Sergei Skripal poisoned himself by accident on March 4, 2018, in the centre of Salisbury. At the time he was engaged in an operation, freelance or official, which was known to the British intelligence agency MI6. The two Russians, Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, who visited Salisbury on March 3 and during Skripal’s fateful afternoon, were a signal from the Russian military intelligence agency GRU that the Russians knew in advance what Skripal was doing, and wanted the British to know they knew. The two Russians never made it to the front door of the Skripal house in Salisbury; the door-handle wasn’t poisoned; there was no contact between Skripal, Chepiga, Mishkin. Their affair had nothing to do with the subsequent death of Dawn Sturgess after she was poisoned at her companion’s home in Amesbury, near Salisbury, on June 30.
By British legal standards of proof beyond reasonable doubt or the balance of probabilities, there is no case to answer of either attempted murder or chemical warfare.
There is another, more ancient standard for coming to this conclusion. In the mid-14th century William of Ockham, an English born and Oxford educated cleric, promulgated the maxim that deduction from multiple and competing hypotheses should be made as simple as necessary. His idea has been called, metaphorically, Ockham’s razor. Strop the razor on this dossier, and then try the razor on the Skripal case for yourself. (more…)
A bad smell is emitted by those who go about their business claiming to be more virtuous than others when they are not. Take Keith (Konstantin) Gessen’s (lead image) newly published autobiography cum novel about his time in Moscow. The word for the book is a cross between the noun fart and the adjective virtuous; that’s to say, fatuous.
Six blurb endorsements covering the dust-jacket can’t improve on this because the endorsers have no expertise or experience of Russia, and are obligated to Gessen personally, institutionally or commercially, by way of Harvard University, Columbia University, the New Yorker, and Gessen’s personal magazine N+1. In short, they are back-scratchers, log-rollers.
In New York Yiddish, the term for them is mishpocha. That means the family of people who understand what the word means; for them it’s a mitzvah (good deed required by religious duty) to help each other make money. If you know the meaning of both words, you are ready for the Woody Allen world in which Gessen makes his money. Make that the Woody-Allen-world-before-the-sex-and #MeToo-scandals.
If there’s a difference between that world and the Russia which Gessen’s book claims to be about, this doesn’t matter to him, and especially not to the mishpocha, whose mitzvah it is to tell you to buy this book. If you are resisting, there’s a reason for those of you who don’t belong to the mishpocha and who don’t come from New York, to continue reading this review. That’s because Gessen, Russian born and Russian taught though he is, is a perfect example of the American inability to understand two vital lessons for American-Russian relations for the foreseeable future.
Lesson No. 1: Americans, the alt-right, alt-left, Clintonites, Trumpies, CIA, FBI and Pentagon — all of them have failed to understand Vladimir Putin, particularly his weaknesses. Lesson No. 2 follows: the war the US has launched against Russia, a war no American is capable of stopping now, or even slowing down, will produce the very opposite of its regime-changing goal. This opposite, this outcome, is the Stavka – a military regime which has the capital, the force multiple, the intelligence, and the relative lack of corruption to defeat whatever Russia’s enemies throw at it, and enjoy popular approval for doing so. By the way, the Stavka will have an articulate civilian for spokesman – that’s Vladimir Putin. (more…)
The Wiltshire county police have revealed in separate statements last week that they were at the house of Sergei Skripal within minutes of his having fallen ill on a park bench in the centre of Salisbury last year, in the case which has damaged relations between Britain and Russia beyond foreseeable repair.
The speed of response was much faster than Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson has given reason for at the time; in the eleven months of his tweeting after the incident; or under direct questioning over several days of last week.
“We can confirm that police attended Christie Miller Road in Salisbury on the evening of 4 March 2018”, Macpherson said through a spokesman, “as part of our early enquiries into the incident.” That was not an answer to the question Macpherson was asked.
The new police evidence — an excerpt from the Wiltshire police incident response log and Macpherson’s cover-up of the particulars — contradicts the allegations the British government and police in London have made that the outside door-handle of the Skripal house had been sprayed by Russian assassins with a “military grade nerve agent” named by the British authorities as Novichok.
The Wiltshire county coroner David Ridley admitted this week that he held a 14-minute hearing into the death of Dawn Sturgess, alleged victim of a Russian Novichok attack last July, but after six months of further investigations by police, military, intelligence and toxicology experts, he still cannot hold a formal inquest and decide what caused her death.
This admission by the coroner, the scheduling of a new coroner’s court hearing on April 15, and the likelihood that this too will be adjourned, now threaten the British Government’s narrative that a Russian-produced nerve agent, sprayed on to a door handle last March, was an attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, and that four months later, a bottle containing the same poison killed Sturgess.
The admissions from Coroner Ridley on Monday were made as the European Union, prodded by the British Government, has announced new travel bans against the Russian military intelligence agency accused of the nerve agent attacks. “Today’s new sanctions,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Monday, “deliver on our vow to take tough action against the reckless and irresponsible activities of the Russian military intelligence organisation, the GRU, which put innocent British citizens in serious danger in Salisbury last year.”
Coroner Ridley acknowledges there is no substantiation for Hunt’s allegations in a court of law. Not now, not yet. (more…)
When Gennady Zyuganov (lead image, right) spotted dirt on Oleg Deripaska’s hands (lead image, left) this month in the State Duma, it was the first time in two decades that the leader of the Russian Communist Party has noticed; or at least dared to say so in public.
Was Russia’s leading communist taking his lead from the US Treasury, which last April imposed sanctions on Deripaska, accusinghim of “money laundering… threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering.” Was the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) taking its cue from this month’s US Senate Resolution No. 2, attackingthe lifting of sanctions on the ground that Deripaska’s control of the state aluminium monopoly Rusal “is just as tight as it was before”? (more…)
The British state broadcaster BBC and other media have disclosed that the Salisbury house (lead image) owned by Sergei Skripal is to be partially demolished and rebuilt over the next four months.
A Wiltshire Council notice to residents in the neighbourhood of the Skripal home is the source of the news reports. The January 4 notice, a media briefing by the Wiltshire Council, and a press release by a spokesman at the Ministry of Defence do not say how much of the house will be reconstructed. “We are working with the site owner, Wiltshire Council and other partners to ensure that the house will be fully repaired and returned to a fit state to live in,” the anonymous Defence Ministry official was quoted as saying by the Salisbury Journal.
The British Government, London and Wiltshire police, and media reports have claimed that a fast-acting, lethal nerve agent was administered to the handle of the front-door of the Skripal house eleven months ago, on March 4. The alleged attackers have been identified by Prime Minister Theresa May (lead image, left) as two Russians. No allegation nor evidence has been reported to date that they or their poison penetrated inside the Skripal residence.
Two senior Wiltshire Council officials, Tracy Daszkiewicz, Director of Public Health and Protection, and Alistair Cunningham, coordinator of the recovery programme, were asked to clarify how much of the Skripal house will be replaced. Replying today through spokesman David Perrett, they said “there are no plans to demolish the property at 47 Christie Miller Road. The roof and garage roof are being removed and replaced.”
Because the front-door handle was the sole identified site of the attack, and decontamination has been under way for eleven months, the two officials were asked to explain their reason for the reconstruction. “Every decontamination site is different”, Perrett responded. “Each one has a tailored decontamination plan. As you would expect this site is more complex than others… we are taking a highly precautionary approach and that is why the clean-up work is so extensive and meticulous. It is vitally important we are thorough on all the sites so that local residents can be fully confident that each one is safe when returned to use.”
Perrett added: “In the more contaminated sites some hard surfaces might be removed.”
Angus Macpherson, the Wiltshire police commissioner, toldthe press on Monday that Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who entered the Skripal house on the evening of the poison attack and who was hospitalized later for nerve agent exposure, returned to active duty this week. Bailey has toldthe BBC he has “lost everything” in his house. Commissioner Macpherson, together with Daszkiewicz and Cunningham, were asked to say if the Bailey house is also to be demolished and why. Through Perrett, they answered. “Sgt Bailey’s house has been fully cleaned. There are no plans to demolish this property.”
In the US war for regime change in Russia, the Christmas dinner for the oligarchs was President Vladimir Putin’s idea in 2014 for demonstrating that he was in command of their loyalty for a price the oligarchs were afraid to test.
Late last month, the dinner was turned into an afternoon tea ceremony in which the oligarchs confirmed for Putin the price he must pay if he isn’t to lose them to the other side. Mikhail Fridman and his Alfa Bank, Vimpelcom and X5 supermarket group demonstratedwhich side they believe to be strongest in this war by not attending. Their absence shows they calculate the risk of Kremlin sanctions for their business is now zero.
The absence of Arkady Volozh, controlling shareholder of Yandex, the internet services company, reveals the same calculation.
The presence of Anatoly Chubais, head of Rusnano, the state’s high-technology holding, the most pro-American of the oligarchs and one of the most hatedof political names in the country, reflects the calculation on Putin’s side that there is now no oligarch price the President can risk not to pay. (more…)
There’s a reason Albion is well-known as perfidious. Like leopards and spots, it’s because he’s always been that way.
In the 1920s the British secret services pursued Russians in the UK with the same zealous tactics and purposes as they have been doing in the past decade. The partial release of the 1920s archives, documented in a newly published book, reveals the same fabrications, false flags, contrived press leaks, meretricious politicians and journalists, sanctions, expulsions, and deep state deceptions as the British continue to pursue against Russia today.
Why is clearer then than now. A century ago, the British government, the country’s military leaders, and media proprietors were all agreed on the necessity of hanging on to the British empire and its colonies, especially India; and to neutralize – if necessary, liquidate – the locals seeking national independence. There were also British business interests in maintaining cheap commodity imports of oil, rubber, wool, and other raw materials in exchange for over-priced machine and manufactured exports into captive markets. The threats of nationalism abroad, unionism and wage bargaining at home were real. Blaming Russia, Bolshevism and Communism for “meddling” then was an obvious expedient for the police and military measures, and for the state budget funds required to protect the status quo.
But now, without an empire of captive peoples and markets; without army or navy with global reach; without credible British political party alternatives for the domestic terms of economic exchange; and also without Russian ideology to contend with, what explains the revival of Russia-hating as Conservative Party politicians and the chiefs of MI6, MI5 and the Special Branch police practiced it one hundred years ago? This new book is written by an academic who is a true-believer in Russia-hating as British state policy, so he doesn’t answer the question. What can be learned instead from his book are the many flashes of déjà vu — and also the way the flashes, repeated often enough, cause British blindness. For this, the author demonstrates by his own example, there is no cure.
The Polish government in Warsaw, facing re-election in less than a year, wants all the credit from Washington for their joint operation to sabotage the Nord Stream gas pipelines on the Baltic seabed.
It also wants to intimidate the German chancellor in Berlin, and deter both American and German officials from plotting a takeover by the Polish opposition party, Civic Platform, next year.
Blaming the Russians for the attack is their cover story. Attacking anyone who doesn’t believe it, including Poles and Germans, Warsaw officials and their supporting media claim they are dupes or agents of Russian disinformation.
Their rivals, Civic Platform (PO) politicians trailing the PiS in the polls by seven percentage points, want Polish voters to think that no credit for the Nord Stream attack should be earned by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. They also want to divert the Russian counter-attack from Warsaw to Washington.
“Thank you USA” was the first Polish political declaration tweeted hours after the blasts by Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image, left), the PO’s former defence and foreign minister, now a European Parliament deputy. In support and justification, his old friend and PO ministerial colleague, Roman Giertych, warned Sikorski’s critics: “Would you nutters prefer that the Russians find us guilty?”
The military operation on Monday night which fired munitions to blow holes in the Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II pipelines on the Baltic Sea floor, near Bornholm Island, was executed by the Polish Navy and special forces.
It was aided by the Danish and Swedish military; planned and coordinated with US intelligence and technical support; and approved by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
The operation is a repeat of the Bornholm Bash operation of April 2021, which attempted to sabotage Russian vessels laying the gas pipes, but ended in ignominious retreat by the Polish forces. That was a direct attack on Russia. This time the attack is targeting the Germans, especially the business and union lobby and the East German voters, with a scheme to blame Moscow for the troubles they already have — and their troubles to come with winter.
Morawiecki is bluffing. “It is a very strange coincidence,” he has announced, “that on the same day that the Baltic Gas Pipeline opens, someone is most likely committing an act of sabotage. This shows what means the Russians can resort to in order to destabilize Europe. They are to blame for the very high gas prices”. The truth bubbling up from the seabed at Bornholm is the opposite of what Morawiecki says.
But the political value to Morawiecki, already running for the Polish election in eleven months’ time, is his government’s claim to have solved all of Poland’s needs for gas and electricity through the winter — when he knows that won’t come true.
Inaugurating the 21-year old Baltic Pipe project from the Norwegian and Danish gas networks, Morawiecki announced: “This gas pipeline is the end of the era of dependence on Russian gas. It is also a gas pipeline of security, sovereignty and freedom not only for Polish, but in the future, also for others…[Opposition Civic Platform leader Donald] Tusk’s government preferred Russian gas. They wanted to conclude a deal with the Russians even by 2045…thanks to the Baltic Pipe, extraction from Polish deposits, LNG supply from the USA and Qatar, as well as interconnection with its neighbours, Poland is now secured in terms of gas supplies.”
Civic Platform’s former defence and foreign minister Radek Sikorski also celebrated the Bornholm Blow-up. “As we say in Polish, a small thing, but so much joy”. “Thank you USA,” Sikorski added, diverting the credit for the operation, away from domestic rival Morawiecki to President Joseph Biden; he had publicly threatened to sabotage the line in February. Biden’s ambassador in Warsaw is also backing Sikorski’s Civic Platform party to replace Morawiecki next year.
The attack not only escalates the Polish election campaign. It also continues the Morawiecki government’s plan to attack Germany, first by reviving the reparations claim for the invasion and occupation of 1939-45; and second, by targeting alleged German complicity, corruption, and appeasement in the Russian scheme to rule Europe at Poland’s expense. .
“The appeasement policy towards Putin”, announced PISM, the official government think tank in Warsaw in June, “is part of an American attempt to free itself from its obligations of maintaining peace in Europe. The bargain is that Americans will allow Putin to finish building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in exchange for Putin’s commitment not use it to blackmail Eastern Europe. Sounds convincing? Sounds like something you heard before? It’s not without reason that Winston Churchill commented on the American decision-making process: ‘Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.’ However, by pursuing such a policy now, the Biden administration takes even more responsibility for the security of Europe, including Ukraine, which is the stake for subsequent American mistakes.”
“Where does this place Poland? Almost 18 years ago the Federal Republic of Germany, our European ally, decided to prioritize its own business interests with Putin’s Russia over solidarity and cooperation with allies in Central Europe. It was a wrong decision to make and all Polish governments – regardless of political differences – communicated this clearly and forcefully to Berlin. But since Putin succeeded in corrupting the German elite and already decided to pay the price of infamy, ignoring the Polish objections was the only strategy Germany was left with.”
The explosions at Bornholm are the new Polish strike for war in Europe against Chancellor Olaf Scholz. So far the Chancellery in Berlin is silent, tellingly.
The only Russian leader in a thousand years who was a genuine gardener and who allowed himself to be recorded with a shovel in his hand was Joseph Stalin (lead image, mid-1930s). Compared to Stalin, the honouring of the new British king Charles III as a gardener pales into imitativeness and pretension.
Stalin cultivated lemon trees and flowering mimosas at his Gagra dacha by the Black Sea in Abkhazia. Growing mimosas (acacias) is tricky. No plantsman serving the monarchs in London or at Versailles has made a go of it in four hundred years. Even in the most favourable climates, mimosas – there are almost six hundred varieties of them — are short-lived. They can revive after bushfires; they can go into sudden death for no apparent reason. Russians know nothing of this – they love them for their blossom and scent, and give bouquets of them to celebrate the arrival of spring.
Stalin didn’t attempt the near-impossible, to grow lemons and other fruit in the Moscow climate. That was the sort of thing which the Kremlin noblemen did to impress the tsar and compete in conspicuous affluence with each other. At Kuskovo, now in the eastern district of Moscow, Count Pyotr Sheremetyev built a heated orangerie between 1761 and 1762, where he protected his lemons, pomegranates, peaches, olives, and almonds, baskets of which he would present in mid-winter to the Empress Catherine the Great and many others. The spade work was done by serfs. Sheremetyev beat the French king Louis XIV to the punch – his first orangerie at Versailles wasn’t built until 1763.
Stalin also had a dacha at Kuskovo But he cultivated his lemons and mimosas seventeen hundred kilometres to the south where they reminded him of home in Georgia. Doing his own spade work wasn’t Stalin showing off, as Charles III does in his gardens, like Louis XIV before him. Stalin’s spade work was what he had done in his youth. It also illustrated his message – “I’m showing you how to work”, he would tell visitors surprised to see him with the shovel. As to his mimosas, Stalin’s Abkhazian confidante, Akaki Mgeladze, claimed in his memoirs that Stalin intended them as another lesson. “How Muscovites love mimosas, they stand in queues for them” he reportedly told him. “Think how to grow more to make the Muscovites happy!”
In the new war with the US and its allies in Europe, Stalin’s lessons of the shovel and the mimosas are being re-learned in conditions which Stalin never knew – how to fight the war for survival and at the same time keep everyone happy with flowers on the dining table.
Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.
There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.
There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.
Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers. In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.
Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.
How little the Germans have changed.
But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.” By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”
So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.
Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.
China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.
The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.
In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022, is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.
There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself. Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”
This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.
The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.
Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age, after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.
After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster history to be her own joke.
Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself. This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.
In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English: the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.
The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British. Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating. The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin BlueLine (d. 1996).
The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion), Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok) are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences. The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.
Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money. “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.
By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.
The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.
Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.
China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years. The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.
So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.
The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).
A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester, he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018, claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.
Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”
Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.
After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.
The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.”
Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.
New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.
Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes, it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.