At last, some proper information

Now this is more like it:

Two Russian nationals have been named as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The men, using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are thought to be officers from Russia’s military intelligence service, the PM said.

The Metropolitan Police said the two men arrived at Gatwick Airport from Moscow on 2 March and stayed at the City Stay Hotel in Bow Road, east London.

On 4 March they travelled to Salisbury – having also visited for reconnaissance the previous day – where Mr Skripal’s front door was contaminated with Novichok.

Officers believe a modified perfume bottle was used to spray the door.

The pair flew from Heathrow to Moscow later that night.

See, this is what was missing during the outrage 6 months ago: evidence. Instead, we had the PM telling everyone it was most definitely Russia behind the attack, based on “intelligence information” and the fact the substance was created in the USSR and a Russian lab the most likely source. Now we have two named individuals and their movements, the British government position looks a lot more credible. However, it’s come rather too late. Here’s the explanation why:

The BBC’s security correspondent Gordon Corera said he understood the authorities identified the pair “a while back” and “may also know their real names” and had hoped by not making this information public, they could intercept them should they continue to travel.

I don’t buy this. The Russians might have bungled this hit, but I doubt they let their assassins wander around the world willy-nilly in the immediate aftermath. I suspect it’s more likely they were told to sit tight in Moscow for at least a year. I’m more inclined the reason this is being released now is because they’ve only just worked all this out, and didn’t have half this information back in March. This is interesting though:

Police said Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley were later exposed to Novichok after handling a contaminated container, labelled as Nina Ricci Premier Jour perfume.

Mr Rowley told police he found the box containing the small bottle and an applicator – all found to be counterfeit – in a charity bin.

He tried to put the two parts together and got some of the contents on himself. His partner Ms Sturgess applied some of the contents to her wrists and became unwell.

Again, this sort of information – how, where, and when – is important when establishing credibility. Thus far, this is the first time the public has been told anything other than “trust us”.

Speaking in the Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May said the government had concluded, from intelligence provided by UK agencies, that the men were part of the GRU intelligence service.

The poisoning was “not a rogue operation” and was “almost certainly” approved at a senior level of the Russian state, she said.

Sorry, but Theresa May has no way of knowing this. If anyone claims to know the intricate workings of the Russian state, including the degree with which government bodies wander off the reservation, they’re either lying or they subscribe to the all-seeing all-knowing Putin fallacy. The biggest problem I have with Putin ordering this attack is I don’t see any upside for him; yes, I’ve heard all the reasons multiple times, and I find none of them convincing. I’m also skeptical that when the Russian government gets its top assassins to knock someone off, they bungle it. There’s probably a lot more to this story than anyone outside of Russia knows, but I guess it doesn’t matter now.

He said there was little expectation that the pair would end up in a British court, but releasing the evidence would instead add pressure with the intention of “deterring Russia from doing something similar again”.

Oh yes, because the Russians are big on shame, it features large in their culture. For example:

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters the names of the Russian suspects “do not mean anything to me”.

He seems rattled.

The CPS is not applying to Russia for the extradition of the two men, as Russia does not extradite its own nationals.

Indeed, it’s in the constitution. Funny how Russia occasionally looks after its citizens rather better than free, enlightened nations like the UK.

The UK will meet the UN security council to discuss the case on Thursday.

Mrs May also said Britain would push for the EU to agree new sanctions against Russia.

But BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said many European countries would be “reluctant to tighten the screw on Russia”, fearing a loss of trade and energy.

Well indeed. Germany, for instance, has spent years sucking up to Russia and currently believe it is in their interests to side with Vladimir Putin over Donald Trump. Perhaps the real motivation behind Putin ordering a brazen Novichok attack was to see who would come to Britain’s aid, and who Germany and the EU would back. If so, it worked a charm.

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79 thoughts on “At last, some proper information

  1. We are also expected to believe that the mini-skip in which the poison was found had gone un-emptied for a month and a half? And that, the poison was close enough to the top of the contents to be easily recovered?

  2. Tim, OT but right country, I completed that Russian deal yesterday. I must say that I found the seller to be a consummate professional and a stickler for detail. Far more professional than some of the German guys I had working on this deal. The other fascinating thing was how all the documentation had to be spot on, signed, bound and stamped and couriered around the place. It kind of reminded me of the eighties and also how blazaie we are these days doing deals on WhatsApp and the like.

    If it wasn’t for the professionalism of the seller this deal could have quite easily fallen over, especially when another buyer emerged half way through and offered him a significantly higher price.

  3. Several people here myself included never doubted this was state sanctioned and not rogue most others sounded like an echo chamber for Corbyn. As to our supposed powerlessness against Russia, we will see in due course this will not go unanswered.

  4. Well if they were acting without Putin’s authorisation (a real possibility) they sure are in trouble now- not that we’ll hear the outcome.
    BTW why is it assumed that the target was Sergei? He’s too well known to spy again. Why not Julia? Or is that thought unchivalrous?

  5. Ljh – unless those photos are zoomed in or cropped, then they are of different locations. (Look at the top left corner of each one in particular.) So it’s possible they really were taken at the same time.

    Of course, it could also be two slightly different angles of the same location, which would mean one or both of the timestamps are incorrect.

  6. Russia does not extradite its own nationals.
    That is not entirely true. Their constitution is here and it is Article 63.2:

    The Russian Federation does not allow the extradition to other States of persons persecuted for political convictions, as well as for actions (or inaction) not recognized as a crime in the Russian Federation. The extradition of persons accused of committing a crime, as well as the transfer of convicted persons to serve a sentence in other States, is carried out on the basis of Federal law or an international Treaty of the Russian Federation.

    They do not extradite Russian nationals for political offences nor for crimes not recognised as such in Russia, but will do so (in theory) for the usual serious crimes if there is a solid case. This was once also the British tradition.
    (Searching for news articles about Russians being extradited shows many non-nationals at least being extradited to the West from Russia; in comparison, the UK refuses to return even Russian citizens wanted for murder like Georgy Shuppe.)
    Meanwhile, America and the Irish Republic refuse to extradite IRA murderers; for those so exercised about the Russians—where is your anger on this or don’t dead British soldiers count?

    Ljh: There are several parallel gateways at Gatwick and it is quite feasible that two men of similar stature entering at the same time can be caught by CCTV with the same timestamp (remember there can be up to 999ms variation between apparently identical timestamps—also, do the cameras have their own internal clock? that could introduce yet more variation).
    There is much to suspect about everything arising out of this entirely unnecessary Cold War Mk. 2—but those photographs are irrelevant.

  7. LJH, if you have ever been through those gates you would know there are several, I’ve passed through at the same time as accompanying family members…no magic there then, try again.

  8. There was a Russian chap on the R4 today programme this morning who made the extremely pertinent point that it’s ludicrous to entertain the idea that the GRU would send obviously dodgy looking peeps on direct Aeroflot flights from and to Moscow either side of this operation.

    More importantly, the PM’s phrasing that the names “were thought to be aliases” [or words to that effect] is odd. If they’re known to be GRU, we would _KNOW_ that they were aliases, surely?

  9. Decnine – the police don’t yet know how or when the bottle ended up in the skip.

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

    More on those photos:

    The men’s arrival at Gatwick is supposedly 1500 hrs, March 2nd, but the pictures are timestamped 16:22:43. Note also the word “pause” in the bottom-right corner.

    Questions/thoughts:

    What does “arrival” mean – when the plane landed, when the men cleared customs, or somewhere in between?

    Perhaps the plane landed at 1500 hrs, but delays meant that the men were still walking thru the airport at 16:22:43, when this picture was taken. (And it is therefore just coincidence that they were both in more or the less the same position at the same time in front of different security cameras.)

    I think this is what the police are saying happened:

    I will now go through their movements in detail:

    At 3pm on Friday, 2 March, the suspects arrived at Gatwick airport, having flown from Moscow on Aeroflot flight SU2588.

    From there it is believed that they travelled by train into London, arriving at Victoria station at approximately 5.40pm.

    […]

    The first CCTV image (timed at 16.22 on Friday 2 March) shows the man we know as “Petrov” arriving at London Gatwick airport.

    The second image, also time at 16.22 on Friday 2 March, is of the man we know as “Boshirov” at Gatwick.

    Or, perhaps the timestamp indicates the time the images were reproduced, i.e. perhaps some security clown at Gatwick had two tapes going, paused both at the appropriate time, and hit “print screen” or whatever at exactly 16:22:43.

    This raises the question of why Gatwick security was taking an interest in these men so soon after they landed; also, why the police statement doesn’t say this is what happened.

    The good news is that the question of this discrepancy with the photos can easily be resolved by releasing a goodly chunk of CCTV footage from Gatwick airport, so we can see exactly what happened and when.

    The bad news is that the government will never think to actually do that, and so a conspiracy theory will arise where there needn’t be one.

    (That’s assuming that the gov’t isn’t actually ham-fistedly faking these documents, which is a bit far-fetched even for me.)

  10. I’m sorry, but the British government has absolutely no credibility on any topic. Putin and the Russians had no reason to kill the Skripals, especially after a decade in Britain, and every reason not to, as subsequent events have shown. The principle of Cui Bono? alone makes any Russian involvement highly unlikely.

    Tell me MI5/6 did it, and I’ll believe that.

  11. ScotchedEarth, the relevant article is 61. Its language leaves no doubt that Russian citizens can’t be extradited. “A citizen of the Russian Federation may not be expelled from its limits or extradited to another state.”

  12. It’s worth considering the audiences for this info. If it were just for us plebs, then any old story would do, and there would be no particular reason for us to believe it over any other tale. However this info is now, and will be in the future, the basis of much diplomatic activity. It’s rather more serious if the UK govt was caught lying publicly to other countries in pursuit of diplomatic goals. If some countries did it, you would say “so what’s new?” but the UK still has some kind of rep as a straight dealer internationally and will be keen to keep that reputation.

  13. Why those Russians used such exotic weapon pointing straight to them?

    Gun, knife or whatever to make it look like random crime would make more sense.

    I don,t buy this either.

  14. I stand corrected, cheers, Alex K. Art. 63 must apply to resident aliens, in a similar way to how we sheltered many dissidents from Europe in the 19th Century (a far cry from the accused murderers we now give shelter to—while extraditing many a British subject to the US, even for accusations of copyright infringement).

  15. I have only flown to Gatwick by accident recently, but 1h22 min from wheels down to getting the other side of border and customs controls is entirely plausible. Particularly for people travelling on non-EU ID, who have to use the slow passport lane. Even with EU ID I’ve had lengthy waits at LCY and MAN recently LHR T2 seems to be pretty fast but that’s been completely refurbished and has modern security concepts built-in rather than tacked-on.

    All airports are security-paranoid, and Britain is also security-paranoid, with cameras everywhere. I doubt you can get through any UK airport without being photographed at least once, so the presence of photographs is unremarkable. While some countries take a photo of you at passport control, in the UK and Europe, it’s the blatant, obvious purpose of those double-doored gates you get at larger airports (and which these chaps were photographed in) to get a clear shot of everyone travelling through that airport. Remember that there are no routine ID checks on arriving domestic flights, and in Europe that applies to the entire Schengen zone, but they still want to see your face without you realising it. That data is probably kept for months or years.

    The direct flight adds plausibility to the likely cover story of going on a weekend city break. Almost all European countries require a visa for Russians limiting the transfer options – getting transit visas for a bit of tourism, and accepting the extra flying time for a short touristic break would raise more flags, not fewer. They will also not have wanted to risk staying in the country a minute longer than necessary, or risk apprehension in a third country halfway through their journey.

    They may well not have been identified if they had arrived earlier, and on separate flights. I suspect that is just showing off.

    The conclusive evidence for me is the presence of traces of the poison in the hotel room they stayed in. The possibility that this was planted by some rogue mad scientist from Porton Down to frame these individuals (and you would have had to know who you are framing) seems remote.

  16. “Why those Russians used such exotic weapon pointing straight to them?”

    Showing off. Leaving enough trace that those responsible can be identified after massive efforts. Simply the fact of the two taking the same flight in and out and sharing a hotel room makes detection inevitable, if laborious. Laborious enough that they would be home safe with plenty of time to spare.

    “Gun, knife or whatever to make it look like random crime would make more sense. ”

    The probability of getting arrested within minutes of doing that, in a small and out-of-the-way place like Salisbury, is much higher than what they did. They will have been in the air on the way home before even medical staff had much of an idea what was going on. If they shot him there would have been an instantaneous reaction. Even if they managed to get out of Salisbury (they would have needed a car for that further increasing the risk of detection), given Skripal’s background every Russian flying out of the country for the next several weeks will have been given a thorough going over. They would have had to go to ground for a long time, maybe longer than their visa validity, which would likewise have guaranteed extra scrutiny on departure.

  17. A wag on Twitter writes:

    One of the more remarkable things about today’s #Salisbury briefing is that the two alleged Russian hitmen relied on a Sunday rail service to get them from Waterloo to Salisbury and then out again to Heathrow in one day. No sane Brit would have tried such an outlandish gamble.

    Heh.

  18. Its cockrot as ever.

    The two mugs going through the two gates at the exact same time is unusual in itself time stamp or not. They must have been travelling together to have done that. V. unlikely they came from even different parts of the same plane and yet go through at the exact same time.

    So we start off with two Russians, killers who travel together on the same plane under Russian identities on a direct Moscow to London flight and then travel together to the murder site. By public transport (rather than a safe car with an established province that could sail by ANP (sic) snoop cameras) so as to ensure maximum exposure to high qual CCTV–in colour yet.

    In itself remarkable considering all the British victims of crime who have found CCTV of no fucking use whatsoever. But all the cameras are smiling for our evidence seeking intelligence crew. R..i..i..ght….sure they did.

    Since what they–the Ruskies- planned to do–should they be caught in the act–would earn them many decades in Parkhurst or worse, they seem to be remarkly brave–or remarkably stupid and incompetent. Does the FSB not only hire and use such fools and then leave them without any support such that they have to get there by a fucking Sunday train?

    As opposed to using non-Russian personnel or Russians who could pass for some other nationals/ bring them in separately and to safe houses rather than traceable hotels/ safe transport to their task rather than on CCTV-laden trains etc, etc.

    Biggie–of the 100 Londoners offed so far this year how many of the murdering scum have been brought down by passers-by or by the superspeed rush of coppers into the area. Not many. Most killers were known in the area or ratted out or occasionally CCTV’d. If brainless untrained turds can kill and escape–albeit temporarily– it would not be hard for agents with established escape lines to get out of the UK. Do you imagine the FSB does not have some of the swarming people smugglers on the strength or even its own network?.

    As for poison in the hotel room–is it beyond the wit of our own liars to have put it there? Certainly not beyond their morality.

    They were GRU says the Fish Faced Cow. But she can’t tell us why. Really? Bullshit–all of it. A bitch and her gang trying to distract from their attempted EU sellout and help their Global Elite mates heap shit on Russia.

  19. The really inconceivable thing is that they arrived at Gatwick, went to Bow (that’s no joke at the best of times) and then made 2 round trips to Salisbury from Bow in 2 days! Obviously these guys are fond of spending their lives in traffic jams. Bow to Salisbury is about 4 hours at the best of times

  20. “they’re either lying or they subscribe to the all-seeing all-knowing Putin fallacy”

    Which camp would you place Sir Robert Owen in?

    10.15 When Mr Lugovoy poisoned Mr Litvinenko, it is probable that he did so under the direction of the FSB. I would add that I regard that as a strong probability. I have found that Mr Kovtun also took part in the poisoning. I conclude therefore that he was also acting under FSB direction, possibly indirectly through Mr Lugovoy but probably to his
    knowledge.

    10.16 The FSB operation to kill Mr Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr Patrushev and also by President Putin.

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/493860/The-Litvinenko-Inquiry-H-C-695-web.pdf

  21. @BiG

    Thought your posts were sensible. But also worth bearing in mind why one might want to “show off” when attempting to kill a dissident or defector. It’s for there to be a publicity and psychological effect upon other people who have taken the same route, or are considering doing so.

    If you did manage a perfectly executed apparent hit-and-run or “random” mugging – and as you point out, with various difficulties such as the hire car or sheer bad luck if a police car’s in the area, that would be a risky endeavour to undertake in the first place – then you only achieve a level of murk and doubt that undermines the effectiveness of the operation as far as other undesirable elements are concerned. An originally undetected chemical agent planted at their homes though? Well that’s better. Get them sleeping in fear. Make them reconsider their oh-so-noble plans.

    It can be an active bonus if the finger of blame points in one obvious direction once extraction is safely complete. Russian government officials seem to have no problem with bare-faced “implausible deniability” anyway

  22. @Tim

    “Sorry, but Theresa May has no way of knowing this. If anyone claims to know the intricate workings of the Russian state, including the degree with which government bodies wander off the reservation, they’re either lying or they subscribe to the all-seeing all-knowing Putin fallacy.”

    Perhaps no way of “knowing” 100% but obviously there are UK agencies who spend a lot of time trying to understand both the chain-of-command and information flows within the Russian state, and how it operates in practice. It’s not unreasonable for this to be their balance-of-probabilities assessment once these factors have been taken into account, they don’t naively have to believe that the chain is transparent and reliable and Putin micromanages everything to have reached this conclusion.

    Similary for the pedant-general’s point:

    “More importantly, the PM’s phrasing that the names “were thought to be aliases” [or words to that effect] is odd. If they’re known to be GRU, we would _KNOW_ that they were aliases, surely?”

    It might be phrased in a slightly stupid way, but I think what they’re trying to express is that they’re pretty sure of both these things.

    @Ecks

    “As for poison in the hotel room–is it beyond the wit of our own liars to have put it there? Certainly not beyond their morality.”

    This ends up switching from one conspiracy (that a state with a habit of killing dissidents in foreign countries, decides to do it again, and cocks up) to an even bigger conspiracy. You have to believe that a lot of the British government apparatus is “in on it” – for what purpose? And that they’ve certainly found two very convenient people to stitch up.

  23. What confuses me about all this is the lack of home security chez Skripal. There’s a long-retired police sergeant I know who one might hardly consider in imminent danger of an ex-con bumping him off (he didn’t deal with anything particularly nasty like drugs or terror, just with local community policing) but his home is absolutely brimming with security. Someone knowledgeable could surely get past it all, but it would be an effort and they still might get caught on one of the hidden cameras or alarm systems before they knocked them all out. Here was a man whose life was clearly in danger and, one hopes, might have had some support from some of the top expertise the British government has on the matter of securing his own home…

  24. MBE-” for what purpose? And that they’ve certainly found two very convenient people to stitch up.”

    Because nasty Russia is the Global Elite message and the FFC is their creature. As she is doubly so via her scummy loyalty to the EU.

    UK Intelligence goons are up to their arses in conspiracies 24/7. Remember Steele and his dodgy Russian dossier?

    We don’t even know that Ivan Borisov and Boris Ivanov ARE Russian.

  25. “It’s not unreasonable for this to be their balance-of-probabilities assessment once these factors have been taken into account”

    Which is exactly what the then Home Secretary Mrs Theresa May done in her concluding statement in outlining the reasons why her Government had decided not to hold an inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko.

    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160613090359/https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/the-inquest#top

  26. You shouldn’t overestimate the difficulty of the trip – it’s perfectly feasible – even if it makes for a long few days. Spies are known to put in extra effort at times.

    FFS, I day-trip from Germany to London, Milan, Paris, Vienna, even Cambridge which is nowhere near a functional airport (Bishop’s Stortford Chavport doesn’t count). Yes, it’s a long day, but don’t tell me you can’t make it from Waterloo to Salisbury and back in a day. Even on Sunday.

    I’m pretty sure they wanted to leave enough trail to be eventually found, but not the same day, and just enough residual uncertainty for the Kremlinbots to have a field year calling it shit. Mission accomplished.

  27. Ecks, why do the high-risk James Bond stuff when you can just book a couple of plane tickets?

    Especially when you want to leave a trail. The purpose of this was pour encourager les autres, and to have a bash at a NATO state. “See, we can do this as and when you please, and there’s nothing you can do about it except start World War 3”.

    The sarcastic responses is part of the ploy, effectively an admission of guilt but “you can’t prove it 100% so go swivel, weaklings.”

  28. Well, my reading of it all is that at this point Russians might as well come to the UK on safari, openly hunting the Brits with a rifle. As long as they are properly licensed and don’t hit any Establishment figures, the money they bring in will trump any other concerns. The investigations on CSI:Miami are more entertaining and just as conductive to any real-world consequences.

  29. So planning out more or less as I thought so far. Good evidence of Russian involvement. Some uncertainty remains over what level of approval/‘officialness’. But partially that doesn’t matter; Russia carries responsibility under the chemical weapons treaties either way.

    Actually it’s quite an amazing investigative effort. To track down two key suspects, trace and picture their flight, hotel, train journeys. To even have pictures of them walking up the road from Skripal’s place shortly before the attack. To identify poison traces. I think they did know some things fairly soon Tim; if you remember an Aeroflot plane was held for a search just a few days afterwards – it had flown back into UK having visited just prior to the attack. Would be interesting to know if it was the one these characters were on.

    The Russian operation does look a bit amateurish, to be honest. Same flights, direct, Russian identities, bungled dosage, improper disposal etc. Maybe they did intend to leave a trace, pour encourager les autres as mentioned above. But the GRU is not actually known for being especially sophisticated. The FSB/KGB sort of look down on them for that, it’s where their nickname of ‘the boots’ comes from.

    The comment about the Sunday train services made me laugh. So true.

  30. had the wide boys from nat West had more establishment backgrounds they probably would not have ended up in an American jail. it certainly helped an Oxford professor’s wife from being sent back to Poland to face more serious charges of torture and other crimes against humanity. look up the case of Helena wolinska and her time as a military prosecutor in stalinist Warsaw if your interested.

    with regard to the skripals seymour hersh had some interesting comments on the potential involvement of the Ukrainian government, hence the return trip to Moscow via aeroflot to make it look it could not have been anyone else but the Russians. obviously we are not been told the truth on this one or if mi6 are certain this is the real story you no longer need a double first from Oxford to work there.

  31. BiG: ‘Especially when you want to leave a trail.’ Exactly: as the Daily Shocker puts it: ‘They couldn’t have been any more obvious, or Russian, than if they had simply worn hi-vis vests with “GRU ON TOUR” on the back.’ Which suggests false flag.
    Cui bono? Russia has little to gain from topping ex-spies—it will make it difficult to negotiate a spy swap in future; and as for ‘sending a message’, all they have to do is re-instate the death penalty for treason, job done.

    That’s right Bardon (3.40pm): our Gallant Boys & Girls in Blue starved and dehydrated two guinea pigs to death and the cat near to death (he had to be euthanised, such was the sorry condition that our police had reduced him to). But that’s what our police do these days: run around shooting dogs, cows, horses—when they’re not covering up industrial-scale abuse of our young girls.
    Much the same problem in the US regarding cops killing people’s pets—it’s become so bad that it is now a news story when a copper finding a stray dog leaves it alive for a change.

  32. “Ecks, why do the high-risk James Bond stuff when you can just book a couple of plane tickets?”

    Wrong way around Biggie. Jumping on EasiJet (or whoever) to bop over for a bit of sloppily planned slaughter using “deadly” nerve agents is the ultra-high risk. Did they have them on them at the airport? Jesus.

    Think it through mate. What has more chance in life? Carefully drawn plans–which can go wrong–with full back up. Or a “Fuck let’s do it” mentality. Remember those decades in Parkhurst Biggie. Not something to be sneezed at.

    Were we two Russian agents tasked with that mission and you suggested the plane/hotel/train plan I would instantly have shot you in the head and reported you to my bosses as a loose cannon security risk.

    “Especially when you want to leave a trail. The purpose of this was pour encourager les autres, and to have a bash at a NATO state. “See, we can do this as and when you please, and there’s nothing you can do about it except start World War 3”.

    The sarcastic responses is part of the ploy, effectively an admission of guilt but “you can’t prove it 100% so go swivel, weaklings.”

    Sorry but is Putin supposed to be somewhere between 7 and 17? Why the Hell should he care. He could have killed Skirpal at will. He is a bad man sure but those claiming such nonsense are the childish ones. Exiles already knew he could kill but this debacle just makes everyone look like a silly useless cunt.

    Get your head straight Biggie. If you can’t see thro this batch of Global so-called Elite bullshit you are wide open for the future tide of lies they have in store.

  33. Ecks, as we all know, if you were left in charge of a gun you would instantly shoot everyone in the head as a threat to your perfect society, until you were the only person left alive.

    Killing Skripal wasn’t the primary objective. Maybe that is in fact why he isn’t dead. As you can see, we’re still talking about it.

    Of course they carried the toxin. The risk of that being detected on the way in is essentially zero. No European airport gives a shit what you carry unless you set of some kind of canine drugs alarm or obviously have tons of cash or expensive stuff. Your spot-inspection risk is less than 0.1%. I fly around 30 to 40 times a year and the last time this happened to me in Europe was over 10 years ago.

    The risk of being caught on the way out having attempted to off someone with it a few hours previously, equally negligible. That – and the obvious publicity to ensue – is why he wasn’t knifed or shot.

    I’m neither James Bond, nor Osama Bin Laden, but if I were directing this mission, and the current outcome was what I wanted, this is exactly what I would have planned. If I were James Bond or Osama Bin Laden and merely wanted the man dead, sure, I’d have done it differently, and much more quietly.

    The possibility of a false flag from Ukraine or other non-western country hostile to Russia is intriguing. However, that needs an explanation as to how the assailants ended up travelling on what appear to be genuine Russian passports. They were forged only in the sense that the personal details were fake – the documents however appear to be genuine. We are led to believe that Russia has done a good job in cleaning out foreign agents of late, so while it’s not impossible, it seems less likely.

  34. Looking at the flight records:

    https://www.airportia.com/flights/su2588/moscow/london/2018-03-02/

    The flight they were on didn’t land until until 15:58 on the 2nd March

    If that’s touchdown time, then then it would have been a while after 16:00 before they actually left the aircraft – my experience is this often takes around 10 minutes to taxi to gate and another 10 before you actually get off the plane.
    Would be good to know where the CCTV was taken – if taken just after exit of the plane then this would match up.

    It states they arrived at Victoria around 17:40, by train.

    According to here:
    https://ticket.gatwickexpress.com/journeys-grid/GTW/VIC/Arrive_at_2018-09-07T17:45//1/0/
    TO arrive at 17:43, the train would leave Gatwick at 17:12.

    From touchdown to on the train in 74 minutes – any one with any experience know how achievable this is?

  35. Looking at flight records:
    https://www.airportia.com/flights/su2588/moscow/london/2018-03-02/

    Flight arrived 15:58 – I believe this is the time it arrived at gate, because here:

    https://planefinder.net/flight/AFL2588/time/2018-03-02T14:40:00

    It looks like it landed at around 15:31

    If the CCTV was taken before passport control then the time stamp on the CCTV could be consistent with the above.

    Looking at train times:

    https://ticket.gatwickexpress.com/journeys-grid/GTW/VIC/Arrive_at_2018-09-07T17:45//1/0/
    Leaves Gatwick at 17:12 to arrive at Victoria 17:43

    So from flight arrival to on train in 74 minutes. If they didn’t have hold luggage and security wasn’t busy then this does seems possible to me.

    If they didn’t have hold luggage, does that mean they had the Novichok in a perfume box in their hand luggage?
    I assume even Russia makes you put your liquids in a little plastic bags for hand luggage, unless the airport security were in on this as well – seems unnecessarily risky.

  36. BIG

    Of course they carried the toxin. The risk of that being detected on the way in is essentially zero.

    And if they were inspected, would the inspector really decant the “perfume” to establish that it was what it claimed to be? If you wanted to be really tricky I suppose you could have a false compartment for the toxin and upon opening the bottle one immediately gets a whiff of the purported perfume or something, but I’d be surprised if they went to that length.

  37. Ecks et al

    If you really think this is a black ops / distraction conspiracy, involving 100s of policemen, MI5, MI6 and Tory Remainers…If I believed all that I’d get the hell out of Dodge.

    Or maybe it was never Polonium or Novichok. Or maybe it never happened, just a way of TPTB / CP to scare us into submission so that we fluoridise the water supply. There, some more conspiracy theories to chew on.

    Meanwhile 100s, perhaps 1000s of apparatchiks are having second thoughts, especially as going after the kiddies too seems to be AOK.

    Maybe Tim can be persuaded to have a poll?

  38. Have the Old Bill told us what the motive for the attempted murders were and have the two survivors made any comment on the investigation breakthrough?

  39. As the authorities obviously do have lots of high quality CCTV footage of Salisbury city centre, they must have pretty much all the Skripals movements on camera, certainly once they got out of their car in the Sainsburys carpark. Why do we not get to see that? Couldn’t possibly be something that doesn’t fit the narrative in it could it?

  40. BiG –

    Of course they carried the toxin. […] Your spot-inspection risk is less than 0.1%. I fly around 30 to 40 times a year and the last time this happened to me in Europe was over 10 years ago.

    Made-up statistics notwithstanding, this is a fair point, although offset somewhat by the fact that you, BiG, are not a paid member of Russian military intelligence. One would have hoped that the much-vaunted Five Eyes would have these guys on file ready to be given extra scrutiny at ports of entry.

    Still, it’s a ballsy move, no? The chance of a search is low, but the consequences are quite catastrophic. I don’t see that there’s anything to be gained by carrying it personally rather than having it mailed to the hotel.

    But the bigger risk with carrying the toxin on your person is not if you’re caught, but if the bottle breaks. What if some joker knocks your bag over and it leaks in your bag and kills you? Why take that risk?

    The risk of being caught on the way out having attempted to off someone with it a few hours previously, equally negligible. That – and the obvious publicity to ensue – is why he wasn’t knifed or shot.

    I don’t understand why you keep on at this point. People get murdered in broad daylight every day, and the police hardly ever catch them within a few hours. As long as there’s no witnesses, they’re golden – and even if there are, it’s hardly a deal-breaker. (Although the absence of a getaway car would cause some problems there.)

  41. Jim–They claim they don’t have it. Surprise.

    They have vid of the Skirpals leaving at 9.15 ish AM. And no film of them returning before hitting the bench. So it has been claimed that the poison was on the door handle then. A bit of an issue since Boris Ivanov and Ivan Borisov didn’t arrive in Salisbury until 11.48.

    Hilarious to see –in the manner of fake news liars accusing everybody else of being fake newsers–to see arch conspiracy nonsense believers accusing those who won’t swallow the shite-flavoured Kool-Aid of being conspiracy nuts.

    Zut–hundreds of coppers and MI6 whatever? I know they are fucking useless but I hardly think hundreds would be involved. And if you are serious about your own remarks–then good luck in your new life overseas.

    Biggie–it is a good job you aren’t a spook. You would find Parkhurst a trial I imagine.

  42. I don’t know the LGW layout but I do know how to avoid a customs inspection at my local airport. Hint: they never man all the exits.

    Risk of breakage? There but negligible. Being an assassin carries some inevitable risks. But maybe the poison came in some other way.

    Ecks, Salisbury isn’t London. I actually know the “city”. A shooting or stabbing would attract immediate attention and even if you got away, the nature of the target means life would suddenly become very interesting for Russians flying home.

  43. @Matthew M

    “One would have hoped that the much-vaunted Five Eyes would have these guys on file ready to be given extra scrutiny at ports of entry.”

    Given the rise in facial recognition technology etc, this kind of thing is presumably a once in a lifetime kinda operation. But there must be plenty of trained operatives who’ve never been identified as such before, who’ve not been deployed abroad on anything other than utterly innocuous business. Perhaps some “holiday” to familiarise themselves with the environment they’re going to operate in, but nothing conspicuous. This is different from the attachés who hang round embassies where “everyone knows” but doesn’t have strong enough proof to kick them out.

    (I used to enjoy The Sandbaggers but it did cross my mind more than once, hadn’t the Russians – and everyone else they were spying on or assassinating for that matter – worked out what they all looked like by now? Put a different suit on, a fresh passport, get on a plane – first-class on the way out because you want your assassins to be alert, cattle-class on the way back because there’s budget cuts, I always liked that little detail – and apparently your enemies won’t have a clue. As an aside, Michael Cashman is now a Labour Lord and ex-MEP.)

  44. “But the bigger risk with carrying the toxin on your person is not if you’re caught, but if the bottle breaks. What if some joker knocks your bag over and it leaks in your bag and kills you? Why take that risk?”

    Not only that, but carrying it on a plane too. Are we really to think that the Russian authorities are so blase about human life that they couldn’t care if an Aeroflot flight (presumably full of Russian citizens) goes down because one of their agents accidentally breaks his vial of deadly nerve agent while on board and the aircon system sends it throughout the plane?

    If this is a State sponsored operation then it has to be conceived, designed and signed off by some sort of bureaucracy, who presumably might baulk at risking killing an entire airliner worth of civilians for no gain whatsoever, or are the GRU so slapdash they just chuck a bottle of nerve agent at two meat heads and tell them to get on with it?

    If you ask me the only people carrying lethal chemical agents on a public airline flight are doing so illicitly, ie are not State operatives, but criminals. I think that this evidence of Russians flying in and out with deadly chemicals in their hand luggage indicates that Sergei Skripal was in some way involved with criminal elements in Russia, and this was either a trade that went wrong, or a criminal hit because he’d p*ssed off the wrong people.

  45. The Russians have quite some form when it comes to downing aircraft full of people.

    The risk of a small bottle breaking is not zero but it’s pretty low. The plan never has to be perfect, only good enough.

    We need a new verb, for the slowly dawning realisation that one could forge a great career as a terrorist!

  46. “Ecks, Salisbury isn’t London.”

    All urban areas are the same Biggie in that you are committing a crime in the area around you not the entire town. Salisbury isn’t London but neither is it a one horse Western-type town of just the one street. Killings from which the perps escape uncaught happen every day of the week in this country in towns large and small. Pick your time and targets and you could be away easy enough. Staying free on your own sans back up is something else. With intelligence service back up –not too difficult to make a clean getaway. EasiJet doesn’t cut it.

  47. BiG: ‘The Russians have quite some form when it comes to downing aircraft full of people.’ If you’re referring to MH17, the jury is well out on that one unless you’re one of those who eagerly swallows every State Dept. lie and asks for seconds. Quite unlike the fate of Iran Air Flight 655, about which there is no doubt whatsoever that it was the US Navy (the USS Vincennes) who blew those 290 civilian passengers and crew out of the air.
    BiG: ‘We need a new verb, for the slowly dawning realisation that one could forge a great career as a terrorist!’ America can supply the verb as they’ve supplied the money and weapons for many of the world’s terrorists—so much so that even their CIA is worried that the US is increasingly perceived as a Rogue State and exporter of terrorism.

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