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Paranoia, Bullshit and Ordinary Lives.

Written By: - Date published: 11:40 am, September 14th, 2018 - 125 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, Deep stuff, human rights, International, Media, Politics, Propaganda, Russia, uk politics - Tags: , ,

The UK government just couldn’t help itself, could it? Faced with the possibility of scoring some points against Russia, well….grab that there opportunity with both hands and to hell with everything else, right?

I said a while back, and I’ll reiterate. The likely courier of the “Salisbury toxin” is Julia Skripal. Everything about her movements fit. And of course, that’s just speculation on my part. As to why she was carrying a toxin, or who she was carrying it for, or who might have been the intended target? I’ll pass.

Now, to cut the UK government some slack, she was comatose when they picked her up from a park bench, and so it might have seemed reasonable, to them anyway, to immediately jump to conclusions about some dastardly Russian government plot to knock off an ex-British spy they’d previously released from jail as part of some spy swap.

Having done that, and having unleashed a pile of shit off the back of their conviction, they effectively dug a hole for themselves.

I’m not going to run through how the UK government and mainstream media heaped speculation on top of baseless assertion on top of speculation as though that might finally amount to proof of some dastardly Russian stuff. If you’re happy to buy into the UK government’s line and run with it, then fine. I don’t care.

What I care about is if, as seems to be the case, two ordinary people have been thrown under some political juggernaut by a UK government trying to dig itself out of a hole it’s dug for itself. After six months or so, and with nothing to show for all the investigating we were told they were engaged in, they had to come up with something that might draw a line under things. The naming of the two Russians,  Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov was meant to be that line. Of course, being GRU officers, they’d never be heard from again – they’d simply be spirited away into the vast “nowhereness” of Russia as it were.

Except it seems that Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are real people. And sure, The Guardian is waving it’s arms (no doubt other media is too) that when they were interviewed by RT, the two men who look like the two men in CCTV stills released by UK authorities, didn’t produce the false passports that would verify they really are who they say they are, although in Teresa May’s world, everyone knows they’re not who they say they are, and that their passports would prove that point beyond all doubt. Or something.

Here’s a link to the RT interview (video). And here’s a link to the full transcript of the RT interview.

Watch and/or read and come to your own conclusions.

And no – before the usual pom pom brigade flounce in with their usual tired routine, I’m not interested in defending some notion of the Russian government as a great and wonderful institution or set of institutions. In fact, I’ve as much interest in doing that as I have of defending the UK (or US, NZ or wherever else) governments as great and wonderful institutions – ie, none. Two ordinary citizens have had their lives fucked over by the latest in a long line of shenanigans between  despicable and paranoid state actors. I care for none of them.

And whereas I have precisely zero power to hold the Russian Federation and its bullshit to account, I can at least kick back against some of the bullshit we’re subjected to via media by dint of the New Zealand government’s cultural and historical  ties to other western governments. Neither you nor I can directly influence the policies of western governments beyond New Zealand’s shores. But we could stop mindlessly buying into their nonsense, and make it that bit more difficult for them to peddle bullshit.

We deserve better of ourselves on that front.

And so do Alexander Petrov, Ruslan Boshirov and the millions of anonymous and ordinary people who,  just like us, are impacted when governments and media are given a free uncritical pass to say as they will and to do as they like.

125 comments on “Paranoia, Bullshit and Ordinary Lives. ”

  1. Another Russian apologist topic 🙄

    Change the record, Irish, Ffs.

    • Ha – have you moved yet?

    • RedLogix 1.2

      Apologising exactly for what? Bill explicitly isn’t defending the RU; he made that very clear.

      Nah … it’s crazy old Cold War tropes that he’s challenging.

      • The Al1en 1.2.1

        Nope, by design, Bill’s a Ruskie stooge. Check his post history.

        • RedLogix

          And unlike most people here I’ve lived and worked for a period in Russia. Yes it’s very different as indeed all countries are; but it cured me of leaping reflexively to the idea that Russians are all demons.

          Russia is a tough country. It has a tough history and Putin is by modern liberal standards no angel. Neither Bill nor I would quibble that. At worst it’s political system is far too entangled with a thuggish kleptocracy; yet at his best Putin remains a remarkably accessible leader, given to long intelligent interviews and speeches and still hugely popular. Under his leadership the nation has clawed back from the brink of economic implosion in the 90’s.

          While at the same time any honest appraisal of the Western nations reveals our own list of strengths and weaknesses. While we do some things well, there is also a terrible legacy of military, political and economic disasters to consider. And in terms of leadership, Putin is makes the current crop of Western leaders look like the fools they are.

          The Cold War is over.

        • Bill

          Nope, by design, Bill’s a Ruskie stooge. Check his post history.

          -sigh –

          Go ahead. Knock your self out finding so much as a comment, never mind a post, where I defend or promote the Russian Federation at an ideological level.

        • Morrissey

          Idiot. You haven’t read Bill’s history any more than you’ve read any Russian or indeed any history at all.

          Get lost.

    • adam 1.3

      It’s the lies that hurt…

  2. Two ordinary people – really?

    Most that I’ve discussed this with think it’s pretty standard stuff. Spy stuff. The players all have a narrative and some believe whatever? But two innocent tourists? – I doubt many believe that.

    • Siobhan 2.1

      (This is a repeat of my comment on open mike..which I should have put here..sorry)

      To start with it all sounded bizarrely ridiculous, till I actually read their story.
      From what I can see, and reading between the lines, they run a dodgy Health and Fitness Company and were in the UK to investigate some new sources of dodgy supplements/steroids..hence their obvious ‘fitness’. A situation complicated by their cosy sleeping arrangements…also this could explain the two visits to Salisbury, maybe a contact didn’t show or whatever happens in the murky world of ‘supplement’ buying and selling

      People have dodgy passports, lie and tell crappy fake tourist stories for all sorts of reasons other than being Russian spies..at this point I couldn’t in all conscience convict them in a court of law if I was on the jury, let alone the court of public opinion.

      • marty mars 2.1.1

        I spose. They went past his house though didn’t they?

        • Francesca

          Some 500 or more metres away that we know of
          Seems no neighbours in the cul de sac saw any shenanigans at the very exposed door of the Skripals in
          broad daylight,on a Sunday so most people at home

          • Francesca

            Whatever dodgy stuff these guys were up to they are way too unpolished to be GRU agents entrusted with a hugely dangerous job with such high political stakes
            And we certainly wouldn’t be seeing them on TV

            • KJT

              Secret agencies have a long history of incompetence.

              Secrecy allows a massive amount of unscrutinized ineptitude.

              As one whistle blower said, “the main reason why secrecy is invoked is too cover up Government, or secret service, incompetence or malfeasance” .

              We had our own example, with the bunch of French clowns, who sunk the rainbow Warrior.

              • Francesca

                By that standard the agents would never have been paraded on TV
                They would have disappeared

                • McFlock

                  Only when their liability outweighs their usefulness.

                  No trial = no proof = no liability. Hell, they might even get a chat show out of it, or a sinecure as an MP. If they’re the guys in the picture and the guys in the picture did it.

        • Bill

          If you’d watched the video, or read the transcript, you’d know the answer to that question.

          The fact you’re asking, suggests you just saw a headline and stuck your hand down your pants all excited like.

          • marty mars

            Thanks bill – nice to know what’s on your mind.

            Please note the question mark I used and also that asking a question without knowing the answer is for idiots. The fact you didn’t notice that tells me youre potentially trying to pick a fight so I’ll not comment again.

      • Bill 2.1.2

        I don’t see why it has to be “a dodgy” supplements business (though it could be).

        And Petrov (on the left in the interview), although incredibly defensive at even oblique suggestions he may be gay (he complains that photos of the room they were meant have stayed in shows only a single bed and goes on to “defend” booking twin shares), strikes me as a “stress monkey” way out of his comfort zone. Understandably so, but hardly GRU material.

        And Salisbury is an entirely legitimate (and probably very popular) destination for a day trip from London.

        Dodgy passports? Hang on. The names are the same as those released by UK authorities, right? (Christ! I had to check 🙂 ) So, no reason to introduce or explain away anything about dodgy passports. According to UK authorities (and the two men themselves) they’ve been on numerous trips to Europe for business and pleasure.

        • Dukeofurl

          Notice how the journalist in the link you have is a Moscow correspondent for Guardian but doesnt do any independent reporting from Russia. None at all Its all just a rewrite of the Conservatives/Met/SIS press releases from London.

          The methods real assasins operate with accomplices safe houses etc was shown when Mossad killed the wrong person in Lillehammer in 1973. That was supposed to definite proof of the string of Israeli killings in Europe. Political response is different when Israel is involved.


          • McFlock

            No chance things have changed a bit in 45 years, especially given that it was such a clusterfuck and exposed so many unrelated resources?

          • Bill

            Actually I had missed that it was Luke “swivel eyed” Harding 🙂

            He’s got a book out, right? And a very embarrassing interview (for him) with Aaron Mate somewhere on the RealNews. It’s an aside, but through the link 🙂

        • Gabby

          I wonder what business they’re in billy. Import-export? Pharmaceuticals? Security?

        • KJT

          As being queer is still a legal issue in Russia, that could be a valid reason for the “dodginess”?

          • Bill

            As I commented on Open Mike this morning before this post went up – I’ve been around somewhat overwhelmed and stressed people who’ve had to go before the media -who’s general pattern of engagement and mannerisms would fit that guy like a glove. He’s genuine.

    • Booker 2.2

      Yeah those guys in the interview are not telling the truth, that should be obvious to anyone. Look, when the second couple were poisoned, I started thinking it must be a lone wolf who had access gone crazy letting this stuff out – probably from nearby Porton Down. Now, I have no idea. I don’t believe we’re getting all the facts out of the UK government, and even sites like the Guardian highlight that the police haven’t released any more video (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/13/spy-poisoning-suspects-interview-an-insult-to-publics-intelligence) – even though the UK littered in CCTV. But the release of this interview now makes Russia look more suspicious – keeping quiet would have worked better than put out a weird interview with the suspects like this.

      • Dukeofurl 2.2.1

        First thing to remember is that you wont get ALL the information from the UK media.
        The main media outlets still operate under the D notice system ( now called a new name) which acts as censorship on what the Government doesnt want released.

        But that doesnt stop the official government line being the only story being told. people taking an interest will have noticed the complete lack of independent reporting of the main details by the major media other than official sources.

  3. McFlock 3

    Personally, I don’t know if these two guys are involved. “Visiting the cathedral” is pretty thin, but whatevs. I’m pretty sure they will never be in a situation where their guilt or innocence is tested.

    As for your Yulia reckons, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree entirely. But then we take very different approaches to committing illegal acts, it seems.

  4. SPC 4

    As to stuff in the media that is dubious – this “The likely courier of the “Salisbury toxin” is Julia Skripal. Everything about her movements fit. And of course, that’s just speculation on my part. As to why she was carrying a toxin, or who she was carrying it for, or who might have been the intended target? I’ll pass.” is right up there.

  5. mauī 5

    RT kind of dropped the two guys in it by releasing a short snippet video of the interview first, complete with bad voiceovers. That made them look dodgy as f…. But the full half hour long interview is more convincing. The guys still look a bit dodgy. Skirting around their occupations and discussing why they get a single or a double room when they stay at places lol. But if they’re lying that was an impressive performance to hold up under 30 mins of Kim Hill like interrogation and on camera.

  6. veutoviper 6

    OK, so they were in the UK to visit Stonehenge according to some here – in early March. (Although it now seems that they were interested in the Cathedral and its spire and clock – perhaps for the reasons below.)

    But lets look at visiting Stonehenge. March is not a time of year with any real significance to Stonehenge in terms of things like the Winter and Summer solstices etc.

    March is also not a great time to visit weather wise, and the number of tours and buses from Salisbury to Stonehenge (9 miles) are also limited.

    Just for the hell of it, I googled information re getting to Salisbury and Stonehenge from London. (I went to Stonehenge several times during my seven years living in London but that was in the swinging ’70s!)

    From what I have seen it is actually quicker and cheaper to take a bus tour from London to and from Stonehenge than try to do it independently. This includes day trips and half day trips although the latter are limited in March to afternoon half day tours only.

    If you want to do the trip independently, then Stonehenge Tour buses run from the Salisbury Railway Station to and from Stonehenge – AND there are no public bus services to get the nine miles from Salisbury to Stonehenge and back.

    And here is another interesting point. Entry to Stonehenge is not free (it was in my day!) – AND you must book in advance. From the link below:

    Note: you cannot reserve tickets on-line on the day of your visit, you must reserve before midnight latest on the day before. Only a very small number of tickets are held back each day for walk-up visitors.


    So for two guys who obviously have travelled outside Russia before – eg to Switzerland a number of times and to other European destinations – and had only two days in the UK on this trip with only limited time to visit Salisbury (and Stonehenge?) from London, they don’t seem to have done much planning for their trip to Stonehenge.

    Surely on their first day in Salisbury, if they really had wanted to visit Stonehenge and had not made advance arrangements, they would have found out about the buses, the need to book in advance etc and made such arrangements before they went to Salisbury in teh first place and/or back to Salisbury the very next day.

    OK – so that put housework off for another hour … What’s my next diversion?

    • Bill 6.1

      Petrov – We travelled there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, and the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But it didn’t work out because of the slush.

      Bus tours take in all three of those locations in one fell swoop and can be booked on-line for £24 (valid for 48 hours and with a very limited number of tickets being with-held for casual visitors).

      But like you say, maybe not so popular to stand around on exposed hillsides in early March, so quite reasonable to “take a punt” on grabbing a ticket on the day – or cop out and just do the Cathedral.

      And from the interview, it would seem that Petrov and Boshirov took photographs. Who knows? They may be in them, and they might pass them to some Russian media outlet.

      I guess they could be in CCTV footage from around the Cathedral – if such footage still exists after this amount of time has passed.

      And I see that some outlets (eg – The Independent) are putting a lot of store in the fact they entered Britain on valid business visas but didn’t conduct business 🙂

    • Bill 6.2

      Not sure how to cut and paste individual tweets, so here’s the text with a link to the thread.

      Old Sarum
      Mar 3
      ‏Old Sarum remains closed today, Saturday 3 March due to continuing adverse conditions. Let’s hope for a big thaw this weekend.

      ‏Mar 3
      WEATHER UPDATE: Stonehenge will remain closed today. We’re very sorry for any inconvenience. Any queries please contact customer services.

      Old Sarum
      Mar 4
      Old Sarum is still closed today as we clear the last drifts from the Inner Bailey.

      So they may well have booked on line, traveled up and everything was canceled. Tickets are valid for 48 hours anyway, so they’ve gone back the next day and some of what they wanted to see was still closed, so (as before) settled for just doing the Cathedral.

      Nothing odd or preposterous in any of it. And if you want an idea of what the weather was like over those few days, then click following link for photos.


  7. Stuart Munro 7

    It’s always the POMs, according to RT.

    Even the two men, asked who they blamed, blamed the POMs, not the poisoners. Poison is normal to them. So no reason they couldn’t poison the Skripals and then visit the cathedral. What else is there to do in Salisbury on a wet day after all.

    Travel to another country to spend thirty minutes looking at a cathedral?

    They’re paraphrasing Michael Palin’s euphemism “To my surprise we discovered a mutual interest in church architecture” without evidently recognizing it.

    • Bill 7.1

      Sorry, what?

      The PM of the UK states quite categorically that two guys they have on CCTV are Russian agents and that they would want to charge them if Russia and the UK had an extradition arrangement.

      And it’s somehow crap that the two guys blame the UK government for fucking up their lives!?

      You think they should blame ….who? Who else pointed the finger at them? Who else has made it impossible for them to travel in Europe?

      • Stuart Munro 7.1.1

        Ok – So at great trouble and expense, the UK have finally tracked down a couple of the many Russian murderers who have operated on their soil over the last few decades.

        Unapologetic is an understatement – no evidence of contrition or even consciousness of the fact that a crime has been committed, ordinary people slain (yet again) in the service of a murderous Russian exceptionalism.

        This a matter for the UK and Russia to work out Bill – you’ve no evidence beyond the usual bad faith reportage of RT and the gibbering inanity of the likes of Moonofalhambra or the cat guy.

        Are there no progressive issues requiring our attention in this hemisphere, after nine years of epic misgovernance? Or is Putin’s position so tender that he requires your support every day of the year?

        In the absence of further evidence the matter is best left to those involved.

        • Morrissey

          Bill’s not supporting Putin. He’s questioning the motivation, and the reliability, of that rogue state Great Britain.

          • Stuart Munro

            Yes he is – without a shred of evidence.

            But he appears to accept the accused poisoner’s story at face value – even promotes it – also without a shred of evidence.

            That’s pretty damned partisan.

            As for “Great Rogue State” many can lay that accusation against England. But not the genocidal murderers of the Chechens, not the invaders of Georgia and of the Ukraine. Those bastards, the Russians – are even worse.

            • Morrissey

              Those bastards, the Russians – are even worse.

              No they’re not. Russia’s crimes—in particular this century— are minimal compared to Britain’s. Of course, if you want to ignore Britain’s key involvement in the destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and its funding and diplomatic support of ISIS, Saudi Arabia and Israel, then there is no problem.

              The real world, though, is more problematic.

            • Bill

              But he appears to accept the accused poisoner’s story at face value – even promotes it – also without a shred of evidence.

              Do you really want to run through the interview and stack it against known facts? Maybe discern if there are any actual holes in their account?

              No. Of course not. As far as ideologues are concerned, I don’t go for what’s in the book, and that makes me and my opinions and thoughts, bad. End.

              I mean ffs, all this shite that would have people prove they didn’t do something, when they give a perfectly reasonable account of what they did do. What’s that about? How’s that work?

              It’s down to accusers to prove guilt, or at least establish a reasonable case for guilt. Saying that two guys, who went to a tourist destination, and who’s story pans out against known facts nevertheless did some weird door handle poisoning thing, needs to be backed up by much more than bald assertion and paranoid innuendo based on the sole fact that they’re Russian.

              • Stuart Munro

                “needs to be backed up by much more than bald assertion and paranoid innuendo based on the sole fact that they’re Russian.”


                And it is backed up, by an intensive investigation carried out by hundreds of trained investigators, chemists, and anti-terrorist specialists.

                But this is not enough for you. You are determined to insist, before that evidence is presented to a court, that these suspects are innocent tourists.

                And then you wonder why people speculate at what might impel you to such anomalous behavior.

                Are you having Putin’s baby, Bill? Because you have never produced any substantive cause for your position beyond a sustained sneer at anyone daring to question your essentially Lavrovian position.

                • Bill

                  Fucking wow!

                  …it is backed up, by an intensive investigation carried out by,,,

                  No. An investigation isn’t “back up”. Only evidence that supports conclusions produced or reached by an investigation constitutes “back up”.

                  And on that front, after six months and whatever amount of money and number of personnel thrown at the thing, there are some CCTV stills and two names of two Russian men who were in Salisbury on March the 3rd and 4th.

                  From that, UK authorities have concluded that thems must be the guys. But as far as evidence goes…..nothing. Assertion, speculation and innuendo don’t count as evidence, not even if you stack one on the other all the way to the sky.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    Riiight – the Skripals were poisoned immaculately no doubt – cos no Russian agent would ever contemplate doing such a thing, even under a government led by a cold war espiocrat.

                    There’s plenty of evidence. If your cathedral loving pair wish to maintain their innocence they need only correspond or cooperate with UK authorities, or contest the matter through the English courts – an affordance English spies poisoning Russians on their soil would not be offered.

                    • Bill

                      This is just stupid talk Stuart. Whatever happened doesn’t come down to a) Russian agents did it or, b) there is no possible explanation.

                      And again, you say there is “plenty of evidence”, but there’s not. There’s plenty of noise by way of speculation and assertion. But there’s no evidence.

                    • Stuart Munro


                      “Whatever happened doesn’t come down to a) Russian agents did it or, b) there is no possible explanation.”

                      Yes, you’ve been at pains to walk us through what you apparently conceive to be every other “possible explanation”, none of which are particularly persuasive.

                      Nor do you have anything to offer beyond a rather refined form of speculation – anything , anything whatsoever, that exonerates Russia.

                      Frankly you would do better to await the release of more evidence. This insistence that Russia cannot possibly be involved when they have so very much form for doing exactly the same kind of thing, they have the only plausible motive, and they are the only significant source of the material carries willful suspension of disbelief a little too far.

                    • Bill

                      An ex-British spy moving in circles that likely include (how to say?) a fair number of unsavory and/or dodgy and/or powerful individuals and their associates would, I think, offer up a veritable cornucopia of potential suspects and motives.

                      And that’s just going on the basis that Skripal was the intended target, which as you’ll be aware, isn’t something I’m taking as a read.

                      And these two guys seem to have done what many people from around Europe do. They flew to a foreign city for a few days intending to take in some local sights. They’re story stacks up – is internally coherent. So, as I said elsewhere, until such times as evidence is produced to say otherwise, these guys were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Burn the witch!) 🙂

                    • Stuart Munro

                      “They flew to a foreign city for a few days intending to take in some local sights.”

                      How very informed you claim to be with regard to their intentions, one of the hardest things to determine.

                      These are persons of interest who British authorities have stated are members of GRU.

                      They don’t fit the profile of average travelers – the average Russian earns in the order of $1000 US a month, and on such an income a casual trip to Salisbury from London at roughly $100 both ways is no negligible thing, much less two such trips.

                      In the circumstances – the poisoning of a former spy and an apparently innocent bystander – bears some further investigation, and traces of this uncommon poison in their accommodation are sufficient to establish a prima facie case. They are linked to the murder and to the attempted murder. No witch burning required.

                      But by all means persist in your denials – it worked a treat for Ahmadinejad.

        • Bill

          Thing is, when people can’t engage with the substance of an opinion or analysis, but instead yell about supposed sources* and how they’re gibberish or what not, and/or attack the imagined motivation of the writer (in this case, me) then it’s usually a pretty good indication that the substance of what’s being proposed stacks up, and is being resisted for purely ideological reasons.

          Which is ironic given that one of the main charges usually made is about some unacceptable level of ideological support being offered to x,y or z 😉

          *None of those mentioned were even read in relation to this post. RT was linked solely because RT is the site carrying the interview and transcript

          • Stuart Munro

            The thing is, when an author persists in speculating beyond the limits of the evidence he chooses to present, he erodes his credibility. If you indulged in such speculation a little more even handedly – sometimes condemning or even merely questioning the frequent murderous excesses of Russia, you might be viewed as something other than their ideological captive.

            I cannot recall your ever having done so.

            • Bill

              So, see if you can wrap your head around this (it’s pretty simple). From the post –

              …before the usual pom pom brigade flounce in with their usual tired routine, I’m not interested in defending some notion of the Russian government as a great and wonderful institution or set of institutions […] whereas I have precisely zero power to hold the Russian Federation and its bullshit to account, I can at least kick back against some of the bullshit we’re subjected to via media…

              You get it? The propaganda I’m subjected to western propaganda, not Russian propaganda. Think of it like the weather. I react to the weather I’m subjected to, not some fucking storm or sunny spell in Alaska or wherever.

              • In Vino

                I am with Bill on this one. Russia has always been a country of murderous excesses, strong only when ruled with a rod of iron. We all know that, unless we have little understanding of history.
                So when Bill calls our own mendacious propaganda into question, I think he is quite right to do so.
                You have to be pretty one-eyed to attack Bill for being a Russia-lover simply because you like to think that the Russians are always worse than us.
                This is like 1984 or Brave New World… It seems that we must constantly generate big bullshit stories about an evil, external enemy.
                In 2001, Russia had collapsed, and terrorism became that external enemy.
                No longer scary enough now, so the evil Russians are being resurrected?
                Regardless of how bad the Russians may be, I do not like our own mendacious media trying to manipulate us.

                • Stuart Munro

                  ” you like to think that the Russians are always worse than us”

                  I’m more concerned with what they do:
                  Routine killing of critical journalists
                  Routine poisoning of regime enemies or critics
                  Routine murder of opposition politicians
                  Routine demonization of uncle tom cobbly and all who criticizes them or any of the fatuous lies they promulgate faster than we can debunk them.

                  Don’t get me wrong – there is plenty to critique the UK for – but they don’t go as far. And I’m minded to believe that the difference is important – goes to the possibility of achieving any semblance of real democracy, like the one that may see Corbyn eventually reverse some of the worst excesses of Thatcherism for example.

                  There’s an agenda behind all this denialism that is tremendously corrosive of civic institutions like a free and fair press, of government that does not consist of military dictators or their spawn and so forth. And that agenda is hardwired into the propaganda of kleptostatists like Putin – one cannot simply repeat their lines without serving their agendas.

                  • In Vino

                    The old paranoia and spreading fear..
                    Russia is far less dangerous than you pretend. And those who point this out are far less corrosive than you claim.
                    I remember claims in the late 70s that with the number of tanks and soldiers the USSR had, they would be on the banks of the Rhine river in 3 days should war break out. Later, I read the rebuttal in the English ‘Spectator’ magazine. One third of those tanks were like the RNZAF jet fighters: unavailable for combat because needing maintenance or repair. And the soldiers could not all advance westwards because they were needed where they were to keep people like Ukrainians etc under control.
                    Same bullshit about the danger of USSR subs with missiles: it was later admitted by the US that they were advanced enough to have a tracker/hunter sub on the tail of every noisy USSR sub. Easily detected and tracked… Inferior technology.
                    While Russia is a big country that uses its resources wisely, it is still in no position to attack the West militarily. Russia has always been a poor country compared to Western industrialised countries. It is still basically a poor country.
                    Nothing has changed about Russia’s despotic methods of rule. But that has been known for years. Why are you surprised about it? I rather suspect that the West is in control and manipulating all this Skripal crap.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      Both sides exaggerated military threats – it was their job security.

                      But the miserable life of ordinary citizens under soviet repression was not exaggerated, nor was the viciousness of the secret war waged between those powers.

                      “I rather suspect that the West is in control and manipulating all this Skripal crap.”

                      Of course the West is playing the Skripal story to some extent. But pretending that Russia is not is fatuous.

                    • In Vino

                      Well, we are nearly agreeing. Just a matter of which emphasis one finds appropriate? And is the West not grinding down many of its own citizens to a level of poverty that Russians have always known?

                    • Stuart Munro

                      There’s a little more to contemporary Russian repression than economics – the kleptocracy has prevented the development of a credible democratic process and a mature judiciary, which is why they can still kill dissenters and inconvenient persons with such frequency.

                      They are also very active in the propaganda sphere, having recognized the efficacy of the Al Jazeera model in providing alternative or locally based rational perspectives, they modeled RT on it.

                      When we come to issues like the Skripals, or MH17, or Trump’s banking links, the propaganda storm follows a recognizable pattern (as do Israeli efforts to oust Jeremy Corbyn for that matter), a similar intelligence driven campaign presented in the media as news.

                      Real news follows certain rules – attribution of sources for example – which make following the skein of any untruth relatively easy.

                      I’m not sure if you are aware of the data journalism of Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat for example, but he was able to use facebook posts from Russian military families to identify the BUK that shot down MH17 while the official Russian line was still photoshopped pictures of a Ukrainian fighter. I’m pretty sure that he subsequently was tipped off to some of the satellite images his agency had to pay to see, by intelligence agencies who wanted that inconvenient-to-Russia truth to come out.

                      Russia in turn has largely co-opted Assange’s infrastructure for it’s own leaks, and RT has descended considerably from the journalistic model it initially ran while it was building credibility.

                      There’s a kind of dynamic tension between the self-styled great powers here, and I’m concerned when otherwise mature adults roll over and just sing RT cant – it adds nothing to debate – it’s designed not to get to the truth but to prevent rational analysis, And the upshot is a Left too divided to address issues like the bombing of civilians in Syria – which is absurd – because the infrastructure of oppression, of bombs and bombers, is never in the hands of the poor and the oppressed.

                    • In Vino

                      All fair and good – but I don’t like us rolling over and accepting obfuscatory bullshit from our own side either. Fair?

  8. Michael 8

    It’s not clear whether these two men are, in fact, the innocent parties they claim to be. The Russian government is run by KGB dirty tricks operatives, for whom no lie is too great and no act is too foul, if it preserves their power and wealth. Where “Russia” is concerned (and I mean it’s government, which extend far wider and deeper than western governments), it is best not to take its statements at face value. Russia exploits western gullibility time and time again. Containment is the best policy unless or until Russia demonstrates that it will observe civilised norms of behaviour.

  9. esoteric pineapples 9

    Good on you Bill for continuing to push this. All I know is that the UK government has been pushing a crock and so you can’t give any credence to anything they say whether it is true or not, because we will never know.

  10. esoteric pineapples 10

    Anyone remember the Brazilian killed point blank on a train by British police who thought he was a terrorist. No one got found guilty of that.


    • James 10.1

      Nice false equivalence.

      • esoteric pineapples 10.1.1

        I don’t see why. The point is that the British security services are quite good at making lethal mistakes.

        • McFlock

          In that case, people know who exactly fired the shots and who they worked for.

          Now, it is a good case study in how domestic law enforcement often covers its arse with flurries of disinformation (the allegation de Menezes had jumped turnstiles rather than paying, a brightened photo to make him look more like the suspect he was supposedly mistaken for, the “police!” identification call that was never made, etc), but it’s not comparable to factors in the Salisbury poisoning case. For a start, if they’d been responsible the brits would have cleaned up their poison bottle.

          • Dukeofurl

            Its an example of ‘group think’

            They all end up making something implausible into something that is real.

            History of that in the Hillsborough Soccer stadium coverup, and BOTH The Irish Bloody Sundays ( Derry and Dublin) coverups.

            Interesting that an Irish Mp in the house of Commons was assaulted by other Mps when he tried to ask questions about the 1920 massacre at Croke Park

            • McFlock

              The innocent Brazilian being shot was group think leading to a snap decision.

              The coverups aren’t. Those are directed actions. Pretty much always – someone is giving orders with the sole objective of muddying the waters to cover their own arse.

  11. esoteric pineapples 11

    In societies where there is a certain level of freedom of information, one of the most effective ways to spread dis-information is simply put the message you want people to believe in the headline. Most people are too busy to follow the majority of news stories closely and so if they see a headline like “Two Russians behind plot discovered” they will simply take this as fact and then move on. Personally, I’ve found it amazing how many news stories I have found out more about later, contain facts that are completely the opposite of the picture I have built up at the time from the headlines.

  12. esoteric pineapples 12

    These two guys strike me as a couple of patsies who were part of something but are being played as part of a bigger picture.

    • Stuart Munro 12.1

      That may be true even if they are entirely guilty. It is not unheard of for self-styled great powers to abandon agents who become inconvenient.

  13. Andre 13

    I’m interested in how a small dose of russian state media is like kryptonite to many of those normally possessed of media hyperscrutiny superpowers.

    • Stunned mullet 13.1

      Bill still hasn’t forgiven the English for the outrages of Edward Longshanks.

      • adam 13.1.1

        Another sad comment by Stunned Mullet attacking the author. Been a few this post mate, how about you actually run with facts than this BS your running with? Too soon?

  14. R.P Mcmurphy 14

    well that was a marvellous exposition of marxist leninist stalinist mao tse tung thought!

    • marty mars 15.1

      That’s a good link thanks. It’s funny this ‘no man would be seen wirh women’s perfume in their bag’ when like it’s not that unusual really.

    • Adrian Thornton 15.2

      “I’m interested in how a small dose of russian state media is like kryptonite to many of those normally possessed of media hyperscrutiny superpowers”

      ….and then without the slightest hint of irony, actually puts up a Daily Mail link in support of his argument…a beautiful and hilarious moment on The Standard, unfortunately to late in the night for many others to enjoy, what a shame.

      • Andre 15.2.1

        Do you have anything to say about the points made in that Daily Mail piece? Some of them you can even check out for yourself, such as the absence of snow or slush in the photos.

        As for interpreting the body language of someone from a different culture in a very odd setting and who may have had some very unusual training, it’s very easy for there to be a lot of seeing what you want to see.

        Lindy Chamberlain reportedly got falsely put away partly because of how her body language was interpreted. I have a cousin that spent months defending someone against a murder charge that came about primarily because first responders thought the accused’s body language “wasn’t right”. The case fell apart when fresh evidence turned up that completely exonerated the accused.

        • Bill

          If you want pictures and reports of the weather over those days, go through the links I provided in this previous comment.

          As for the Mails “glaring flaws”

          1. What novichok in the room? The novichok that keeled over umpteen guests in the past six months? The novichok two guys decided to “test drive” in a hotel room because….I dunno…the door handles were a challenging shape?

          2. The day they flew into Britain, “everything” was at a stand still. And they stated they intended to be in London and do a day trip. No idea what’s so suspicious about that.

          3. On the Saturday, the problem was slush, not snow, making their feet wet and cold (and if you’ve never experienced slush, I’d suggest you hold your tongue on the whole “Russians and cold” front). Sunday afternoon, they said it got overcast and began to sleet.

          4. They went wandering, or struck off in the wrong direction? Of itself, a nothing. You’ve surely done it yourself in a new place, no?

          5. Well yes, no CCTV stills of them at the cathedral (released by UK authorities?) Apparently they took photos though, which I guess they may feature in and that media may convince them to show.

          6. As you can see from the link I’ve provided, both Stonehenge and Old Sarum were shut on the Saturday (3rd) because of snow and Old Sarum was still shut on the Sunday (4th). The Mail only mentions that Stonehenge was open on the Sunday.

          7. Date (or video tape time stamp?) are for the UK authorities to explain.

          8. I didn’t hear any official Russian statement claiming all the CCTV stills were faked.

          9. That the Skripals were poisoned on that day, doesn’t mean anything with regards their claims.

          10. I know nothing about flights being pre – booked for both Sunday and Monday.

          • Andre

            You appear to be confused about the difference in concentrations of a substance that are detectable and the concentrations that are immediately toxic. That something is detectable doesn’t mean it’s present in an amount that’s harmful, as shown by the meth house debacle. I’d be more interested in hearing about the detection methods and the probability of false positives, but then I wouldn’t necessarily expect that kind of detail about methods and capabilities to be publicly disclosed. If I were on a jury however, I would expect to hear it or I would consider talk about about results without talk about methods to be just a baffle with bullshit exercise.

            I’ve spent 6 years living where winter snow, and slush was present for months on end, and enjoy snow sports so most winters I’m around a fair bit of snow and slush and crap weather. I find the suggestion utterly laughable that someone from Russia (y’know, where there’s lots of snow and slush) travelling to where there had been a well publicised storm going on for the past week, would arrive with footwear so unsuitable they would need to alter their plans to buy replacements, as if they were going to Club Med. But hey, if you’re sufficiently motivated, I suppose you could swallow it with a straight face.

            Their explanation that they went through the same entry gate is very likely demonstrably false (remember the shouting about the different camera angles?), yet also corroborates a very good reason for the time stamps being the same: they were going through parallel passages at the same time.

            One add coincidence of timing could be just bad luck. Add up enough odd coincidences, however, and it starts to become reasonable to think it’s something other than just bad luck.

            • Bill

              I find the suggestion utterly laughable that someone from Russia […]would arrive with footwear so unsuitable …

              Here are two CCTV stills from a quick google image search. The first link is to one from the 3rd. The second to one from the 4th. Note the footwear. On the 3rd, they are wearing trainers. As you will know, you “can’t” wear trainers in slush.

              So yeah, maybe it’s funny they turned up in that gear. But they did. And their account of themselves stacks up. (Or are we to insist that Russians don’t fly to foreign cities for a two or three day break to take in some local sites…like people from every other damned country do?)



              Until some evidence to the contrary is produced, or unless the idea is simply to be led by paranoid bullshit about everything Russian, the situation is that those guys were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

              edit – in the interview they are quite clear that they don’t recall the exact situation re – the corridor, but state that they always go through the same queue at passport control because one of them has far better English than the other. As they say, the same time stamp – or is it a video run time stamp? – is down to UK authorities to explain.

            • RedLogix

              Nah … I don’t buy your ‘unsuitable’ footwear thing. I’ve travelled quite a bit to all sorts of odd climates and quite often I finish up either buying or being issued more suitable footwear when I arrive locally.

              Either big warm boots were too heavy pack or I just didn’t think it through. In my experience their narrative is not unreasonable.

        • Adrian Thornton

          I don’t read The Daily Mail, especially if I can avoid it.

          I spent a few days on the jury of a sexual assault charge brought against a man on a 12 yo girl (the daughter of his girlfriend), it was obvious to me from the very beginning that something didn’t make sense in this case (keeping in mind that my own daughter was about 12 yo at the time, and I am pretty sure I would fuck up anybody who touched her in the way alleged) however 6 people on jury immediately made it clear in our first meeting, that they were sure he was guilty, 3 were undecided, and 3 leaning toward innocence.
          After three days, and having to endure what would have to have been the most incompetent defense lawyer in New Zealand, the jury was at 9 to 3 toward guilty.

          I was by this stage absolutely convinced that this guy was some sort of sad chump who had been used by some very manipulative people, who all seemed to have serious addiction problems. The accused seemed to be the only one working, he actually lived in Taranaki working as a linesman (or something similar), and would drive all the way the Bay on Friday evening to be with this woman and drive home Sunday night.
          As far as i could make out he spent most weekends working either on their cars or houses.
          The recorded police interview was just bizarre, it was like something from Monty Python,
          The Police interviewed the mother and her friend while the daughter was present…infact I think she might have been holding her mothers hand.

          I felt that justice would prevail though, as the two remaining people who thought he was innocent were two very strong and independent woman in their early 50’s.
          They both approached me together just before the final verdict was to be given, and said that they were very glad that I have been so outspoken in my defense of this man, whom they both believed to be innocent.

          When the jury gave it’s verdict, the judge wasn’t please at all and instructed us in no uncertain terms (I would say bullying tones were used) to go back and come to a consensus.
          The two woman caved within 5 minutes after that little bit of pressure from such an authority figure.

          I couldn’t believe my ears and eyes, these woman had succumbed so easily, wether he was innocent or not is not the point of the story, the point is 6 of our fellow citizens were prepared to convict and man and fuck up the rest of his life after hearing less than half a days evidence ( I think we all know why)
          2 others actually convicted him knowing he was innocent.

          Bill is just saying, sit back wait for some indisputable evidence and then make your judgment…and I agree.

          • RedLogix

            Yup. Similar experience on a jury myself; although in this instance only one very quiet Indian woman and myself were convinced of his innocence. It was only at the very last moment that the judge allowed us to review some crucial police evidence again, that the false abduction and rape allegation became obvious to everyone.

            It all hinged on an absurd detail and I won’t rehash the whole story over 20 years later, but it did reveal to me how incredibly devious people can be and as you say, just how fickle juries can be. One young blowhard in particular was ideologically determined to convict simply on the grounds that ‘there is no such thing as a false rape allegation’. Got quite offensive about it, but we got no retraction when the truth became undeniable.

          • Morrissey

            Sounds like the sort of judge Chris “Haw Haw” Trotter would respect.


            • Adrian Thornton

              Ha, thanks for that Morrissey, I don’t know what it is, but there something about Noelle McCarthy that makes me want to smash my head into the closest wall as soon as I hear her voice…turning off the radio also helps.

      • McFlock 15.2.2

        To be fair, the Daily Mail actually putting up a coherent and apparently reasonable article is a bit suspicious, lol

        • Andre

          Yeah. The whole ‘consider the argument, don’t just dismiss it coz of where it came from’ thing was part of the motivation for posting it.

          • Bill

            It’s a litany of half truths, innuendo and misleading nonsense. In fact, the exact same pattern of presentation that marks the kind of propaganda that many around here immediately jump up to condemn as “fake” news.

  15. adam 16

    Sheesh Bill your brave. But there is no point trying to defend ordinary people from the hard core devotees of liberalism on this site. They just don’t give a rats about the possibility of real people having their lives done over.

    • Bill 16.1

      I just find it really weird (and quite fascinating) that so many people approach stuff like this as would members of some cult if their “received wisdoms” were subjected to criticism or scrutiny…y’know, ignore the substance of what’s being said and burn the witch! – or scream those self same “received wisdoms” or dogma at them 🙂

  16. corodale 17

    Gas explosions in Massachusetts duplicated in Mexico yesterday. Stuxnet cyber attacks? Simple malfunctions, I suspect not.

    It would not surprise me if these are the real Russian attacks. But UK/May talk in riddles with symbolic lies. Don’t want to alarm folk, but perhaps Russians could potentially explode nuclear power plants via the internet… I suspect the truth is somewhere in this direction.

    Fiction may be as much as we can handle. On a planet this big, we may not be ready for the truth.

    Sorry if that sounds anti-Russian, I’m not trying to take sides, just pointing out what looks likely. Hey, it could be the Dems as part of their blue revolution. Time will tell.

  17. Adrian Thornton 18

    I have just got home and watched the interview, those poor guys look like opossums in the preverbal headlight, I don’t profess to have any deep or special insight into human behavior, but I do know a scared one when I see one, and these guys looked liked they where right in the middle of a shitty journey to somewhere bad.

    I thought the interviewer was good, pretty pressing, someone made an comparison to Kim Hill, which I would agree with if we were maybe talking about Kim from a quite few years back.

    Thanks for your piece Bill.

  18. Richard 19

    I hadn’t been convinced by Bill’s arguments about Russia and the UK till I saw those two Russian guys on RT.

    So clear they’re just tourists on a 2 day trip to the UK to Salisbury to see the cathedral. Everyone does that, so utterly believable.

    Kia kaha Bill keep standing up for Putin!

    • adam 19.1

      Another lying troll, sheesh the idiots are out today.

      So where did Bill defend Putin?

      Or are you just another useful idiot for MI6 – oh look how easy it is, to play that game.

      • Richard 19.1.1

        “So where did Bill defend Putin?”

        By taking RT’s talking points and other Russian disinformation and regurgitating it in blog after blog. Plop Bill into another decade and he’d probably be defending Mao and Stalin.

        And where did I lie? I’m afraid sarcasm doesn’t count in that regard.

  19. Jenny 20

    Comedy Gold

    Skripal suspects display impressive command of Wikipedia
    John Crace – The Guardian, September 13, 2018

    They were just two ordinary guys who had wanted to see Salisbury cathedral’s 123-metre spire

    ….A day after Vladimir Putin had announced it would be fine by him if the two men accused of the Salisbury poisonings chose to go on TV to give the version of events that had been agreed by the Russian security services, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov found a gap in their busy diaries to squeeze themselves into a small Moscow studio. There they were confronted by the most feared interviewer in global broadcasting, Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief.

    Simonyan didn’t pull her punches. “You do look like the men in the pictures,” she began hesitantly. That’s because they were the men in the CCTV footage, both men replied…..

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