Novichok poppycock

23 Oct

Putin poisons water in Navalny’s hotel room. Navalny gets sick and is taken to a Russian state hospital. Nobody kills him there, though a hospital is an easy place to do so. Doctors find no poison, authorities approve his transfer to Berlin, where medics find novichok and accuse Russia. France agrees, the EU imposes sanctions. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Anonymous BTL comment (can’t remember where)

Many fat livings depend on the notion Russia poses a serious threat to us. The nonsense people will believe to maintain that fiction gives a most unpleasant glimpse into the human psyche.

Craig Murray (below)

To be accurate, the reasons for demonising Putin’s Russia go way beyond the truth that “many fat livings” rely on it.1 That qualifier duly noted, here’s ex UK Ambassador Craig Murray today in fine form.

Magic Novichok

The security services put an extraordinary amount of media priming effort into explaining why the alleged novichok attack on the Skripals had a delayed effect of several hours, and then failed to kill them. Excuses included that it was a cold day which slowed their metabolisms, that the chemical took a long time to penetrate their skins, that the gel containing the novichok inhibited its operation, that it was a deliberately non-fatal dose, that rain had diluted the novichok on the doorknob, that the Skripals were protected by gloves and possibly only came into contact in taking the gloves off, or that nerve agents are not very deadly and easily treated.

You can take your pick as to which of those convincingly explains why the Skripals apparently swanned round Salisbury for four hours after coming into contact with the novichok coated doorknob, well enough to both drink in a pub and eat a good Italian lunch, before both being instantaneously struck down and disabled at precisely the same time so neither could call for help, despite being different sexes, ages and weights. Just as the chief nurse of the British army happened to walk past.

So now let us fast forward to Alexei Navalny. Traces of “novichok” were allegedly found on a water bottle in his hotel room in Tomsk. That appears to eliminate the cold and the gloves. It also makes it possible he ingested some of the “novichok”. I can find no suggestion anywhere it was contained in a gel. So why was this deadly substance not deadly?

There seems no plain allegation of where Navalny came into contact with the “novichok”. Assuming he spent the night in his hotel room, then the very latest he can have come into contact with the deadly nerve agent would be shortly before he left the room, assuming he then subsequently touched the bottle before leaving. This is true whether the bottle was the source or he just touched it with novichok on his hands. After poisoning with this very deadly nerve agent – which Germany claims is “harder” than other examples, he then checked out of the hotel, went to the airport, checked in for his flight, had a cup of tea and boarded the flight, all before being taken ill. This after contact with [an allegedly deadly] chemical weapon.

Which of course is aside from all the questions as to why the Russians would use again the poison that was ineffective against the Skripals, and why exactly the FSB would not have swept and cleaned up the hotel room after he had left. All that is even before we get to some of the questions I had already asked:

Further we are expected to believe that, the Russian state having poisoned Navalny, the Russian state then allowed the airplane he was traveling in, on a domestic flight, to divert to another airport, and make an emergency landing, so he could be rushed to hospital. If the Russian secret services had poisoned Navalny at the airport before takeoff as alleged, why would they not insist the plane stick to its original flight plan and let him die on the plane? They would have foreseen what would happen to the plane he was on.

Next, we are supposed to believe that the Russian state, having poisoned Navalny, was not able to contrive his death in the intensive care unit of a Russian state hospital. We are supposed to believe that the evil Russian state was able to falsify all his toxicology tests and prevent doctors telling the truth about his poisoning, but the evil Russian state lacked the power to switch off the ventilator for a few minutes or slip something into his drip. In a Russian state hospital.

Next we are supposed to believe that Putin, having poisoned Navalny with novichok, allowed him to be flown to Germany to be saved, making it certain the novichok would be discovered. And that Putin did this because he was worried Merkel was angry, not realising she might be still more angry when she discovered Putin had poisoned him with novichok

There are a whole stream of utterly unbelievable points there, every single one of which you have to believe to go along with the western narrative. Personally I do not buy a single one of them, but then I am a notorious Russophile traitor.

The eagerness of the Western political establishment to accept and amplify nonsensical Russophobia is very worrying. Fear is a powerful political tool, politicians need an enemy, and still more does the military-industrial complex that so successfully siphons off state money. Many fat livings depend on the notion that Russia poses a serious threat to us. The nonsense people are prepared to believe to maintain that fiction give a most unpleasant glimpse into the human psyche.


  1. America’s $10tn for-profit arms sector (echoed in scaled down equivalents across the West) is a huge driver of militarism but it is reductive, dangerously so, to see it as sole driver. We must take care with analogies but consider this from one of my October reads, out this weekend. Author Alaister Crooke compares the situation today with the ‘sleepy summer’ of 1914: the five weeks between Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination in late June (the “Sarajevo Moment”) and final outbreak of hostilities in early August. ‘Experts’ had said at the time that global trade was so inextricably intermeshed as to make war between Britain and Germany inconceivable. Crooke goes on to draw this parallel: “Trump et al seem convinced the U.S. can use its financial and trade muscle to crush China’s rise, contain Russia, and arm-twist Europe. The Balkan war of the early 20th Century locked Germany’s fickle ally Austria-Hungary into Germany’s greater fight against Russia. Today Pompeo hopes to lock fickle Europe into America’s containment of Russia. The Nordstream threats and Navalny scam are just some of Pompeo’s levers.” (See also my August post, Our beautifully democratic wars.)

7 Replies to “Novichok poppycock

      • I fear I misunderstood you. By “these people” I assumed you meant Navalny, and Skripals under Britain’s ‘protective’ wing.

        But maybe you mean, what happened to make us so credulous? Answers tend to be long. We’d have to place media far from independent (due to oligarchic ownership, ad-dependency and direct links with military intelligence) at the heart of any explanation. But more generally there is still a widespread tacit understanding that “we are the good guys”.

        I see that understanding as product of a combination of (a) relative prosperity, (b) education brainwashing, (c) entertainments industries which, thanks in no small part to English being the world’s lingua franca, are consumed globally, (d) other ideological guardians and, again, news media. It has been eroded in the years since Watergate, but the erosion seems to me superficial and diverted into a harmless but fashionable cynicism within our intelligentsia. Add to the this the fact that even people in the West, the USA and UK especially, who are aware of domestic politics can be deeply ignorant of, because uninterested in, matters overseas. This leaves them looking to BBC and Guardian ‘analyses’ of places – Iraq, Syria, Russia, China, Venezuela – they can’t altogether ignore.

        (For reasons I’ve gone into many times – see for instance, What’s the point of George Monbiot? – liberal media like the Guardian punch above their weight. Though their coffers and audience share are small, relative to most right-wing and oligarch-owned outlets, their greater sophistication – and willingness to challenge the status quo on important though not crux matters – gives them credibility with an important segment of the opinion-shaping classes.)

    • Given the scientifically fantastical claims in the officially approved narrative – a narrative which, if produced from any other source would be considered a conspiracy theory – that’s not only an impossible question to answer it’s also directed at the wrong people.

      Not that an answer which made any kind of rational sense would be forthcoming from directing the question at those who are selling this blarney – who make a corkscrew look like a spirit level.

      When I’ve got more time I’ll dig out the links to a series of articles which look in depth at the Salisbury incident which might help.

      • In the interim, whilst I’m searching out and collating what I had in mind, this might offer some useful pointers.

        Though it does omit the interesting detail that some two or three weeks after the Salisbury “incident” the OPCW was reported to have discovered in the vicinity a surprisingly pure sample of nerve agent which, despite being unable to have the effect for which it produced at the time, had resisted reality based physical and scientific processes of degradation during its alleged two or three weeks exposure to the environment.

        A remarkable feat given the alleged same material on a door knob which, according to the official fairy story, lost its potency after a far shorter environmental exposure period.

        At the end of the day what this question actually boils down to is whether any individual inhabits what Karl Rove (allegedly) referred to as the reality based community or not.

  1. This is all of a piece with the similarly imaginary ‘mass poison attacks’ which President Assad has been accused of perpetrating. Luckily for Assad, there is now factual evidence that the top level of the OPCW was/is infiltrated and subverted by the US, that on the ground reports were ignored in favour of CIA/White Helmet concocted ones, and further that the previous head of the organisation was prevented from testifying thus in the UN by a UK/US veto. Of course if none of these facts are reported by the so-called ‘Press” then very few hear about them, apart from the previously converted who frequent sites such as this. It’s a start, I suppose, but we need an aberrant millionaire to start a real mass-market newspaper. Anybody know of one?

    • Yes. Douma, Salisbury etc show to anyone prepared to look more deeply (sadly a small constituency) the contempt in which ‘independent’ media and ‘democratically elected’ politicians hold truth and rule of law, Most journalists and politicians, I think, are more naive and self-servingly stupid than outright mendacious.

      As for media, it’s not just oligarchic ownership. If that were all, Guardian and BBC would be a corrective. Alas, Guardian depends on advertising and sponsorship revenues (and, after the Snowden revelations, was drawn into the orbit of military intelligence.) For its part the BBC, its leadership caste in any case disproportionately ‘public’ school and Oxbridge, relies on the good will of senior politicians themselves fearful of the wrath of Murdoch and Rothermere.

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