Wednesday 17th of April 2024

pizza, spies and charity...


Silvio Berlusconi has been accused of persecuting the family of the murdered Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. Walter Litvinenko, the former KGB agent's father, says the Italian PM’s chummy relationship with Vladimir Putin must be behind repeated delays in processing his request for asylum in Italy where he now lives. And the 71-year-old says his family have been harassed by local police, their business closed down - and are now dependent on charity.

Alexander Litvinenko's 2006 murder, the most flagrant political killing since the cold war, caused a diplomatic rift between Russia and the UK which is yet to heal. A postmortem showed his death was caused by polonium-210 poisoning – it's thought the radioactive substance was slipped into his tea in the Millennium Hotel in London. An investigation by British police led to a request for the extradition of Russian national Andrei Lugovoi to the UK: the request was denied by Moscow.



kissing the bride...

Italy and Russia Complete Flurry of Deals


MOSCOW — The Italian energy company Eni sold a 20 percent stake in the Russian oil giant Gazprom Neft for $4.1 billion Tuesday in the largest of a dozen or so deals announced during a Russian-Italian business forum.

The two countries have warm business ties, even as Russia’s trade relations with other European countries have soured. Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, was scheduled to attend the forum in Moscow but canceled to remain in Italy in the aftermath of an earthquake in the Abruzzo region.

In other agreements signed Tuesday, Finmeccanica, the Italian aerospace company, bought a 25 percent stake in the civilian aircraft division of the Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi, which is better known for its fighter jets. With Boeing in an advisory role, Sukhoi is now developing a regional passenger jet, the Superjet. The price of the sale to Finmeccanica was not disclosed.

Finmeccanica also signed an agreement with the state-owned holding company Russian Technology to develop security systems for guarding airports, oil depots and other large installations, the Interfax news agency reported.

Eni also signed deals with the Russian state oil company Rosneft and with two pipeline-building companies, Transneft and Stroytransgaz.

Eni’s sale of the stake in Gazprom Neft was expected. The Italians sold the shares to Gazprom, which had an option to buy them. The deal deepens a long-running partnership between the Italian company and the Russian natural gas monopoly, including an agreement to jointly build the South Stream pipeline under the Black Sea.

The sale Tuesday also was the final step in a long unwinding of a planned merger between Yukos and Sibneft, the company that was renamed Gazprom Neft when Gazprom bought it from the billionaire Roman A. Abramovich in 2005. Yukos had purchased the shares in Sibneft in anticipation of that merger; when Yukos was forced into bankruptcy, it was still holding the shares in what had become the oil arm of Gazprom.

Eni bought the Gazprom Neft stake at a bankruptcy auction of Yukos assets in April 2007 with the understanding they would be resold to Gazprom. Gazprom now has 95.68 percent of Gazprom Neft.


see toon at top...

confirmed cartoon...

LONDON: The close friendship between Russia's macho Prime Minister, Vladmir Putin, and Italy's septuagenarian lothario, Silvio Berlusconi, has emerged as a major source of anxiety in Washington, the latest cables published by WikiLeaks reveal.

According to a flurry of communications on the relationship, there are also serious allegations of ''shared, personal business interests'' in Russian gas projects worth billions - which both leaders deny.

Mr Berlusconi was due [to] visit Mr Putin's Black Sea dacha in Sochi last night. Plans for the visit emerged just hours after the publication of the damaging WikiLeaks cables.

Mr Berlusconi had been due to attend a two-day Italo-Russian summit that included a lunch with the President, Dmitri Medvedev, tomorrow. But, according to the Ansa news agency, Mr Putin will also fly to Sochi to attend the lunch.

Before leaving, Mr Berlusconi said: ''The US know full well that I have no interests with any countries, and no personal interests, and that I have only the interests of Italy and my country at heart.''

The cables suggest Mr Berlusconi's negotiation of generous conditions for the Italian oil and energy company Eni with the Russian firm Gazprom is related to the Italian leader supporting Russian energy projects rather than those of Western nations, a development the US believes endangers their own energy interests.

see toon at top...

adding sauce to the sauce...


WATCH: The BBC’s coverage of the breaking Skripal story – distortion & bias in defiance of its own charter


Notice how little the narrative has changed from this very early point. All the talking points are already assembled. Worth noting:

They call the prison Skripal was sent to in Rusia a “Gulag”, even though the Gulag system ended in the 1960s before the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is clearly emotive language designed to create the impression of Russia as being still an authoritarian and “Stalinist” state.

There is tacit assumption from the outset that the Russian government is somehow implicated in this incident, even though at this point there had been no claims of foul play, and no statements about how or why Skripal and his daughter had been taken ill.

The BBC has already – just hours into the breaking story – lined up a video clip from 2010 of Putin saying traitors will “choke” on their “30 pieces of silver.” The clip contains no suggestion Putin intends anyone to be murdered, but the context in which it is run during this segment is clearly intended to weight his words with this meaning.

It’s stated the Russian government were actively looking for Skripal for unspecified reasons, though no evidence for this is produced, and even though Skripal had been voluntarily released by Russian authorities eight years earlier in a prisoner-exchange. The obvious question – why would they let him go if they wanted him dead is not asked or acknowledged.

Even though Skripal had been recruited by MI6 and had worked for MI6 for some years no consideration is given to the possibility that MI6 – or for that matter anybody else – might have their own motives for wanting Skripal removed.

Three people are interviewed for this fourteen minute piece.One is self-styled “enemy” of Putin, Bill Browder, another is an ex-MI5 employee, and the third is a BBC journalist. None of them is Russian or putting forward a Russian perspective, or could even be described as neutral

Is this Newsnight piece reflective of the “balance” that is required by the BBC charter? Lt’s remind ourselves about what that means in the BBC’s own words:

Impartiality lies at the heart of public service and is the core of the BBC’s commitment to its audiences. It applies to all our output and services – television, radio, online, and in our international services and commercial magazines. We must be inclusive, considering the broad perspective and ensuring the existence of a range of views is appropriately reflected.


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It's the same bias on all the channels of the Western world... A chance to bash Putin some more WITH NO PROOF  of anything but hey...


Read from top.

idiotic guardian...

The alleged poisoning of ex-MI6 agent Sergei Skripal has caused the Russophobic MSM to go into overdrive. Nowhere is the desperation with which the Skripal case has been seized more obvious than the Guardian. Luke Harding is spluttering incoherently about a weapons lab that might not even exist anymore. Simon Jenkins gamely takes up his position as the only rational person left at the Guardian, before being heckled in the comments and dismissed as a contrarian by Michael White on twitter. More and more the media are becoming a home for dangerous, aggressive, confrontational rhetoric that has no place in sensible, adult newspapers.

For example, Mark Rice-Oxley’s column in today’s Guardian:

Oh, Russia! Even before we point fingers over poison and speculate about secret agents and spy swaps and pub food in Salisbury, one thing has become clear: Russia appears lost, a global menace, a moral vacuum, a far greater threat than it ever was during the cold war.

Read this. It’s from a respected “unbiased”, liberal news outlet. It is the worst, most partisan political language I have ever heard, more heated and emotionally charged than even the most fraught moments of the Cold War. It is dangerous to the whole planet, and has no place in our media.

If everything he said in the following article were true, if he had nothing but noble intentions and right on his side, this would still be needlessly polarizing and war-like language.

To make it worse, everything he proceeds to say is a complete lie.

Usually we would entitle these pieces “fact checks”, but this goes beyond that. This? This is a reality check.

Its agents pop over for murder and shopping…

FALSE: There’s no proof any of this ever happened. There has been no trial in the Litvinenko case. The “public inquiry” was a farce, with no cross-examination of witnesses, evidence given in secret and anonymous witnesses. All of which contravene British law regarding a fair trial.

…even while its crooks use Britain as a 24/7 laundromat for their ill-gotten billions, stolen from compatriots.

TRUE… sort of: Russian billionaires do come to London, Paris, and Switzerland to launder their (stolen) money. Rice-Oxley is too busy with his 2 minutes of hate to interrogate this issue. The reason oligarchs launder their money here…is that WE let them. Oligarchs have been fleeing Russia for over a decade. Why? Because, in Russia, Putin’s government has jailed billionaires for tax evasion and embezzling, stripped them of illegally acquired assets and demanded they pay their taxes. That’s why you have wanted criminals like Sergei Pugachev doing interviews with Luke Harding, complaining he’s down to his “last 270 million”.

When was the last time a British billionaire was prosecuted for financial crimes? Mega-Corporations owe literally billions in tax, and our government lets them get away with it.


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as british as afternoon tea...



by Finian Cunningham

The British are well known for their dramatic flair when it comes to stories of Cold War espionage and murder mystery. Think Ian Fleming, John Le Carré and Agatha Christie.

But this week's episode of a former Russian spy being poisoned on a public park bench in a quaint English town has suspiciously a tad too much drama about it.

It is being speculated that the Russian exile, who had been living in Britain since 2010, may have been poisoned with a deadly nerve agent. He is reportedly in hospital in a critical condition.

Within hours of 66-year-old Sergei Skripal being rushed to hospital in Salisbury, along with his adult daughter, British politicians and media were cranking up the story that the pair had fallen victim to a murder plot implicating the Kremlin.

READ MORE: UK Home Secretary Calls for Avoiding Speculations Around Russian Ex-Spy Incident

British Prime Minister Theresa May held a top national security summit in Downing Street, and her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was telling the parliament on Tuesday that further sanctions would be imposed on Russia "if" Moscow was found to be involved in the apparent poisoning incident.


Johnson's use of the word "if" seemed to be irrelevant because he had already laid on the innuendo thick and fast to impugn Russia. "We don't know exactly what has taken place in Salisbury, but if it's as bad as it looks, it is another crime in the litany of crimes that we can lay at Russia's door," intoned Johnson with affected gravity and notable haste to implicate Moscow.



Moscow has dismissed the rampant speculation as "wild" allegations aimed at whipping up "anti-Russian sentiment" among the British public.

British media outlets then quickly moved on to report security sources as saying that Britain's counter-terrorism forces "are hunting a network of highly-trained assassins suspected of launching a nerve agent attack". The would-be assassins were also described as "state sponsored" and conjectured to have access to a "specialist laboratory".

It is being speculated that Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were exposed to the deadly nerve toxin known as VX during an afternoon stroll through their adopted hometown of Salisbury on Sunday.

Skripal had been living in Britain for the past eight years where he had been exiled as part of a spy swap. The former GRU military intelligence colonel was found guilty of treason by Russia in 2006 after being exposed as a double agent for Britain's foreign intelligence service MI6. After serving four years in prison in Russia, the disgraced spy was handed over to Britain in a Cold War-style exchange.

READ MORE: Scotland Yard Confirms Ex Russian Spy, His Daughter Were Targeted by Nerve Agent

What is being recklessly speculated in the British media is that the Kremlin ordered Skripal's assassination out of revenge for his past betrayal.

To drive home the innuendo, comparisons are being made to the death of another Russian secret service agent Alexander Litvinenko. He died in a London hospital in 2006 from suspected poisoning with radioactive polonium. Again, the British media and politicians engaged in tenuous allegations of Kremlin involvement in Litvinenko's death.

As with this week's Skripal case, Moscow said it had nothing to do with Litvinenko's demise. A dubious semi-official British inquiry concluded in January 2016 that there was "strong circumstantial evidence of Russian state responsibility" over Litvinenko's death.  The British inquiry presented no evidence.


However, alternatively, there is plausible evidence that Litvinenko may have been poisoned accidentally as a result of his own shady dealings with organized crime and international smuggling of polonium.



In any case, the real similarity between the case of Sergei Skripal and Alexander Litvinenko is the cynical way that the British authorities are exploiting it for anti-Russian propaganda.

It seems highly significant that Russia's presidential elections are due to take place later this month. What better way to smear the expected electoral victory of incumbent president Vladimir Putin than to accuse the Kremlin of carrying out an assassination plot on British soil against a former Russian spy?

Think about it. The timing of such an alleged plot would be ludicrous from a Russian point of view. Why would a has-been Russian agent who has been living quietly and undisturbed for nearly a decade in England be targeted on the eve of Russia's presidential elections by Kremlin avengers? That doesn't make any sense.

The trusted detective question of "who gains?" points far more plausibly to sinister British state involvement. The rapid concerted political and media reaction to the incident of Skripal's apparent poisoning is strongly suggestive of orchestration for propaganda value.

For several weeks now, the British authorities and their lock-step media have been fulminating about Russian cyber attacks and other means of sabotage endangering British civilians. British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson has made unhinged claims that "thousands and thousands" of Britons could die from Russian agents who are allegedly planning to attack British infrastructure, such as energy and communication facilities.

This is extreme irresponsibility by British officials and media which has been elevated to hysterical fever pitch.

READ MORE: Scotland Yard Confirms Ex Russian Spy, His Daughter Were Targeted by Nerve Agent


But the relentless Russophobia serves to condition the British public to be receptive towards more anti-Russian hostility. As we can see this week with the reckless innuendo against Moscow regarding the apparent poisoning of Sergei Skripal.

Given their inveterate anti-Russian agenda, the British authorities have much more vested interest in seeing Skripal poisoned than the Kremlin ever would.



And while we are in "who done it?" mode, another important possible lead is this: if Venomous Agent X (VX) was used to harm the former Russian spy, the perpetrators would have had a convenient source by which to carry out their deed.

Britain's top secret chemical weapons laboratory at Porton Down is only six miles away from the location in Salisbury where Skripal and his daughter were apparently attacked last Sunday afternoon. Porton Down is the laboratory where VX was originally synthesized in the 1950s. It remains one of the most deadly chemical weapons ever made. And it is as British as afternoon tea.

That's motive and means. But, hey, who needs logic when Russophobia is the name of the game?


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There is no way of knowing if MI6 is telling the truth in regard to the "poisoning" of Sergei Skripal. We know that in regard to the war on Saddam, MI6 was bullshitting at full bore. As I have said before, the main task for "intelligence" services such as MI6 and the CIA is DISINFORMATION and industrial espionage.

same shit as the shit before...

Prominent anti-war activist and former UK parliamentarian for both the Labour and Respect parties George Galloway warned Radio Sputnik that the UK’s response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent on its territory is similar to its headlong rush to war with Iraq in 2003.

Earlier in March, former British spy in the Russian military Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury, England. The case abounds with mysteries and contradictions — and the British government is pointing the finger at Moscow.


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Read also: 

The public has learnt a new Russian word: Novichok or novice, as the UK claims it is a nerve agent that poisoned former double agent Sergei Skripal. But, as with many elements of this saga, this chemical raises many questions.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent “Novichok,” allegedly developed by Russia. She claimed this was either “a direct action” by Moscow or the result of a loss of control over “its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent.” Speaking to MPs, she even said the cabinet had given Moscow one day to provide a “credible response” to the allegations.


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the russian reply...

Statement by Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW, Ambassador Alexander Shulgin, at the 87th session of the OPCW Exwecutive Council on the chemical incident in Salisbury, The Hague, March 13, 2018

Mr Chairperson,
In connection with the vicious attacks launched by British officials in London, as well as the statement by the head of the British delegation to the OPCW with regard to Russia concerning the suspicious story of two persons poisoned with a toxic agent in Salisbury, we would like to state the following.

The British authorities’ unfounded accusations of Russia’s alleged involvement in using poisonous agents on their territory are absolutely unacceptable. Our British colleagues should recall that Russia and the United Kingdom are members of the OPCW which is one of the most successful and effective disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms. We call upon them to abandon the language of ultimatums and threats and return to the legal framework of the chemical convention, which makes it possible to resolve this kind of situation.

If London does have serious reasons to suspect Russia of violating the CWC – and the statement read by distinguished Ambassador Peter Wilson indicates directly that this is so – we suggest that Britain immediately avail itself of the procedures provided for by paragraph 2 of Article 9 of the CWC. They make it possible, on a bilateral basis, to officially contact us for clarifications regarding any issues that raise doubts or concerns.

We would also like to emphasise that such clarifications under the Convention are provided to the requesting member state as soon as possible, but in any case no later than 10 days following receipt of the request. As such, the ultimatum’s demand that information be provided immediately, by the end of today, is absolutely unacceptable.

Our British colleagues should save their propaganda fervour and slogans for their unenlightened domestic audience, where perhaps they will have some effect. Here, within the walls of a specialised international organisation, such as the OPCW, one must use facts and nothing but the facts. Stop fomenting hysteria, go ahead and officially formalise your request to begin consultations with us in order to clarify the situation. 

A fair warning, we will require material evidence of the alleged Russian trace in this high-profile case. Britain’s allegations that they have everything, and their world-famous scientists have irrefutable data, but they will not give us anything, will not be taken into account. For us, this will mean that London has nothing substantial to show, and all its loud accusations are nothing but fiction and another instance of the dirty information war being waged on Russia.

Sooner or later, they will have to be held accountable for their lies.

In addition, in this particular case, it would be legitimate for the British side to seek assistance from the OPCW Technical Secretariat in conducting an independent laboratory analysis of the available samples that allegedly show traces of nerve agents in Salisbury.

Thank you, Mr Chairperson.

We ask you to circulate this statement as an official document of the 87th session of the OPCW’s Executive Council and post it on the Organisation’s external server.

the stupid british reply...

Britain is to kick out 23 Russian diplomats, the biggest such expulsion since the Cold War, over a chemical attack on a former Russian double agent in England that Prime Minister Theresa May has blamed on Moscow.

Key points:
  • May says no British ministers or royals to attend World Cup
  • Moscow says it could in turn expel 23 British diplomats
  • Experts cast doubt over effectiveness of UK action


Ms May pointed the finger firmly at Russian President Vladimir Putin overnight as she outlined retaliatory measures in Parliament.

Russia denies any involvement in the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who have been in a critical condition in hospital since they were found unconscious on March 4 on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury.

Ms May announced the potential freezing of Russian state assets that pose a security threat, new laws to counter hostile state activity and said British ministers and royals would not attend the football World Cup in Russia later this year.

She had given Moscow until midnight on Tuesday to explain how the Soviet-made Novichok nerve agent came to be deployed on the streets of Salisbury, saying either the Russian state was responsible or had lost control of a stock of the substance.


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UK media's fake facts...

May claims that the latest incident comes "against a backdrop of well-established Russian state aggression". One could far more reasonably argue "a backdrop of British and Western Russophobia".


There are many possible reasons for why British state forces would want to polarize international relations even more than they already are with Russia.

Notably, the poisoning incident has led to calls for greater military build-up by NATO forces on Russia's borders. That's an obvious win for the British military-industrial complex.

Another factor is that Britain seems to be using the latest debacle as a way to further damage European relations with Russia, demanding that Germany and France show "solidarity" by condemning Moscow. This could be related to European energy geopolitics in which London and Washington have a shared interest in sabotaging the soon-to-be-completed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe.

READ MORE: UK Media Manipulates Facts Calling Skripal 'Russian Agent' — Russian Embassy

But one other tangible outcome is the way that Russian news media are being targeted with even more venom. On the back of sensational claims that Russia "carried out a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil", the climate is now conducive to censoring "Kremlin-backed news organizations" like RT and Sputnik.


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