The article was amended 6/9/18 to correct a factual error – it originally asserted that the perfume bottle had been discovered in Amesbury, that was a mistake. Although Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess reside in Amesbury, Rowley is alleged to have found the perfume during a shopping trip to Salisbury.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) named their suspects in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal et al. today. The two men – named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – entered the country on legal VISAs but are alleged to be travelling under aliases. The CPS has charged the men with a laundry list of offenses, but not applied to Russia for extradition as it is forbidden, by the Russian Constitution, for the Russian federation to extradite a citizen.
These are the new facts, but like all the previous announcements in this bizarre odyssey, they present more questions than answers.
1. Why did two alleged GRU agents travel under false names and fake passports, but still use Russian names and Russian passports? If they had used EU passports – say from Lithuania or Estonia for example – they wouldn’t have needed a visa, thanks to EU freedom of movement agreements, and could still have spoken Russian without raising suspicion.
2. Was the novichok gel or liquid? We’ve never been given clear information on the actual poison – how deadly it is, how it’s made, where it was applied, how long it takes to work – all of these are complete unknowns. What sparse information we HAVE been given is contradicted by today’s announcements.
We were told previously that the novichok allegedly used on the Skripal’s was in "gel form” and "smeared” on the front door. Whereas the poison that Rowley and Sturgess later came in contact with was in a perfume bottle, and therefore a liquid capable of being atomised. These were never referenced as the same thing, until today.
Speaking to the BBC, Scotland Yard’s Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu claimed:
the manner in which the bottle and packaging has been adapted makes it a perfect cover for smuggling the weapon into the country, and a perfect delivery method for the attack against the Skripal’s front door”.
So was the poison sprayed on, or smeared on? Do they have any idea? Which brings us to the next question…
3. How did they re-seal the perfume bottle? Assuming that Basu is right, and the perfume bottle WAS used to attack the Skripal’s front door, how did they re-seal it afterwards? Rowley has always been very sure the bottle of perfume was in a sealed box and wrapped in cellophane – here’s a link, with a screencap below just in case it gets memory holed.
The police themselves don’t seem to sure on this point, Basu said:
We don’t yet know where the suspects disposed of the Novichok they used to attack the door, where Dawn and Charlie got the bottle that poisoned them, or if it is the same bottle used in both poisonings.”
We DO know where Dawn and Charlie got the bottle that poisoned them, Charlie said he took it from a charity donation bin Catherine Road in Salisbury on June 27th.
So maybe they didn’t re-seal the bottle, they just brought another one.
So did the suspects bring TWO (identical?) bottles of poison with them? Did they use one and leave the other one in a charity donation box? Why would they do that? We are told the suspects left the country after the attack on the Skripals on March 4th, so they must have dumped the "perfume” the same day? Is there CCTV footage of the "suspects” on Catherine Road that day? If not, how did it wind up there? And how did it sit undisturbed in a charity bin for nearly 3 months?
4. Why did no one at their hotel get sick? The police have claimed that the hotel the two men stayed at was "contaminated with novichok”, and yet no one has reported and symptoms at all.
How can a hotel room be "contaminated” with novichok? Novichok is not radioactive, it is a nerve agent. To contaminate the room the suspects would have to physically apply the poison to it, and since they allegedly left country on March 4th – the same days as the alleged attack – the contamination must have happened BEFORE Sergei Skripal was poisoned. How? The police are telling us the suspects must have opened their bottle of "deadliest poison ever” the day before they needed it AND in their own hotel room. Why would they do that?
We’re told that novichok is especially potent (deadlier than VX, which can kill in doses of 10mg or less) and does not degrade, and despite 2 months passing between the attack and police searching the hotel, not one single person was affected. Why not?
As usual with the Skripal Case, more questions than answers.
5. What is wrong with the CCTV? Further questions have been raised regarding the released "evidence” of CCTV captures. Namely that 2 separate stills, of two separate men, from the same CCTV camera display the exact same time, down to the second:
This calls into question the reliability of all the photographic/video evidence. MoonofAlabama has an excellent write-up on this issue here, as does Craig Murray, who has done great work on this case.
6. So what is the new timeline? The Police narrative puts our two "suspects” arriving in Salisbury at 11.48am, but the Skripal’s left their home ay 9.15 that morning, so Borishov and Petrov were far too late to "smear” novichok on the front door. The two suspects then, supposedly, left Salisbury for London at 1.50pm, over two hours BEFORE the Skripals were taken ill on that park bench. So what is the timeline?
Novichok, and all nerve agents, work extremely fast (they are designed to). People usually experience symptoms within seconds of exposure. This does not fit with our supposed suspects leaving hours before Sergei and Julia were sick. The speed of nerve agents taking effect has never fit this narrative, but the open-ended nature of the window meant the police could always, eventually, change tack and claim the Skripals were attacked as they sat on the bench. This announcement cements the UK government to a timeline that is almost impossible to reconcile with both their previous statements and common sense.