Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia Denies Assassination Attempt, Other Russians Conveniently Corroborate

This is PROBABLY one of the most ridiculous denials ever made by Russia.

How do I know that Russia did it? Because they’ve not only denied it, they’ve offered alternative theories already.  Not convinced, look at all the denials by Russia and all the alternative theories offered up by Russia to the MH-17 shootdown.

Additionally, Russian articles tend to be overly long and complicated, somewhat akin to trying to “baffle us with BS” – a saying from the 1970s. Almost all the articles containing an alternative theory or a denial by Russia are long and unnecessarily complicated. Yes, this is circumstantial, but after reading Russian news articles for years, including denials and alternative theories, this just feels all too familiar.

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Poisoned spy ‘was working with military intelligence officers at Russian Embassy’ says fellow exile – but insists Moscow isn’t behind Salisbury attack because Skripal ‘is nobody to Putin’

  • Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, are critically ill in hospital 
  • Police confirmed the pair were ‘specifically targeted’ with a nerve agent 
  • Mr Skripal’s fellow Russian exile Valery Morozov claimed he wasn’t retired
  • Mr Morozov said he felt the company Mr Skripal was keeping was dangerous

Russian exile who knew Sergei Skripal has claimed the poisoned spy was still working with military intelligence officers – but insisted that Vladimir Putin wasn’t behind the attack in Salisbury.

Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, remain critically ill after they were deliberately poisoned in Salisbury town centre on Sunday, police said.

He was ‘specifically targeted’ with a nerve agent in an incident that is being treated as an attempted murder, Scotland Yard’s head of counter-terrorism Mark Rowley revealed on Wednesday.

It was also revealed that a police officer who was among the first to respond to the incident near The Maltings shopping centre is also in a serious condition in hospital.

On Wednesday night, Mr Skripal’s fellow Russian exile Valery Morozov told Channel 4 News that the double agent was not retired, and remained in contact with military intelligence officers at the Russian Embassy.

He claimed he felt the company Mr Skripal was keeping was dangerous and decided to keep clear of him. 

‘If you have a military intelligence officer working in the Russian diplomatic service, living after retirement in the UK, working in cyber-security and every month going to the embassy to meet military intelligence officers – for me being political refugee, it is either a certain danger or frankly speaking, I thought that this contact might not be very good for me because it can bring some questions from British officials,’ he said.

‘What is the meaning political refugee if I have a contact, rather strange especially with cyber-security because cyber-security and his background, they look very strange for me, let us put it like this.

‘So that’s why I thought it’s better not to call him. It will be better to be aside.’

Mr Morozov also said he doesn’t think Russian president Vladimir Putin is behind the attack.

‘Who is Skripal? He is nobody for Putin, absolutely. Some man who officially betrayed the country. That’s all,’ he said.

‘He’s nobody. Putin doesn’t think about him. There is nobody in Kremlin who is thinking about former military intelligence officer who was nobody. What is the reason?

‘The problem is that immediately British officials, British press, British mass media started blaming Putin himself.

‘And frankly speaking, it is not only not true from my point of view and not correct but it puts real refugees in danger, more than anything else.

‘Because Putin from my point of view can’t be behind this simply because I know how Kremlin functions. I worked in Kremlin. First I work in Soviet time I work in analytical service and then in the main organ of information warfare and I ended as chief editor of analytical service.

‘I know how it functions and I know that the only rule, the main rule there is you should not create problem for Kremlin. That’s how I survived personally.

‘For Putin it is very important not to create scandal around him, to keep situation calm. I can’t imagine that somebody has given this task.’

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy said they are not aware of communication between Mr Skripal and staff.

‘We are not aware of any contacts between Sergei Skripal and any of the Embassy staff,’ they said.

‘As we have previously said, Mr Skripal was not on the consular register.’

Who is Russian double agent Sergei Skripal? How ‘Spy with the Louis Vuitton bag’ narrowly avoided execution after selling secrets to MI6

Sergei Skripal (pictured) unmasked dozens of secret agents and gave information to MI6 

Sergei Skripal (pictured) unmasked dozens of secret agents and gave information to MI6

Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence, was considered by the Kremlin to be one of the most damaging spies of his generation.

He was responsible for unmasking dozens of secret agents threatening Western interests by operating undercover in Europe.

Col Skripal, 66, allegedly received £78,000 in exchange for taking huge risks to pass classified information to MI6.

In 2006, he was sentenced to 13 years in a Russian labour camp after being convicted of passing invaluable Russian secrets to the UK.

A senior source in Moscow said at the time: ‘This man is a big hero for MI6.’

After being convicted of ‘high treason in the form of espionage’ by Moscow’s military court, Col Skripal was stripped of his rank, medals and state awards.

He was alleged by Russia’s security service, the FSB, to have begun working for the British secret services while serving in the army in the 1990s.

He passed information classified as state secrets and was paid for the work by MI6, the FSB claimed.

Col Skripal pleaded guilty at the trial and co-operated with investigators, reports said at the time. He admitted his activities and gave a full account of his spying, which led to a reduced sentence.

In July 2010, he was pardoned by then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and was one of four spies exchanged for ten Russian agents deported from the US in an historic swap involving red-headed ‘femme fatale’ Anna Chapman.

Mrs Chapman, then 28, was a Manhattan socialite and diplomat’s daughter, who had lived and worked in London during a four-year marriage to British public schoolboy Alex Chapman.

After the swap at Vienna airport, Col Skripal was one of two spies who came to Britain and he has kept a low profile for the past eight years.

He is understood to have been debriefed for months before being given a home and a pension.

The former spy was living at an address in Salisbury, Wiltshire, when the suspected poisoning took place in the city centre.

Reports in Russia suggested that Mr Skripal was originally recruited by MI6 in Tallinn, Estonia, and may have lectured on the KGB tactics since moving to Britain.

He often went to his local shop to buy a particular type of Polish sausage and spent up to £40 a time on lottery scratch cards and was described as a ‘polite’ and ‘kind’ customer who often won money.

Adam Blake who owns local firm A2B Taxis, said he ‘fairly regularly’ used to pick up Mr Skripal, who is fighting for his life after being exposed to a mystery substance.

Mr Blake told the Daily Mirror: ‘He had a black-faced ring with an animal on it, a wolf I think, and would kiss the ring and ask if you wanted to kiss it.

‘Then he would look each way, as if joking, and say, “I’m a Russian spy”. He would say it to all the drivers and nobody ever believed him.

‘I would often see him standing around town in doorways too, looking around suspiciously as if he was really trying to portray the spy image.’

He also joined the £10-a-year Railway Social Club in the city and neighbours said they did not know him well, although he organised a house-warming party shortly after moving in, inviting people by dropping notes through doors.

It was also revealed how he had suffered two bereavements within just five years when his wife Lyudmila died aged 59 in 2012, before his son Alexandr passed away aged 43 in 2017.

His neighbour Blake Stephens, 24, said: ‘He used to live with his wife but unfortunately she died in a car accident a while ago.’

Col Skripal was turned by MI6 when he was posted abroad as a GRU military intelligence agent in Europe in the mid-1990s.

During his years working for MI6, the balding spy unmasked dozens of agents threatening Western interests.

Col Skripal was so well-connected that even after his retirement from his spy service in 1999 he continued to pass exceptional secrets to London by staying in touch with his former colleagues as a reservist officer.

He was nicknamed ‘the spy with the Louis Vuitton bag’ after grainy pictures showed him carrying a bag at an airport en route to a meeting with his handlers.

He may finally have been snared by the FSB after passing his intelligence to MI6’s infamous James Bond-style ‘spy rock’ – a fake stone packed with receiving equipment in a Moscow park.

Russian secret services exposed the ploy in 2006, revealing how British agents transmitted their data to the rock via a hidden hand-held device while walking past it.

After Col Skripal’s conviction, one official said: ‘His activities caused a significant blow to Russia’s external security.’

Chief military prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky said: ‘It is impossible to measure in roubles or anything else the amount of harm caused by Skripal.’

State-run TV in Russia even compared him to the legendary Soviet double agent Oleg Penkovsky, who spied for Britain and the US during the height of the Cold War.

Penkovsky was shot by a firing squad in 1963 and is regarded as one of the most effective spies of all time.

Neighbours at Skripal’s £350,000 semi-detached home said police arrived at the property at around 5pm on Sunday.

He bought the property in 2011, a year before his wife Liudmila died.

His neighbour, Mr Stephens added: ‘He lived there with his Russian son and his son’s partner.

‘We didn’t speak to them much, I’m not sure what the family he did. He used to live with his wife but unfortunately she died in a car accident a while ago.’

Mark Medhurst, 43, said the former spy drove a BMW and kept the house lights off, adding: ‘He lived there with his son and a younger dark-haired girl.’