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Statement of Alexander Shulgin to the OPCW

The following is the unofficial translation of the statement made by Alexander Shulgin, the head of Russian delegation at the OPCW, at that body’s April 18 Executive Council meeting at the Hague. The text is provided by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Netherlands.

Mr. Chairperson,

I would like to start my speech with the words that belong to the great thinker Martin Luther, “A lie is like a snowball: the further you roll it, the bigger it becomes”.

This wise aphorism is fully applicable to politics. He who has chosen the path of deception will have to lie again and again, making up explanations for discrepancies, spreading disinformation and doing forgery, desperately using all means to cover the tracks of the lies and to hide the truth.

The United Kingdom has entered this slippery path. We can clearly see all of this on the example of the “Skripal case” fabricated by the British authorities, this poorly disguised anti-Russian provocation accompanied by an unprecedented propaganda campaign, taken up by a group of countries, and the finalized unprecedented expulsion of diplomats under a far-fetched pretext. Please, do not try to pass this group for the international community – it is far from that.

It has already been a month since the Prime Minister of Great Britain Theresa May put forward some extremely serious accusations against Russia of the alleged use of chemical weapons. We have been waiting for an explanation for a long time, counting on our British colleagues to eventually back up these loud statements with some at least halfway intelligible facts. We have repeatedly proposed to them to work together on the investigation of the events in Salisbury, have been requesting information. The response consisted in haughty, arrogant statements saying Russia should confess to the crime.

The British side continues to scatter absolutely unfounded accusations, disseminating more and more new, often senseless, versions of the events. The British politicians and officials simply cannot stop anymore and continue pouring down new torrents of lies. London sabotages every attempt to conduct a truly objective investigation into the incident in Salisbury with the participation of Russian experts. They have classified everything, supposedly conducting their own national investigation. Although the “responsible” have already been designated.

Why they are doing this is obvious. Great Britain strives to avoid at all costs the establishment of the truth about the events, hide all evidence, which could unmask them. They are simply playing for time. Because the further it gets – the more difficult it will be to figure out what really did (or did not) happen in Salisbury.

The lie always fears the truth, for the truth is the most terrifying weapon against lies. Let us, therefore, turn to the naked facts which demonstrate how insolently and clumsily the British government is disseminating the insinuations regarding the “Skripal case”.

LIE №1

Russia does not respond to any legitimate questions made by the United Kingdom on March 12, 2018 through the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to London A.V. Yakovenko (some of the allies of the United Kingdom keep repeating this like a mantra).

I would like to remind you that the British side has suggested that we confess to one of the two versions it has made up: either the poisoning of Sergey and Yulia Skripal was a purposeful action by Russia, or Russia has lost control over the arsenal of chemical weapons it allegedly has. Despite the brazen nature of this ultimatum, we definitely did not ignore it, but immediately gave an unequivocal answer: Russia has nothing to do with the chemical incident in Salisbury. Great Britain has not contacted us with any other questions.

LIE №2

Great Britain acts in strict compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The facts demonstrate exactly the opposite. Thus, the Article IX of the Convention stipulates that States Parties shall conduct bilateral consultations on any ambiguous issues. We see that in reality the United Kingdom has avoided complying with this provision and still refuses to interact with us. As far as the British ultimatum communicated through the Ambassador of the Russian Federation I have mentioned is concerned, it cannot in any way be considered a “proposal of cooperation” in the sense of the CWC or a “request for legal assistance”.

On our part, on April 13, we sent through the Technical Secretariat a note to the British side under the Paragraph 2 Article IX with a list of legitimate questions that we have regarding the “Skripal case”. We have been acting strictly in accordance with the Convention and expected that our partners from London would do the same. There still has been no response. It is as if the United Kingdom did not notice the Convention at all or did not want to act in accordance with its norms.

We also witnessed how London came up with a new form of work – “the independent verification by the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW of the British side’s findings.” I would like to underscore: there is nothing like this in the Convention. This is an invention by the United Kingdom. Instead of precisely following the provisions of the Convention, the United Kingdom tries to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.

LIE №3

Russia refuses to cooperate in establishing the truth.

In the reality, it is exactly the opposite. Russia is extremely interested – probably, even more than any other country – in an honest, open and impartial investigation of the incident in Salisbury. We have repeatedly proposed, asked, demanded from the British side to cooperate in the investigation. We have put forward for the consideration of the 57th extraordinary session of the Executive Council a draft decision that contained the call for Russia and Great Britain to establish such interaction with the involvement of the Technical Secretariat. We expressed then and confirm now our readiness to cooperate with the OPCW and within the OPCW.

Unfortunately, all of our efforts stumble into a blind wall of complete unwillingness of London to interact.

LIE №4

The United Kingdom claims that Russia, allegedly, infinitely multiplies its versions of the chemical incident in Salisbury trying to divert from itself the wave of criticism for the alleged use of chemical weapons on the British soil.

In the reality, this is what the British side has been doing, disseminating through its so-called “independent” media the infinite versions: the poison first was in the suitcase, then on the door handle, then in the buckwheat, then at the restaurant, then in the flower bouquet, then in the ventilation system of the car, then in perfume, etc.

LIE №5

The Russian leadership has allegedly stated that the extermination of traitors abroad is the state policy of the Russian Federation.

This is slander and complete nonsense. Let them demonstrate where they saw this. Obviously, the United Kingdom will not be able to present a single example of a statement of this kind because nothing similar has ever been said by the Russian leadership.

LIE №6

The conclusions made by the experts of the Technical Secretariat based on the results of the analysis of samples collected from the Skripal father and daughter confirmed that they had been poisoned with a substance from the “Novichok” family.

Our military experts are ready to present their evaluation of what was said in the report by the Technical Secretariat based on the results of the work of the group of specialists in the United Kingdom.

For now, I will only say one thing: the claim that the Technical Secretariat confirmed that this chemical points to its Russian origin is an outright lie. The report itself does not say a single word about the name “Novichok”; the CWC simply does not contain such a concept. And in the report by the Technical Secretariat there is also no confirmation of the “Russian footprint” in the chemical substance found in Salisbury.

Nevertheless, the British authorities immediately disseminated in the world media the fake news that the OPCW supposedly confirmed that the Skripals were poisoned with “Novichok”, and that the latter, they say, was developed in the USSR and Russia only, hence Moscow is to blame. This is how the findings of the report by the Technical Secretariat are being falsified.

LIE №7

The so-called “Novichok” is a Soviet invention and it, supposedly, could have been produced only in Russia.

It is necessary to remind that “Novichok” is the name invented in the West for a group of chemical agents which were developed in many countries, including in the United Kingdom. In one of his recent interviews, the Secretary of State Boris Johnson confirmed that the United Kingdom has samples of this substance at the laboratory in Porton Down. Actually, we have a lot of questions to ask this laboratory. It would be interesting to know how they determined that the Skripals had been poisoned with a “Novichok”-type nerve agent. Because any reasonable person would understand that you can establish this if you have the original component to which you can compare the chemical which has been found. It follows that this laboratory has a stock of “Novichok”, and, possibly, also the antidotes which were used in the Skripals’ treatment.

In Russia, there has never been any research and development or experimental work conducted as part of a programme under the name of “Novichok”. I reiterate, there has never been a programme with such a name. In the Soviet times, starting with the 1970s, not only the Soviet, but also the British and American scientists were working on creating new types of nerve agents. This is how the famous VX nerve gas was created. And in the 1990s, after the breakup of the USSR, the Western special services exported from Russia a group of chemists together with the documentation. The specialists in the West began to closely study the documents and, based on them, started working in this direction, achieved certain results, which were made public.

We know very well that the “Novichok”-type nerve agents were in production in a number of countries. And, unlike our Western partners, who are constantly rolling their eyes and saying that they know something but that it, as they say, is intelligence data and they cannot reveal it, we operate in a different fashion. We work with open sources. Thus, on December 1, 2015, the United States Patent and Trademark Office contacted the Russian agency responsible for issues concerning patents with a request to check the patentability of an invention made by an American scientist T. Rubin. Here is this document (demonstration).

This document talks about the invention of a special bullet, the distinctive feature of which is that it has a separate cavity for equipping it with different kinds of toxic agents. When using the mentioned invention, the lethal effect is achieved due to the effect of this toxic agent on the human body. In other words, this ammunition falls under the jurisdiction of the CWC. The principle of operation of the bullet consists in equipping it with binary components which interact with each other upon impact. And this is what we read on the page 11 of this official American document, “At least one of the active substances may be selected from nerve agents including… tabun (GA), sarin (GB), soman (GD), cyclosarin (GF), and VG, … VM, VR, VX, and [attention!] Novichok agents.”

In other words, this document confirms that in the United States the “Novichok”-type nerve agents were not just produced but also patented as a chemical weapon. And not some long time ago, but just a couple of years ago – the patent is dated December 1, 2015.

Moreover, searching by the key word “Novichok” on the digital source google.patents.com you can find over 140 patents issued by the United States, related to the use and protection from exposure to the “Novichok” toxic agent.

These are the real facts, not some idle talk, and the response to those who insolently claim that the “Novichok”-type nerve agents existed and were produced in the USSR and Russia.

LIE №8

One of the victims, a Russian citizen Yulia Skripal is, allegedly, avoiding contacts with her relatives and refusing the Russian consular assistance.

Presently, the British authorities are zealously hiding Yulia Skripal from the media and the public. Her whereabouts are unknown. The Russian side, as well as her relatives (her cousin Victoria was refused an entry visa by the British authorities) are being denied access to her. She does not have the opportunity to go back to Russia and undergo medical examination and treatment.

The abovementioned circumstances indicate that, in fact, the Russian citizen Yulia Skripal is being held hostage by the British authorities, held by force on the territory of the United Kingdom, subjected to psychological manipulation.

I have given just a few examples of how the British authorities spread disinformation and blatantly lie. This list of disclosures could, probably, go on, but we should probably stop here. It is typical that the United Kingdom is not even thinking about refuting any of their theses, despite the fact that they are completely unfounded.

I have no doubts that in the future, we can await new waves of disinformation, pseudo-leaks to the media, insolent attacks on us by the British officials. But no real evidence will ever be produced.

The United Kingdom demonstrates clear unwillingness to adequately cooperate regarding the investigation of this obscure story. This convinces us that the United Kingdom does not want any truth. They cannot allow it to come to light.

The report presented by the Technical Secretariat concerning the British specialists’ findings poses a number of questions and calls for additional detailed examination, including by the British side. Any specialist would understand that the final conclusions can be made only having before your eyes the materials of the chemical and spectral analysis of the mentioned samples. And the Technical Secretariat has passed these materials only to London.

We underscore, Russia will not take at face value any conclusions regarding the “Skipal case” until one simple condition is met: the Russian experts will be provided with access to the victims, as well as to the mentioned materials of the OPCW expert analysis and the entire volume of the real information regarding this incident London has at its disposal.

We have solid grounds to believe that all of this is a gross provocation against Russia by the special services of the United Kingdom. And if the British side continues to refuse to cooperate with us, it will only reaffirm our conviction that this is exactly the case.

Mr. Chairperson,

One cannot help but recall the following saying: for some people lying is not a means of justification, but a means of defence. On April 16, we heard yet another strange statement: the G7 calls upon Russia to respond to the legitimate questions of the United Kingdom regarding the “Skripal case”. You can consider this statement our response.

At the same time, we would like to hear from the British side the answers to the numerous and specific questions of the Russian Federation regarding the incident in Salisbury. Moreover, we would be grateful if the representatives of the G7 could explain to us why their countries launched a diplomatic war against Russia based on some fakes.

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

April 22, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Outrage as NPR attacks black activist over ‘Russian’ radio appearance

© Anoa Changa / Instagram
RT | April 20, 2018

Black progressive activist Anoa Changa found herself the subject of a vicious hit piece this week on WABE News, an Atlanta NPR affiliate. Her crime? Speaking to a Russian-owned radio station.

When Changa sat down to talk to WABE’s Johnny Kauffman, she expected to chat about her work as a progressive activist. Instead, Kaufman focused the interview on an appearance Changa had made on Russian-run radio station Sputnik in 2016. The piece was published with the headline “Atlanta Activist Uses Russian-Backed Media To Spread Message.”

Changa, a mother of two, had been an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders in the run-up to the 2016 election. Now Changa is managing editor of a blog called ‘Progressive Army,’ and hosts a podcast from her native Atlanta, all while holding down a day job and raising two children.

Kauffman sat in Changa’s studio – a friend’s living room equipped with a microphone and webcam– as she interviewed Amy Vilela, a progressive candidate running for the Democratic nomination in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District. Changa and Vilela spoke of corruption in American politics, but the interview was just a formality before Kaufman turned the heat up on Changa.

In 2016, Changa spoke on two programs hosted on Sputnik, which broadcasts on AM and FM in Washington DC. While Changa used Sputnik to speak about progressive issues to a wider audience, Kauffman saw sinister Russian plots afoot.

Ominously, the article says that “Changa’s association with Sputnik may put her credibility at risk,” and warned that appearing on a Sputnik program furthers “Russia’s effort to create chaos in the US.”

Working with Sputnik, Kauffman wrote, made things “complicated” for Changa.

Fellow activist Eugene Puryear hosts the Sputnik show ‘By Any Means Necessary,’ on which Changa is a regular. The two talk about police brutality, marginalization, and the influence of money in politics. These issues weren’t important to Kauffman, however. What was important is that Russia pays Puryear’s salary.

Somehow, this means that Sputnik is using leftist causes to further a shady and divisive Russian agenda in America. The fact that Changa also appeared on mainstream outlets like the BBC is not mentioned once, nor is the fact that NPR is funded by the US government. Facts would only get in the way of the narrative.

That Puryear and his guests often lament the mainstream media’s phony ‘Russian interference’ narrative only serves as further proof of their guilt in the vast Russian conspiracy.

To back up his point and give the Russia hysteria legitimacy, Kauffman cites research professor Robert Ortnung, who claims that Sputnik and RT are sinister news organizations that exist only to further the Bond-villain aims of Vladimir Putin.

“Those platforms are set up for the sole purpose of promoting the Kremlin line,” Ortnung said. “The idea is to create as much chaos as possible, because the Russians see it as a zero-sum game, where anything that weakens us is going to strengthen them.”

Kauffman neglects to mention that Ortnung is himself a government mouthpiece. He is on the International Forum for Democratic Studies Council at the National Endowment for Democracy, set up by Ronald Reagan at the height of the Cold War to spread the American message abroad. To this day, the NED is almost entirely funded by US government money.

After outlining the villains, Kauffman makes his play at the end of the article. He lists a rogues gallery of Georgia politicians that have spoken to RT and Sputnik, before tipping off one politician about the dangers of speaking to a Russian stooge like Changa.

After Kauffman told local Democrat Richard Winfield that Changa is a regular guest on a Sputnik show, the politician said that he would not have spoken to her had he known.

“It raises the possibility of people impugning not just me,” said Winfield, “but the political positions I’m advancing.”

Twitter exploded after the article was published, as users immediately saw through the obvious smear.

“NPR didn’t just smear Anoa Changa,” tweeted journalist Caitlin Johnstone. “They combed through her podcasts and called people she’s interviewed digging for Russia dirt. The worst they could find was one guy who disapproved of her Sputnik stuff. Did that stop them from publishing? Of course not.”

The message of Kauffman’s article is clear: In an era where liberal American media outlets are tripping over each other to find evidence that their enemies one time might have had Russian dressing on their salad, speaking to Russians makes you guilty by association.

As noted in the article, Changa has no intention of stopping her appearances on Sputnik.

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

Last chance for Russiagate? Democrats file lawsuit against Trump campaign, Russia and WikiLeaks

RT | April 20, 2018

In a last-ditch effort to keep the Trump/Russia collusion story alive, the Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit on Friday against the Trump campaign, the Russian government, and WikiLeaks.

The suit alleges that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to hack the DNC’s computer network and publish the committee’s emails via WikiLeaks, reported the Washington Post.

“During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

The DNC is seeking financial reparations for the alleged collusion, which the committee says amounted to an illegal conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election.

While heavy on blame, the suit is conspicuously light on evidence. White House Special Counsel Robert Mueller has found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, despite looking for almost a year.

Claims that Trump attempted to interfere with the FBI’s investigation were also dashed this Thursday, with the release of former FBI Director James Comey’s memos of his meetings with the president. The memos showed that Trump was cooperative and wanted all allegations of collusion properly investigated. Likewise, Russian responsibility for the DNC data breach has never been established.

Trump is not named as a defendant in the suit. Rather, the Democrats are targeting key figures in the Trump team “who met with people believed to be affiliated with Russia” during the campaign.

Donald Trump Jr. is named, as is President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, his campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates. Manafort and Gates were charged by Special Counsel Mueller with money laundering, fraud, and tax evasion earlier this year, but not with any kind of collusion with Russia.

Republican strategist Roger Stone is named for allegedly meeting with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the campaign, a claim he denies.

Foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and London professor Joseph Mifsud are mentioned, as are Aras and Emin Agalarov, Russian businessmen who once held a Miss Universe beauty pageant in Moscow. As owner of the pageant, Trump attended.

The Agalarovs helped arrange a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in 2016. The suit also cites Trump traveling to the Soviet Union in 1987.

Even if the lawsuit was built on solid evidence, the DNC might find it difficult to actually sue Russia, as other nations enjoy immunity from US lawsuits.

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

The Guardian, “Russian bots” and the dehumanisation of dissent

By Kit | OffGuardian | April 20, 2018

Heather Stewart, The Guardian’s chief stenographer political editor, has copied and pasted a press release written a new article all about “Russian bots”. The trouble is she doesn’t seem to know what either of these words actually means.

The article – headlined “Russia spread fake news via Twitter bots after Salisbury poisoning – analysis” – is a direct lie from the outset, as it offers absolutely no “analysis”.

Instead she does this:

Russia used trolls and bots to unleash disinformation on to social media in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning, according to fresh Whitehall analysis. Government sources said experts had uncovered an increase of up to 4,000% in the spread of propaganda from Russia-based accounts since the attack,– many of which were identifiable as automated bots.

She simply directly quotes Whitehall via anonymous “sources”. Does she interrogate the veracity of these claims? No. Does she offer evidence to support them? Of course not. Does she question the agenda behind them? I doubt she even remembers how.

Ctrl-C, ctrl-V. It must be true the government says so.

This is modern media in a nutshell. This new take on the meaning of “journalism” has hurt the world in general and press in the specific. Refusal to abide by its rules has pushed important voices out of the mainstream – the careers of many decent people of principle – John Pilger and Seymour Hersh for example – are forced out into alternate sources.

Kowtowing to the government line has its own cost though – the unquestioning acceptance of government authority has a price – and very often it’s looking incredibly foolish.

Heather seems happy to pay this price.

She cites only two examples of “Russian bots” in her article, a revelation tainted only by the fact that neither of them are Russian and neither of them are bots.

Now, before we refute the specifics Ms Stewart’s bizarre claims, let’s take a look at the definition of a bot, from wikipedia:

An Internet Bot, also known as web robot, WWW robot or simply bot, is a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone.

Simply put – bots are automated, internet based software programs that do simple repetitive tasks faster and more efficiently than humans. It’s not a difficult concept.

Spamming ads? Bots.
Automatic likes/retweets? Bots.
Writing tweets that reflect complex political realities? NOT bots.

Heather clearly doesn’t know exactly what a “bot” is, and perhaps even worse, can’t even be bothered to do some incredibly easy research to familiarise herself with the term. The government says so, so it must be true. Copy. Paste.

So, who are these non-bots, you ask? Well… apparently there’s millions of them, but Heather only mentions two:

One bot, @Ian56789, was sending 100 posts a day during a 12-day period from 7 April, and reached 23 million users, before the account was suspended. It focused on claims that the chemical weapons attack on Douma had been falsified, using the hashtag #falseflag. Another, @Partisangirl, reached 61 million users with 2,300 posts over the same 12-day period.

Now, anybody who follows alt-news sites on twitter – or who pays attention to the Syria situation – is probably more than familiar with these two names.

Ian56789 is not a bot. Anybody who follows him can see that. Is he Russian? There’s nothing to indicate that, he claims to be a Brit living in the US, and his English is perfect. Take a look at this completely randomly chosen tweet as an example:

There is nothing whatsoever to indicate he is “Russian”… except his opinions. Still, his account was suspended, because saying the wrong things has you branded an enemy in the land of the free. Thankfully he has since been reinstated.

However that pales in comparison to the absurdity of listing Partisangirl as a “Russian bot”. Partisangirl – or Maram Susli – is a real person. There can be no disagreement on that front. She gives interviews, she makes videos, there are hundreds of photographs of her. Only slightly less ridiculous than the idea she’s a “bot”, is the idea she’s “Russian”. She’s a Syrian-Australian woman. She has a Syrian name, and a Syrian flag in her bio and talks – almost exclusively – about Syria.

Disregarding these established facts is bizarre, dishonest and incredibly insulting.

So why label these people “Russian” – when they’re probably not – and “bots”, when that’s patently absurd? Is it simply ignorance? Perhaps.

But in this age of focus groups and media relations and public image, words and language are carefully chosen. Is it not more likely that this is a buzz-phrase selected to make a point? It at once dehumanizes dissent and makes breaking the consensus a partisan act, rather than a rational one.

An angry citizen is awake, alert and thinking. Much, MUCH more of a threat than a “Russian bot”. A being with no humanity, no objectivity, who is aligned with our “enemy”. It’s the othering of unacceptable opinions. It’s simple, dishonest, and dangerous.

… and people like Heather do it without a second thought. Copy, paste, repeat.

It must be right, the government says so.

In that way it is the ultimate irony, people who have thrown away their individuality and sacrificed their analytical mind to the government backed “truth”, labelling those who disagree as “bots”. There’s only one party in this situation who “performs simple repetitive tasks” to order, there’s only one group of people who automatically believe their programming and follow it without question. There’s only one automaton here.

If anyone is a “bot”… it’s them, not us.

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Russia’s OPCW envoy exposes ‘eight UK lies’ in Skripal case

RT | April 19, 2018

The UK’s narrative in the Skripal case is a “story woven with lies,” with London continuously trying to “deceive” the international community, Russia’s OPCW envoy said, highlighting eight examples of such misinformation.

“We’ve tried to show that everything our British colleagues produce is a story woven with lies,” Russia’s permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Aleksandr Shulgin told reporters on Wednesday, following the organization’s meeting on the Skripal case.

“And, unlike the British, who aren’t used to taking responsibility for their words and unfounded accusations, we showed specific facts why we believe our British partners, to put it mildly, are ‘deceiving’ everyone.” The official provided eight examples of UK-pushed misinformation, surrounding the March 4 events, when the former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in the town of Salisbury.

#1. Russia refuses to answer UK ‘questions’

“In reality, they’ve asked us only two ‘questions’… And both were worded in such way that the existence of an undocumented arsenal of chemical weaponry at Russia’s disposal was presented as an established fact, beyond any doubt.”

It was effectively an ultimatum, pressing Moscow to either confess that it “attacked the UK with chemical weapons,” or to admit that it had “lost control over the chemical warfare arsenal.”

Moscow answered both of these ‘questions’ immediately, stating that it had nothing to do with the Salisbury incident. Apart from that, the official emphasized, it is an established fact that Russia destroyed all its chemical weaponry stockpile ahead of schedule last year.

#2. UK abides by Chemical Weapons Convention rulebook

The OPCW procedures clearly state that if one member state has issues with another, it should send an official request, and thus the other party would be obliged to respond within 10 days, Shulgin said. However, instead, the UK allegedly “instigated by their colleagues from across the pond,” disregarded the established mechanism and came up with a dubious “independent verification” scheme, which violates those very OPCW rules.

#3. Russia refuses to cooperate

While the UK and a number of its allies accuse Russia of “refusing to cooperate to establish the truth,” the situation is exactly the opposite, Shulgin insists. Moscow is interested in a thorough investigation of the incident – especially since the victims are Russian citizens. Moscow repeatedly insisted on a joint probe and urged London to release data on the Skripal case, but all efforts were in vain. Many requests went unanswered by the UK, while others received only a formal reply.

#4. Russia invents versions to distract attention

Despite numerous speculations and allegations by questionable sources, cited by the UK’s own domestic media, it was Moscow that was eventually accused of coming up with some “30 versions” of the Salisbury events, allegedly to “disrupt the investigation,” Shulgin said.

“In reality, the picture is different. In fact, it’s the British tabloids, the so-called independent media, which is multiplying those versions,” the official stated, recalling some of the narratives, most of which entirely contradict each other.

#5. Exterminating traitors is Russia’s official state policy

“They claim that the Russian leadership has, on multiple occasions, stated that extermination of traitors abroad is a state policy of Russia,” Shulgin said. “This is slander, of course. The British cannot produce a single example of such statements, since the Russian leadership has never said anything of the kind.”

#6. Experts pin the blame on Russia

The head of the OPCW mission has clearly said that it was impossible to determine in which country the toxic substance used in Salisbury had originated. Yet the OPCW findings were once again used by the UK officials to claim Moscow was “highly likely” responsible. “Look, the head said it was impossible and they, abandoning all common sense, said ‘They’ve confirmed our evaluations that it was Russia.’ How else can you evaluate this but as a lie?” Shulgin wondered.

#7. ‘Novichok’ is a Soviet invention, so it has to be Russia

The development of the so-called Novichok family of toxic agents more than 30 years ago in the Soviet Union was one of the main cornerstones in the UK narrative, pinning blame for the Skripal incident on Russia. Publicly available sources, however, indicate that “the West has been and still is conducting research and development into such substances,” Shulgin said, giving a fresh example of such activities.

“Not long ago, namely on 1 December 2015, the US Patent and Trademark Office filed a request to its Russian colleagues asking to check patentability … of a chemical weaponry-filled bullet, which could be equipped with Tabun, Sarin or the Novichok family of agents,” the official stated.

#8. Yulia Skripal avoids contact with relatives & refuses Russian consular support

While such a statement was indeed produced by the UK authorities “on behalf” of Yulia, Moscow believes it to be false. According to Shulgin, the situation with Yulia is starting to look like a Russian citizen is effectively being “held hostage” by the UK authorities.

April 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Dirty money or dirty politics? UK hypocrisy over ‘Russian oligarchs’

By Neil Clark | RT | April 18, 2018

According to Russia’s Prosecutor General, 61 criminals who stole up to $10 billion in Russia are enjoying life in the UK. Britain claims to be concerned about ‘dirty money,’ but has rejected requests from Moscow for extradition.

It was the financial heist of the century. The looting of Soviet Russia’s wealth by a group of well-connected oligarchs in the 1990s enriched a tiny few, but impoverished vast swathes of the country’s population. The foundations for this massive, reverse-Robin-Hood redistribution of wealth were laid with Gorbachev’s ‘restructuring’ economic reforms of the late 80s. However, the process reached its peak under Boris Yeltsin.

State assets were handed out like confetti to members of Yeltsin’s inner circle. By 1996 the Russian people, who had seen their living standards plummet following the end of communism, had had enough. Yeltsin’s popularity was down to single-figure ratings – with the Communists riding high in the polls. So the President’s oligarch friends – and their Western allies – worked together to make sure the election went the ‘right’ way.

The US got the IMF to give Russia a $10.2-billion loan so that state salaries, which had been unpaid for months, could finally be paid. With the media under government or oligarch control, a massive propaganda offensive was launched. When the vote came in the second round, Yeltsin was declared the winner with 54 percent of the vote. There were widespread accusations of election fraud, but the West didn’t care. “Yanks to the rescue; The Secret story of how US advisers helped Yeltsin win,” proclaimed Time magazine on its front cover. “Bill (Clinton) would pick up the hotline and talk to Yeltsin. He would tell him what commercials to run, where to campaign, what positions to take, he (the US president), basically became Yeltsin‘s political consultant,” admitted Dick Morris, a Clinton campaign manager.

The events of 1996 are well worth remembering when we hear unproven allegations about how Russia ‘fixed’ the 2016 US presidential election for Trump. With Yeltsin back in power, the oligarchs popped the champagne corks and prepared to make even more money on the backs of the Russian people.

“We hired First Deputy Chubais. We invested huge sums of money. We guaranteed Yeltsin’s re-election. Now we have the right to occupy government posts and use the fruits of our victory,” boasted Boris Berezovsky, the so-called ‘Godfather of the Kremlin’ to the Financial Times in 1997.

The 90s were a decade ordinary Russians would prefer to forget. Things only started to improve for them when the first moves were made to re-introduce some law and order into the system. The process started under Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, but accelerated under Vladimir Putin.

A seminal moment came with the arrest, in 2003, of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was believed to be the richest man in Russia. In fact, the current ‘Cold War 2.0’ against Russia, waged by Western neocons, can be traced back to this event. At the time of his arrest, Khodorkovsky had been holding talks with US oil companies over a merger with his conglomerate Yukos. The West, as I explained in the New Statesman, had seen the oligarchs as a way they could gain control over Russia. “Now with their man in Moscow behind bars, it is time for the neoconservative propaganda war against Putin to go into overdrive. Richard Perle was first out of the blocks, calling for Russia’s expulsion from the G8 and its exclusion from any postwar Iraq oil contracts, and accusing it of collusion with Iran’s nuclear-power program,” I noted.

The Khodorkovsky case became a cause celebre, while Boris Berezovsky was also lionized by the sections of the establishment when he failed to return to Russia – where he was facing criminal charges – and was granted political asylum in Britain.

An Interpol Red Warrant for his arrest was ignored. The controversial oligarch, now rebranded as a ‘pro-democracy campaigner’ wined and dined UK media figures and was even invited on to the BBC television program Question Time to give his thoughts on ‘democracy.’

There was no, or little, concern about ‘dirty’ Russian money in London at this time. The more rich Russians who flocked to London, the better. But all that has hanged in recent months. The deliberate ramping up of Cold War 2.0 tensions, because of frustration with Russia’s role in thwarting ‘regime change’ plans for Syria, has meant that wealthy Russians living in Britain are now in the line of fire.

“Russians in Britain told to reveal their riches,” declared a headline of the neocon Times newspaper.

Security Minister Ben Wallace, as quoted by ITV, said that the “full force of government” would be brought to bear on foreign criminals and corrupt politicians who use Britain as a haven. His reference to the TV series McMafia – about Russian oligarchs – made it clear which ‘foreign criminals‘ he had in mind.

Unexplained Wealth Orders will be used to ask people with lots of money where they got their fortunes from. But only certain people.

Clearly, the system is open to abuse. Rich Russians who hate Putin and say the right things about the Russian government probably have no reason to be afraid. But those who aren’t personae non grata in Moscow will find things more difficult.

In January, the Daily Telegraph reported that Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, who hasn’t fallen out with the Russian government, was for the first time included on “a list of officials and oligarchs” which could serve as “a basis for future Russian sanctions.”

Abramovich was also included in a Times ‘hit-list’ on March 18 on “Putin’s oligarch pals with billions in British assets,” when we were told that the UK government could draw on the list published by the US in January.

I think we can all see the way things are going. Wealthy Russians living in Britain will have to disassociate themselves from the Kremlin, if they’re to be left in peace. The key issue will not be ‘Where did you get your money?’ but ‘Who do you support?’

Some are already getting cold feet.

In March, in the aftermath of the Salisbury case, Sergei Kapchuk, a Russian businessman living in Britain, fled the country saying he was in fear of the British security services – having been pressured to make an appeal to Putin by an ‘intelligence-officer-looking’ man before a television interview.

The anti-Russian witch-hunt has even led to the absurd spectacle of ‘rights activist’ Peter Tatchell calling for the children of Russian “regime officials and families” to be expelled from schools.

In The Independent last week, a Russian woman living in Britain wrote: “I quickly realized that acknowledging you’re a Russian in the UK is like admitting that you have a deadly disease and you only have a few weeks to live.”

The fact that she felt obliged to write the piece under the pseudonym “Valerie Stark” shows us how bad the situation has become.

It’s clear what’s underpinning the UK government’s so-called ‘fight’ against ‘dirty money‘ is not morality (how can it be, from a government that has imposed harsh austerity measures on the British public), but geopolitics. It has to be seen in its wider context as part of the warmongering elite’s Russophobic campaign. “They were not concerned before because they approved of the wholesale theft of Russia‘s wealth back then, and the Yeltsin regime which facilitated it,” George Galloway recently told RT.

Now though, with Russia getting in the way of neocon hegemonic aspirations in the Middle East, it’s a very different story.

April 18, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

An Alternative Explanation to the Skripal Mystery

By Gareth Porter  | Consortium News | April 17, 2018

For weeks, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have insisted that there is “no alternative explanation” to Russian government responsibility for the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last month.

But in fact the British government is well aware that such an alternative explanation does exist. It is based on the well-documented fact that the “Novichok” nerve agent synthesized by Soviet scientist in the 1980s had been sold by the scientist–who led the development of the nerve agent– to individuals linked to Russian criminal organizations as long ago as 1994 and was used to kill a Russian banker in 1995.

The connection between the Novichok nerve agent and a previous murder linked to the murky Russian criminal underworld would account for the facts of the Salisbury poisoning far better than the official line that it was a Russian government assassination attempt.

The credibility of the May government’s attempt to blame it on Russian President Vladimir Putin has suffered because of Yulia Skripal’s relatively rapid recovery, the apparent improvement of Sergei Skripal’s condition and a medical specialist’s statement that the Skripals had exhibited no symptoms of nerve agent poisoning.

How a Crime Syndicate Got Nerve Agent

The highly independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta has published a detailed account of how Russian organized crime figures obtained nerve agent in 1994 from Leonid Rink, the head of the former Soviet government laboratory that had synthesized it.

The newspaper gleaned the information about the transaction from Rink’s court testimony in the 1995 murder of prominent banker Ivan Kivelidi, the leader of the Russian Entrepreneurs’ Round Table, an organization engaged in a conflict with a powerful group of directors of state-owned enterprises.

Rink testified that after the post-Soviet Russian economic meltdown had begun he filled each of several ampoules with 0.25 grams of nerve agent and stored it in his own garage. Just one such ampoule held enough agent to kill 100 people, according to Rink, the lead scientist in the development of the series of nerve agents called Novichok (“newcomer” in Russian).

Rink further admitted that he had then sold one of the ampoules in 1995 to Artur Talanov, who then lived in Latvia and was later seriously wounded in an attempted robbery of a cash van in Estonia, for less than $1,800.

In 1995, some of that nerve agent was applied to Kivelidi’s telephone receiver to kill him, as the court documents in the murder case reveal. Police found that there were links between Talanov and Vladimir Khutsishvili, who had been a board member of Kivelidi’s bank, according to the Kivelidi murder investigation. Khutsishivili was eventually found guilty of poisoning Kivelidi, although it was found that he hired someone else to carry out the poisoning.

But that wasn’t the only nerve agent that Rink sold to gangsters. Rink admitted in court in 2007 that he had sold four of the vials to someone named Ryabov, who had organized crime connections in 1994. Those vials were said to have been seized later by Federal Security Police.

But the investigation of the Kivelidi murder found that vials had also fallen into the hands of other criminal syndicates, including one Chechen organization. Furthermore, Rink testified that he had given each of the recipients of the nerve agent detailed instructions on how it worked and how to handle it safely.

The Mystery of the Non-Lethal Nerve Agent

The newly-revealed story of how organized crime got control of hundreds of doses of lethal nerve agent from a government laboratory sheds crucial light on the mystery of the poisoning in Salisbury, especially in light of the timeline of the Skripals on the day of the poisoning and their unexpectedly swift recovery.

Reports of their activities on March 4 show that they were strolling in central Salisbury, dining, and visiting a pub for several hours before collapsing on a park bench sometime after 4 pm.

The announcements of Yulia’s rapid recovery on March 28 and that Sergei was now “stable” and “improving rapidly” about a week later appears to be in contradiction with the British insistence that they were poisoned by a Russian government intelligence team. The Novichok-type nerve agent has been characterized as quick acting and highly lethal.

But the official Russian forensic investigation in conjunction with the Kivelidi’s murder, as reported by Novaya Gazeta, concluded that the Novichok did not take effect instantaneously but generally took from one and a half to five hours.

The Russian government has now made an official issue of the fact that the nerve agent used in the poisoning proved not to be lethal. In his news conference on April 14 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Swiss Spiez Laboratory, working on the case for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), had found traces in the Skripals’ blood sample, of the nerve agent BZ, which was never developed by Soviet scientists but was in the arsenals of the United States and Britain.

Lavrov also acknowledged that the lab had in addition found traces of “A-234”–one of the nerve agents in the Novichok series – “in its initial state and in high concentration”. Lavrov argued that had the assassins used A-234 nerve agent, which he noted is at least eight times more deadly than VX nerve gas, it “would have killed the Skripals.”

But if the poisoning had been done with some of the A-234 nerve agent that was sold by Rink to organized crime figures, it probably would not have been that lethal.

Vil Mirzayanov, the counter-intelligence specialist on the team that developed Novichok and who later revealed the existence of the Novichok program, explained in an interview with The Guardian that, the agent lost its effectiveness. “The final product, in storage, after one year is already losing 2%, 3%,” Mirzayanov said, “The next year more, and the next year more. In 10-15 years, it’s no longer effective.”

Exposure to even a large dose of such a normally lethal poison more than 25 years after it was first produced could account for the apparent lack of normal symptoms associated with exposure to that kind of nerve agent experienced by the Skripals, as well as for their relatively speedy recovery. That lends further credibility to a possible explanation that someone with a personal grudge against Sergei Skripal carried out the poisoning.

An Absence of Nerve Agent Symptoms?

Also challenging the official British line is a statement by a medical specialist involved in the Salisbury District Hospital’s care for the Skripals revealing that they had not exhibited any symptoms of nerve agent poisoning.

Davies: Letter to The Times

Stephen Davies, a consultant on emergency medicine for the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Salisbury District Hospital, wrote a letter published in The Times on March 16 that presented a problem for the official British government position. Davies wrote,“[M]ay I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve-agent poisoning in Salisbury, and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning.” Obviously, Sergei and Yulia Skripal were “patients” in the hospital and were thus included in that statement.

The Times made the unusual decision to cover the Davies letter in a news story, but tellingly failed to quote the crucial statement in the letter that “no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve-agent poisoning in Salisbury” or to report on the significance of the statement.

To rule out the possibility that Davies intended to say something quite different, this writer requested a confirmation or denial of what Davies had written in his letter from the press officer for the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, Patrick Butler. But Butler did not respond for a week and then refused directly to deny, confirm or explain the Davies statement.

Instead Butler said in an email, “Three people were admitted and treated as inpatients at Salisbury District Hospital for the effects of nerve agent poisoning as Stephen Davies wrote.” When he was reminded that the letter had actually said something quite different, Butler simply repeated the statement he had just sent and then added, “The Trust will not be providing any further information on this matter.”

Butler did not respond to two separate requests from the writer for assistance in contacting Davies. The refusal of the NHS Foundation Trust to engage at all on the subject underlines the sensitivity of The British government about nerve agent that didn’t work.

There are many individuals in Russia whose feelings about Sergei Skripal’s having become a double agent for Britain’s MI6 – including former colleagues of his – could provide a personal motive for the poisoning. And it is certainly plausible that those individuals could have obtained some of the nerve agent sold by Leonid Rink that entered the black market.

Neither the British government nor the Russian government is apparently eager to acknowledge that alternative explanation. The British don’t want it discussed, because they are determined to use the Salisbury poisoning to push their anti-Russian agenda; and the Russians may be reluctant to talk about it, because it would inevitably get into details of a secret nerve agent research project that they have claimed they closed down in 1992, despite Rink’s testimony in the court case that he was still doing some work for the Russian military until 1994.


Gareth Porter is an independent journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of numerous books, including Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (Just World Books, 2014).

April 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

‘Russia’ Instead of ‘US’: Swedish TV Caught Peddling Fake News on Syria

Sputnik – April 18, 2018

Swedish TV-channel TV4 has sparked outrage by offering its viewers a skewed picture of reality by substituting “the US” with “Russia” in a critical news report on the US-backed attacks against the war-torn middle-Eastern country.

In a news report about the conflict in Syria by TV4, a Syrian woman was speaking about the US, which, oddly enough, was rendered as “Russia, Iran and the regime” in the accompanying subtitles. After a public outcry on social media, TV4 recognized its “mistake” while translating the woman’s outspoken message from Arabic into Swedish.

“The attack did not get enough effect, so we want to see more. We want them to avenge us. Russia, Iran and the regime must back off from here because they have stolen our country and our land,” a woman living in Douma was quoted as saying on TV4.

In reality, however, she didn’t mention “Russia” at all, not even once, which was eagerly pointed out on TV4’s Facebook page by Arab-speaking Swedish viewers.

“Why do you cheat your viewers by means of translating errors? The lady said the United States, you wrote ‘Russia, Iran and the regime,'” Katja Jakoub, an Arabic-speaking woman from Gothenburg pointed out in her post.

This post has been shared by thousands of people, including many people of Arab descent who pointed out that the woman clearly said “Amrika,” Arabic for the United States.

They also pointed out that the Syrian woman actually said that “not everything is dependent on the US” and claimed that she “once again felt hope.” It is not clear from the excerpt whether she was referring to the US-backed missile attack against the Syrian government or something else.

In response to the public uproar, TV4 acknowledged that the translation was “incorrect.”

“During yesterday morning’s broadcast, we sent out a feature from Syria in which the footage unfortunately was accompanied by the wrong text. Thus, the translation did not match what was actually said in the footage regarding this particular broadcast. This was discovered shortly afterwards and we rectified this immediately,” TV4 wrote in its reply, stressing that subsequent broadcasts featured a more consistent translation.

“Was this really a mistake from TV4? One translates the US as ‘Russia, Iran and the regime’ and lets it go on air during peak time to hundreds of thousands of viewers. Then one apologizes on TV4’s Facebook page which is only read by several hundred… Looks more like TV4 owners would like get a world war started,” user Christian Christensen wrote.

On April 14, the US, Britain and France launched 103 cruise and air-to-surface missiles at a number of government facilities in Syria, in response to the alleged April 7 chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma. The airstrikes came even before the results of an ongoing investigation into the case by experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were announced. Most of the missiles were intercepted by Syrian air defenses.

The Stockholm-headquartered TV4 is one of Sweden’s largest channels. It is fully owned by the Bonnier Group, which, in turn, is managed by the powerful media tycoon family the Bonniers [see link below], who run a network of about 170 companies in 15 countries, including Sweden’s foremost dailies such as Dagens Nyheter, Expressen and Sydsvenskan.

READ MORE:

Jewish Media Influence in Scandinavia

Sweden Starts Anti-‘Fake News’ Body for Mental Defense Against ‘Russian Threat’

‘Source Critical’ Swedish Daily Draws Ridicule by Posting Fake PM Tweet

April 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Wars for Israel | , | Leave a comment

Neutral and unbiased? Why ‘think tanks’ lobby for war in Syria

By Danielle Ryan | RT | April 17, 2018

When US President Donald Trump fired a barrage of Tomahawk missiles at Syrian government targets last week, it was a good day for defense contractors, at least.

In the aftermath of the strike, which Trump claimed was in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government, stocks in Tomahawk missile manufacturer Raytheon surged. Raytheon stock has climbed more than 18 percent in 2018 so far. In fact, stocks in defense companies have been climbing in general since Trump entered office promising “historic” increases in military spending.

Almost a year ago to the day, Trump delivered another bump to the defense companies after attacking Syrian government positions for the first time – also in response to an alleged chemical attack, evidence for which remains in question.

After that strike Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics also rose, gaining nearly $5 billion in market value when trading began the next day, even as the wider market slumped.

Later, when Trump appointed the famously militaristic John Bolton as his national security adviser in March, guess what happened? Shares in US energy and defense companies surged yet again. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out: war is profitable. The more missiles Trump fires, the more money these companies make.

But where do the think tanks come in?

There is a pervasive myth that Washington DC ‘think tanks’ are neutral and unbiased players in foreign policy analysis. But where do these centers for foreign policy ‘analysis’ get their money from? You guessed it: defense companies.

There are a few think tanks which dominate in American foreign policy debates. They include the Center For European Policy Analysis (CEPA), the Atlantic Council, the German Marshall Fund (GMF), the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation. All five of them receive generous donations from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Three of them also receive funding from the Boeing Company.

Corporations like Exxon Mobil, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, and Bell Helicopter are also big donors to think tanks. Bell Helicopter is a funder of CEPA, while Exxon funds Brookings, GMF and the Atlantic Council. BAE Systems donates to CEPA, while Northrop Grumman gives to the Atlantic Council. This is not to even mention the money they get directly from US government departments and NATO, which also helps explain their consistently anti-Russian analysis.

Nonetheless, these think tanks enjoy an undue air of independence. Experts who work for these defense contractor-funded institutes are quoted frequently in mainstream newspapers and invited on mainstream channels, where they are presented as independent voices. But those independent voices somehow always seem to be in favor of policies that benefit weapons manufacturers.

War profiteers are filling their coffers in return for ‘analysis’ which promotes military action and massively inflates the threat posed to America by countries like Russia, for example.

A glance at the Twitter feed of CEPA reveals almost obsession-like focus on the so-called threat from Russia. In 2016, the Lockheed and BAE Systems-funded think tank suggested in a report on information warfare that people who have “fallen victim to Kremlin propaganda” should be “deradicalized” in special programs.

The NATO-funded Atlantic Council has consistently lobbied for regime change in Syria. In the days surrounding Trump’s military actions against Syria last week, the Atlantic Council published multiple  pieces of analysis and interviews with a single theme: that Trump did not or would not go far enough with one night of strikes. Earlier, when the alleged chemical attack took place, the think tank argued that Syrian President Bashar Assad was “indulging an addiction” and called on the US to take new military action against him. For some reason, diplomacy does not seem to be high on the Atlantic Council’s agenda.

It seems the more money defense contractors throw at think tanks, the more those think tanks will argue in favor of the military policies that will make those companies the most money. It’s a vicious cycle, but one which doesn’t take much think tank-style ‘analysis’ to  figure out.

The sad thing for the think tank lobbyists, is that the money they make calling for war is nothing in comparison to the money Lockheed, Raytheon, Boeing and the rest make from it. Maybe they should ask for a raise.

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Skripal case & the perils of a rush to judgment

By James O’Neill | OffGuardian | April 16, 2018

The perils of coming to premature conclusions before all the facts are available has been starkly demonstrated by the latest developments in the alleged nerve gas attack upon the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English town of Salisbury on 4 March 2018.

Followers of this particular saga will be aware that British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have made a series of statements to the United Kingdom House of Commons and to the media. They alleged, without qualification, that the Skripals were poisoned with a nerve agent of the “Novichok” class, of a type “developed by Russia.”

That these statements were made before it was possible for the British chemical and biological research facility at Porton Down to have made an analysis and reached a scientifically valid conclusion did not matter. The object of the exercise was to demonize Russia in general and its President Mr Putin in particular.

As serious questions about the United Kingdom’s version of events were increasingly raised, the government’s explanations changed, along with increasingly bizarre allegations. The one common denominator to all of these “explanations” was that they were devoid of that troublesome substance known as “evidence.”

Very belatedly, and contrary to their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the United Kingdom made a request to the OPCW to conduct an independent investigation. While this investigation was ongoing, the propaganda continued unabated. One aspect of that was the United Kingdom persuading a number of its NATO and EU allies, plus Australia to expel Russian diplomats.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop issued a media release on 27 March that blamed the Skripal attack upon Russia, relying on

advice from the United Kingdom government that the substance used on 4 March was a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia……….. The attack is part of a pattern of reckless and deliberate conduct by the Russian state that constitutes a growing threat to international security, global non-proliferation rules against the use of chemical weapons, the rights of other sovereign nations and the international rules based order that underpins them.

Russia’s denials of culpability were disregarded.

The OPCW has now issued its report dated 12th April 2018. At the time of writing (15 April) there has been no mention of this report, much less its implications, in the Australian mainstream media. The report is in two versions. The first part, headed Note by the Technical Secretariat was released for public use. The second and more detailed version was released to all nations who were parties to the CWC, which includes Australia.

Even the two page summary report contains valuable information. The first revelation is that the samples collected by the OPCW technical team that went to the United Kingdom on 21 March 2018 (17 days after the attack on the Skripals) were of a “high purity.”

The alleged significance of this is that it could only have been produced in a very sophisticated laboratory, which almost certainly rules out any resources other than those of an advanced nation state.

The second point is that a “pure toxin” is not a “military grade nerve agent.” This latter phrase is one used by the British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary and repeated in Foreign Minister Bishop’s media release. The suggestion to the contrary by Gary Aitkenhead, the CEO of Porton Down, was therefore misleading. Mr Aitkenhead is not a scientist and may not have known better, but he was relying on a statement prepared for him. The Porton Down scientists certainly knew better.

Thirdly, the OPCW summary notes that there were no additives to the substance, which would have been necessary had the substance been applied to the Skripal’s front door handle. That particular version was seriously advanced by Boris Johnson who also claimed to have evidence that Russia had been training its agents for several years in how to apply nerve agents to door handles!

Perhaps needless to add, like most of Mr Johnson’s pronouncements on this topic, this was bereft of evidence and logic, let alone scientific validity.

One of the two most important points in the OPCW summary is that the environmental samples collected by the OPCW technical team were of “high purity” and demonstrated “the almost complete absence of the impurities.” This is literally impossible if the samples related to the time when the OPCW technical team was in the United Kingdom for that purpose. Of the various nerve agents in existence, the most durable is VX, which has a durability of 2 to 3 days, not the three weeks between the attack and the collection of the samples.

The irresistible conclusion is that the places where the samples were taken had evidence planted immediately (within a few hours at most) prior to the OPCW technical team’s arrival at the locations from where the samples were collected. It defies common sense and logic to suggest that the Russians were responsible for the planting of such fake evidence. The most logical candidate is the United Kingdom government or someone acting on their behalf.

That finding alone destroys the argument of the United Kingdom government and its acolytes in the Australian government and media. There was however, a further fatal blow to the UK government’s claims. As noted, the full OPCW report was made available to all governments who were signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

There is no prohibition on any of those governments from publishing the full report or parts thereof. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has released what he claims is another key finding of the report. That is, that the agent used on the Skripals was in fact a substance known as BZ (3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate). BZ is an hallucinogenic incapacitating chemical warfare agent. It afflicts both the peripheral and central nervous systems.

The signs of its use are disorientation, tremors, ataxia, stupor and coma. It is administered by an aerosol spray. These symptoms accord with the descriptions given by eyewitnesses and Salisbury Hospital as to the Skripal’s medical conditions. BZ is not produced in Russia. It is an agent that is used by the United Kingdom and the United States.

When one puts together the now known nature of the substance, its means of delivery and the symptoms that its victims exhibit, it is a further compelling inference that they were “sprayed” at some point between leaving Zizzi’s restaurant and moving to the park bench.

Given the ubiquitousness of CCTV cameras in the vicinity it should be possible to identify the actual perpetrator. One might draw further negative inferences about the UK government and the Police investigation from the fact that no details of the Skripal’s movements at this time have been released.

The British, Australian and other governments who rushed to judgement have a dilemma. Do they attempt to rebut the information that Mr Lavrov released? To try and do so would serve to highlight the revelations and any denials would be easily rebutted by the release of the full report.

On the other hand, ignoring this new evidence inevitably raises further questions about the veracity of the government’s version of events. The details outlined briefly above have already been widely disseminated on the alternative media and at least some British mainstream outlets.

The option that appears to have been taken thus far by the Australian media is to ignore Mr Lavrov’s revelations. Bishop and Turnbull, so recently and frequently condemnatory of alleged chemical warfare misbehaviour by Russia are now completely silent.

Their rush to judgement has now been exposed for the empty propaganda that it was. It is probably too much to expect an apology and a withdrawal of their false claims. Such an apology seems the very least they can do in the light of the actual evidence revealed by the investigation which stands in such stark contrast to the hyperbole and falsehoods perpetrated by the British government and their acolytes.

James O’Neill is a Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted it joneill@qldbar.asn.au

April 16, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not

By Norman Solomon | CounterPunch | April 16, 2018

Politicians, pundits and activists who’ve routinely denounced President Trump as a tool of Vladimir Putin can now mull over a major indicator of their cumulative impacts. The U.S.-led missile attack on Syria before dawn Saturday is the latest benchmark for gauging the effects of continually baiting Trump as a puppet of Russia’s president.

Heavyweights of U.S. media — whether outlets such as CNN and MSNBC or key newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post — spent most of the last week clamoring for Trump to order air strikes on Syria. Powerful news organizations have led the way in goading Trump to prove that he’s not a Putin lackey after all.

One of the clearest ways that Trump can offer such proof is to recklessly show he’s willing to risk a catastrophic military confrontation with Russia.

In recent months, the profusion of “war hawks, spies and liars” on national television has been part of a media atmosphere that barely acknowledges what’s at stake with games of chicken between the world’s two nuclear superpowers. Meanwhile, the dominant U.S. news media imbue their reporting with a nationalistic sense of impunity.

On Saturday morning, the top headline on the New York Times website was “U.S. Attacks Syria in Retaliatory Strike,” while the subhead declared that “Western resolve” was at work. The story led off by reporting that Trump “sought to punish President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical attack near Damascus last weekend that killed more than 40 people.”

Try putting the shoe on the other foot for a moment. Imagine that Russia, with a similar rationale, fired missiles at U.S. ally Saudi Arabia because the Kremlin “sought to punish King Salman for his country’s war crimes in Yemen” — with such reportage appearing under a headline that described the Russian attack as a “retaliatory strike.”

The latest U.S. air attack on Russia’s close ally Syria was as much politically aimed at Moscow as at Damascus. And afterwards, the televised adrenalin-pumped glee was as much an expression of pleasure about striking a blow at Putin as at Assad. After all, ever since Trump took office, the U.S. media and political elites have been exerting enormous pressures on him to polarize with Russia.

But let’s be clear: The pressures have not only been generated by corporate media and the political establishment. Across the United States, a wide range of people including self-described liberals and progressives — as individuals and organizations — have enthusiastically participated in the baiting, cajoling and denouncing of Trump as a Putin tool. That participation has stoked bellicose rhetoric by congressional Democrats, fueling the overall pressure on Trump to escalate tensions with Russia.

What’s really at issue here is not the merits of the Russian government in 2018, any more than the issue was the merits of the Soviet government in 1967 — when President Lyndon Johnson hosted an extensive summit meeting in Glassboro, New Jersey, with Soviet Premier Alexi Kosygin, reducing the chances of nuclear war in the process.

If you keep heading toward a destination, you’re likely to get there. In 2018, by any realistic measure, the escalating conflicts between the United States and Russia — now ominously reaching new heights in Syria — are moving us closer to World War III. It’s time to fully recognize the real dangers and turn around.

April 16, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

The Skripal event and the Douma “gas attack” – two acts in the same drama?

OffGuardian | April 14, 2018

The illegal air strikes on Syria by the coalition of the guilty (US, France, UK) have happened, to no one’s great surprise. As such things go all current indications are that they were more token than anything else. The Russians are saying around 100 missiles were fired at an unclear number of targets, of which around 70% were intercepted. Syrian General Staff are reporting 3 injuries and no deaths. Mattis was at pains to say this was a one-off, though adding the reckless caveat that any further evidence of chemical weapons usage by Assad might change that (thus giving every lunatic or CIA/neocon-controlled cell in Syria a pure gold motive for a false fag).

Compared to how bad this might have been, this is a fairly harmless result for the present.

We’ve resisted the temptation to do any kind of analysis of things so far, preferring to let them play out and to document developments and opinions. But maybe this is a good time to offer a tentative overview of what seems to have been going on in the past weeks.

1) The Douma “gas attack” was likely faked

The only evidence we have for any “gas attack” in Douma on April 7 is the video released on April 7-8, showing piles of corpses, mostly children, some with foam around their mouths. When, where or how the video was made is not verifiable. Who killed the children shown or how they died is not verifiable. Additionally we have images of an alleged “gas canister”, again without any sourcing or verification, and which have been widely suggested to be implausible. And there is Bellingcat (Eliot Higgins), contributing his usual brand of “comparisons” of images and Google maps, adding nothing that could be described even loosely as verification of the salient claims.

In opposition to this the Russians are claiming the event was staged. They allege their armed forces entered Douma shortly after the alleged attack and claim to have found no evidence of chemical weapons usage, no witnesses and no victims.

They have also released video statements by two young men claiming to be doctors at the hospital. They describe people running in to the hospital screaming that there had been a chemical attack, inciting panic among the people there, and “unqualified” people administering to children, giving them “asthma inhalers.” However, he says, there were no victims of such a chemical treated there, only victims of smoke inhalation from recent shelling and subsequent fires.

There is also the notable reluctance by US Defense Secretary, James Mattis to fully endorse the reality of this narrative. Even on April 12, just hours before the air strikes were to be implemented, he was still publicly saying he had seen no evidence to show the gas attacks happened or who may have been responsible. Given his senior position on the Trump administration, and his previously gungho attitude to military adventurism, this is significant.

Of greatest potential significance is the claim by the Russian foreign ministry that they have evidence the UK government was directly involved in staging the fake attack or encouraging a false flag. So far they haven’t released this data, so we can’t comment further at this time.

2) Primarily UK initiative?

The fact (as stated above) that Mattis was apparently telegraphing his own private doubts a) about the verifiability of the attacks, and b) about the dangers of a military response, suggests he was a far from enthusiastic partaker in this adventure. Trump’s attitude is harder to gauge. His tweets veered wildly between unhinged threats and apparent efforts at conciliation. But he must have known he would lose (and seemingly has lost) a great part of his natural voter base (who elected him on a no-more-war mandate) by an act of open aggression that threatened confrontation with Russia on the flimsiest of pretexts.

Granted the US has been looking for excuses to intervene ever more overtly in Syria since 2013, and in that sense this Douma “initiative” is a continuation of their long term policy. It’s also true Russia was warning just such a false flag would be attempted in early March. But in the intervening month the situation on the ground has changed so radically that such an attempt no longer made any sense.

A false flag in early March, while pockets of the US proxy army were still holding ground in Ghouta would have enabled a possible offensive in their support which would prevent Ghouta falling entirely into government hands and thereby also maintain the pressure on Damascus. A false flag in early April is all but useless because the US proxy army in the region was completely vanquished and nothing would be gained by an offensive in that place at that time.

You can see why Mattis and others in the administration might be reluctant to take part in the false flag/punitive air strike narrative if they saw nothing currently to be gained to repay the risk. They may have preferred to wait for developments and plan for a more productive way of playing the R2P card in the future.

The US media has been similarly, and uncharacteristically divided and apparently unsure. Tucker Carlson railed against the stupidity of attacking Syria. Commentators on MSNBC were also expressing intense scepticism of the US intent and fear about possible escalation.

The UK govt and media on the other hand has been much more homogeneous in advocating for action. No doubts of the type expressed by Mattis have been heard from the lips of any UK government minister. Even May, a cowardly PM, has been (under how much pressure?) voicing sterling certitude in public that action HAD to be taken.

Couple this with the – as yet unverified – claims by Russia of direct UK involvement in arranging the Douma “attack” and a tentative story-line emerges.

The Skripal consideration

Probably the only thing we can all broadly agree on about the Skripal narrative is that it manifestly did not go according to plan. However it was intended to play out, it wasn’t this way. Since some time in mid to late March it’s been clear the entire thing has become little more than an exercise in damage-limitation, leak-plugging and general containment.

The official story is a hot mess of proven falsehoods, contradictions, implausible conspiracy theories, more falsehoods and inexplicable silences where cricket chirps tell us all we need to know.

The UK government has lied and evaded on every key aspect.

1) It lied again and again about the information Porton Down had given it

2) Its lawyers all but lied to Mr Justice Robinson about whether or not the Skripals had relatives in Russia in an unscrupulous attempt to maintain total control of them, or at least of the narrative.

3) It is not publishing the OPCW report on the chemical analyses, and the summary of that report reads like an exercise in allusion and weasel-wording. Even the name of the “toxic substance” found in the Skripals’ blood is omitted, and the only thing tying it to the UK government’s public claims of “novichok” is association by inference and proximity. Indeed if current claims by Russian FM Lavrov turn out to be true, “novichok” may indeed not have been found in those samples at all and the active substance was a compound called “BZ”, a non-lethal agent developed in Europe and America. (more about that later).

None of the alleged victims of this alleged attack has been seen in public even in passing since the event. There is no film or photographs of DS Bailey leaving the hospital, no film or photographs of his wife or family members doing the same. No interviews with Bailey, no interviews with his wife, family, distant relatives, work colleagues.

The Skripals themselves were announced to be alive and out of danger mere days after claims they were all but certain to die. Yulia, soon thereafter, apparently called her cousin Viktoria only to subsequently announce, indirectly through the helpful agency of the Metropolitan Police, that she didn’t want to talk to her cousin – or anyone else – at all. She is now allegedly discharged from hospital and has “specially trained officers… helping to take care of” her in an undisclosed location. A form or words so creepily sinister it’s hard to imagine how they were ever permitted the light of day.

Very little of this bizarre, self-defeating, embarrassing, hysterical story makes any sense other than as a random narrative, snaking wildly in response to events the narrative-makers can’t completely control.

Why? What went wrong? Why has the UK government got itself into this mess?

Is this what happened?

If a false flag chemical attack had taken place in Syria at the time Russia predicted, just a week or two after the Skripal poisoning, a lot of the attention that’s been paid to the Skripals over the last month would likely have been diverted. Many of the questions being asked by Russia and in the alt media may never have been asked as the focus of the world turned to a possible superpower stand-off in the Middle East.

So, could it be the Skripal event was never intended to last so long in the public eye? Could it be that it was indeed a false flag, as many have alleged, planned as a sketchy prelude to, or warm up act for a bigger chemical attack in Syria, scheduled for a week or so later in mid-March – just around the time Russia was warning of such a possibility?

Could it be this planned event was unexpectedly canceled by the leading players in the drama (the US) when the rapid and unexpected fall of Ghouta meant any such intervention became pointless at least for the moment?

Did this cancellation leave the UK swinging in the wind, with a fantastical story that was never intended to withstand close scrutiny, and no second act for distraction?

This would explain why the UK may have been pushing for the false flag to happen even after it could no longer serve much useful purpose on the ground, and why the Douma “attack” seems to have been so sketchily done by a gang on the run. It would explain why the US has been less than enthused by the idea of reprisals. Because while killing Syrians to further geo-strategic interests is not a problem, killing Syrians (and risking escalation with Russia) in order to rescue an embarrassed UK government is less appealing.

If this is true, Theresa May and her cabinet are currently way out on a limb even by cynical UK standards. Not only have they lied about the Skripal event, but in order to cover up that lie they have promoted a false flag in Syria, and “responded “ to it by a flagrant breach of international and domestic law.

This is very bad.

But even if some or all of our speculation proves false, and even if the Russian claims of UK collusion with terrorists in Syria prove unfounded, May is still guilty of multiple lies and has still waged war without parliamentary approval.

This is a major issue. She and her government should resign. But it’s unlikely that will happen. So what next? There is a sense this is a watershed for many of the parties involved and for the citizens of the countries drawn into this.

Will the usual suspects try to avoid paying for their crimes and misadventures by more rhetoric, more false flags, more “reprisals”? Or will this signal some other change in direction?

We’ll all know soon enough.

April 14, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment