Written By: - Date published: 12:57 pm, October 9th, 2018 - 185 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, capitalism, class war, corruption, Deep stuff, democracy under attack, Dirty Politics, International, Politics, Russia, Spying, Syria - Tags: novichok, russia, vladimir putin
Website Bellingcat claims to have identified the second spy involved in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal. He’s Alexander Mishkin, a doctor working for Russia’s GRU intelligence agency.
The website said it had tracked down Mishkin’s real identity after being given a scanned copy of his actual passport. Bellingcat confirmed Mishkins details with people who knew him and by using open source information.
In September, Bellingcat identified the other spy as Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, a special forces veteran.
Mishkin and Chepiga allegedly poisoned Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March using the Soviet nerve agent novichok. Both arrived and left the UK using false identities; Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov.
It’s terrific investigative work by Bellingcat, though it will lead nowhere. The two men will never face justice for their crimes, though there may be karmic retribution if Moscow decides it would be cleaner if they just disappeared.
The Salisbury poisonings will go down in history as one of the most incompetent spying operations this century. The only similar case I can think of is the Rainbow Warrior bombing, where the French killers were that over confident that they stayed on in NZ holidaying when they could have easily left.
Mishkin and Chepiga’s bizarro TV interview needs to be seen in the context of an organisation, and a state, that simply doesn’t give a toss about the truth.
So why does this all matter?
The Russian Federation is a mafia state. It has aligned itself with some of the most odious regimes in the world, both in terms of state and non-state players. It has used (and probably bankrolled) the right wing anti-democracy website Wikileaks in a successful attempt to subvert the last American election. It continues cyber warfare in the US and elsewhere, working to erode trust in democratic institutions.
Why does it do this?
It is in Russia’s interest to bypass democratic norms. It makes a fair bit of its overseas earnings in the energy industry, in deals with dodgy ‘businessmen’ that are mostly free from independent Governmental oversight. It is able to spread its influence in the middle and far East by undermining cooperation between western countries and their allies. It is able to invade and annex the territory of neighbouring countries because the it has actively worked to lower the bar of what is acceptable diplomatic behaviour.
Russia does these things because it is profitable. The pursuit of money is the prime driver of the Putin gang. like most corpulent capitalists, there is just one golden rule; he who has the gold makes the rules.
The downside is that Russia blatantly thumbing it’s nose at the norms of the civilised world encourages other states to behave monstrously as well.
They committed this crime in their own consulate in the sovereign country of Turkey. There is no doubt that Khashoggi entered the consulate and the Saudi’s do not deny that. However, in a claim that could have come from the Kremlin, they say that every security camera in the building mystriously stopped recording when Khashoggi walked through the door. Apparently with a straight face, the Saudi’s are claiming to still be searching the building for him.
This is the kind of atrocity that Russia’s behaviour enables. The Salisbury poisoning may have failed in its prime objective, killing only an innocent local, Dawn Burgess, but it has succeeded in making the terrible acceptable.
A former editor of the Guardian, CP Snow, once said comment is free, but facts are sacred.
These days, comment is meaningless and facts are running scared.
If Moscow can’t be held accountable, if the Kremlin can’t be shamed, what hope is there in for the majority of the world’s citizens who live in similarly nasty regimes? If the oppressed can no longer aspire to freedom, because the very definition of freedom has been blurred, what is to be done?