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Nerve Agent Attack In Britain.


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#2641 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 0545 AM

 I hope they lock him up securely, it would do nobody an favours to see him do a George Blake.

 

Do you think Germany would exchange him if it came to it?


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#2642 BansheeOne

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 0551 AM

The way he seems to have been recruited from being a wanted murderer, it's likely he's being treated as an expendable asset. Exchanging him would be admitting to an official hit mission. Going from Russia's track record on such things, it's near-certain they will keep denying they ever knew him even if he ends up testifying in court to the contrary, and rather concentrate on preventing him to do so, preferrably due to him being dead.


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#2643 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 0601 AM

Yes, fair point.

 

This all reminds me of a very good book by Seri Ploky called 'The Man with the poison gun', about the murder of Stephan Bandera, one Bogdan Stashynsky, that may be a hint of how he was recruited. Although its hard to tell if  the killer of the Ukrainian was operating on his own as a criminal, or operating even then as an FSB/GRU asset. Its not particularly easy to tell the difference much of the time.

https://en.wikipedia...hdan_Stashynsky

 

If the comparison with Stashynsky holds true, expect him to disappear into a false identity courtesy of a western intelligence service. Assuming he plays ball of course.


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#2644 Ssnake

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 0657 AM

Why would we do that, if he has no valuable knowledge?

 

He's a murderer. He probably murdered in Germany to evade prison for life in Russia because he murdered there, too (and was caught both times). Unless he has something really valuable to offer, I just don't see him being given a new identity. At best he can hope for a reduced sentence and then a new identity if he fully cooperates with the authority and delivers proof that Russia was behind all this, and even then there is the question if such public testimony against Russia is actually in the interest of the German government.


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#2645 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 0734 AM

Because he isnt just a murderer, he is pretty clearly a state sponsored murderer? There is no suggestion on my part he shouldnt serve a sentence first. Bear in mind, Stashynsky served a sentence for murdering 2 people. But after that was done, he went into witness protection.

 

That said, the cynic in me thinks that the Kremlin will arrest a German on spurious charges, and then quietly ask for a trade. And at that point the soul searching will begin.


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#2646 Ssnake

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 0835 AM

Because he isnt just a murderer, he is pretty clearly a state sponsored murderer?

 

What difference does it make if he hasn't proof of the Russian government's involvement? His testimony would not improve what we already have - strong hints, and Occams Razor. Besides, would the German government actually want the hard truth out in the public? Because then you actually have to do something about it; aside from expelling accredited spies, what else could Germany realistically do? There may not be much.


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#2647 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 1034 AM

Nils, I dont believe you actually dont want to know how the Russian Government decides to kill people. That might be useful in  not letting them do it again?

 

Im fully happy for him to do a couple of decades, I even think he should for deterrence purposes, im just illustrating, there are good reasons to give him a break if his spills his guts. Which he probably wont, which means Germany has the not inconsiderable cost of keeping the bag of wind alive for the next 2 decades.

 

Im all for doing something, because in my experience not doing something early means you have to do considerably more later. The Alexander Litvinenko affair is a case in point. We if we doubled down on that, Dawn Sturgess wouldnt be dead for starters.


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#2648 BansheeOne

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 1055 AM

How to deal with acts of state terrorism by one of the world's great powers, permanent UNSC member etc., with which it is preferrable to engage on many global issues, is a conundrum we've seen at work since at least 2014 with Russia. Read an interview on the Berlin case with a British expert the other day who said that Germany's reaction so far won't impress Russia, while they didn't expect the strong joint Western response to Salisbury. Then again, as has been asked here sometimes, was even the latter adequate to essentially a WMD attack on British territory with one citizen killed?

There was a lot of noisy official accusations, countered by the usual Russian diversion efforts which are probably believed by a sizeable chunk of the public even in the West, but it was still business as usual on a slightly grander scale - we expelled some of their diplomats, they expelled some of ours. No other major sanctions were applied, no relations broken off, which would probably have been the most serious step short of the impractical option of a military response. So did this actually hurt Russia, or did it make the UK still look impotent given the magnitude of the attack, and the tough words about it?

Further, given the difference in magnitude with the Berlin case, what would be the appropriate response here compared to the Salisbury benchmark? Relative to the latter, this was a positively discrete classical spy game hit. In fact if it hadn't been for those kids who saw this guy dump his gun and bike into the Spree, we wouldn't probably even talk about it now - this would have been an unsolved murder of a rejected asylum seeker with a shady past from some shady country, and at best some local detectives would still speculate about whether it was a hit by Russian intelligence, some alienated countrymen, or more likely organized crime he might have gotten involved with. He was Georgian after all, and you know about those.

Of course the different magnitude might be indicative of the respective potential for repercussions, too. The use of WMD in Salisbury was basically a big fuck you to a nation which has always had a rather acrimonious stance towards Russia, but no critical economic relations other than oligarchs buying up the London real estate market. With Germany it's more ambiguous; we're a much more important trade partner, have stuck to somewhat of a mediating role politically, though are also the main reason that EU sanctions were established and still exist over Ukraine, to common criticism from domestic business and a sizeable pro-Russian part of the population, including Russian-Germans and an actual, much broader Russian community.

So Russia has arguably more reason not to upset the German applecart - yet by the same token the German government is also under more domestic restrictions to react. Appearing thorough, even reluctant to make your case has of course its advantages in making you look credible when you finally do, compared to a noisy propaganda battle. Yet it does not free you from finding an adequate reply that doesn't hurt your own interests more than the other side's. The government has stated that more measures may be taken if Russian cooperation in the investigation doesn't improve, and I'm not sure if that makes Putin rack his brain wondering what those might be, or just shrug. At any rate, it has been noted that the usually quick Russian reciprocal reply to the expulsion of the two embassy staffers hasn't yet happened.

Edited by BansheeOne, 07 December 2019 - 1058 AM.

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#2649 BansheeOne

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 0404 AM

The government has stated that more measures may be taken if Russian cooperation in the investigation doesn't improve, and I'm not sure if that makes Putin rack his brain wondering what those might be, or just shrug.

 

I. e.:

 

Date 08.12.2019

 

German defense minister calls out Russia after Berlin murder

 

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has said the murder of a Georgian activist earlier this year was straining relations between Berlin and Moscow. She urged the Kremlin to step-up their efforts to support German investigators.

 

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Sunday Russia must take further action in the investigation into the murder of a Georgian man on August 23.

 

Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old Georgian activist, was shot at point-blank range by a cyclist in a small park in the Berlin neighborhood of Moabit.

 

The victim, an ethnic Chechen, is said to have fought against Russia in the Second Chechen War and is believed to have had ties to Georgian military intelligence. 

 

The German Foreign Ministry suspects Russian intelligence agencies played a role in the assassination of Khangoshvili.

 

"The evidence weighs heavily," Kramp-Karrenbauer, who serves as both defense minister and leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag. "Together with the killings in the UK and other Russian activities, it paints a rather disturbing picture."

 

Germany's federal prosecutor has assumed responsibility for the investigation into the murder.

 

On Wednesday, Germany expelled two Russian diplomats

 

But Kramp-Karrenbauer wants further action. 

 

"The federal  government will have to discuss and decide on further reactions ... The Russian side must now finally make its contribution to the investigation of this crime," she said.

 

Merkel to meet Putin 

 

Chancellor Merkel had criticized Moscow for not effectively supporting Germany in the probe. 

 

On Friday, a government spokesperson confirmed Merkel will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday in Paris ahead of a summit on Ukraine hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

 

Germany is also investigating whether Khangoshvili's murder has a possible connection to officials in Chechnya. Chechnya is a republic within the Russian Federation with its own constitution but is still controlled by Moscow.

 

https://www.dw.com/e...rder/a-51575098

 

Note that these statements were made in the the frame of a sweeping interview with a friendly tabloid on a range of topics, mostly in AKK's capacity as CDU head, like the possible impact of this weekend's SPD convention on the grand coalition government. Picking the Russian thing out for an individual report makes it look more like an umprompted hardass statement than it probably was. I think we're a long way from this becoming a vehicle for looking tough in political debate, like in the CDU's simmering contest for the next chancellor candidate, let alone in the next national campaign against more Russia-friendly parties (SPD, Left, AfD).

 

It may be very well used to justify continuation of the existing sanctions regime against domestic and European opposition though, supporting which which is the exact reason why Russia has been comparatively pussyfooting around Germany. Whether there will in fact be additional measures beyond expelling some more diplomats remains still to be seen.


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#2650 Ssnake

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 1620 PM

Nils, I dont believe you actually dont want to know how the Russian Government decides to kill people. That might be useful in  not letting them do it again?

 

I'm all for stepping up the counterintelligence and hiring more (competent) people in that field. I just don't believe that we have much to learn from a hired gun that has been turned into a wet work tool for the Kremlin.


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#2651 BansheeOne

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Posted 10 December 2019 - 1147 AM

The English site of "Spiegel Online" has an extensive report on the Berlin hit, putting it into a greater context.

Meanwhile, Putin's reply when confronted at today's meeting on Ukraine in Paris was the usual cute "we had nothing to do with the killing of this bloodthirsty brutal bandit, and he deserved it."

Putin's Killers in Europe

How Russian Agents Hunt Down Kremlin Opponents

A secret Russian death squad appears to be killing Moscow's enemies in the West in an effort to destabilize Europe. Perpetrators with connections to the Russian government appear to be responsible for the slaying of a Georgian national in Berlin. By DER SPIEGEL Staff


Monday, 12/9/2019 04:03 PM

In the summer of 2013, a killer in Moscow rode a bicycle toward his victim. The Russian businessman Albert Nazranov saw him, and a short brawl ensued. The killer shot the man in the head and upper body at close range. Then he rode away. All of that can be seen in surveillance footage of the crime.

In the summer of 2019, a killer also rode a bicycle toward his victim, only this time in Berlin. He shot Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, of Georgia, in the head and upper body at close range, before riding away. That's how witnesses described the scene.

Reporting by DER SPIEGEL, Bellingcat, The Insider and The Dossier Center now reveals that not only were both murders very similar -- they were also likely carried out by the same person. A forensic comparison of both perpetrator photos reveals clear similarities. The man who carried a passport bearing the name Vadim Sokolov in Berlin was the Russian Vadim Krasikov, the killer who is thought to have also struck in Moscow.

German General Federal Prosecutor Peter Frank has now assumed responsibility for the investigation into the Berlin murder case at the federal level because, he says, they are of "special importance." Germany's chief prosecutor believes that Russian government authorities deliberately issued Krasikov's new identity, an assumption based on the fact that Moscow took the surprising step in 2015 of revoking an international search warrant for Krasikov and issuing a new identity card to him with the name "Vadim Sokolov" a short time later. It's not likely to have been a coincidence.

The Chief Federal Prosecutor's Office is accusing the Russian government or one of its henchmen of having murdered Khangoshvili in broad daylight at the end of August, a hitjob on German soil against a man who had come to the country as an asylum-seeker,

A similar crime committed in the United Kingdom last year sparked an international crisis when suspected agents with the Russian military intelligence agency GRU conducted an attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter using the Russian neurotoxin Novichok. Twenty-nine countries expelled 146 Russian diplomats in response to the crime. Berlin also forced four representatives of Russia to leave the country.

[...]

German investigators became suspicious about the fact that Russia had withdrawn its search request for Krasikov in the summer of 2015 for no apparent reason and only two months before an ID document was issued for the first time under the name "Sokolov." It's a strong indication that government agencies may have intervened. Perhaps a Russian secret service agency wanted to save an assassin from imprisonment so they could use him for their own purposes.

In their joint reporting and research into the killing, DER SPIEGEL and Bellingcat learned that Russian prosecutors had linked Krasikov in 2008 to the murder of an entrepreneur and local politician in the Karelia province that had been committed one year earlier. The case was reopened in the spring of 2015, according to local media reports, apparently because two men confessed they had been involved in the murder. But the case never went to trial.

Krasikov, as Russian flight databases show, later traveled to Kyrgyzstan under his real name. And beginning in 2016, he flew numerous times to Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula occupied by Russia.

The question investigators are now seeking to address is that of who helped Krasikov aka "Sokolov" commit the murder in Berlin. Who spied on the victim, who supplied the perpetrator with the gun, the bike and the electric scooter? Was this an assassination ordered from Moscow or from the Chechen capital Grozny? Or was it part of a large-scale execution program directed by the Kremlin?

A Trail of Death in Europe

Either way, it does appear that a death squad dispatched from Moscow has left a trail of death in Europe over the past several years. "You can see there is a concerted program of activity," Alex Younger, the head of MI6, the British foreign intelligence, said in a rare briefing with journalists on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference earlier this year. "And yes, it does often involve the same people." The suspected assassins usually shoot their victims, but they also don't shy away from the use of poison.

After a dinner in April 2015, Emilian Gebrev suddenly began feeling discomfort. His eye wouldn't stop itching. It got worse the next day.

The Bulgarian arms manufacturer, who had supplied enemies of Russia, vomited and collapsed in a restaurant in Sofia before falling into a coma at the hospital. He had been poisoned, but doctors were unable to determine the substance used.

Gebrev barely survived that attack as well as another that followed a month later. Investigations by the authorities didn't go anywhere until the poison attack on Skripal and his daughter three years later.

The arms manufacturer from Bulgaria followed the reports and was puzzled by them. There were obvious parallels to his case: The victims had been on the Kremlin's radar for some time, they came into contact with a mysterious substance, and they barely survived. Gebrev informed the Public Prosecutor's Office, and the British and Bulgarian authorities began cooperating on the cases from that point on. No end is in sight yet for the investigations.

Links Between Attacks

But deeper research does show connections between the two murder attempts. Forty-five-year-old Denis Sergeev, a senior GRU officer and graduate of Russia's Military Diplomatic Academy, played a central role. Beginning in 2012, the agent, operating under the alias "Sergey Fedotov," traveled often to Europe and didn't have any difficult obtaining his visas.

Shortly before the Skripal assassination attempt, Sergeev traveled to England with a passport issued with the name Fedotov. It is believed that he acted as the local coordinator for the poison attack on Skripal from a London hotel room, a suspicion based on flight information and mobile-phone connection data.

It's likely he played the same role in the attack on the Bulgarian arms manufacturer. On April 24, 2015, Sergeev, alias Fedotov, set off for Bulgaria by direct flight from Moscow. He had booked his return flight for a week later. But Fedotov then took a last-minute flight via Istanbul back to Moscow on the evening of April 28, the very date that Emilian Gebrev collapsed in the restaurant and then fell into a coma. Just a coincidence? Unlikely.

Sergeev wasn't the only GRU employee to fly to Bulgaria during the period in question. Confidential documents from flight databases and passenger manifests document trips of eight GRU agents to the country. Presumably, they are all linked to the attempted murder. The GRU people were also in the country at the time of the second attack on the Bulgarian.

Attacks like these are coordinated by a unit that carries a five-digit number: 29155. The agents in the Skripal and Gebrev cases are members of this secret unit of the Russian military intelligence service GRU.

A Russian Campaign to Destabilize Europe

At the beginning of October, the New York Times became the first media organization to reporton how Western intelligence services now unanimously believe the unit has been responsible for a whole slew of subversive actions in Europe. There have been indications of the existence of the group for some time now.

Reporting by Bellingcat, The Insider and DER SPIEGEL reveals a detailed picture of the mission, structure and members of the unit -- and how it is linked to the Russian power apparatus.

The reporting shows that the team of around 20 soldiers and a highly decorated major general serves as a tool for a broad-based campaign by the Kremlin that aims to destabilize and weaken Europe. The GRU agents with Unit 29155 are just the kind of men for this kind of job -- they're ready when things get rough and they are trained for these types of sensitive operations abroad involving sabotage, subversion and assassinations. They're like shadow fighters.

By establishing the team within the military intelligence service, it falls under the authority of the Defense Ministry. However, the connection data from phone calls made during missions indicate that the agents sometimes received instructions from people close to the Russian president. The belief is that they are Putin's killers.

[...]


https://m.spiegel.de...-a-1300091.html
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#2652 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 10 December 2019 - 1331 PM

Thank you for that, that's really interesting.
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#2653 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 0441 AM

This was interesting, for some reason I completely missed this at the time. The media seems to have thrown a blanket on it for some reason.

 

https://www.mirror.c...vinenko-9325403

 

The radiation expert who discovered the poison that killed Alexander Litvinenko "committed suicide" by stabbing himself repeatedly with two knives months after a trip to Russia, a coroner ruled.

Matthew Puncher, 46, bled to death at his home after receiving multiple stab wounds across his body from two kitchen knives, an inquest heard.

A pathologist said he could not completely exclude the possibility that someone else had been involved in the death of the father, but came to the conclusion that the injuries were self-inflicted.

But one detective claimed she didn't think he could have done so much damage to himself without falling unconscious.

A coroner recorded that Dr Puncher, who discovered the amount of polonium inside Litvinenko after he drank poisoned tea in London in 2006, committed suicide.

Dr Puncher was an expert in radiation protection dosimetry and worked for Public Health England at the UK's Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, Oxon.

He had been given sole responsibility over a contract with the US Federal Government for a programme measuring polonium inside former USSR nuclear weapons workers.

 

His wife Kathryn and work colleagues told an inquest into his death that he had "become obsessed" with a mistake he had made in his research.

She also said his mood "completely changed" after a visit to Russia before Christmas.

He was found dead at his home in Drayton, Oxfordshire, in May, with stab wounds to his arms, neck and upper abdomen.

 

 

 

 

Likely a suicide, although the use of 2 different knives kind of makes you stop and wonder.


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#2654 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 0506 AM

This podcast is also pretty interesting. There are a few details there about the death of Alexander Perepilichny that I was not aware of.

https://www.podchase...f-dead-48996008


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#2655 BansheeOne

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Posted 14 December 2019 - 0350 AM

Russia finally reciprocated to the eviction of their two embassy staffers and declared two German diplomats persona non grata on Thursday. This comes after some irritation over Putin claiming that Russia had tried to get the victim extradited from Germany as a terrorist for years, while the German government said they weren't aware of any such requests; and the Russian ambassador in Berlin stating that cooperation in the investigation should go via established partnership channels, when according to the German side all such channels were tried - an official request by Berlin police for support went unanswered, another by German domestic intelligence was denied, and when the Federal Intelligence Service asked via its Moscow resident whether they might clear up the suspect's identity in Russia themselves, they were reportedly told that any such action on Russian soil would be considered a hostile act. Which is of course more than a little ironic as things look.

 

Investigators are also certain that the hitman got helpers in Berlin, since there is no indication that he arrived before the previous day of the murder. Somebody had to establish where he would find the mark at the relevant time, and he certainly didn't fly from Moscow to Paris and then on to Warsaw with the gun he used.


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#2656 Roman Alymov

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Posted 15 December 2019 - 1421 PM

As "Vector"  was mentioned here some time ago:  anti-Ebola vaccine passed tests phase and now in mass production there

https://sdelanounas....ogs/126898/#cut


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#2657 MiloMorai

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Posted 22 December 2019 - 1733 PM

https://www.msn.com/...ocid=spartanntp
How a Poisoning in Bulgaria Exposed Russian Assassins in Europe
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