Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (101)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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No surprises in Russia’s continuing promotion of alternate reality, and continuing toxic rhetoric. All while Russia’s internal schisms widen.

Update on Amesbury / Salisbury.

Iran ramps up its export of terrorism, while Netanyahu extracts a promise from Russia to help expel Iran from Syria, while destructive mayhem continues.


TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Diplomat denounces British defense minister’s statements on Amesbury incident as ‘brazen’

Maria Zakharova wonders how can a political figure «make statements on the incident the investigation into which has not ended yet»

‘Inundated With Requests’: Novichok Vodka Producers Open Up on Sudden Success – Sputnik International

Bristol Dry Gin has drawn much criticism in the UK after it released a 75 percent proof limited edition vodka named after nerve agent Novichok – which sold out within hours. Sputnik has reached the beverage producers to find out more.

UK Police Admit Salisbury-Amesbury Link Not Found, No Trace of Contaminated Item – Sputnik International

In the latest development regarding the alleged poisoning in Amesbury, police said the couple could have found the container with the nerve agent right after the Skripals’ poisoning, but opened it only within the last ten days. However, the container has not been found and it’s unclear if the link between the two poisonings will ever be found.

Bad Timing: Novichok Vodka Shakes and Stirs Things in the UK – Sputnik International

A UK company apologized for its new brand of alcoholic beverage named after a military-grade nerve agent which allegedly claimed the life of a British woman earlier this month.

Russia Accuses US Of Hybrid Warfare – To Inform is to Influence

RIA Novosti is a state-operated domestic Russian-language news agency and published this piece today. That Russian General of the Army Sergey Shoigu says this in a state-operated paper is tantamount to Russia officially accusing the United States of Hybrid Warfare in Ukraine in 2014.   RIA Novosti’s article is based on an original article (in Italian), “Frost with…

Will Russia Ever Accept Blame? – To Inform is to Influence

In a separate discussion, today, on Facebook, I asked if Russia could ever accept blame for anything it has once denied. Paul Roderick Gregory says “no”, it would shatter the alt-reality it has so carefully crafted. Why Putin Will Never Accept Blame Even Though Russia’s Downing of MH17 Was By Mistake. The US has accepted blame…

A U.S. senator worries that Mail.ru might be the next ‘Cambridge Analytica scandal’ – To Inform is to Influence

Apologies, Senator Warner, but the two-week extension that mail.ru received, allowed them to download billions of more datapoints of Facebook users and build a fairly comprehensive database of users, worldwide.  Crying now over past spilled milk is almost like slamming the barn door closed with all the horses still inside the burning barn. Too late…

Russia continues to sow discord, US warns

A top homeland security official warned that Russia has targeted energy, nuclear, and commercial facilities during a campaign of cyberattacks.

For Putin, Helsinki talks with Trump a win before he even sits down | Top News | Reuters

For U.S. President Donald Trump, a summit with Vladimir Putin risks a political backlash at home and abroad. For the Russian president, however, the fact the summit is even happening is already a big geopolitical win.

Leonid Bershidsky: Russia should admit it uses mercenaries – 112.international

The soldiers of fortune are no longer keeping silent about their deployments in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere. The Kremlin has been unable to conceal its use of mercenaries for its military interventions because the nationalist fringe — which supplies many of the soldiers for hire – openly discusses their role. That and other considerations make it likely that Russia will eventually admit it’s using private troops. On Thursday, Yevgeny Shabayev, a far-left nationalist activist who heads a “Cossack” group in Moscow, demanded that private military company fighters who take part in operations in Syria, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Yemen and Libya be officially recognized as veterans. At the moment, the Russian government won’t even admit the existence of the companies. The statement, co-signed by two other nationalist figures, Leonid Ivashov, a retired general, and Vladimir Petrov, a retired colonel, claimed that “the heads of private military companies (Patriot, Wagner and others) receive state awards personally from the Russian president.” Yet even though the companies receive profitable business concessions with the Kremlin’s help in the countries where they are deployed, their fighters get no help from the government if they’re wounded in combat. Instead, the statement claimed, police and domestic counterintelligence services keep an eye on them, and the families of the dead fighters are pressured into silence. Shabayev, one of several nationalist activists who disclosed the death of many Russian mercenaries in a clash with U.S. forces in Syria in February, claimed that cronies of President Vladimir Putin were setting up the military companies for personal profit but using the resources of Russia’s military and law enforcement agencies to arm and train the private armies. Russian nationalists are a major source of volunteers for the private military companies and the informal units fighting under the Kremlin’s loose control in eastern Ukraine. Many of the nationalists have combat experience or at least have served in the military; they fight not only for the money, but also because they support Russia’s policies. That’s fine with the Kremlin: It needs deniable, dedicated cannon fodder for its military adventures. The only catch is that the nationalists aren’t true Putin fans: They consider his regime too venal and cowardly in defending Russian national interests. That’s why they can’t be expected to shut up about what they do in countries where Russian troops aren’t supposed to be.

UAWire – Russia ready to surrender in fight against Telegram

The Russian government may give up its attempts to completely block the Telegram messenger, and instead try to find a compromise with its owners, …

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians across Political Spectrum Oppose Obligatory Education in Non-Russian Languages

Paul Goble Staunton, July 11 – Russians and non-Russians are both overwhelmingly against Moscow’s plans to raise the pension age; but, not surprisingly, they divide on Putin’s plan to end the obligatory study of non-Russian languages in the republics while continuing to impose the obligatory study of Russian. But what may come as a surprise to some, Russian opposition to the current arrangements extends all the way from the Russian nationalist and imperialist camps to those who identify as liberals and democrats, albeit for different reasons, making cooperation between the latter and those in the republics far more difficult. That is the conclusion that arises from reading two interviews Ramazan Alpaut, a journalist for Radio Svoboda’s IdelReal portal, has just conducted with Valery Korovin of the International Eurasian Movement on the right and Nikolay Rybakov, the deputy head of the Yabloko party on the left, on the language issue (idelreal.org/a/29355012.html). Valery Korovin, a follower of Aleksandr Dugin who is the vice president of the International Eurasian Movement, insists that “in Russia, there is no discrimination base on language.” All languages are permitted and can be used “without any limitations.” They eve enjoy “support from the government.” The language “problem” exists, he says, only because “this theme is being artificially politicized.” Ethnic groups are “artificially seeking the attributes of political nations” via the existence of “’national republics.’” These are nothing more than “potential nation states with all the attributes except sovereignty.” The elites of these republics seek to promote “linguistic unification” of their populations as another step toward acquiring such sovereignty and thus independence from the Russian Federation, Korovin says. But if that is their goal, Alpaut interjects, they have not been that successful, as figures from Tatarstan show. There, only 3.5 percent of ethnic Russians in Tatarstan know Russian; and the share doing so is above 50 percent – it is 65.7 percent – only for one group, the Bashkirs, who are linguistically quite close to the Tatars. Despite that, Korovin argues that the politicization of language represents “a direct threat to the integrity of Russian statehood.” According to him, Russia today is “’too much a federation,’” and that if that isn’t changed, soon demands will arise first for a confederation and then independence. Thus, Russian must be mandatory and the non-Russian languages must be reduced to the status of electives in order to preserve the state. Yabloko’s Rybakov also supports making the study of non-Russian languages voluntary but for other reasons. He says his party supports federalism but “above all in the economy” rather than in ethnic and cultural spheres. And with regard to language issues, “we as liberals support the principle of voluntariness and must trust parents to make the decisions.” In his view, Rybakov says, “the republics must have political mechanisms to guarantee the stable development of their culture, with the federal center providing the regions with the financial possibilities for the study of national languages.” That position is close to the current Putin proposal; but it ignores among other things non-Russians outside their republics. And the Yabloko leader also echoes some of the Kremlin’s line on this issue when he says that “republic elites must work to raise the prestige of local languages” because “if people do not see prospects in them, no system of obligatory study will be effective,” Rybakov continues.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Divide over Moscow’s Pension Reform Plans Emerges at Regional Level

Paul Goble Staunton, July 10 – Two contrasting figures were reported this week that raise some intriguing questions about Russian political life at the regional level. On the one hand, the heads of almost half of the country’s federal subjects have avoided talking about the pension plan. But on the other, 61 regional parliaments have expressed grudging support. The independent television channel Dozhd, citing research by the Petersburg Politics Foundation, reported that the heads of “only 27 of 84” federal subjects have come out in favor of the pension plan, with 41 others either distancing themselves from it and 24 more refusing to respond to queries about it (tvrain.ru/news/vlasti_pochti_poloviny_regionov-467397/). At the same time, 61 of the federal subject parliaments sent in messages of support, a figure that represents nearly three-quarters of the total, although one that has already sparked complaints in Moscow given that the center expected an even higher figure (polit.ru/article/2018/07/10/pension/ and kommersant.ru/doc/3682003). Some of this difference may simply be an artefact of timing: governors may yet come out in support as well as additional legislatures. But the fact that the two are not in lock step either with each other or with Moscow is interesting and likely reflects conditions in each of them as well as differences in their status. The governors, although appointed by Putin, are likely more used to navigating the political wilderness than are members of the parliaments. And consequently, they may see a real need not to get too close to what the Kremlin wants when that is something that is so deeply unpopular while regional deputies may be more inclined simply to go along. But however that may be, these figures are another indication of just how unpopular Moscow’s pension reform plan is and how dangerous it may prove if the center decides as seems likely to ram in through with only cosmetic change if that.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Commentators Know ‘Practically Nothing’ about What’s Happening Beyond the Ring Road, Shlosberrg Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 11 – Much-cited Moscow commentators know “practically nothing” about what is happening in Russia’s regions, and the capital’s democratic politicians appear to have forgotten the regions and republics in their plans for upcoming elections, according to Lev Shlosberg, a deputy in the Pskov Oblast Assembly of Deputies. Their ignorance leads to articles based on nothing but rumors or falsehoods spread by the authorities, Shlosberg continues. That is bad enough, but it has had the additional unfortunate consequence of leading Moscow’s democratic politicians to support the wrong people as candidates in the regions (newizv.ru/news/politics/11-07-2018/lev-shlosberg-moskovskaya-tusovka-ne-znaet-chto-proishodit-v-regionah). And that in turn often means that the democrats in Moscow are working against democracy in Russia and in what turns out to be a kind of unspoken alliance with those in the regime who do not want democracy to spread, he continues. If they really understood what was going on, they could help; as it is, they often get in the way. “Democrats in Russia have forgotten what elections are for, especially elections for the heads of executive power. They are intended for only one thing – to pick a winner. Instead, democrats compete among themselves” over who can attract the most attention. “We [in the regions] keep out focus on achieving a breakthrough to the second round of voting.” Shlosberg continues: “Never confuse information from Moscow parties bout regional political life with what is in fact taking place in the regions. Unfortunately, the traditions of political regional studies in Russia have in practice been destroyed; there is no normal regional network of experts.” “Moscow commentators know practically nothing about what is occurring in the regions and rely instead on rumors, slanders, and simple lies to compose their assessments and predictions,” the regional politician and commentator says. “If we would need to consider the issue about putting forward a candidate who could win or a candidate who could gain the attention of federal media, we all the same would put forward a candidate who could win elections.” Because that is what elections are all about, all “the lamentations” of the democrats notwithstanding. Their “wining” needs to stop now, Shlosberg says. “The federal democratic press is bringing with this great harm to the democratic movement. But the democratic politicians themselves bear colossal responsibility for taking part in elections without the goal of winning” and thus making the prospects of the democratic movement even worse.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Two-Thirds of Russians Believe There is a Secret World Government Already – and 75 Percent of Them Think It is Anti-Russian

Paul Goble Staunton, July 11 – According to a new VTsIOM poll, 67 percent of Russians think there is a secret “world government,” up from 45 percent in 2014; and of those who believe in the existence of such a power, three out of four say that it is fundamentally anti-Russian and behind efforts to destroy their country a figure up from just over 50 percent four years ago (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/dve-treti-rossiyan-veryat-v-mirovoe-pravitelstvo-1027358193). On the one hand, such attitudes reflect the kind of conspiracy thinking in low information environments not only in Russia but elsewhere as well. People who are looking for an explanation for disparate and otherwise inexplicable to them at least events often fasten on truly absurd notions such as this one. But on the other, as a study by Moscow’s Medialogiya Company says, the central Russian media mentioned the existence of “a world government” or “a secret government” 22,212 times between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2018, thus providing Russians with a term that Russians can make use of (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2018/07/11/otkuda_ishodit_ugroza_miru/). Russian beliefs in such a shadowy conspiratorial body simultaneously then reflect their ignorance about the outside world, an ignorance which the central Russian media have done little to destroy but in fact appear to have cultivated, and also show the power of the media to spread an idea normally confined to marginal groups to a majority of the Russian population.

Salisbury LOCKDOWN after man falls ill outside Tesco amid Novichok crisis | Daily Star

EMERGENCY services swarmed Salisbury city centre tonight and placed an area on lockdown after a man fell ill.

Police seek extra cash and staff to cope with novichok crisis | News | The Times

The chief of Wiltshire’s police force has urged the government to address the “extraordinary level of demand” placed on resources in the county the wake of the novichok poisonings.Angus Macpherson, the police and crime commissioner, said that a “different approach” was needed as officers tried to c

Novichok victim Charlie Rowley ‘devastated’ by death of partner – BBC News

Charlie Rowley’s brother says the 45-year-old was angry about what had happened.

Nerve agent victim ‘left looking like skeleton’ | Salisbury Journal

NOVICHOK victim Charlie Rowley has been left looking like a skeleton after being poisoned by the nerve agent, his brother has revealed.

Brother of Novichok victim Charles Rowley says he is ‘like a skeleton’ – Daily Mail – YouTube

Daily Mail Published on Jul 11, 2018 Matthew Rowley said he ‘hardly recognised’ his brother Charlie Rowley, who was poisoned by Novichok. He said the 45-year-old was hooked up to several machines and was living by the hour. It is believed that Charlie touched a vessel that contained Novichok following the attempted assassination of Sergei and Yulia Skripal earlier this year. Matthew said he visited his ill brother in the Salisbury hospital, saying it was ‘shocking’ to see him in such a state.

British Man Poisoned By Novichok Has Regained Consciousness And Talked With Police : NPR

Charlie Rowley awoke from a 10-day coma and had a brief conversation with investigators working around the clock to find the source of the deadly nerve agent.

Amesbury victim regains consciousness: Police speak to British man after he wakes from coma – YouTube

RT Published on Jul 11, 2018 Charlie Rowley, poisoned with what is believed to be Novichok a week ago, is now stable and conscious, according to Salisbury District Hospital.

Novichok victim Charlie Rowley woke from his coma to be told his girlfriend was dead – Mirror Online

Charlie Rowley, 45, has been in intensive care in Salisbury District Hospital after he and girlfriend Dawn Sturgess were poisoned in Amesbury, Wiltshire, last weekend

Amesbury novichok victim ‘reveals doctors feared he would die’ | UK news | The Guardian

Poisoning has left Charlie Rowley looking like a skeleton, brother says after visit

Salisbury poisoning: Novichok cops admit they may never catch assassin | Daily Star

COUNTER-terror police investigating the poisoning of three people, including a former Russian spy, on UK soil have admitted they may never bring the assassin responsible to justice.

Amesbury poisoning: Wiltshire gets £5m funding after Novichok attack – BBC News

The government money is to help the Wiltshire economy recover in the wake of the latest poisoning.

Novichok: Why nerve agent stays deadly for so long – BBC News

The death of a woman months after Novichok was first used raises fears about how long it lasts.

Novichok nerve agent used in Sergei Skripal attack could stay toxic around Salisbury, England for 50 years police say – CBS News

After 1st Novichok death linked to attack on ex-spy, senior officer says threat from poison could linger for 50 years

How can you detect Novichok and other questions – BBC News

Police and health experts answer questions from residents, after a couple was poisoned by Novichok.

Distillery releases ‘novichok vodka’ day before woman dies from nerve agent

Shocked social media users call it “tasteless” while others think the marketing ploy is “brilliant”.

Timeline: Amesbury novichok poisoning | The Times

Four months after an assassination attempt on a former Russian spy with the nerve agent novichok, two more people have been poisoned in Salisbury. Here is a timeline.

Theresa May urges Donald Trump to tackle Vladmir Putin on Salisbury nerve agent during their Helsinki summit

The PM said at a dinner of NATO leaders that ‘open channels of communication’ between the US and Russia were ‘key to managing confrontation’.

Iranian Assassins Are Back With a Vengeance, or So It Seems

In the 1980s and ’90s, the Tehran regime set out systematically to eliminate or intimidate enemies. After a long hiatus, it looks like those hit teams are back in action.

Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi suspected of plotting attack in France – CBS News

Iranian diplomat suspected of involvement in bomb plot against Iranian opposition rally in France, charged in Germany with conspiracy to commit murder

UAWire – During next meeting Netanyahu intends to tell Putin that Israel will not tolerate Iran’s presence in Syria

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to tell Russian President Vladimir Putin during talks in Moscow on July 11 that the Israel …

Netanyahu meets Putin in Russia to discuss Syria, Iran, security issues

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday to try to enlist Moscow’s help in getting Iran to remove  its forces from Syria  — or at least pull back from Israeli lines.

Israel to Russia: Assad’s safe from us, but Iran must quit Syria | Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia on Wednesday that Israel would not seek to topple its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Moscow should encourage Iranian forces to quit Syria, a senior Israeli official said.

Netanyahu Says Putin Agreed to Restrain Iran in Syria – The New York Times

As Syrian government forces press their offensive in southwestern Syria, the diplomatic battle has already turned to what postwar Syria will look like.

Iranian Supreme Leader’s Adviser Hails ‘Very Constructive’ Meeting With Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met a top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Moscow, according to Russian media reports.

Russia, Caught Between Iran and Israel’s War in Syria, Looks for Allies on Both Sides

Iran and Israel both want Russia’s support, but how long can Moscow remain in the middle?

UAWire – Iranian forces withdraw from Israeli border

After the talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin were concluded in Moscow, a senior …

Former Top Iranian Official, ‘Longest-Serving Political Prisoner,’ Dies At 86

A former Iranian deputy prime minister who human rights groups say was Iran’s longest-incarcerated political prisoner died on July 12 at the age of 86, state media reported.

Patriot missile again took down UAV approaching Israeli airspace from Syria – Defence Blog

Israel again shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that entered its airspace from Syria on 13 July, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said. “A Patriot missile was launched towards a UAV that approached Israel from Syria,” – Israeli military spokesman said. Israeli media reports that the Israeli army fired a Patriot missile from Safed. Eyewitnesses in the northern city of Safed reported seeing the missile’s contrails in the sky at the time of the launch, The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication Maariv reported. In an unconfirmed report, Syrian rebels stated that the drone was intercepted by the Israeli missile on the outskirts of the city of Quneitra.

Syria’s Former Rebel Strongholds Endure as Assad Regime Reasserts Control – WSJ

President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are maintaining pressure on Eastern Ghouta with arrests, military conscriptions and restricted food supplies months after the capture of the Damascus suburb in order to assert the government’s grip over the former rebel stronghold.

Syria airstrike reportedly kills dozens of civilians in Deir Ezzor near Iraq border – CBS News

Syrian state news agency blames warplanes of U.S.-led coalition for overnight attack

UAWire – Israel carries out missile strikes on Syrian army

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) struck at three military posts in Syria in response to a Syrian drone flying into Israeli territory, reported the …

Israel probably used Spike missiles during an attack on Syrian military facilities – Defence Blog

On 12 July, the Israel Defense Forces have attacked Syrian military positions after an unmanned drone entered its airspace near the occupied Golan Heights. It is reported that as a result of the attack, at least 7 people were killed and about 10 more were injured, including Iranian military advisers. Syrian state media said the Israeli attacks on the southern province inflicted material damage but had caused no deaths or injuries and have released some photos footage showed firing results. In some photos, can clearly see the remnants of the Spike NLOS’s straight wings that pop out after the launch.

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