The mys­te­ri­ous chem­i­cal at­tack on a for­mer Rus­sian dou­ble agent is prompt­ing con­spir­acy the­o­ries from both the main­stream and the mar­gins, notes NOEL ROONEY...

Fortean Times - - STRANGE DAYS -


On 4 March, in the quiet town of Sal­is­bury, for­mer Rus­sian dou­ble agent Sergei Skri­pal, and his daugh­ter Yu­lia, who was vis­it­ing him from Moscow, were found in a state of near un­con­scious­ness on a park bench. Sev­eral wit­nesses at­tested to Skri­pal act­ing very strangely, point­ing at the sky and oc­ca­sion­ally ges­tic­u­lat­ing wildly. Even­tu­ally, a pass­ing doc­tor and nurse took the sit­u­a­tion in hand, ex­am­ined the pair of by now co­matose Rus­sians, and called in the po­lice and paramedics. They were taken to Sal­is­bury District Hos­pi­tal, where it was even­tu­ally con­firmed that they were suf­fer­ing from the ef­fects of a nerve agent.

They were not the only peo­ple af­fected by the mys­te­ri­ous sub­stance. A po­lice of­fi­cer who as­sisted at the scene is still crit­i­cally ill, and there are re­ports that up to 21 other peo­ple suf­fered ill-ef­fects, although only three ap­pear to re­main in hos­pi­tal. A ma­jor in­ci­dent has been de­clared, and the Army has been called in; a con­voy of trucks and heavy equip­ment rum­bled into Sal­is­bury dur­ing the week, and lo­cals were left scratch­ing their heads at the small-scale mil­i­tary in­va­sion.

Nat­u­rally, the in­ci­dent has re­vived mem­o­ries of the in­fa­mous Litvi­nenko af­fair in 2006 (see FT218:4-5; 220:4; 325:5), when an­other Rus­sian émi­gré, Alexan­der Litvi­nenko, was ap­par­ently poi­soned with a deadly ra­dioac­tive iso­tope, Polo­nium 210, a sub­stance 250 times more deadly than cyanide, while hav­ing tea with a cou­ple of ex-KGB col­leagues in Lon­don. Litvi­nenko has been re­peat­edly al­luded to in me­dia re­ports. He’s not the only one. Sev­eral other mem­bers of the Skri­pal fam­ily ap­pear to have come to un­timely ends in re­cent years. Mrs Skri­pal died in 2012, at the rel­a­tively ten­der age of 59, of an ag­gres­sive form of stom­ach can­cer, and one of Skri­pal’s sons died in mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances in St Peters­burg in March of last year, while an­other died in un­ex­plained cir­cum­stances two years ago. Po­lice and foren­sic ex­perts have ap­par­ently been pok­ing around in the cemetery where the other un­for­tu­nate mem­bers of the Skri­pal clan are laid to rest, clearly hop­ing to un­cover more than a sim­ple can of worms.

Tragedy clus­ter or con­spir­acy? The main­stream me­dia are in no doubt; the ne­far­i­ous Vladimir Putin clearly had it in for Skri­pal and his kin and or­dered yet an­other spec­tac­u­lar as­sas­si­na­tion on Bri­tish soil. The me­dia have trot­ted out a litany of names, past mar­tyrs to the evil Vlad’s lust for re­venge on those he sees as traitors to the Mother­land: Alexan­der Perepilich­nyy, Boris Bere­zovsky, and a few un­lucky Brits: Gareth Wil­liams, Matthew Puncher, and Scot Young. Not to be out­done, the alternative me­dia have re­cited their own litany, although for rather dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

You could prob­a­bly write the alternative take on the af­fair your­self, but just in case you are feel­ing lazy, you can go to Signs of the Times (­ti­cle/379237MI5-Poi­sons-An­other-Rus­sian-As­set-toSmear-Putin-in-On­go­ing-Pro­pa­ganda-War), where Joe Quinn has set out the case for Vlad’s de­fence in clear and pre­dictable terms. It was a set-up: the Bri­tish se­cret es­tab­lish­ment offed Sergei and Yu­lia Skri­pal, and en­dan­gered the good cit­i­zens of Sal­is­bury with a nasty nerve agent, so that Putin would fail in his next elec­tion bid in Rus­sia. Ob­vi­ously. Rus­sian me­dia weren’t too far away from Mr Quinn in their read­ing of the event, drag­ging in one of the prime sus­pects in the Litvi­nenko af­fair, Dmitry Kov­tun, to fin­ger the sneaky Brits for the hit.

The claims of Quinn et al are re­ally no more out­ra­geous than some of the stuff that has seeped into the UK main­stream press like a poi­son gas. In fact, this is one of those in­ci­dents where both sides of the in­creas­ingly porous me­dia par­al­lax wall have acted in some­thing ap­proach­ing uni­son. How long be­fore we get both sides of the story in one main­stream pub­li­ca­tion?

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