Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

🇬🇧Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (99)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Amesbury investigation is now a murder inquiry. Russians continue with their campaign of obfuscation and denial and blameshifting – all while more reports point to Russia’s internal decay accelerating. Shevtsova may be right.

Some positively remarkable comments in Syria by the Deputy Commander of the IRGC. Israel reported to have conducted another air strike on T-4 held by Iranians.

Kremlin Says ‘Absurd’ To Accuse Russia In Novichok Death

The Kremlin has rejected the idea that Russia could have been behind the poisoning of a woman British authorities say died after being exposed to the same nerve agent that put former spy Sergei Skr…

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Kremlin troubled by string of UK poisonings endangering all of Europe

The Kremlin has no information about Russia allegedly being associated with the Amesbury incident, lambasts such ‘absurd’ accusations

British MP, establishment journalists rush for Putin’s blood after Amesbury chemical death — RT UK News

The death of Dawn Sturgess from what police say was exposure to Novichok has sparked a new fit of Russia-blaming, as an MP, high-profile commentators and mainstream journalists pointed the finger at Moscow.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Relations Between Washington and Moscow ‘in Places’ Worse than in Cold War, Solovey Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 7 – Valery Solovey, an MGIMO professor and prominent Moscow commentator says that relations between the US and Russia are “in places worse than was the case during the Cold War,” with the entire system of informal contacts that existed throughout that period now having collapsed. Interviewed on Ekho Moskvy’s “Personally Yours” program, Solovey says that now “informal communications” between the two countries “simply don’t exist,” something that makes it difficult to prevent small disagreements from escalating and becoming major crises ( “There was a system of ramified informal contacts. There, the representatives met and talked about things. From the outset were achieved a certain mutual understanding” of what might be done. “But suddenly it turned out that now we do not have any of this,” as a result of the mutual “self-isolation” of the two sides. “Both sides it seemed were completely satisfied with this. But the special feature of relations between [Moscow and Washington] is such that if one does not try to do something, the situation by force of inertia becomes worse. This resembles the world of Alice in Wonderland,” the MGIMO professor says, when one had to run as fast as possible to remain in the same place. The same thing has been true in Russian-American relations, he continues. “If you don’t want that the situation will become worse as a result of inertia, the influence of the mass media, and the influence of the establishment then it is necessary to do something and thus prevent this deterioration.” Solovey further warns that “now between the countries there is a stimulus for the beginning of an arms race.” That put strains on the Soviet Union it couldn’t withstand, and it is entirely possible that the same thing will be true with Russia.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: New Challenge for Russian Elites: The Russian People are Tiring of Putin, Shevtsova Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 7 – No Russian elite has ever privatized the state into its own hands as much as the current one which combines power, property, and the repressive apparatus, depends on Vladimir Putin to hold things together, and wants to transfer this “property” to its children, Lidiya Shevtsova says. That problem isn’t immediate, the Russian analyst says. Most of this elite is still young enough that it can run things for another decade or more. But another problem is: “Where is the guarantee that Putin will be able to remain leader for eight to ten more years? There is no such guarantee” ( “The people are beginning to rapidly tire of him,” and that creates a serious: how to select and impose “a new Putin” to ensure that the “privatized” state can be handed on to the heirs of the current rulers. That is the kind of challenge that has sunk other authoritarian countries and could do the same to Russia. According to Shevtsova, “the ruling corporation has every reason for being concerned. Our owners of the state are coming to see a bitter truth: the system which they have raised up cannot have an heir who could guarantee the transmission of ‘power and property,’” she says. Even Putin who was given power did not save status of any but a narrow group of the family. Instead, he “created his own ruling ‘vertical,’” something dictated by “the logic of personal power.” He was able to do this without bloodshed not only because of the cowardice of the political class but also by the superfluity of resources and technological means at his dispose for “the strengthening of a new unified power.” Today, “the situation has changed,” Shevtsova argues. The same resources aren’t there anymore. And that means this: whoever comes after Putin “will seek legitimation of his power by placing all the blame for what is bad on his predecessor” and “the more he will be involved in the old corporative elites, the more he will do so to show is lack of debts before the past.” That is how Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, and Gorbachev all behaved. That is the logic of power: what can you do?” But, she continues, “this logic forces one to doubt in the firmness of the system of the repressive oligarchy which today has made the Russian state its personal property.” Here is the irony, she says. “The reproduction of an autocracy with a new leader at its head is still possible – but only via the destruction of the present regime along with all its pillars,” the very people who want to continue to be the owners of the state and who have no interest in being destroyed. After Stalin, this process went relatively peacefully because “the Soviet elite learned to gain legitimacy without cruelty toward the families of the previous rulers. Today a different situation has arisen: taboos and ‘red lines’ have been destroyed.” Those in power one day may be in prison the next. But the use of repression in this way has a “boomerang” effect because it means that those who may be victims are more ready to victimize their opponents when it becomes possible. “A peaceful transfer of power requires from the ruling elite an understanding that it is not necessary to set itself in concrete and try to extend itself forever.” Indeed, Shevtsova argues, “the Kremlin, cementing itself in power forgets that concrete has to be blown up, and the explosion may blow apart not only the power arrangements but even the state itself.” The efforts of the state corporation to extend its life through its children shows the way it hopes to work, but the logic of the situation is against it. What should the children of the elite do? Shevtsova asks rhetorically. In her view, they should “run” as soon as possible and “better change their last names as well.”

Vladimir Putin’s popularity dips amid retirement age proposal

The plan was unveiled against the backdrop of the Russian soccer team’s exciting run to the World Cup quarterfinals.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Increasing Gap Between Siloviki Pensions and Those of Others Becoming a Problem, Schulmann Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 7 – Employees of the force structures have always been able to retire earlier and with better pensions than ordinary Russians, part of the package of benefits the Kremlin uses to purchase and maintain their loyalty as defenders of the existing system, Yekaterina Schulmann says. “Everyone knew this,” of course, the Moscow political analyst says, but accepted it as just one of the facts of life. Now, however, it has become a problem because with the raising of retirement ages for ordinary Russians, the benefits “gap” between the siloviki and the Russian people has widened and become the subject of public discussion. Arnold Khachaturov cites her argument at the opening of a new Novaya gazeta article on this subject ( He continues by citing the research of Oksana Sinyavskaya of the Higher School of Economics who supports Schulmann’s conclusions. Sinyavskaya says that “if the raising of the pension age doesn’t touch the siloviki, then they as before will be able to take their pensions at the age of 40 to 45 while all other citizens will have to wait until 65.” They will not only get higher pensions than most others but will receive them for far longer. No one can say exactly how many siloviki pensioners there are or what they cost, Khachaturov says. All that information is classified in Russia. The best estimate suggests that pensions for siloviki veterans now cost the state approximately 700 billion rubles (11 billion US dollars) each year – or about 0.7 percent of GDP. Few Russians begrudge such payments to those who have fought on the front lines as it were; but they are increasingly uneasy with the idea that others in the force structures who may have spent their entire careers in offices far from any serious conflict should benefit in the same way, Schulmann says. “Among the millions of siloviki,” Sergey Zhavoronkov of the Gaydar Institute says, “the overwhelming majority are ordinary bookkeepers and laws who have never held a pistol in their hands or stopped criminals.” Even in the defense ministry that is the case, he suggests. And he urges that Moscow raise the pension ages for the siloviki as other countries have done. In fact, there has been some slight movement in that direction in recent years and there are many cases when others are able to retire well before the established pension age. Indeed, at present, approximately one in every three Russians – some 14 million people are able to retire before the current established pension age. Now, the Russian government is talking about raising the pension age of civilians but not that of siloviki. “Theoretically,” the article suggests, Moscow should be talking about raising both, something that would send a strong message to the population and to the siloviki. But it has as yet proved unwilling to do that – and that is creating tensions between the two groups. Unfortunately, Schulmann says, “no one will do this in present-day Russia because the siloviki are not simply the defenders of the regime: they are the regime itself. No one will be able to touch them even in the smallest degree” – and now all Russians can see this and draw their own conclusions.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Something New for Russians — Open Conflicts in the Ruling Party, ‘Forbidden Opinion’ Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 7 – The recent string of unpopular decisions by Vladimir Putin and the Russian government are rapidly driving down the standing of both among Russians, and experts say that by August, the Kremlin leader will have the lowest approval rating he has ever had since coming to office, the “Forbidden Opinion” Telegram channel says. As a result, “a process, absolutely normal and customary for democratic states but entirely unknown to domestic residents in Russia” — the appearance of open tensions within the ruling party, spontaneously and not on order as at some points in the past, the channel says ( The Kremlin has tried to crack the whip by ordering the members of the ruling party to discuss the pension reform according to a script, but some of them are now replying: Who do you think you are? “We here are the ruling parties! We here are the power!” That anger has changed their relations with both the powers and the people. Some of its member are even taking positions that resemble those who took part in the “He’s Not Our Tsar” demonstrations. “They are criticizing the reforms. They are cursing Putin (!)” And he hasn’t had to deal with this ever before. Is he thinking about shooting these “’revolting’ boyars?” “As is being said,” “Forbidden Opinion” says, “while Kadyrov is with us, the entire country is under us” however much people or members of United Russia object.

Russia loses to Croatia, and Twitter users Putin their best jokes – To Inform is to Influence

Quite a few of these are just too funny not to share. I debated for 0.2 seconds.  Enjoy! </end editorial> Russia loses to Croatia, and Twitter users Putin their best jokes The host country was eliminated Saturday, and social media thinks Putin is busily Googling Croatia’s next election. BY GAEL FASHINGBAUER COOPER JULY 7, 2018 4:06 PM…

Vladimir Putin jokes go viral after Russia’s World Cup heartbreak – To Inform is to Influence

This shirt. Probably the best tweet which isn’t making the news is this ironic one, The funny thing is we need to watch to see if any of these jokes come true. I’m also curious if Russia plans to enforce its ban against anti-Putin jokes. Some of the jokes are just lethal.  And now, without…

Another Scathing Russian Parody – To Inform is to Influence

One of the better parodies post-loss for the Russian FIFA World Cup loss. Scathing video with subtitles. Many of the “thoughts” are widely rumored. One almost has to wonder how much is true.

Putin’s Halo? Russian Artist Fires Back Against Online Ridicule

A quasi-religious painting depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin as the sun god Helios in the company of, among others, the Madonna and child and Kievan Grand Prince Vladimir has become a wide…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Creating Problem He Said He Faced: Non-Russian Hostility to Russian as Such

Paul Goble Staunton, July 7 – Instead of winning over non-Russians to the use of Russian by highlighting the utility of knowing that lingua franca, Vladimir Putin, as a result of his frontal attack on non-Russian languages, has created something he and his supporters said they already faced: non-Russian hostility to the use of the Russian language as such. That increasing hostility was in evidence at the Second Conference of the Democratic Congress of the Peoples of Russia that was held via video last week; and at which, many participants said “there is too much Russian language in the republics, Radio Svoboda’s Ramazan Alpaut says (; cf. Amil Sarkarov, a Lezgin participant in the video conference, says that in his view, “a transformation in the activity of activists depending their linguistic rights is taking place,” and that this could lead to the formation of “a serious social force” that Moscow could not fail to take into account. “We must constantly fight for our rights since no laws guarantee that they will be observed,” the activist continued. “We have frequently had occasion to be convinced that the actions of the authorities do not correspond to the legal code of the country. The language question is most clearly indicative of this.” Consequently, Sarkarov says, “the creation of a powerful, legally formed public movement in support of the languages of the peoples of the Russian Federation is a necessary next step.” Other participants expressed similar thoughts and argued that requiring instruction in the non-Russian languages is essential to redress the imbalance between Russian and non-Russian that currently exists not only in schools but in the public spaces of the republics.

UAWire – Russian Veterans Organization demands Kremlin recognize participation of private military companies in Syrian war

The Russian Veterans Organization appealed to the Kremlin to recognize that private military companies (PMC) are fighting in Syria alongside …

Ukraine slams UK newspapers for playing along with Russian propaganda | UNIAN

Ukraine is hitting back against a what is believed a misleading report by the Independent where the British newspaper is practically following the Russian aggressive narrative about Ukraine and misinterpreting facts. The Ukrainian publication also recalled that the Independent is in fact a Russian-owned newspaper.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Weapons from Donbass Fighting Bleeding Back into Russia, Ukraine

Paul Goble Staunton, July 7 – One of the most dangerous if often unnoticed consequences of Russia’s invasion of the Donbass and Ukraine’s resistance there has been the bleeding back into both Russia and Ukraine of millions of weapons of various kinds as those who have taken part in the fighting return home with weapons they have used. Both Moscow and Kyiv have acknowledged this problem and sought to fight it, although Ukraine has been far more public about both. (For background on this, see, and Now, Anatoly Matios, the military procurator of Ukraine, has said openly that “each citizen who fights in the eastern portion of the country is taking home arms from the arsenal” ( On Ukraine’s 112 Ukraina television channel, he said that “absolutely every one of the soldiers” in Ukrainian forces has been taking one or another weapon home as “souvenirs,” including “tens of towns of explosives, thousands of grenades, and hundreds of mines” in addition to “rifles, pistols and bullets.” He urged the creation of a special government agency to struggle against this phenomenon, because the existence of such an armed population can under certain conditions threaten the stability of the Ukrainian state.

Theresa May on Twitter: “I am appalled and shocked by the death of Dawn Sturgess, and my thoughts and condolences go to her family and loved ones. Police and security officials are working urgently to establish the facts of this incident, which is now being investigated as a murder.”

Salisbury medical director comments on mother poisoned by Novichok – Daily Mail – YouTube

Daily Mail Published on Jul 9, 2018 Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, were infected by the deadly nerve agent after picking up a contaminated item – thought to be a syringe – near where ex-spy Sergei Skripal was found unconscious in Salisbury. The mother-of-three, who struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, suffered a heart attack after coming into contact with the agent. Mr Rowley remains critically ill in hospital. Scotland Yard said they have launched a murder investigation – the second major probe involving the nerve agent this year, following the case of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.

Novichok: Murder inquiry after Dawn Sturgess dies – BBC News

Prime Minister Theresa May says she is “appalled and shocked” by the death of Dawn Sturgess, 44.

British Novichok Case Becomes Murder Probe After Dawn Sturgess

The latest Novichok case in England is now a murder investigation. Dawn Sturgess, one of two people exposed to the same nerve agent that nearly killed Russian citizens Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal… World News Summaries. | Newser

UK woman poisoned by same nerve agent as Russian spy dies, police say | Fox News

The British woman who was recently poisoned by the same nerve agent that almost killed a Russian spy and his daughter earlier this year has died, police said Sunday.

UK Novichok attack: Woman dies after being exposed to Soviet-era nerve agent, authorities say – CNN

A woman who was exposed to Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok died Sunday, the Metropolitan Police said in a written statement.

U.K. woman dies after exposure to Novichok, the same nerve agent used in Skripal attack

A squad of elite divers entered Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand on Sunday morning to rescue the 12 trapped boys and their soccer coach.

🇬🇧 UK: Dawn Sturgess dies after exposure to nerve agent Novichok | Al Jazeera English – YouTube

Al Jazeera English Published on Jul 8, 2018 UK police have confirmed that a woman exposed to the nerve agent Novichok last week has died. Dawn Sturgess fell ill after apparently handling an item contaminated with the substance. Now, health authorities are trying to calm residents in a community that has seen several military-grade poisonings in a matter of months. Al Jazeera’s Joao da Silva reports.

British Woman Exposed To Novichok Nerve Agent Dies

British police say a woman who fell critically ill after being exposed to the same nerve agent used in the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter has died.

British woman randomly poisoned by Novichok nerve agent dies – NY Daily News

The mother of three and her boyfriend have no apparent link to Russia or international intrigue but both live in a town where former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter fell ill in March.

Novichok poisoning victim Dawn Sturgess dies from heart failure – NZ Herald

Dawn Sturgess, 44, was infected by the deadly nerve agent in Wiltshire last week.

Mother poisoned by Novichok is DEAD | Daily Mail Online

Dawn Sturgess, 44, the mother poisoned by Novichok in Wiltshire has died in hospital. She suffered a heart attack after coming into contact with the agent in Queen Elizabeth Gardens.

Javid: Police seek connection to Skripal poisoning in Amesbury – Daily Mail – YouTube

Daily Mail Published on Jul 8, 2018 Dawn Sturgess, 44 (pictured left) and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, are still fighting for their lives after coming into contact with the deadly nerve agent. Neighbour Tom Ricks, 31, claims the couple were exposed to the substance at Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury (pictured cordoned off inset) – a short walk away from where the Skripals were found poisoned in March. He says drugs are often stored at the hideout and believes the pair picked up a drugs package contaminated with the poison before taking it home. It was at Mr Rowley’s flat in Amesbury, nearby in Wiltshire, where the couple fell ill last weekend. Ms Sturgess’s son Ewan, 19 (pictured right) fears his mother might not emerge from her coma.

Amesbury Novichok poisoning: Sajid Javid ‘not jumping to conclusions’ – BBC News

The home secretary says the UK is not “jumping to conclusions” after the second Novichok poisoning.

No fresh sanctions against Russia over latest poisoning | News | The Sunday Times

The son of one of the latest Novichok victims fears that she may have been left brain-damaged, it emerged today, as the government ruled out imposing fresh sanctions on Russia. Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, were still critically ill in hospital on Sunday after being expose

British police say nerve agent victims handled material’s container – CBS News

Police say the death of Dawn Sturgess​ shows that she and her partner Charlie Rowley were exposed to a &quot;high dose&quot; of the military-grade nerve agent

Novichok in Wiltshire death ‘highly likely’ from batch used on Skripals | UK news | The Guardian

Dawn Sturgess died after being exposed to nerve agent that nearly killed ex-Russian spy

Novichok fear sends chill through Salisbury’s homeless | UK news | The Guardian

Outside the hostel where the latest victims of poisoning were well known, the tourist city reveals its darker side

Amesbury Novichok Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley got nerve agent from Salibsury park drug den | Daily Mail Online

Neighbour Tom Ricks, 31, claims drugs are often stored at a hideout in Queen Elizabeth Gardens, Salisbury. He believes Dawn Sturgess (pictured) and Charlie Rowley were poisoned there.

Family of Novichok victim Dawn Sturgess was about to be reunited after son got back in touch before poisoning – Mirror Online

Ewan Hope tells how he got in touch with his alcohol-dependent mum shortly before she came into contact with the nerve agent

Who are Novichok couple Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley and when were they poisoned in Amesbury?

The couple were left fighting for their lives in a Salisbury hospital after being exposed to Novichok – now Scotland yard has confirmed Dawn Surgess has died.

A British woman just died from Novichok poisoning. We must know whether Russia is at fault.

Another Briton, who is hospitalized, may have come across the chemical weapon while scavenging in trash bins.

Iranian Commander: ‘Islamic Army’ Near Golan Heights Ready to Destroy Israel – Sputnik International

The senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commander’s remarks come amid increased tensions between Tehran and Tel Aviv over the situation in Syria.

Top Iranian general: Forces in Syria ‘awaiting orders’ to destroy Israel | The Times of Israel

Hossein Salami says Tehran also ‘creating might in Lebanon to fight our enemy from there with all our strength’ and eradicate ‘evil Zionist regime’

Report: Israel hits Iranian forces in Syria – Israel National News

Arab media outlets claim Israeli planes hit T-4 base in Syria, where Iranian forces are stationed.

Trump says dangerous encounters with Iranian navy have ended under him

President Trump on Sunday noted that harassment of United States warships by the Iranian navy in the Persian Gulf has stopped in the second year of his…

Iran summons Dutch envoy over deportation of two diplomats | Iran News | Al Jazeera

Tehran calls move ‘unfriendly and unconstructive’ and says that it reserves the right to reciprocate.

Bibi Netanyahu: “We will not tolerate the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies anywhere in Syria”

Report: IDF strikes T-4 airfield in Syria

Syrian news agency SANA says air defenses activated after airfield in Homs province, which was struck in April, comes under attack with 4-5 missiles reportedly fired at the base; report not immediately confirmed by Israel.

Syria says Israeli strikes target air base

Syria on Sunday accused Israel of targeting an air base in the central Homs province, saying its defences hit a jet involved in the attack. “Our air defences are responding to an Israeli aggression and intercepting a number of missiles targeting the airport, hitting one of the attacking planes

Syria says Israel struck Iranian airbase near Homs – Israel News –

Reports say Syrian air defenses fired at planes, coming in from Jordan, and heading towards the T4 airbase used by Iran

Syrian state media says air defenses hit Israeli plane, thwart missile strike | Reuters

Syrian military air defenses struck an Israeli warplane and shot down Israeli missiles targeting the T4 air base in Homs province in response to an act of “aggression” on Sunday night, Syrian state media said.

Syrian air defences ‘strike an Israeli jet’ after it targeted a base in Homs | Daily Mail Online

The attack on the T-4 airbase in Homs province, Syria, is killed a number of Iranian and pro-regime fighters after missiles were launched from an Israeli warplane, according to overseas observers.

Next stop for Assad: The Golan Heights – Israel News –

Israel is preparing for the next stage, in which Assad forces will deploy in positions they held before the war, determined by the disengagement lines agreed upon by Israel and Syria in 1974

IDF Returns Syrian Fire After Mortar Rounds Land in Buffer Zone – Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective.

The Israel Defense Forces responded to Syrian mortar fire in the buffer zone between Israel and Syria by attacking a Syrian position on Friday.

If Trump’s Problem Is OPEC, His Solution Is Iran – Bloomberg

The group doesn’t have the spare capacity to replace the loss of output from sanctions on Iran.