Even as it was still unfolding, the sudden “illness” of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom evokes memories of the eerily similar circumstances that would ultimately lead to the death of former Russian intelligence officer, Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
The strange and sudden collapse of a one-time Russian intelligence agent, himself part of a complex trading of spies between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia is still debated in many conspiracy circles. Quite possibly because it contains all the hallmarks of other, all-but-proven assassinations of one-time Russian agents in the past.
Perhaps these events will ultimately prove to be evidence of the dark underbelly of Russian intelligence, and indeed intelligence services overall. Or maybe it will ultimately hint towards the painting of “an enemy” in a certain light. One where blame is placed at their feet for wicked acts they may indeed have had no part in.
Before we move on, the video below is a brief look at Sergei Skripal.
Sunday 4th March 2018, Salisbury, England
During the afternoon of Sunday 4th March 2018 came the discovery of a man and a woman, apparently unconscious, on a bench in the Maltings Shopping Centre in Salisbury, England.
The man would ultimately prove to be 66-year-old Sergei Skripal, a high-profile Russian spy, who received asylum status in the United Kingdom as part of a “spy-swap” with the United States in 2010. Shortly after, the young woman was confirmed to be his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia.
All that was known initially was that both were in “critical condition” after “suspected exposure to an unknown substance!”
The war of words between the United Kingdom and Russia, however, quickly moved up a notch or two. Although there was no proof of anything untoward (at least going by the knowledge that is in the public arena), a quick look at some of the “conspiracies” surrounding Russian intelligence makes it easy to see why many are immediately suspicious of this ongoing situation. In particular, the similarities to the death of Alexander Litvinenko.
Before we look at some of those in more detail, check out the short video below. It is one of the many news clips of the strange “illness” of Sergei Skripal.
The Death Of Alexander Litvinenko, 2006
Following a meeting with two former members of the KGB, Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun, at the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel in London’s Mayfair district on 1st November 2006, fellow former KGB agent, Alexander Litvinenko began to feel intensely ill. It is not clear why Litvinenko, who received political asylum in the United Kingdom in 2001, was meeting with the two Russians in question. However, many intelligence and conspiracy researchers believe he was “active” with MI6, at least since his arrival in the UK.
He was having lunch with his friend, Mario Scaramella, a nuclear waste expert, when a sudden feeling of nausea and trouble walking took hold. He would make his way to a nearby hospital – checking in under the name of Edwin Carter. An examination would show him to have a severely blistered and swollen throat. All indications were he had suffered some kind of poisoning.
Litvinenko eventually spoke to senior doctors, telling them his real name, and that they should contact New Scotland Yard. After initially suspecting him of being delusional, they did as he asked.
Just over three weeks later on 22nd November, Alexander Litvinenko died. Technically the cause of death was heart failure. However, at the time he died, he had over 200 times the lethal amount of polonium in his system.
Litvinenko was no stranger to revelations. Indeed, it was his revelations that would lead him to the United Kingdom in the first place. And before he died, what little more he could tell investigators managed to paint a clear and chilling picture of that fateful day.
Revelations From Russia
In the 1980s, Alexander Litvinenko was a stellar KGB agent. Following the fall of the Soviet Union in the early-1990s, with the KGB morphing into the Federal Security Service (FSB), his performance continued to impress. That is until he began speaking out against eventual Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who at the time was the head of the FSB.
Litvinenko first appeared on Putin’s radar, it would seem, due to meetings he had with former Soviet agent residing in the UK, Boris Berezovsky, in line with his intelligence work. According to Litvinenko, he received orders to assassinate Berezovsky, as well as Mikhail Trepashkin (another intelligence officer out of favor with the regime). He would make the announcement at a press conference in front of the world’s media.
This would result in his immediate dismissal from the FSB. Fearing incarceration (or worse) he would make his way to the United Kingdom where he would find asylum.
Among a barrage of revelations from Litvinenko was that the FSB was behind a series of deadly bombings at apartment blocks in 1999. The aim of these false flag events was ultimately, to bring Putin into power as part of a coup.
He also alleged that the FSB was training Al-Qaeda fighters, as well as having involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Further still, he would claim the FSB to be behind the 2002 Moscow Theatre incident. An eventual massacre following a standoff at a school in Beslan in 2004, also bore all the FSB hallmarks. Perhaps most damaging were claims of Putin’s involvement in drug smuggling through the FSB.
Following Litvinenko’s admittance into hospital investigators would retrace his movements for clues. The polonium was indeed traced back to the two KGB agents Litvinenko had met. And in turn, it had originated at the Ozersk nuclear power plant in Russia.
The UK government would request Lugovoy’s extradition from Russia regarding the death of Litvinenko. The request was refused. Meanwhile, Kovtun was already under investigation by the German authorities for smuggling plutonium. However, the charges suddenly vanished and he returned to Russia in 2009, safe from UK authorities.
There was also interesting information, and clues left at the Pine Bar where the three former KGB agents had met. Residue of polonium was on the wall where the head barman, Noberto Andrade, said Litvinenko was sitting. Investigators would suggest the poison entered the drink via some kind of aerosol device (which explained the residue).
Andrade himself would become ill for several weeks following his exposure to the cups and teapot the three men used. He would claim to having cleared a “sludgy brown” substance from the teapot following the three men leaving the bar. Contamination of the substance came to light in the dishwasher, sink, and pipes of the kitchen to the bar.
Perhaps most telling are the comments made by Russian representative, Sergei Abeltsev, who would refer to Litvinenko as “the traitor” and that he had received his “deserved punishment!” He would go on to say that Litvinenko’s death should be a “serious warning to all traitors!” Most unnerving, as we will look at shortly, were his comments about Boris Berezovsky. He would advise him to “avoid any food at the commemoration for his accomplice Litvinenko!”
The video below looks at the case of Alexander Litvinenko in a little more detail.
Other Deaths of the “New” Cold War?
We have written before of the truly bizarre case of Gareth Williams, whose dead body was discovered locked inside a hold-all bag. Although the cause of death is officially “accidental” there are numerous points of interest to the case. Perhaps not least, are the claims of connections to Russian intelligence services.
The case of Alexander Litvinenko is no different.
Regarding the aforementioned, Boris Berezovsky, after surviving several suspected assassinations against him – including one apparently proven conspiracy in 2008 by the BBC’s “Newsnight” program – he died in extremely suspicious circumstances in March 2013. Despite this, there was a quick return verdict of suicide. Even a US security analyst, Paul Joyal, was shot at outside his home in Maryland. This, after his belief that Litvinenko was the victim of an assassination.
Although not specifically connected to the Litvinenko case, in 2012, Alexander Perepilichny – a Russian billionaire who resided in the UK after divulging documents that accused “senior Russian officials” of grand fraud of the Russian Treasury – collapsed and died of a sudden heart attack. Many people would claim poisoning – in the same manner as Litvinenko. Furthermore, there were accusations against the UK government of trying to sweep the incident under the carpet.
Only time will tell if Sergei Skripal is another victim of the long reach of someone’s dark intelligence service. As it stands right now, all the signs are there that he is. You can check out the video below that looks at such cases involving Russian intelligence services.
A Fast Developing Story
As the story unfolded, so did the theories and even accusations.
For example, there was no shortage of commentators and politicians lining up to lay the blame for the attack at the feet of Russian intelligence. And while this is perhaps understandable given past events, there is very little in way of evidence for these claims in the public arena.
What’s more, while there is a strong argument that Russia may be behind the attempts on Sergei Skripal and his daughter’s life, it is not beyond imagination to suggest that they are a convenient scapegoat. Further still, there are some would begin to quietly suggest the possibility of the involvement of such agencies as the MI6 and intelligence services closer to home.
Each angle is as compelling as the next one, and while it will likely be years before any kind of “true” picture emerges, it will surely prove to be one that is as complex as it is morbidly interesting. And likely one that will highlight dark opportunism in various ways.
“Highly Likely” Russia Is Responsible!
A small police presence quietly morphed into scenes akin to martial law in the days following the incident, with over 500 UK soldiers in the Salisbury area. Furthermore, many parts of the town were essentially locked down, with one person even receiving a four-month prison sentence for breaching a cordoned-off area.
The UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, would state on 13th March that it was “highly likely” Russia, or at least Russian intelligence, was behind the attacks, which the police are treating as attempted murder. The group of “weapons-grade” nerve agents, Novichok, was named as being responsible for the poisonings. That particular nerve agent group originates from the old Soviet Union.
Furthermore, May would state that should there be “no credible response” by midnight of 13th into the 14th March, then the matter will be classed as “an unlawful use of force against the UK!” Perhaps as a caveat – possibly even for the UK’s own intelligence services depending on what comes to light – she would add that the incident was either “direct action” from Russia against the UK, or Russia had “lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others!”
The use of language is strong, to say the least. You can check out a short speech of Theresa May speaking in the UK House of Commons below.
Re-Investigations And An Increasing War Of Words
As we mentioned above there have been many reports of alleged Russian assassination attempts. In light of this, UK investigators looked to reinvestigate fourteen further deaths.
For their part, Russia would deny any connection to the attacks. Furthermore, Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov insisted the UK should make samples of the nerve agent involved available for Russian investigators. Amid calls for Russia Today to have its broadcasting license put under review, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova would respond with clarity. She would state that “not a single British media outlet will work in our country if they close Russia Today!”
Former FSB director, Nikolay Kovalev also suggested that British intelligence agencies could be responsible for the attacks in an effort to do “enormous harm” to Russia. Kovalev would point out that it would have been the UK and United States that would benefit from the attacks. He also pointed out that any defectors are monitored by the secret services saying, “they know their whereabouts and schedules!”, as well as “verbal agreements and unwritten laws, which are followed by the intelligence services all over the world!”
Perhaps Sergei Skripal’s past may provide the answer to the attack. According to ex-British Ambassador, Craig Murray, while Litvinenko was undoubtedly a good man who wished to expose abuses of power, Skripal was a “traitor who sold the identities of Russian agents” for nothing more than “hard cash!” In short, he had a long list of enemies. Given that MI6 will have been more than aware of his “monetary weakness” it is not too much of a stretch to think they realized it would one day be their secrets he was selling.
The Top-Secret Porton Down
The information regarding the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal came to the UK Prime Minister after testing at the nearby Porton Down facility. In fact, to some, it was very conveniently nearby. And what’s more, whether officially or not, nerve agents of some kind almost certainly reside within its walls. It is indeed, if the accounts are true, a place as mysterious as it is deadly.
We have written briefly about the Porton Down facility before. In that case it was the supposed final destination for “live alien cargo”, an account told to UFO investigator, Tony Dodd. The top-secret facility is a hub for chemical and biological research in the UK and has been a source of conspiracies since its inception. And not exclusively ones featuring “guests” of an extra-terrestrial nature.
Dr. David Kelly also worked out of the facility before his untimely death in 2003. When his (then) assistant died mysteriously in 2012 many people looked at the details with a raised eyebrow or two. Although Richard Holmes’ widow would insist her husband had taken his own life after disappearing in the woods nearby, many suspected his death was linked to either the death of Dr. Kelly or the secretive facility itself.
Is it possible that the Salisbury Incident has a connection with the top-secret biochemical facility? While it would seem unlikely that “they” would conduct a move right on their own doorstep, perhaps that was purposeful? Or might some form of the strain have leaked out into the nearby town? Indeed, the increased military presence on the streets does give it a menacing feel. Even lifelong residents state they “don’t know where is safe to go” in a place they have long called home.
Grim History Of Experiments
Porton Down began life in order to combat German use of chlorine gas in the trenches of World War One. During much of the 1920s and 1930s, mustard gas experiments would take place within the facility. These would include thousands of volunteers who would take part in experiments with the substances.
In fact, one particular incident involved the use of a nerve gas in 1953. And it would result in the death of a British serviceman. Ronald Maddison volunteered to test a “new cure” for the common cold. At least that is what the brief said upon him signing up. An hour after sealing the twenty-year-old in the testing chamber, he was dead. Sarin dripped on to his arm. Despite his skin sitting under two layers of cloth, the agent worked its way through the fabric with alacrity. He would spend his final minutes in agony.
By the mid-fifties, with the Second World War a decade past, the facility began to work on defensive weapons. In so doing, they would deplete their stocks of the nerve agents of the previous decades. At least that is the official story.
The video below looks at some of the conspiracies of Porton Down in a little more detail.
Are There Reasons For Suspicion?
Around two years after the incident, the BBC in the United Kingdom aired a drama, The Salisbury Poisonings, based on the real events of the Salisbury incident. However, rather than paint a picture of the precise timeline of events, it seemingly omitted some of the most glaring questions in the entire incident. And at least some commentators outside of the mainstream questioned how orchestrated such errors might be.
What is also particularly interesting about the BBC production is its apparent failure to use the research of their own employee, Mark Urban (who we will look at briefly shortly). Urban not only wrote a book on Sergei Skripal (something he was, coincidentally or not, undertaken for several months before the poisoning took place) but in his job as a diplomatic editor with the BBC, he dea3lth with much of the breaking news of the poisoning directly.
Researcher and commentator, Craig Murray, has highlighted how strange this is. Despite the program in question using real news footage, Urban is not used once. Nor is he credited with any involvement whatsoever. Given some of the revelations in Urban’s book, might it be a case that the program makers were intentionally distancing themselves from such revelations?
Before we examine some of the questions and coincidences that surround the Salisbury incident, you can check out a trailer to the BBC show in question below.
Just How Active Was Sergei Skripal With The Intelligence Services?
There has, for example, been much made as to just how active Sergei Skripal might have been with the intelligence agencies at the time of poisoning. Officially, he is very much retired. However, as Kit Knightly points out, the fact that his next-door neighbor just happens to be his MI6 handler is surely worthy of a raised eyebrow or two.
The man concerned, Pablo Miller, was mentioned in relation to the story on the Telegraph news platform, only to have his name completely removed from the report a short time later. A short time after that, Alex Thomson, a reporter with Channel 4, stated that the media had been issued with a D-Notice regarding “Sergei Skripal’s MI6 handler” (a D-Notice means the media are to avoid certain details under national security concerns – essentially).
Another eyebrow raising detail, according to the book The Skripal Files: The Life and Near Death of a Russian Spy by the previously mentioned Mark Urban, his house was purchased for Skripal by the MI6. Furthermore, in the same book, it is claimed that Skripal had a private and exclusive phone line where he could contact his intelligence contacts directly. Incidentally, Urban just happened to serve in the same military regiment as Pablo Miller, at the same time. In fact, they even joined the regiment on the same day. Make of that what you will.
Knightly asks “how conceivable is it that the house purchased by MI6, for one of their double agents, did not have some kind of security measures in place, including CCTV cameras?” It is a valid question. And with that in mind, why is there no such footage that captured the apparent Russian agents who we are told carried out the attack? Might it be that this footage was simply erased? Or might it be that the lack of such security was an intentional predetermined move?
Another intriguing point, it would seem, is the fact that his chosen town to retire in is within a (relative) stone’s throw from Porton Down itself.
The Coincidences Of Alison McCourt And Toxic Dagger
Perhaps we should remind ourselves of the discovery of the Skripals in a quiet but public park in Sailsbury. And in particular, the people who we are told discovered them, Alison McCourt and her family, who were walking in the town center on the day in question.
What is perhaps interesting is that Alison McCourt is the Chief Nursing Officer of the British Army. This, to some, is surely more than pure coincidence, given that the Salisbury poisonings were the first time a “military-grade” nerve agent had been used in such a way. The fact McCourt, according to Knightly, is “one of the few people trains to deal with it” is perhaps a coincidence too far.
Perhaps another intriguing detail surrounding the Skripal poisonings was the fact that a military exercise – named Toxic Dagger – was taking place at the same time the poisonings occurred. Toxic Dagger – an exercise looking at responding to biological or neurological weapons – featured members of the Marines, as well as the Defense Science Technology Laboratory, who have their headquarters in Salisbury.
We should perhaps ask ourselves just how likely it would be that highly-trained Russian assassins would choose to attempt such an assassination while training exercises in responding to that very same thing were taking place – in the very same town, no less.
The coincidences have been essentially been left unaddressed by those concerned.
A Very Murky Affair
It would also be amiss not to mention the experience of the retired research scientist, Chris Busby. Busby regularly appears on RT television (a Russian owned media platform) and was particularly critical of the British Government and how it responded to the poisoning in Salisbury on the channel, at one point stating there was “no way that there’s any proof that the material that poisoned the Skripals came from Russia”.
A short time following his comments, he was arrested on 13th September, under the Explosives Substances Act. However, after 19 hours in custody, he was suddenly released with no charges brought against him.
From the Russian perspective, many (around 30 percent) believed that the poisonings had been orchestrated by the British military and government, whether to draw Russia into an international incident or for reasons of their own. If there was any kind of orchestration, for example, might this explain why so few people (relatively speaking) became sick due to the episode?
Whether any further details surface regarding the Skripal case or not remains to be seen. There are, however, more than enough grey areas to warrant further scrutiny and investigation. For now, though, the case appears murkier than it did when it first began to unfold.
The video below examines the poisonings in a little more detail.
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