“Far from the Skripal father and daughter being the alleged victims of a Russian assassination plot, it now seems increasingly apparent that they are being held against their will by Britain’s authorities. In short, hostages of the British state.”
Finian Cunnigham — Editor and writer
“At first I was happy she called but it was clear she was being prompted. Yulia is being manipulated by MI5.”
“We are surprised by the point about the ‘access to friends and family’. Not a single friend or relative quoted by Russian or British media confirms such contacts. As far as we know, the Skripals have no relatives closer than Yulia’s cousin Victoria and their grandmother Elena (Sergey’s mother), who live together. A question arises: what family is Yulia in contact with?”
Embassy comment in relation to the “Statement issued on behalf of Yulia Skripal”
“Yulia is, of course, in protective custody ‘for her own safety’. At the very best, she is being psychologically force-fed the story about the evil Russian government attempting to poison her with the doorknob, and she is being kept totally isolated from any influence that may reinforce any doubts she feels as to that story. There are much worse alternatives involving threat or the safety of her father. But even at the most benevolent reading of the British authorities’ actions, Yulia Skripal is being kept incommunicado, and under duress.”
Craig Murray — Former UK Ambassador
The British denial of a visitor visa to a Skripal family relative from Russia is fueling concern that the whole affair is far more sinister than what the British government and media have been claiming. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
RELATED POST: Did a “Novichok” programme ever exist?
Finian Cunnigham has written extensively on international affairs. In a recent piece — which I repost here with his kind permission — Cunningham analyses the very suspicious story of poisoned double Russian agent in Salisbury.
From the outset of the alleged poisoning incident in Salisbury on March 4, the official British narrative has been pocked suspiciously with inconsistencies. The lightning-fast rush to judgment by the British government – within days – to blame the Kremlin for “a brazen murder attempt” was perhaps the main giveaway that the narrative was following a script and foregone conclusion to incriminate Russia.
Last week, the saga took several significant twists raising more doubts about the official British narrative. First, British scientists at the Porton Down warfare laboratory admitted that they hadn’t in fact confirmed the alleged nerve agent used against the Skripals originated from Russia. That admission spectacularly exposed earlier British government claims as false, if not barefaced lies.
Secondly, it emerged that potentially key witness-material was destroyed by the British. Three pet animals in the Salisbury home of Sergei Skripal were declared dead and their remains incinerated. Autopsies could have shed light on the nature of the alleged nerve agent used against the Skripals. Why were the animal remains incinerated? And why did the British authorities disclose the fate of the animals only after the matter was raised by the Russian envoy to the UN Security Council on Thursday?
Thirdly, there is the strangely callous way that the British authorities have refused a visitor visa to a Skripal family relative from Russia who was intending to fly to England to be with her relatives while they are reportedly recuperating from the alleged poison attack.
Russian national Victoria Skripal revealed on Friday to Russian news media that she was refused a visa by British authorities to visit her relatives – cousin Yulia and uncle Sergei – who are reportedly confined to a hospital in Salisbury.
The day before her visa application was rejected, Victoria had a brief telephone conversation with Yulia. It appears that Victoria recorded the conversation and made it available to Russian media to broadcast. The transcript shows that Yulia’s words were guarded. She was obviously not comfortable with speaking freely. Their phone call ended abruptly. But she did manage to advise her cousin in Russia that the latter would probably not be granted a visitor visa. Why would she say such a thing?
British media quickly tried to smear the Russian cousin, Victoria. A BBC journalist said that the British authorities “suspected that Victoria was being used as a pawn by the Kremlin”. Russian’s foreign ministry hit back at that suggestion, saying it was a despicable slur.
For her part, Victoria Skripal told Russian media that she thinks the British authorities have “something to hide” by refusing to grant her a permit to Britain in order to visit her cousin and uncle. Was her visa application rejected by the British authorities because she had the “audacity” to record the phone call with her cousin and make it available to Russian media?
Far more plausible is not that Victoria is a “Kremlin pawn” but that the British fear that Victoria would not be a “London pawn”. The worst thing for the British authorities would be for an independent-minded Skripal relative coming to the Salisbury hospital and asking critical questions about the nature of why her relatives are being held there.
It would be interesting to see what would happen if several other Skripal relatives in Russia were to make similar applications for visitor visas to Britain. Surely, the British authorities could not turn them all down?
For over a month now since the March 4 incident in Salisbury, the Russian consular representatives in Britain have not been allowed access to the Skripal pair, allegedly being treated in hospital.
Fair enough, Sergei Skripal is a disgraced former Russian spy who had been living in England for nearly eight years. He was exiled there by Moscow as part of a spy-swap with Britain’s foreign intelligence MI6 whom Skripal had served as a double agent. It is believed he was given British citizenship by the London authorities.
However, his daughter, 33-year-old Yulia, is a citizen of the Russian Federation. She was visiting her father on holiday when the pair became ill – apparently from exposure to a nerve agent – while sitting in a public park in Salisbury.
Yulia and the Russian authorities are therefore entitled under international law to have consular contact. The Russian embassy in London has been repeatedly denied access by the British authorities to one of its citizens. On the face of it, that is an outrageous breach of international law by the British.
Significantly, Yulia did not express to her cousin during their phone conversation that she did not want to see the Russian consular people. That phone call was obviously initiated by Yulia. Her Russian-based cousin at one point asked her, “Is this your phone?”.
How Yulia got use of the phone is a good question. Was it a hospital staff member who felt obliged to allow her a quick call home? Evidently, the call was held in a rushed manner, and Yulia felt constrained to talk in detail about her confinement. And why would she warn her cousin in Russia that the latter would not be given a visa before the application result was known?
It is speculated in British media – most probably at the behest of briefings by shadowy state officials – that Yulia Skripal does not want to see her cousin, or the Russian consular representatives. Even though Yulia did not express that in her phone call. If Yulia didn’t want to see her cousin, why would she bother calling her, apparently out of the blue?
The speculation about Yulia’s preferences are based on the official British premise that the Russian state attempted to carry out an assassination with a toxic chemical on her father. It is therefore insinuated by the official British narrative that Yulia would not want to see the Russian authorities.
But that logic depends entirely on the plausibility of the British version of events. That is, that a Russian state operation used a Russian nerve agent to try to kill Sergei Skripal, and his daughter as collateral damage.
That British version has relied totally on assertion, innuendo and unverified claims made by politicians briefed by secret services. Claims which we are now seeing to be unfounded, as the Porton Down scientists disclosed last week.
At no point have the British produced any evidence to substantiate their high-flown allegations against Russia. Indeed, Britain refuses to give Russia access to alleged samples in order to carry out an independent chemical analysis.
The entire British case relies on a presumption of guilt and a despicable prejudice towards Russia as a malicious actor. That’s it entirely. British prejudice and contempt for due process.
However, what if the Russian government were correct? What if the British state carried out a macabre false flag operation by stealthily injuring the Skripals with some kind of chemical in order to blame it on Russia? For the plausible purpose of adding one more smear campaign in order to demonize and delegitimize Russia as an international power.
No doubt, the situation is disturbing and disorientating especially for Yulia Skripal who apparently was simply visiting her father in England for a happy family reunion.
More sinister, however, is the apparent lack of free will being afforded to Yulia Skripal. The British official position simply conflates their innuendo of a Russian plot, an innuendo which is increasingly untenable.
The denial of a visitor visa to Yulia’s family relatives from Russia points to the sinister conclusion that the British authorities are engaging in a macabre propaganda stunt. Moreover, a propaganda stunt involving the criminal assault on a Russian citizen and the ongoing illegal detention of that citizen.
Scotland Yard — Statement issued on behalf of Yulia Skripal (11.04.2018)
Scotland Yard has issued the following statement on behalf of Yulia Skripal, who continues to receive police support following her release from hospital:
“I was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital on the 9th April 2018. I was treated there with obvious clinical expertise and with such kindness, that I have found I missed the staff immediately.
“I have left my father in their care, and he is still seriously ill. I too am still suffering with the effects of the nerve agent used against us.
“I find myself in a totally different life than the ordinary one I left just over a month ago, and I am seeking to come to terms with my prospects, whilst also recovering from this attack on me.
“I have specially trained officers available to me, who are helping to take care of me and to explain the investigative processes that are being undertaken. I have access to friends and family, and I have been made aware of my specific contacts at the Russian Embassy who have kindly offered me their assistance in any way they can. At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services, but, if I change my mind I know how to contact them.
“Most importantly, I am safe and feeling better as time goes by, but I am not yet strong enough to give a full interview to the media, as I one day hope to do. Until that time, I want to stress that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves. I thank my cousin Viktoria for her concern for us, but ask that she does not visit me or try to contact me for the time being. Her opinions and assertions are not mine and they are not my father’s.
“For the moment I do not wish to speak to the press or the media, and ask for their understanding and patience whilst I try to come to terms with my current situation.”
Comment — As Craig Murray points out, there are serious questions raised by the language of this letter.
Yulia Skripal lived part of her childhood in the UK and speaks good English. But the above statement is in a particular type of formal, official English of a high level which only comes from a certain kind of native speaker.
“At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services” – wrote no native Russian speaker, ever.
Nor are the rhythms or idioms such as would in any way indicate a translation from Russian. Take “I thank my cousin Viktoria for her concern for us, but ask that she does not visit me or try to contact me for the time being. Her opinions and assertions are not mine and they are not my father’s.” Not only is this incredibly cold given her first impulse was to phone her cousin, the language is just wrong. It is not the English Yulia would write and it is awkward to translate into Russian, thus not a natural translation from it.
To put it plainly, as someone who has much experience of it, the English of the statement is precisely the English of an official in the UK security services and precisely not the English of somebody like Yulia Skripal or of a natural translation from Russian.
Embassy comment in relation to the “Statement issued on behalf of Yulia Skripal” published by the Metropolitan Police (11.04.2018)
The statement allegedly on behalf of Yulia Skripal published at Scotland Yard website is an interesting read. If everything mentioned there is true we cannot but congratulate our compatriot. However, with no possibility to verify it, the publication by the Metropolitan Police raises new questions rather than gives answers.
As before, we would like to make sure that the statement really belongs to Yulia. So far, we doubt it much. The text has been composed in a special way so as to support official statements made by British authorities and at the same time to exclude every possibility of Yulia’s contacts with the outer world – consuls, journalists and even relatives.
We are surprised by the point about the “access to friends and family”. Not a single friend or relative quoted by Russian or British media confirms such contacts. As far as we know, the Skripals have no relatives closer than Yulia’s cousin Victoria and their grandmother Elena (Sergey’s mother), who live together. A question arises: what family is Yulia in contact with?
We have also noticed the apparent contradiction between the phone conversation in which Yulia says to Victoria that “everything is fine” with her and her father, and their health condition as described in today’s Met Police statement.
Particularly amazing is the phrase “no one speaks for me” appearing in a statement which, instead of being read on camera by Yulia herself, is published at Scotland Yard website.
To sum up, the document only strengthens suspicions that we are dealing with a forcible isolation of the Russian citizen. If British authorities are interested in assuring the public that this is not the case, they must urgently provide tangible evidence that Yulia is alright and not deprived of her freedom.
Plainly Under Duress — An Analysis by Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray
“Only the Russians have allowed us to hear the actual voice of Yulia Skripal, in that recorded conversation with her cousin. So the one thing we know for certain is that, at the very first opportunity she had, she called back to her cousin in Russia to let her know what is going on. If you can recall, until the Russians released that phone call, the British authorities were still telling lies that Sergei was in a coma and Yulia herself in a serious condition.
We do not know how Yulia got to make the call. Having myself been admitted unconscious to hospital on several occasions, each time when I came to I found my mobile phone in my bedside cabinet. Yulia’s mobile phone plainly had been removed from her and not returned. Nor had she been given an official one – she specifically told her cousin that she could not call her back on that phone as she had it temporarily. The British government could have given her one to keep on which she could be called back, had they wished to help her.
The most probable explanation is that Yulia persuaded somebody else in the hospital to lend her a phone, without British officials realising. That would explain why the first instinct of the British state and its lackey media was to doubt the authenticity of the call. It would explain why she was able to contradict the official narrative on their health, and why she couldn’t get a return call. It would, more importantly, explain why her family has not been able to hear her voice since. Nor has anybody else.
It strikes me as inherently improbable that, when Yulia called her cousin as her first act the very moment she was able, she would now issue a formal statement through Scotland Yard forbidding her cousin to be in touch or visit. I simply do not believe this British Police statement”
Victoria Skripal: Yulia is being “manipulated by MI5”
Skripal Poison Case Becoming British Hostage Scenario — Strategic Culture
Skripal Poison Case Becoming British Hostage Scenario