Operation Hades – A Model For The ‘Novichok’ Case?

4 April 2018 — Moon of Alabama

(This is a ‘working thread’ to collect various items related to the alleged ‘Novichok’ incident in Salisbury and the fate of the British spy Sergej Skripal and his daughter Yulia. For a wider overview of the case please check our longer write-ups linked at the end of this post.)

The Russian government sent fourteen specific questions to the British government and thirteen questions to the OPCW. There seems to be some French involvement in the investigation of the alleged nerve agent and Russia ask why that is the case.

Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador to Britain, further increased the pressure on Theresa May by publicly asserting that the Skripal case was a ‘provocation’ carried out by British intelligence.

Telepolis points out (in German) that this would not be the first time that a ‘western’ service would stage such a ‘provocation’. The Skripal case is indeed quite comparable to Operation Hades.

On August 10 1994 German officials in Munich ‘found’ 363 grams of plutonium on a plane coming from Moscow. They immediately asserted, that the plutonium ‘must’ have come from a Russian reactor. There was a lot of media panic, international political noise and condemnation of Russia.


Time Cover August 29 1994

This put pressure on the Russian government to increase its security at its nuclear sites. The U.S. offered to ‘help’ with nuclear security and thus got easy access to Russia’s nuclear secrets. The case broke in the mid of the federal election campaign in Germany and helped chancellor Kohl to get re-elected.

Months later first leaks appeared, enterprising reporters dug deeper into the story and it started to unravel.

Der Spiegel filled ten pages (in German) with the explosive story.

SPIEGEL Cover May 10 1995″The BND’s Nuke Hustle””How German secret agents invented the plutonium hazard”

It turned out that the plutonium was not from Russia but had been planted by the German equivalent of the MI6, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). Leaks and counter-leaks created a convoluted story to hide the truth behind it. A parliamentarian commission investigated the case but the Kohl government eventually shut it down without any political consequences. Shortly thereafter the deeply involved BND head, Bernd Schmidbauer, was sent into retirement.

The Russian depicting of the ‘Novichok’ case as a staged ‘provocation’ has a historic antetype and, quite likely in my view, significant merit.

It took nine month for the ‘Hades’ story to fall apart. The ‘Novichok’ fairy-tale may now see an earlier end. 

Sky News Breaking @SkyNewsBreak –

Chief executive of Porton Down research laboratory has told Sky News scientists have not been able to prove the Novichok nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal came from Russia or establish its country of origin

Video of Mr. Aitkenhead’s statement. Nice word play: He only has scientific evidence. The government additionally has ‘other’ (i.e. unscientific) sources to make a case.

Mind the gap, Mrs. May. Mind the credibility gap.

The Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media, a number British academics, published an update to their briefing ‘Doubts about Novichoks’ at Tim Hayward’s site.

The update carefully distinguishes and discusses the various chemical substances and research programs relevant to the British ‘Novichok’ claims. The ‘Novichok’ nerve agents Vil Mirzayanov describes in his book seem to differ from the substances other Russian scientists  talked about in their recent interviews. The U.S. though, as well as other countries, has evidently worked on some of the substances described by Mirzayanov and concealed these efforts from the OPCW. The Working Group concludes:

The UK government has asserted that “No country bar Russia has combined capability, intent and motive” to carry out the Salisbury poisonings. Published studies show that these compounds can be synthesized at bench scale (sufficient for an assassination) in other countries. The UK government’s declared case therefore rests only on subjective judgements of “intent and motive”, which are open to question. 

A few days ago Victoriya Skripal, a cousin of Yulia Skripal, was interviewed by the Russian website MKRU (Ru). The Stalkerzone provides an English translation of the full interview. From it we learn that:

  • Victoriya Skripal tried to get information on her allegedly poisoned cousin Yulia and uncle Sergej from the British embassy in Russia since March 5. She also unsuccessfully tried to contact the hospital in Salisbury. She heard from the Russian embassy in Britain that Yulia is awake, can eat and drink and can say a few words.
  • Shortly before the incident Yulia had gained access to some $200,000 owned by her deceased brother. This, for now, seems to have nothing to do with the case.
  • Sergej Skripal is not a lone man but has a number of friends and family in Russia and in Britain who visited him regularly in Salisbury.
  • Sergej Skripal has two cats and two guinea pigs. Victoriya Skripal asks: What happened to them? (They licked the doorknob and turned into walking-dead?)
  • Victoriya Skripal wants to travel to Britain and bring at least Yulia back home with her.

Victoriya Skripal apparently also did an interview with the Mail Online (or the Mail plagiarized its piece from MKRU). There seems to be no additional information in it.

British officials spread various theories about where and how the Skripal’s were poisoned. According to ‘official’ leaks to the British press the alleged nerve agent was smeared to the door of Sergej Skripal’s car,  was in a pizza,  in Yulia Skripal’s luggage or perfume, or in the car’s air vent. I may have been sprayed by a mini drone, or the stuff was smeared onto to the doorknob of Skripal’s house or maybe it was, as claimed yesterday, in buckwheat cereals brought from Russia on Sergej Skripal’s request.

In my view none of these explanation is plausible. The multitude of the discussed possibilities alone shows that either no one has a clue of what happened and how it happened, or someone is trying to bury the case in a heap of misinformation. We shall call this phenomena ‘Novi-fog’. It unmasks headlines like this one as mere propaganda: Poisoned Door Handle Hints at High-Level Plot to Kill Spy, U.K. Officials Say. “It was on the doorknob (maybe)! Thus Putin himself did it!”

John Helmer, who reports from Moscow, documents that the British government is breaking several British laws as well as international agreements by keeping the family and the consular service of the Russian embassy in Britain away from the Skripals.

Previous Moon of Alabama reports on the Skripal case:

Posted by b on April 3, 2018 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

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