by John Helmer, Moscow
Cyber attacks have been launched in England to stop publication of new evidence in the Skripal case from being published this week on the second anniversary of the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, March 4, 2018.
The targets were The Blogmire produced by Rob Slane from Salisbury, and this website produced from Moscow. The Blogmire was disabled and inaccessible to readers between last Thursday and Saturday. Then on Monday evening this site was attacked. The evidence left behind by the attackers shows they come from the same source, using the same unusual method of attack and concealment.
Reporters and columnists for the London papers also say they are under pressure from their editors not to report on or review the new book, Skripal in Prison, published on February 13. According to Mary Dejevsky, columnist for The Independent, “the govt’s info people have managed by various stratagems, incl silence, to close the whole thing down.”
The Blogmire publishes essays by Slane (right), a church minister, on a range of religious, political and social topics. The website opened in 2014; Slane’s reports on the Skripal case began on March 12, 2018. Printed out, they currently run to more than three hundred pages. They have also drawn comments, additional data, factual corrections of police, prosecutor, and politician claims, together with speculations about motive, timing and modus operandi. Altogether on the website, attached as threads to Slane’s reports, there are several thousand comments from individuals, some of whom identify themselves, some of whom prefer to stay anonymous; some are very well-informed. MI6 and the BBC have dismissed them as “truthers or pro-Kremlin users”.
The website can be opened here .
The Skripal archive is here . Peak readership has been running at more than 90,000.
“When I began writing about the Skripal case,” Slane said in August 2018 , “I was moved to do so by three main considerations. Firstly, I really am passionate for the truth, and whatever the truth happens to be in this case, I strongly desire it to be made manifest. It was clear to me fairly early on that this was not happening. Secondly, I am also very passionate about concepts such as the rule of law, innocent until proven guilty, and the apparently quaint notion that investigations should precede verdicts, rather than the other way around. And so when I saw accusations being made before the investigation had hardly begun, verdicts being reached before the facts were established, I was appalled – appalled that this was happening in what we British pride ourselves is the Mother of Parliaments, and equally appalled that this meant the investigation was inevitably prejudiced and – pardon the expression – poisoned from the off. Thirdly, the incident happened to have taken place pretty much on my doorstep, which made it of even more interest to me.”
“I still do not have any clear idea of what happened on that day, but what I am certain of is that the official narrative is not only untrue, but it is manifestly inconceivable that it could be true. There are simply too many inconsistencies, too many holes and far too many unexplained events for it to be true.”
Last week, after the cyber attack began on The Blogmire, the website’s server reported: “A recent review of your account uncovered it has been compromised. We found malicious scripts running in the background that appear to be sending spam emails. In order to prevent further abuse/spam, we have suspended your account.” A server notice posted at the site’s address told readers the site had been suspended, but no details were provided. After a lengthy damage assessment and repairs, Slane reported : “Was this the work of Spook Bots, intent on disabling the site because of its investigations and the insightful thoughts from many wonderful commentators? Possibly. Or just the work of Bog Standard Bots with nothing better to do with their time? Possibly.” That was on February 29.
More evidence materialized on Monday, March 2. This was left behind after a cyber attack on this website, Dances with Bears. This was not the usual type of operation.
Attacks of the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) type are frequent, usually in response to investigations of Russian oligarchs and their London lawyers or of major court cases or stock exchange flotations involving Russian businesses with big money at stake. DDoS attacks work by generating very large volumes of near-simultaneous reader clicks on a portal address, server or network, overloading it and forcing it to shut down.
Some of these incidents have been reported , though for our security and defence, the details and the methods developed to identify and repel the attacks have not. If you see the sign of the fighting bears, you know someone powerful enough to employ hackers doesn’t want you to read the new publication.
The operation against this site and the Blogmire was not DDoS. The telltale signs indicate a source with cyber warfare expertise which is different from that of commercial hackers and the companies which employ them. The source has been profiled and tracked, and new defences established.
Skripal in Prison, which was the target, can be read here .
To prevent the book from being read, and its evidence of British government faking from being reviewed, methods which are more human, less electronic, are being used. The main London newspapers, the weeklies, and book reviews have come under pressure not to challenge the official narrative of the Skripal case, and not to allow the book to be reported.
Mary Dejevsky, a Russia specialist and columnist for The Independent, says the British government “has ensured that there’s nothing new to say that they wouldn’t immediately dismiss as speculation or worse.” The Skripal case is a “scandalous saga”, she adds, but “govt info people” are actively deterring a review of the new book because “no outlet would take it.”