exclude the possibility.

    That said, based on the information we have, I don’t think Putin ordering this particular thing is the most likely explanation. Far from it. It’s just that I don’t think we can be 100% sure of it.

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    • Replies: @for-the-record
    It’s just that I don’t think we can be 100% sure of it.

    Of course you're right, so let's assign probabilities ("based on the information we have"):

    1. Putin did it

    2. rogue Russian intelligence operation

    3. false flag by the Empire or its affiliates

    4. false flag by anti-Putninists

    5. suicide attempt (or suicide-murder)

    6. accident

    7. other
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  • @reiner Tor
    No, if the MSM story is correct, then this was a bit more than just "killing a Russian traitor hidden by the British."

    He was sentenced to prison like fifteen years ago. Then he was swapped for a Russian spy in 2010. Since he had spied for the British, he was being hidden by them. I think it's normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.

    Then there's the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others, including not only his daughter (who had continued to live in Russia), but also innocent bystanders like the policeman who first came to help them. I think even some passers-by needed to be taken to hospital for inspection.

    So this matter is quite serious.

    No, if the MSM story is correct, then this was a bit more than just “killing a Russian traitor hidden by the British.”

    He was sentenced to prison like fifteen years ago. Then he was swapped for a Russian spy in 2010. Since he had spied for the British, he was being hidden by them. I think it’s normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.

    Yes, but this is a legalistic argument. Most normal people will go by their gut feeling, which is, I suspect, that a traitor got his just deserts. Much like no one I know of has ever shed a tear for Litvinenko or the many jihadis assassinated by Mossad.

    Then there’s the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others, including not only his daughter (who had continued to live in Russia), but also innocent bystanders like the policeman who first came to help them. I think even some passers-by needed to be taken to hospital for inspection.

    This is more troublesome, yes, and it adds a question mark to my theory. Why employ such a shotgun approach when the target was so easy to get to?

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    • Replies: @Anon
    He was exchanged, so killing him a) jeopardizes future exchanges and b) puts other exchanged spies at risk. Not worth doing (especially in this messy way) if there was no other reason to kill him.
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  • @LondonBob
    The arguments are made in the paper 'Revisiting Russia's Apartment Block Blasts' by Robert Bruce Ware in the 'Journal of Slavic Military Studies' in 2005.

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13518040590914118

    There is absolutely no doubt that Putin and the FSB were not involved in the bombings in any way and that the bombings were the work of jihadi groups based in the northern Caucasus. Several of the people involved were caught and tried and are now in prison. None of the verdicts of the trials were overturned by the European Court of Human Rights, as they certainly would have been if they were unfair and there is no doubt that the verdicts are correct.

    Thanks!

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  • @German_reader
    Yes, certainly possible...I find all of this hard to understand, I doubt "normal" people like us will ever know the truth. But Putin himself ordering something like this (what would he gain from it?) seems hard to believe.

    But Putin himself ordering something like this (what would he gain from it?) seems hard to believe.

    That is the bottom line, and even if in some alternative universe he actually did order it, would he have done it in such a way that (for 99% of the world it seems) he is the one and only suspect?

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Life might be complicated. It’s easy to take a contrarian view and explain how it was a warning to the UK (or to NATO, or a tangential warning to the US, etc.) that you are ready to do anything in some sort of game of chicken. There could have been some sort of back and forth threats and more, with Wagner and whatnot, and maybe this was some kind of retaliation.

    In short, I think we have too little information to categorically exclude the possibility.

    That said, based on the information we have, I don’t think Putin ordering this particular thing is the most likely explanation. Far from it. It’s just that I don’t think we can be 100% sure of it.
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  • @reiner Tor
    OT

    Anatoly, are you planning to write something about the conspiracy theory surrounding the 1999 apartment bombings? Your commenters melanf and Dmitry wrote a lot of valuable information about it in the other thread, so maybe you wouldn't have to work with it much (though of course it'd be better if you added your own insight and possibly your results). I'm offering $50 as an incentive. Are others maybe interested, too?

    It's basically the most important anti-Putin conspiracy theory which mainstream people believe, and which - at least superficially - looks somewhat plausible. For example reading the English Wikipedia, it seems obvious that it was the FSB. Of course, your commenters gave a number of details which make it look like a ridiculous conspiracy theory. (Which it probably is.)

    But it'd be great to have an article which could be used as a resource for later reference.

    The arguments are made in the paper ‘Revisiting Russia’s Apartment Block Blasts’ by Robert Bruce Ware in the ‘Journal of Slavic Military Studies’ in 2005.

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13518040590914118

    There is absolutely no doubt that Putin and the FSB were not involved in the bombings in any way and that the bombings were the work of jihadi groups based in the northern Caucasus. Several of the people involved were caught and tried and are now in prison. None of the verdicts of the trials were overturned by the European Court of Human Rights, as they certainly would have been if they were unfair and there is no doubt that the verdicts are correct.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Thanks!
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  • @for-the-record
    it was either done by some rogue elements in the Russian security services acting on their own initiative, or is something concocted by actors unrelated to Russia. But tbh I don’t think we can really know.

    Not sure if you have really exhausted all of the possibilities, how about "rogue" Russian non-state elements (Khodorovsky is just one name that comes to mind, he has after all been charged for involvement in 2 murders) who are sworn enemies to Putin.

    Yes, certainly possible…I find all of this hard to understand, I doubt “normal” people like us will ever know the truth. But Putin himself ordering something like this (what would he gain from it?) seems hard to believe.

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    • Replies: @for-the-record
    But Putin himself ordering something like this (what would he gain from it?) seems hard to believe.

    That is the bottom line, and even if in some alternative universe he actually did order it, would he have done it in such a way that (for 99% of the world it seems) he is the one and only suspect?
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  • @Polish Perspective
    Even if Putin personally did OK the assassination, I don't really see a problem. If a Russian betrays his nation, why should he feel safe anywhere? If the UK has a penchant for hiding Russian traitors then this should be seen as a way to extract a price from the Anglos. If the UK persists in hiding and helping Russian traitors, then the cost should escalate. This is natural and nobody should be surprised over it.

    If Russia killed native Britons, then that would be a different story. But just because someone got UK citizenship in return for being a traitor doesn't mean other people have to respect that treachery.

    This all assumes the MSM narrative is correct - most likely not. However, my point is to show that even the MSM narrative is not really damning in any way for Russia. A better question to ask is why the UK is shielding so many of these traitors compared to other Western countries. That is a choice they made.

    That is a good point, but the overall MSM narrative is damning for Russia, and this incident is just part of it. I’m really not talking about their Russophobia as a whole, but about the narrative that The Dark Lord Putler is a butcher, who “kills masses of journalists, ‘dissidents’, ‘opposition’ ‘politicians’… little babies… your pet dog………..”

    Just really, really nasty demonization, statistics and facts do’t matter. Just an anecdote, but I had a chat about Putin and Russia with a friend recently, who’s reasonably well informed, but we usually don’t talk about this kind of stuff. So anyway, he said that while “Putin seems like a decent leader, a good counterweight vs. the US and I also don’t like how the media is so hysterical towards Russia, it’s still not great that he has murdered so many of his competitors and critics.”

    And it’s just a very common Russophobic argument against Russia and especially Russian media (and non-Western MSM in general now?). “Why the hell are you reading/working for RT!? Don’t you know that Putin personally kills 1000 journalists every year?”

    I don’t know, I just get really get triggered by that meme, it just sounds particularly… well, nasty, and by the current standards of Russia-bashing, that’s an achievement.

    And you know what’s the worst thing? The usual Russian/non-Russophobic/Russophile counter-argument is pathetic (Stephen Cohen recently is a great example): “there’s no proof.” Yeah, that sounds so convincing. That, especially in the current environment, is not good enough. More people should read Karlin’s posts, especially on this subject. Depressing.

    And reiner Tor is IMO correct as well:

    Then there’s the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others, including not only his daughter (who had continued to live in Russia), but also innocent bystanders like the policeman who first came to help them.

    So what is going to be Kremlin’s explanation this time? “That doesn’t prove anything! Propaganda!” Which is of course totally correct, but that’s not the point. So what should they do? I don’t know, RT copy pasting these would be a good start (with a permission, of course lol):

    http://akarlin.com/2012/05/russian-journalists-are-far-safer-than-mexican-journalists-ordinary-russians-and-their-own-counterparts-under-yeltsin/

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/trump-right-on-putin/

    And I know Skripal isn’t (luckily he… or rather they are still alive, I suppose?) a journalist, but that is IMO very much on topic.

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    • Replies: @Randal

    So what is going to be Kremlin’s explanation this time? “That doesn’t prove anything! Propaganda!” Which is of course totally correct, but that’s not the point. So what should they do?
     
    The problem is that there is really no other plausible way of responding than to deny it and say there is "no proof" (assuming a defiant confession is out of the question). And as you point out, that just looks weak, and in a situation in which the mainstream media are pretty much all in the grip of the accusers it is almost as good as a confession.

    After that, it gets worse, because Russia has to choose whether to downplay it and ride it out (weak, again), or to respond aggressively to any accusations and subsequent measures. The latter of course plays right into the hands of those pushing the "Russian state murder" narrative, because a confrontational relationship between Russia and the US along with the component countries of its sphere is exactly what those people want in the first place.

    Fwiw I don't believe for a second that the Russian state was responsible for this incident. It makes no sense on too many counts, not least on the fundamental "cui bono" basis. Like the idea of the Syrian government conveniently using just enough chemical weapons to provide a pretext for US attacks but nowhere near enough to actually benefit them materially, it is literally absurd.

    I don't know who did it, but I do know who is exploiting it to the maximum, and it's the usual neocon and other suspects amongst the US sphere elites. They are pushing it precisely because they know that it creates a "no win" situation for Russia.
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  • @German_reader

    Even if Putin personally did OK the assassination, I don’t really see a problem
     
    Sending assassination teams to other countries is a serious infringement of national sovereignty, there's also the matter that something could go wrong and uninvolved bystanders could get hurt or killed (e.g. there was that case in the 1970s when the Israelis hunted down the people they held responsible for the Munich attacks...and mistakenly killed a completely innocent Moroccan waiter in Norway). Such things definitely shouldn't be tolerated...would you really want foreign intelligence services committing murders in your country?
    That being said, I have difficulty believing Putin would be insane enough to order something like this, so I'd suppose it was either done by some rogue elements in the Russian security services acting on their own initiative, or is something concocted by actors unrelated to Russia. But tbh I don't think we can really know.

    it was either done by some rogue elements in the Russian security services acting on their own initiative, or is something concocted by actors unrelated to Russia. But tbh I don’t think we can really know.

    Not sure if you have really exhausted all of the possibilities, how about “rogue” Russian non-state elements (Khodorovsky is just one name that comes to mind, he has after all been charged for involvement in 2 murders) who are sworn enemies to Putin.

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    • Replies: @German_reader
    Yes, certainly possible...I find all of this hard to understand, I doubt "normal" people like us will ever know the truth. But Putin himself ordering something like this (what would he gain from it?) seems hard to believe.
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  • @reiner Tor

    AFAIK the actual evidence is excellent.

    Polonium was found all around the target era, wasn’t it. If you open the bottle, momentum conservation and shooting out alpha particles spreads the stuff all around.
     
    Well, that's evidence that polonium was the cause of death. There's fairly strong - but in the absence of cross-examination by defense attorneys still, at the end of the day, inconclusive - evidence that it was murder (as opposed to an accident during some polonium smuggling operation), there's still fairly strong circumstantial evidence that it was the two Russians Lugovoi and Kovtun (though I read that the Italian who left before the Russians arrived was also contaminated; also, the same caveats apply), and finally, there's little to no evidence that Lugovoi or Kovtun were agents of a Russian intelligence service (and some of the evidence used actually seems to disprove it).

    So, the evidence that the Russians used polonium is thin.

    So, the evidence that the Russians used polonium is thin.

    Oh. I definitely agree with that.

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  • @El Dato

    but the actual evidence is thin.
     
    AFAIK the actual evidence is excellent.

    Polonium was found all around the target era, wasn't it. If you open the bottle, momentum conservation and shooting out alpha particles spreads the stuff all around: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/dec/08/russia.topstories3

    Hell, they even dug out Yasser Arafat to check whether he had been polonized in the Israeli ambulance just before his suspicious full-spectrum breakdown. Conclusion was inconclusive in THAT case.

    This being said:

    Britain gives Moscow two days to explain alleged use of nerve agent from Russia


    Britain has given Moscow two days to explain the alleged use of a military-grade nerve agent from Russia to poison former double agent Sergei Skripal. PM Theresa May says it is "highly likely" Russia was responsible.

    She alleges the attack was either a direct act by the Russian state on Britain, or the Russian government allowed its nerve agent 'Novichok' to get into the wrong hands. “The government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible,” she said.
     

    Can I find Novichok at a 7/11? What is that anyway and how does it differ from a homegrown bog-standard dual-component VX mix applied by spray can like Aum Shinrykyo did?

    "Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country, or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others."

    She added that Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, summoned the Russian ambassador to the foreign office on Monday. He said Russia must explain which of the two possible explanations is the correct one. She says the ambassador must reply by the end of Tuesday.
     

    It this some kind of Jeopardy game? It sounds like a casus belli is being cooked up. I expect counterfire starting at 05:45.

    AFAIK the actual evidence is excellent.

    Polonium was found all around the target era, wasn’t it. If you open the bottle, momentum conservation and shooting out alpha particles spreads the stuff all around.

    Well, that’s evidence that polonium was the cause of death. There’s fairly strong – but in the absence of cross-examination by defense attorneys still, at the end of the day, inconclusive – evidence that it was murder (as opposed to an accident during some polonium smuggling operation), there’s still fairly strong circumstantial evidence that it was the two Russians Lugovoi and Kovtun (though I read that the Italian who left before the Russians arrived was also contaminated; also, the same caveats apply), and finally, there’s little to no evidence that Lugovoi or Kovtun were agents of a Russian intelligence service (and some of the evidence used actually seems to disprove it).

    So, the evidence that the Russians used polonium is thin.

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    • Replies: @El Dato

    So, the evidence that the Russians used polonium is thin.
     
    Oh. I definitely agree with that.
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  • @Polish Perspective
    Even if Putin personally did OK the assassination, I don't really see a problem. If a Russian betrays his nation, why should he feel safe anywhere? If the UK has a penchant for hiding Russian traitors then this should be seen as a way to extract a price from the Anglos. If the UK persists in hiding and helping Russian traitors, then the cost should escalate. This is natural and nobody should be surprised over it.

    If Russia killed native Britons, then that would be a different story. But just because someone got UK citizenship in return for being a traitor doesn't mean other people have to respect that treachery.

    This all assumes the MSM narrative is correct - most likely not. However, my point is to show that even the MSM narrative is not really damning in any way for Russia. A better question to ask is why the UK is shielding so many of these traitors compared to other Western countries. That is a choice they made.

    Even if Putin personally did OK the assassination, I don’t really see a problem

    Sending assassination teams to other countries is a serious infringement of national sovereignty, there’s also the matter that something could go wrong and uninvolved bystanders could get hurt or killed (e.g. there was that case in the 1970s when the Israelis hunted down the people they held responsible for the Munich attacks…and mistakenly killed a completely innocent Moroccan waiter in Norway). Such things definitely shouldn’t be tolerated…would you really want foreign intelligence services committing murders in your country?
    That being said, I have difficulty believing Putin would be insane enough to order something like this, so I’d suppose it was either done by some rogue elements in the Russian security services acting on their own initiative, or is something concocted by actors unrelated to Russia. But tbh I don’t think we can really know.

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    • Agree: melanf
    • Replies: @for-the-record
    it was either done by some rogue elements in the Russian security services acting on their own initiative, or is something concocted by actors unrelated to Russia. But tbh I don’t think we can really know.

    Not sure if you have really exhausted all of the possibilities, how about "rogue" Russian non-state elements (Khodorovsky is just one name that comes to mind, he has after all been charged for involvement in 2 murders) who are sworn enemies to Putin.
    , @Dmitry

    Sending assassination teams to other countries is a serious infringement of national sovereignty, there’s also the matter that something could go wrong and uninvolved bystanders could get hurt or killed (e.g. there was that case in the 1970s when the Israelis hunted down the people they held responsible for the Munich attacks…and mistakenly killed a completely innocent Moroccan waiter in Norway). Such things definitely shouldn’t be tolerated…would you really want foreign intelligence services committing murders in your country?
     
    We know it happens all the time by NATO countries - America, Turkey - or Western allies - Israel.

    But I would not be so innocent to claim that - for example - Britain, Italy, Germany and France are never conducting assassinations.

    , @Polish Perspective

    Sending assassination teams to other countries is a serious infringement of national sovereignty
     
    Depends who the target is. If the target is a traitor which said country has decided to shield, then nobody can be surprised if the traitor is punished for his treason. As Raul pointed out, if the Brits would have been able to kill Philby during the Cold War, they'd do it.

    would you really want foreign intelligence services committing murders in your country?
     
    You're mixing a general principle with a particular circumstance. The target in question is a Russian traitor, not a random waiter at a restaurant. I still doubt the story, because I have a hard time seeing how Russia would use Novichok when they have been far more elegant in the past.

    But if the Russians used polonium again or something similar, then I'd have zero qualms about them going after a traitor.

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  • Since we are constantly hearing from Litvinenko’s wife about who murdered her husband, here is a contrasting view from Litvinenko’s brother (in 2016):

    Britain had more motivation to kill Aleksandr Litvinenko than Russia, brother claims

    The brother of Aleksandr Litvinenko says the UK government had more motivation to kill him than Russia did, despite a British public inquiry which concluded that President Putin “probably” approved the assassination.

    Maksim Litvinenko, Aleksandr’s younger brother who lives in Rimini, Italy, responded to the Thursday report by saying it was “ridiculous” to blame the Kremlin for the murder of his brother, stating that he believes British security services had more of a motive to carry out the assassination.

    “My father and I are sure that the Russian authorities are not involved. It’s all a set-up to put pressure on the Russian government,” Litvinenko told the Mirror, adding that such reasoning is the only explanation as to why the inquiry was launched 10 years after his brother’s death.

    He called the British report a “smear” on Putin, and stressed that rumors claiming his brother was an enemy of the state are false. He added that Aleksandr had planned to return to Russia, and had even told friends about the move.

    https://www.rt.com/news/329804-litvinenko-brother-britain-murder/

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  • @reiner Tor
    They were accused of using polonium, but the actual evidence is thin.

    China is one of the least likely perpetrators of this attempted murder.

    but the actual evidence is thin.

    AFAIK the actual evidence is excellent.

    Polonium was found all around the target era, wasn’t it. If you open the bottle, momentum conservation and shooting out alpha particles spreads the stuff all around: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/dec/08/russia.topstories3

    Hell, they even dug out Yasser Arafat to check whether he had been polonized in the Israeli ambulance just before his suspicious full-spectrum breakdown. Conclusion was inconclusive in THAT case.

    This being said:

    Britain gives Moscow two days to explain alleged use of nerve agent from Russia

    Britain has given Moscow two days to explain the alleged use of a military-grade nerve agent from Russia to poison former double agent Sergei Skripal. PM Theresa May says it is “highly likely” Russia was responsible.

    She alleges the attack was either a direct act by the Russian state on Britain, or the Russian government allowed its nerve agent ‘Novichok’ to get into the wrong hands. “The government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible,” she said.

    Can I find Novichok at a 7/11? What is that anyway and how does it differ from a homegrown bog-standard dual-component VX mix applied by spray can like Aum Shinrykyo did?

    “Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country, or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”

    She added that Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, summoned the Russian ambassador to the foreign office on Monday. He said Russia must explain which of the two possible explanations is the correct one. She says the ambassador must reply by the end of Tuesday.

    It this some kind of Jeopardy game? It sounds like a casus belli is being cooked up. I expect counterfire starting at 05:45.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    AFAIK the actual evidence is excellent.

    Polonium was found all around the target era, wasn’t it. If you open the bottle, momentum conservation and shooting out alpha particles spreads the stuff all around.
     
    Well, that's evidence that polonium was the cause of death. There's fairly strong - but in the absence of cross-examination by defense attorneys still, at the end of the day, inconclusive - evidence that it was murder (as opposed to an accident during some polonium smuggling operation), there's still fairly strong circumstantial evidence that it was the two Russians Lugovoi and Kovtun (though I read that the Italian who left before the Russians arrived was also contaminated; also, the same caveats apply), and finally, there's little to no evidence that Lugovoi or Kovtun were agents of a Russian intelligence service (and some of the evidence used actually seems to disprove it).

    So, the evidence that the Russians used polonium is thin.
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  • @for-the-record
    Since he had spied for the British, he was being hidden by them.

    He wasn't being hidden, see the earlier comments, I found him in the phone directory!

    I stand corrected. In any event, it’s a bit different from giving refugee status to Chechen warlords or fleeing oligarchs.

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    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
    Or supporting the Saudis in their starvation of hundreds of thousands of Yemeni women and children. Oops, wait, that was West Pakistan, I mean “Great” Britain.
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  • @reiner Tor
    No, if the MSM story is correct, then this was a bit more than just "killing a Russian traitor hidden by the British."

    He was sentenced to prison like fifteen years ago. Then he was swapped for a Russian spy in 2010. Since he had spied for the British, he was being hidden by them. I think it's normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.

    Then there's the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others, including not only his daughter (who had continued to live in Russia), but also innocent bystanders like the policeman who first came to help them. I think even some passers-by needed to be taken to hospital for inspection.

    So this matter is quite serious.

    Since he had spied for the British, he was being hidden by them.

    He wasn’t being hidden, see the earlier comments, I found him in the phone directory!

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I stand corrected. In any event, it's a bit different from giving refugee status to Chechen warlords or fleeing oligarchs.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Polish Perspective
    Even if Putin personally did OK the assassination, I don't really see a problem. If a Russian betrays his nation, why should he feel safe anywhere? If the UK has a penchant for hiding Russian traitors then this should be seen as a way to extract a price from the Anglos. If the UK persists in hiding and helping Russian traitors, then the cost should escalate. This is natural and nobody should be surprised over it.

    If Russia killed native Britons, then that would be a different story. But just because someone got UK citizenship in return for being a traitor doesn't mean other people have to respect that treachery.

    This all assumes the MSM narrative is correct - most likely not. However, my point is to show that even the MSM narrative is not really damning in any way for Russia. A better question to ask is why the UK is shielding so many of these traitors compared to other Western countries. That is a choice they made.

    No, if the MSM story is correct, then this was a bit more than just “killing a Russian traitor hidden by the British.”

    He was sentenced to prison like fifteen years ago. Then he was swapped for a Russian spy in 2010. Since he had spied for the British, he was being hidden by them. I think it’s normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.

    Then there’s the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others, including not only his daughter (who had continued to live in Russia), but also innocent bystanders like the policeman who first came to help them. I think even some passers-by needed to be taken to hospital for inspection.

    So this matter is quite serious.

    Read More
    • Replies: @for-the-record
    Since he had spied for the British, he was being hidden by them.

    He wasn't being hidden, see the earlier comments, I found him in the phone directory!
    , @Swedish Family

    No, if the MSM story is correct, then this was a bit more than just “killing a Russian traitor hidden by the British.”

    He was sentenced to prison like fifteen years ago. Then he was swapped for a Russian spy in 2010. Since he had spied for the British, he was being hidden by them. I think it’s normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.
     

    Yes, but this is a legalistic argument. Most normal people will go by their gut feeling, which is, I suspect, that a traitor got his just deserts. Much like no one I know of has ever shed a tear for Litvinenko or the many jihadis assassinated by Mossad.

    Then there’s the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others, including not only his daughter (who had continued to live in Russia), but also innocent bystanders like the policeman who first came to help them. I think even some passers-by needed to be taken to hospital for inspection.
     
    This is more troublesome, yes, and it adds a question mark to my theory. Why employ such a shotgun approach when the target was so easy to get to?
    , @Polish Perspective

    I think it’s normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.
     
    I don't disagree. I also think it's normal for a country like Russia to send a message to potential traitors that you'll never be safe, ever. Which is entirely their right to do.

    Then there’s the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others
     
    Yup, and this is why I have lingering doubts about the narrative that Russia did it. They have been much more sophisticated in the past and I don't see a good reason as to why that would suddenly change. My argument was based around the principle of Russia killing its traitors, which I stand by. The use of Novichok is not part of that argument, and I frankly have a hard time seeing Russia using such a crude nerve agent. That's what raises the (false) flag here.
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  • @reiner Tor
    The English hooligans are accustomed to occasional brawls with other drunk fans and similar. Not an organized attack by a sober well trained organized force. The latter is what they had to face in France.

    The English hooligans are accustomed to occasional brawls with other drunk fans and similar. Not an organized attack by a sober well trained organized force. The latter is what they had to face in France.

    Yes I also read that the British don’t allow anymore their violent hooligans to travel in Europe. Which makes sense, as it’s not really good PR.

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  • @reiner Tor
    Whoever it was, didn't care that the guy's innocent (?) daughter could get killed, too. Not to mention any bystander, like the cop who first tried to help them.

    They didn't scrupulously try to avoid harming any Britons.

    They didn’t scrupulously try to avoid harming any Britons.

    If one were of a cynical mind (thankfully not my case of course) one could almost think that the UK authorities are doing their very best to generate mass panic. Yesterday there was an urgent health alert addressed to 500 (or so) people:

    The advice to wash possessions applies to anyone in either venue between 13:30 GMT on Sunday 4 March and closure on Monday:

    Clothes should be washed, ideally in a washing machine

    Clothes which cannot be washed, for example if they need dry cleaning, should be double bagged in plastic until further notice

    Mobile phones, handbags and other electronic items should be wiped with baby wipes, which should be bagged in plastic and put in the bin

    Other items such as jewellery and glasses should be washed with warm water and detergent

    Hands should be washed after the handling of any items suspected of being contaminated.

    Dame Sally said after “rigorous scientific analysis” there was some concern that prolonged exposure over weeks and months could cause health problems but it was “not a subject for panic”.

    She said the advice was a “belt and braces” measure, adding: “I am confident none of these customers or staff will have suffered harm.”

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  • @Polish Perspective

    Which will quickly show the world that Russia are not such a racist country afterall.
     
    I hope you wrote this tongue in cheek, for your sake. Why would anyone seriously give a shit about the opinions of those who hate you regardless? Last time Russia tried to appease the West happened in the 1990s - how did that turn out?

    I hope you wrote this tongue in cheek, for your sake. Why would anyone seriously give a shit about the opinions of those who hate you regardless? Last time Russia tried to appease the West happened in the 1990s – how did that turn out?

    Because all the normal people, see it’s just a normal country like any other. And one which they might want to go on holiday to, which will boost whole tourist sector years into the future.

    It’ll be effective for that, unlike the Winter Olympics, which few people watch internationally.

    The important market are the normal people – not the eccentrics who hate or love you without knowing you.

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  • Even if Putin personally did OK the assassination, I don’t really see a problem. If a Russian betrays his nation, why should he feel safe anywhere? If the UK has a penchant for hiding Russian traitors then this should be seen as a way to extract a price from the Anglos. If the UK persists in hiding and helping Russian traitors, then the cost should escalate. This is natural and nobody should be surprised over it.

    If Russia killed native Britons, then that would be a different story. But just because someone got UK citizenship in return for being a traitor doesn’t mean other people have to respect that treachery.

    This all assumes the MSM narrative is correct – most likely not. However, my point is to show that even the MSM narrative is not really damning in any way for Russia. A better question to ask is why the UK is shielding so many of these traitors compared to other Western countries. That is a choice they made.

    Read More
    • Agree: RadicalCenter
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    No, if the MSM story is correct, then this was a bit more than just "killing a Russian traitor hidden by the British."

    He was sentenced to prison like fifteen years ago. Then he was swapped for a Russian spy in 2010. Since he had spied for the British, he was being hidden by them. I think it's normal that the British hide those who had previously worked for them.

    Then there's the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others, including not only his daughter (who had continued to live in Russia), but also innocent bystanders like the policeman who first came to help them. I think even some passers-by needed to be taken to hospital for inspection.

    So this matter is quite serious.
    , @German_reader

    Even if Putin personally did OK the assassination, I don’t really see a problem
     
    Sending assassination teams to other countries is a serious infringement of national sovereignty, there's also the matter that something could go wrong and uninvolved bystanders could get hurt or killed (e.g. there was that case in the 1970s when the Israelis hunted down the people they held responsible for the Munich attacks...and mistakenly killed a completely innocent Moroccan waiter in Norway). Such things definitely shouldn't be tolerated...would you really want foreign intelligence services committing murders in your country?
    That being said, I have difficulty believing Putin would be insane enough to order something like this, so I'd suppose it was either done by some rogue elements in the Russian security services acting on their own initiative, or is something concocted by actors unrelated to Russia. But tbh I don't think we can really know.
    , @Kimppis
    That is a good point, but the overall MSM narrative is damning for Russia, and this incident is just part of it. I'm really not talking about their Russophobia as a whole, but about the narrative that The Dark Lord Putler is a butcher, who "kills masses of journalists, 'dissidents', 'opposition' 'politicians'... little babies... your pet dog..........."

    Just really, really nasty demonization, statistics and facts do't matter. Just an anecdote, but I had a chat about Putin and Russia with a friend recently, who's reasonably well informed, but we usually don't talk about this kind of stuff. So anyway, he said that while "Putin seems like a decent leader, a good counterweight vs. the US and I also don't like how the media is so hysterical towards Russia, it's still not great that he has murdered so many of his competitors and critics."

    And it's just a very common Russophobic argument against Russia and especially Russian media (and non-Western MSM in general now?). "Why the hell are you reading/working for RT!? Don't you know that Putin personally kills 1000 journalists every year?"

    I don't know, I just get really get triggered by that meme, it just sounds particularly... well, nasty, and by the current standards of Russia-bashing, that's an achievement.

    And you know what's the worst thing? The usual Russian/non-Russophobic/Russophile counter-argument is pathetic (Stephen Cohen recently is a great example): "there's no proof." Yeah, that sounds so convincing. That, especially in the current environment, is not good enough. More people should read Karlin's posts, especially on this subject. Depressing.

    And reiner Tor is IMO correct as well:

    Then there’s the problem of the chosen method of murder. The murderer disregarded the safety of others, including not only his daughter (who had continued to live in Russia), but also innocent bystanders like the policeman who first came to help them.
     
    So what is going to be Kremlin's explanation this time? "That doesn't prove anything! Propaganda!" Which is of course totally correct, but that's not the point. So what should they do? I don't know, RT copy pasting these would be a good start (with a permission, of course lol):

    http://akarlin.com/2012/05/russian-journalists-are-far-safer-than-mexican-journalists-ordinary-russians-and-their-own-counterparts-under-yeltsin/

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/trump-right-on-putin/
     
    And I know Skripal isn't (luckily he... or rather they are still alive, I suppose?) a journalist, but that is IMO very much on topic.
    , @Not Raul
    I agree. If the UK got their hands on Kim Philby, they’d kill him, regardless of whether the USSR had given him citizenship or not.
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  • @Dmitry

    who seem to think they can buy their way into international handshakeworthiness by hosting very expensive international sporting events.
     
    The World Cup (unlike the Winter Olympics, which nobody watches), will be great PR for the country.

    They will send a lot of very beautiful women models, with Russia flags painted on their faces, for the camera close-ups in every game.

    Hooligans will be under control to only attack the English (who are weak, overweight, and were easily beaten up last time).

    Also when the home team gets knocked out, the world will see thousands Russians cheering for some other sides, or buying Spain, Argentina, Italy or Brazil tee-shirts (whoever is the winning team). Which will quickly show the world that Russia are not such a racist country afterall.

    Which will quickly show the world that Russia are not such a racist country afterall.

    I hope you wrote this tongue in cheek, for your sake. Why would anyone seriously give a shit about the opinions of those who hate you regardless? Last time Russia tried to appease the West happened in the 1990s – how did that turn out?

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    • Replies: @Dmitry

    I hope you wrote this tongue in cheek, for your sake. Why would anyone seriously give a shit about the opinions of those who hate you regardless? Last time Russia tried to appease the West happened in the 1990s – how did that turn out?

     

    Because all the normal people, see it's just a normal country like any other. And one which they might want to go on holiday to, which will boost whole tourist sector years into the future.

    It'll be effective for that, unlike the Winter Olympics, which few people watch internationally.

    The important market are the normal people - not the eccentrics who hate or love you without knowing you.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Dmitry

    “Not that anyone would notice.”
    since the english national soccer team increasingly consists of player of West African ancestry, running speed is actually one of their strengths.
     
    But the famous English hooligans are also - running away?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1wb6ZbZp44

    The English hooligans are accustomed to occasional brawls with other drunk fans and similar. Not an organized attack by a sober well trained organized force. The latter is what they had to face in France.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry

    The English hooligans are accustomed to occasional brawls with other drunk fans and similar. Not an organized attack by a sober well trained organized force. The latter is what they had to face in France.

     

    Yes I also read that the British don't allow anymore their violent hooligans to travel in Europe. Which makes sense, as it's not really good PR.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @reiner Tor
    OT

    Guys, when you edit your comments, they immediately go into moderation. Instead, delete them by cutting the whole text, then paste it into a new comment box, edit it there, and send it anew. That way it won’t spend up to several hours in moderation.

    Guys, when you edit your comments, they immediately go into moderation. Instead, delete them by cutting the whole text, then paste it into a new comment box, edit it there, and send it anew. That way it won’t spend up to several hours in moderation.

    Thanks – I always need to edit a lot to remove all the grammar mistakes.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @for-the-record
    I don't know if anyone else saw it, but I just watched most of the 30 minutes or so of Parliamentary discussion following May's indictment of Russia. It was truly extraordinary -- Orwell's Two Minutes Hate to the 15th power. The venom was absolutely universal as it seemed that everyone was competing to be the most virulently anti-Russian and anti-Putin. Theresa herself (in a subsequent comment) even said that Putin was personally responsible for the assassination of Litvinenko.

    When was the last time that a European head of state personally accused another European head of state of murder?

    Is this the UK's 911?

    Every parliamentary debate about Russia has been like that since the Syrian veto. The place is a bit of a glorified students’ union, so nothing much will come out of Parliament alone. US or EU may or may not jump on board, seems unlikely at this moment in time, but you never know.

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  • @for-the-record
    And as far as I remember, nothing of that sort has ever happened.

    1976 Olympics: 36 countries (33 African + China, Iraq, Sri Lanka)

    1980 Olympics: 66 countries (US & allies, with the notable exception of UK)

    1984 Olympics: 18 countries (USSR & allies)

    1980 Olympics: 66 countries (US & allies, with the notable exception of UK)

    Actually, few European countries participated in the 1980 boycott, it was mostly others. The Europeans mostly boycotted the opening ceremony, or didn’t participate under their own flags, etc.

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  • @Erik Sieven
    "Not that anyone would notice."
    since the english national soccer team increasingly consists of player of West African ancestry, running speed is actually one of their strengths.

    “Not that anyone would notice.”
    since the english national soccer team increasingly consists of player of West African ancestry, running speed is actually one of their strengths.

    But the famous English hooligans are also – running away?

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    The English hooligans are accustomed to occasional brawls with other drunk fans and similar. Not an organized attack by a sober well trained organized force. The latter is what they had to face in France.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Swedish Family
    More speculation: Could this not be a "soft" response to the Wagner episode? Hitting back at the responsible party by taking out one of its Russian assets? Skripal would be a useful target in that he is a bona fide traitor, and one who sold out his country in the Yeltsin days at that, so no room for excuses here. He is also Russian, so the optics aren't dangerously strong. (Just imagine the war drums if he were British ...)

    What do we know of his son's death? This seems to me the important lead here.

    Whoever it was, didn’t care that the guy’s innocent (?) daughter could get killed, too. Not to mention any bystander, like the cop who first tried to help them.

    They didn’t scrupulously try to avoid harming any Britons.

    Read More
    • Replies: @for-the-record
    They didn’t scrupulously try to avoid harming any Britons.

    If one were of a cynical mind (thankfully not my case of course) one could almost think that the UK authorities are doing their very best to generate mass panic. Yesterday there was an urgent health alert addressed to 500 (or so) people:

    The advice to wash possessions applies to anyone in either venue between 13:30 GMT on Sunday 4 March and closure on Monday:

    Clothes should be washed, ideally in a washing machine

    Clothes which cannot be washed, for example if they need dry cleaning, should be double bagged in plastic until further notice

    Mobile phones, handbags and other electronic items should be wiped with baby wipes, which should be bagged in plastic and put in the bin

    Other items such as jewellery and glasses should be washed with warm water and detergent

    Hands should be washed after the handling of any items suspected of being contaminated.

    Dame Sally said after "rigorous scientific analysis" there was some concern that prolonged exposure over weeks and months could cause health problems but it was "not a subject for panic".

    She said the advice was a "belt and braces" measure, adding: "I am confident none of these customers or staff will have suffered harm."
     
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @reiner Tor
    OT

    Guys, when you edit your comments, they immediately go into moderation. Instead, delete them by cutting the whole text, then paste it into a new comment box, edit it there, and send it anew. That way it won’t spend up to several hours in moderation.

    Guys, when you edit your comments, they immediately go into moderation.

    Ding ding ding. Now I get it. Thanks.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • More speculation: Could this not be a “soft” response to the Wagner episode? Hitting back at the responsible party by taking out one of its Russian assets? Skripal would be a useful target in that he is a bona fide traitor, and one who sold out his country in the Yeltsin days at that, so no room for excuses here. He is also Russian, so the optics aren’t dangerously strong. (Just imagine the war drums if he were British …)

    What do we know of his son’s death? This seems to me the important lead here.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Whoever it was, didn't care that the guy's innocent (?) daughter could get killed, too. Not to mention any bystander, like the cop who first tried to help them.

    They didn't scrupulously try to avoid harming any Britons.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • I don’t know if anyone else saw it, but I just watched most of the 30 minutes or so of Parliamentary discussion following May’s indictment of Russia. It was truly extraordinary — Orwell’s Two Minutes Hate to the 15th power. The venom was absolutely universal as it seemed that everyone was competing to be the most virulently anti-Russian and anti-Putin. Theresa herself (in a subsequent comment) even said that Putin was personally responsible for the assassination of Litvinenko.

    When was the last time that a European head of state personally accused another European head of state of murder?

    Is this the UK’s 911?

    Read More
    • Replies: @g2k
    Every parliamentary debate about Russia has been like that since the Syrian veto. The place is a bit of a glorified students' union, so nothing much will come out of Parliament alone. US or EU may or may not jump on board, seems unlikely at this moment in time, but you never know.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Erik Sieven
    "Not that anyone would notice."
    since the english national soccer team increasingly consists of player of West African ancestry, running speed is actually one of their strengths.

    I wouldn’t say increasingly, a few as has been the case for awhile. No one comes close to the ‘French’.

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    • Agree: reiner Tor
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • “Not that anyone would notice.”
    since the english national soccer team increasingly consists of player of West African ancestry, running speed is actually one of their strengths.

    Read More
    • Replies: @LondonBob
    I wouldn't say increasingly, a few as has been the case for awhile. No one comes close to the 'French'.
    , @Dmitry

    “Not that anyone would notice.”
    since the english national soccer team increasingly consists of player of West African ancestry, running speed is actually one of their strengths.
     
    But the famous English hooligans are also - running away?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1wb6ZbZp44
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • OT

    Guys, when you edit your comments, they immediately go into moderation. Instead, delete them by cutting the whole text, then paste it into a new comment box, edit it there, and send it anew. That way it won’t spend up to several hours in moderation.

    Read More
    • Replies: @CJ
    Guys, when you edit your comments, they immediately go into moderation.

    Ding ding ding. Now I get it. Thanks.
    , @Dmitry

    Guys, when you edit your comments, they immediately go into moderation. Instead, delete them by cutting the whole text, then paste it into a new comment box, edit it there, and send it anew. That way it won’t spend up to several hours in moderation.
     
    Thanks - I always need to edit a lot to remove all the grammar mistakes.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • who seem to think they can buy their way into international handshakeworthiness by hosting very expensive international sporting events.

    The World Cup (unlike the Winter Olympics, which nobody watches), will be great PR for the country.

    They will send a lot of very beautiful women models, with Russia flags painted on their faces, for the camera close-ups in every game.

    Hooligans will be under control to only attack the English (who are weak, overweight, and were easily beaten up last time).

    Also when the home team gets knocked out, the world will see thousands Russians cheering for some other sides, or buying Spain, Argentina, Italy or Brazil tee-shirts (whoever is the winning team). Which will quickly show the world that Russia are not such a racist country afterall.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Polish Perspective

    Which will quickly show the world that Russia are not such a racist country afterall.
     
    I hope you wrote this tongue in cheek, for your sake. Why would anyone seriously give a shit about the opinions of those who hate you regardless? Last time Russia tried to appease the West happened in the 1990s - how did that turn out?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Fentanyl is a bit of a weird choice.

    Next time – Zyklon B or chlorine.

    Gas the anglos, race war now.

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    • LOL: Anatoly Karlin
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  • @anony-mouse
    At Unz.com people think that Ockham's razor is fake news.

    Oh please, spare me.

    Occam’s razor (also Ockham’s razor or Ocham’s razor; Latin: lex parsimoniae “law of parsimony”) is the problem-solving principle that, when presented with competing hypothetical answers to a problem, one should select the one that makes the fewest assumptions

    Putin is many things, but he’s not an idiot; there’s no reason for him to order an attack right before the elections. That requires more, not fewer assumptions about him.

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    • Agree: Kimppis
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Daniel Chieh
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/world/europe/uk-russia-spy-poisoning.html

    “What it says to Russians living in the U.K. or those thinking of leaving the country is: disloyalty is always punishable, you will never be free of us and you will never be safe, wherever you live,” John Lough and James Sherr, Russia specialists at the British think-tank Chatham House, wrote. “What it says to the British government is: We believe you are weak, we have no respect for you.”
     
    There are people who say this in real life. Now we need Louise Mensch's powerful take next.

    Sure this is the same Kremlin that allows Browder, Berezovsky, even freed Khodorkhovsky to spend their stolen millions funding PR agencies to keep up the anti Russian propaganda. This guy was a nobody with a daughter living in Moscow. I thought this was a possible suicide given the early reports of fetanyl and it being close to the one year anniversary of the son’s death. Unless he has been involved in some disreputable activity recently I would stick to that, I doubt we will given the answers.

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  • @anony-mouse
    At Unz.com people think that Ockham's razor is fake news.

    So you think Occam’s razor tells us it was the Russians?

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  • At Unz.com people think that Ockham’s razor is fake news.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    So you think Occam's razor tells us it was the Russians?
    , @Daniel Chieh
    Oh please, spare me.

    Occam's razor (also Ockham's razor or Ocham's razor; Latin: lex parsimoniae "law of parsimony") is the problem-solving principle that, when presented with competing hypothetical answers to a problem, one should select the one that makes the fewest assumptions

     

    Putin is many things, but he's not an idiot; there's no reason for him to order an attack right before the elections. That requires more, not fewer assumptions about him.
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  • @Daniel Chieh
    Is there a "correct' answer for dealing with nutcases who tell you that you are "genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor..."? At some point I imagine you just have to ignore them and try to avoid contact, because their stupidity might be contagious.

    All I know is the current approach isn’t very effective.

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  • @LondonBob
    Of course this also shows how lousy the Kremlin is at PR again. Regardless of who did it I would be immediately demanding answers from the British government, noisily demanding access to the daughter who is after all a Russian citizen who lives in Moscow and asking why Russians aren't safe in Britain. Quietly insisting this is nonsense, hysteria and to wait for answers might be the diplomatically correct approach but it isn't the effective one.

    Is there a “correct’ answer for dealing with nutcases who tell you that you are “genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor…”? At some point I imagine you just have to ignore them and try to avoid contact, because their stupidity might be contagious.

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    • Replies: @LondonBob
    All I know is the current approach isn't very effective.
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