Novichok Poisoners Were Russian Intelligence Agents

Reopened October 2019 - includes archived threads from pre-2019

Novichok Poisoners Were Russian Intelligence Agents

Postby toucana on September 5th, 2018, 3:06 pm 

suspects.png

The British government says that the persons responsible for the Novichok poisonings in UK earlier this year have been identified as Russian military intelligence agents.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45421445

Photographs of two men taken from over 11,000 hours of CCTV surveillance footage have been released. The photographs show the two men passing through immigration control at Gatwick airport, and then a day later the same men are captured on the streets of Salisbury carrying out reconnaissance of the house where the Skripals were staying. According to British security services the men were using the aliases Alexander Petrov and Rusian Boshirov.

The British government have also released photographs of the perfume dispenser bottle used to store and apply the Novichok poison to the door handles of the Skripal residence. It was concealed in a counterfeit copy of a Nina Ricci Premier Jour brand bottle which was discarded inside its packaging into a charity donation bin near a park in central Salisbury.

Mr Charlie Rowley a local resident of nearby Amesbury subsequently retrieved the package and took it home. Both he and a female friend Dawn Sturgess became contaminated with Novichok while handling the perfume dispenser. Ms Sturgess subsequently died of acute Novichok poisoning, while Mr Rowley was recently re-admitted to hospital with symptoms of multiple organ failure.

British security chiefs believe the two suspects are serving members of the GRU (Гла́вное разве́дывательное управле́ние) which is a military intelligence service run by the armed forces of Russia under the direct control of their military Chiefs of staff and the Russian Defence minister.
User avatar
toucana
Active Member
 
Posts: 1990
Joined: 20 Sep 2006
Location: Bristol UK
Blog: View Blog (10)


Re: Novichok Poisoners Were Russian Intelligence Agents

Postby toucana on September 26th, 2018, 2:11 pm 

chepiga_boshirov.jpg
'Ruslan Boshirov'- aka Col. Anatoliy Chepiga

An investigation by the citizen journalist website Bellingcat has uncovered the real identity of one of the suspects in the Skripal poisoning case and confirmed that the man is a known Russian GRU operative.

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/09/26/skripal-suspect-boshirov-identified-gru-colonel-anatoliy-chepiga/

The man identified by British intelligence who travelled to UK on a Russian passport with the name Ruslan Boshirov is in reality Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated GRU officer bestowed with Russia’s highest state award, Hero of the Russian Federation which he received in 2014 (most likely from Putin himself).

He was born in 1979 in the Amur Oblast area of Russia, near the China border, attended military college and then became an elite Spetsnaz officer in the 14th Brigade based in Khabarovsk. He was deployed to the Chechen war at least three times, winning twenty military decorations.

Sometime between 2003 and 2010 Colonel Chepiga was issued with a new identity and passport in the name of Ruslan Boshirov, by which time he is believed to have graduated from the GRU training academy known as the Military Diplomatic Academy in Moscow.
User avatar
toucana
Active Member
 
Posts: 1990
Joined: 20 Sep 2006
Location: Bristol UK
Blog: View Blog (10)


Re: Novichok Poisoners Were Russian Intelligence Agents

Postby toucana on April 18th, 2021, 6:01 am 

Image
Metropolitan Police photos of 2018 Skripal poisoning suspects

The two Russian GRU operatives who were prime suspects in the 2018 Skripal posonings in Salisbury UK have now been linked to a massive explosion at an ammunition depot in the Czech Republic in 2014. The same GRU unit has also been linked to the suspected poisoning of a Bulgarian arms dealer in Sofia six months later.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56790053

Czech authorities say that they are expelling 18 Russian diplomats believed to be intelligence operatives after their investigators found clear links between the 2014 explosion, and an email request for an ‘inspection visit’ shortly beforehand sent to the Imex Group which operated the depot in a remote forest location in the Czech Republic.

The email claimed to come from the National Guard of Tajikistan. It asked for two men to be given access to the site. Scans of their passports were attached. The men were said to be Ruslan Tabarov from Tajikistan and Nicolaj Popa, a Moldovan citizen.

The pictures on the passports match those of the two men accused by Britain of the Salisbury poisoning who were later identiified by the Bellingcat news agency as Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin from Unit 29155 of the GRU

The massive explosion at Ostrava on 16 October 2014 was initially thought to have been an accident. Two maintenance employees who worked at the site were killed. Their remains weren’t found until a month later.

Bulgaria and the Third man
One of the people storing weapons at the Ostrava depot was a Bulgarian arms dealer called Emilian Gebrev, sources have told the BBC.

In April 2015, six months after the Czech explosion, Gebrev fell seriously ill in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. After a month in hospital, he was released but then fell sick again. Bulgarian doctors initailly assumed it was a severe case of food poisoning.

A third man, using the name Sergei Fedotov had been identified as coming to the UK to oversee the Salisbury poisoning. And he was also found to have been in Bulgaria at the time of Gebrev's poisoning.

Bulgarian authorities found that Fedotov and two other men from GRU Russia’s Unit 29155 had checked into a hotel in the same complex as Gebrev's office in April 2015 and insisted on rooms with a view of the underground car park.

Surveillance of that car park released by a Bulgarian prosecutor last year shows one man approaching the cars of Gebrev, as well as his son and business partner who would also fall ill.

It has been reported that Gebrev was supplying weapons to a number of countries against Moscow's wishes, possibly including Ukraine, or to other countries in competition with Russian suppliers, including in Asia.

The explosion at the Czech depot in October 2014 looks like it could have been an initial attempt to hurt Gebrev's business or issue a warning which was then followed up with an attempt to kill him.
User avatar
toucana
Active Member
 
Posts: 1990
Joined: 20 Sep 2006
Location: Bristol UK
Blog: View Blog (10)


Re: Novichok Poisoners Were Russian Intelligence Agents

Postby charon on April 18th, 2021, 6:59 am 

Well, if they say so. I don't know much about spying but I know that an agent's life is over once he's blown.

To say, after Salisbury, these two (or three) agents are blown is an understatement. Either somebody is joking or things are not what they seem.

Or they've forgotten how to do spying properly... I suppose that's possible :-)
charon
Resident Member
 
Posts: 2794
Joined: 02 Mar 2011


Re: Novichok Poisoners Were Russian Intelligence Agents

Postby toucana on April 18th, 2021, 12:03 pm 

These two guys are GRU (Russian Army Intelligence) thugs, not sophisticated espionage agents. Their careers developed during the brutal First and Second Chechen Wars of the 1990s, culminating in the Russian army’s attack on Grozny in February 2000 during which most of the city was razed, and an estimated 100,000 civilians were killed.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18190473

UK intelligence agencies and their European allies who had little difficulty in identifying and tracing this duo remain shocked at both their callous disregard for human life, and the oafen incompetence of their tradecraft.
User avatar
toucana
Active Member
 
Posts: 1990
Joined: 20 Sep 2006
Location: Bristol UK
Blog: View Blog (10)


Re: Novichok Poisoners Were Russian Intelligence Agents

Postby charon on April 18th, 2021, 12:40 pm 

thugs


Possibly, although I doubt it. The intelligence services do not as a rule employ thugs. Certainly the people who sent them were not thugs.

As for incompetence, there may be a case there since their methodology was so easily discovered.

But my initial point was that it was far more than incompetence to re-employ the same team again after their identities were plastered all over the media.

So, as with so many things here, I'd need more info before saying much.
charon
Resident Member
 
Posts: 2794
Joined: 02 Mar 2011


Re: Novichok Poisoners Were Russian Intelligence Agents

Postby toucana on April 18th, 2021, 2:31 pm 

"But my initial point was that it was far more than incompetence to re-employ the same team again after their identities were plastered all over the media.

They weren't identified and widely named in the press until after the Skripal poisoning incident in Salisbury on 4 March 2018. The latest reporting from the Czech Republic relates to a 'cold case' investigation that disclosed their likely involvement in the earlier Ostrava explosion incident on 16 October 2014 four years earlier which was initially thought to be an accident.

At that point back in 2014 this pair hadn't been identified as GRU agents, nor named as suspects in the ammunition dump explosion, which wasn't even recognised as an act of sabotage at that point. So re-employing them as hit-men on later missions in Sofia in 2015, and Salisbury in 2018 wasn't a problem for their GRU handlers.
User avatar
toucana
Active Member
 
Posts: 1990
Joined: 20 Sep 2006
Location: Bristol UK
Blog: View Blog (10)


Re: Novichok Poisoners Were Russian Intelligence Agents

Postby charon on April 18th, 2021, 6:16 pm 

Ah, in that case I bow to your better knowledge and I should have read it more closely.

But your description of thugs I would still argue with. All of them were skilled, trained, decorated, military intelligence officers of about colonel or higher in rank. One of them was a doctor.

https://tinyurl.com/2c7p7cx2

https://tinyurl.com/6ucab5s3

https://tinyurl.com/z69n9ewv

If you were, by some chance, invited to meet British intelligence colonels, one of which was also a doctor, would you expect to meet thugs? They wouldn't be saints, naturally, or even particularly nice, but they wouldn't be thugs.

And since the Czech and other incidents occurred considerably earlier than Salisbury I'm not sure what your point here is. As you say, since they weren't directly identified, they were possibly re-deployable.

Mind you, I couldn't agree more that, on the face of it at least, their tradecraft was appalling. I saw them interviewed and the story about sight-seeing was obviously absurd.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ku8OQNyI2i0

So maybe that's the last we'll hear of them, then. That would make more sense.
charon
Resident Member
 
Posts: 2794
Joined: 02 Mar 2011


Re: Novichok Poisoners Were Russian Intelligence Agents

Postby toucana on April 18th, 2021, 8:07 pm 

Let me review what this pair of Russian operatives actually did in Salisbury in early March 2018. They flew into the UK on false passports, and were subsequently identified on CCTV footage reconnoitring the Skripal house. They linked up with a third operative called Fedotov who supplied them with a container of the deadly nerve agent poison Novichok disguised as a perfume dispenser. The GRU operatives used this dispenser to smear a gel containing the poison onto the door handle of the Skripal house, and then callously discarded the ‘perfume bottle’ into a litter bin in a park.

Quite apart from coming within a hairsbreadth of killing their intended targets Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia who were hospitalised for several months, they also dangerously contaminated the first responders who tried to assist the victims. One of those first responders was a policeman who was so badly poisoned by Novichok that he was subsequently invalided out of the police force.

In spite of an enormous decontamination operation in Salisbury supervised by experts from the UK’s nearby Porton Down chemical weapons station, there were yet further casualties. Three months after the original poisoning, a local man from Amesbury called Charlie Rowley retrieved what he thought was a ‘perfume bottle’ from a bin and gave it to his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess who sprayed some of the contents on her wrists and held them to her nose to check the scent. Both of them were found unconscious, and Dawn Sturgess subsequently died in hospital from acute Novichok poisoning.

I have no idea why anyone familiar with this story would seek to defend these GRU operatives as “skilled, trained decorated officers”, or dispute my characterisation of them as thugs.

Presumably you might also have forgotten about the murder of Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006, who died after being poisoned with 200 times the lethal dose of radioactive Polonium-210 administered by yet another pair of Russian intelligence proxies - a shocking crime that left a trail of radioactive contamination across central London.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_of_Alexander_Litvinenko

Two other points:
If you were, by some chance, invited to meet British intelligence colonels, one of which was also a doctor, would you expect to meet thugs? They wouldn't be saints, naturally, or even particularly nice, but they wouldn't be thugs.

I have met members of our intelligence and counter-terrorism services on several occasions during my working life, and don’t need to speculate about them.

And since the Czech and other incidents occurred considerably earlier than Salisbury I'm not sure what your point here is. As you say, since they weren't directly identified, they were possibly re-deployable.

If you re-read my OP, you will see that the two GRU operatives were belatedly but very explicitly identified by Czech investigators from the passport photos attached to a forged covering letter requesting visitor passes to visit the Ostrava ammunition storage facility in 2014. This identification was however not made until well after Skripal poisonings in 2018.
User avatar
toucana
Active Member
 
Posts: 1990
Joined: 20 Sep 2006
Location: Bristol UK
Blog: View Blog (10)


Re: Novichok Poisoners Were Russian Intelligence Agents

Postby TheVat on April 19th, 2021, 2:51 pm 

Their methods seem oafish and sloppy to me. Whatever happened to sneaking into bedrooms and injecting untraceable substances between people's toes?
User avatar
TheVat
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 7876
Joined: 21 Jan 2014
Location: Black Hills


Re: Novichok Poisoners Were Russian Intelligence Agents

Postby toucana on April 19th, 2021, 6:44 pm 

The poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko by radioactive polonium-210 in 2006 might have escaped detection but for a coincidence.

Doctors at University College Hospital in central London originally thought he might have been poisoned with Thallium, but were unable to find significant quantities of it in his system. They took the precaution of sending blood and urine samples to the UK ’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) for testing. Scientists there tested for radioactive poisons using gamma spectroscopy, but found only a small gamma ray spike at an energy level of 803 KeV, barely visible above the background.

The BBC reported that by coincidence another scientist, who had worked on Britain's early atomic bomb programme decades before, happened to overhear a discussion about the small spike and recognised it as the gamma ray signal from the radioactive decay of polonium-210, which was a critical component of early nuclear bombs. On the evening of 22 November, shortly before his death, his doctors were informed the poison was likely to be polonium-210. Further tests on a larger urine sample using spectroscopy designed to detect alpha particles confirmed the result the following day.

Unlike most common radiation sources, polonium-210 emits very little gamma radiation (the low intensity gamma ray at an energy of 803 keV is the most prominent), but large amounts of alpha particles which do not penetrate even a sheet of paper or the epidermis of human skin, and is therefore relatively invisible to common radiation detectors such as Geiger counters. This explained why tests conducted by doctors and Scotland Yard at the hospital with Geiger counters were negative.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_of_Alexander_Litvinenko


Footnote - polonium-210 was used in tandem with beryllium-9 to provide the neutron boosting initiator core in early atom bombs made with plutonium-239 such as the New Mexico 'Trinity' test, and the 'Fat Man' bomb droppped on Nagasaki in August 1945.
User avatar
toucana
Active Member
 
Posts: 1990
Joined: 20 Sep 2006
Location: Bristol UK
Blog: View Blog (10)



Return to General News and Politics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests