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by John Helmer, Moscow 

For the first time in six years,  the British Government has officially told Moscow that Russian citizen Yulia Skripal, one of the victims of a nerve spray attack in Salisbury on March 4, 2018, has “rejected the offer of consular assistance” from the Russian Embassy in London. A British diplomatic note, delivered to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow this week and made public by the Ministry spokesman, also claimed “the Russian woman has the contact details of the consular department of the Russian Embassy in London in case of need.”  

Omitted from the document is that the British have not allowed Yulia Skripal to sign a document, send an email, or make a telephone call since 2020.

The new Foreign Office paper failed to identify the whereabouts or wishes of Yulia’s father, Sergei Skripal, a dual Russian and British citizen who was also the target of the 2018 attack.   The calculated omissions, and the record of subterfuge and faking which British officials, coroners, and judges have been making since 2018, indicate that, in fact, Yulia Skripal is imprisoned and incommunicado, and that Sergei Skripal is dead.

“The British authorities,” said Maria Zakharova at her ministry briefing on March 27, “do not say a word about the fate of Sergei Skripal. It is completely unclear why. I would like to ask the British if he is alive? Can you at least tell me that?”  

After years of stonewalling in London, the new lie appears to indicate that Sergei Skripal has died in British captivity.

Since the Skripals slumped unconscious on a Salisbury town bench and were kept in hospital under police guard, three British prime ministers — Theresa May, Boris Johnson (lead image,  left), and Rishi Sunak (right)  — have continued the story that three Russian military officers attacked the Skripals with a Novichok nerve agent they had brought by plane into England, and sprayed on to the door handle of Sergei Skripal’s home; that was several hours before he and his daughter showed sudden symptoms and collapsed.

The British have presented no evidence of Novichok on the Skripal door handle; in the blood, skin, and urine testing of the Skripals in hospital; or in subsequent court proceedings. The alleged Russian attack weapon – a perfume bottle atomiser – did not materialize for months until July 2018, when police claim to have found it on a kitchen bench in the home of another alleged victim, Dawn Sturgess, ten days after exhaustive police searches of the premises had failed to find it. The last Sturgess case report, dated a month ago,  can be read here.  

Sergei Skripal has not been seen in public since the day of the alleged Novichok attack, March 4, 2018. He has not been heard on the telephone by family members since June 26, 2019.    Yulia Skripal was last seen in a government-directed interview at a US bomber base  in England in May 2018;   her last telephone call was heard on November 20, 2020.    

The full story of what happened and didn’t happen, and of the High Court and coroners’ court hearings which have followed since 2018, has been documented in the book published in 2020; then in reports of the ongoing cover-up by a retired Appeal Court judge, Lord Anthony Hughes.  

In March 2022 Hughes announced he had appointed a London lawyer, Adam Chapman,  to represent the Skripals;  but the judge, his spokesman, and the lawyer have repeatedly refused to confirm how the Skripals communicated to them,  if at all. The lawyer refuses to answer press questions; in court he has said nothing on the Skripals’ behalf.  

Left: click for the book.  Right: left to right, Sergei Skripal; the government-appointed lawyer Adam Chapman;  Yulia Skripal.   Chapman is not the first legal representative of the Skripals in a London court. On March 20, 2018, Vikram Sachdeva QC appeared to be speaking for them in the Court of Protection of the High Court.   But at the time they were reported to be “under heavy sedation” in Salisbury District Hospital.  Chapman and Sachdeva have made no contact with the Russian Consul-General in London;  with the Skripal family in Russia; or with the press. Hughes refuses to say in court or to press questions that he will call the Skripals to testify in person in the investigation of the alleged use of Novichok as a Russian weapon in England.

Timed earlier this month on the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of the Skripals, the Russian Embassy in London sent the Foreign Office a new request for what  the Embassy had described last June as a “demand that the British authorities allow us to ascertain they are safe and sound. London carries full responsibility for their well-being.”   

Zakharova revealed the reply on Wednesday. “It’s hard to believe,” she said, “but the Russian Foreign Ministry has received a response from Britain to the request on the Skripals. The Russian side continues to make efforts to clarify the circumstances of the incident that occurred in Salisbury in March 2018, with the participation of citizens of our country: S.V. Skripal and his daughter Y.S.Skripal.  It’s been almost six years. All this time, the Russian Foreign Ministry has been sending dozens of diplomatic notes. In response, we received nothing but ‘non-subscriber notices.’ For the first time since mid-2018, a response note was finally received from the British Foreign Ministry in response to another note from the Russian Embassy in London. With some reservations, it can be considered a kind of belated official reaction. They say they have been waiting for the promised three years. It took twice as long here.”

“In this note, it is reported that Y.S. Skripal allegedly took note of the offer of consular assistance, but rejected it…According to the assurances of the British Foreign Ministry, the Russian woman has the contact details of the consular department of the Russian Embassy in London in case of need. In addition, responding to the demand to provide information on the official results of the investigation into the incident in Salisbury, British diplomats said they would not comment on this topic, since ‘the relevant legal procedures are still ongoing.’”

“The British authorities do not say a word about the fate of Sergei Skripal. It is completely unclear why. I would like to ask the British if he is alive? Can you at least tell me that?  We consider the forced reaction of the British side as an unsuccessful attempt to justify itself for the inexplicable and unlawful long-term concealment of information about Russian citizens. This is another information manipulation. We will continue to methodically seek comprehensive information about the fate of Russian citizens who disappeared without a trace in Britain six years ago, clarify all the components of the Salisbury incident and, in general, insist on justice in this case.”  

The only evidence of Yulia Skripal signing anything was presented in a brief, carefully orchestrated presentation at a US nuclear bomber base in England in May of 2018.   Two script pages were visible on a side table during the filming; the one on top Skripal was filmed signing. The two papers appear to be in a different handwriting from Skripal’s signature and in a different pen from the pen she is seen to use. On the top page, apparently the Russian language text, Skripal added words after her signature; these are her first and family names in Russian, but without her patronymic, as Russians usually record their names in official documents. The handwriting of that name and the handwriting of the Russian statement are not the same. Nor the pen and ink used.

In construction, the Russian version followed after the English; several important English expressions are not repeated in the Russian paper, nor in Skripal’s speech.  The most obvious is the English text in which she purportedly referred to “offers of assistance from the Russian Embassy but at the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services.” Skripal’s Russian text speaks of “help” from the Russian Embassy: “now I don’t want and [I am] not ready to use it.”

“The Russian version of Yulia’s speech is soft, simple, and balanced,” a professional translator comments. “There is no hint or innuendo suggesting hostility towards anything Russian. The English version is sharper and more complicated than the Russian. The meaning is different.”  

Source: https://johnhelmer.net/
The garden staging was subsequently identified as the joint US Air Force and Royal Air Force base at Fairford, Gloucestershire.  

In its official reply to Moscow this week, the British Government has done more than repeat what Yulia Skripal appeared to be saying but didn’t, six years ago.

The new Foreign Office line, “the relevant legal procedures are still ongoing”, is a reference to the Lord Hughes proceeding. In this, the involvement of the Skripals, their  signed consents,  their instructions to their purported lawyer, and their willingness to testify to the alleged Novichok attack have been fabricated, then covered in state secrecy.

NOTE: Parallel to the Hughes investigation of the death of Dawn Sturgess, the Novichok weapon, and the government allegations against the Russians, a recent attempt at opening the files on a suspicious death which occurred in Salisbury at the same time has been blocked by the Salisbury coroner; he has already claimed (without inquest) that Russian Novichok was the cause of Sturgess’s death.

On March 16, 2018, twelve days after the Skripals were attacked, Nicholas Young’s body was found hanging from a tree in the Salisbury area. Young, a 26-year old with a criminal record,   was reported to have committed suicide. The local newspaper reporting the circumstances said: “This is not linked to the on-going incident in Salisbury city centre.”   

Suspicion that it might be linked, that MI6 was fabricating the Novichok evidence and looking for corpses to identify the Novichok weapon and pinpoint the cause of death, was reinforced when an editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber, asked President Vladimir Putin to talk about the Skripal case. In their conversation, Barber said: “Some people might say that a human life is worth more than five pennies. But do you believe, Mr President that whatever happened…Vladimir Putin: Did anybody die? [Barber] Oh yes. The gentleman who had a drug problem and he died after touching the Novichok in the car park. I mean somebody did that because of the perfume. It was more than one person that died, not the Skripals. I am just…Vladimir Putin: And you think this is absolutely Russia’s fault? [Barber] I did not say that. I said somebody died. Vladimir Putin: You did not say that, but if it has nothing to do with Russia… Yes, a man died, and that is a tragedy, I agree. But what do we have to do with it?”  

This exchange occurred at the Kremlin on June 23, 2019, a year after Dawn Sturgess had been identified as the singular fatal victim of the alleged Russian assassination scheme after spraying Novichok on herself from a perfume bottle. However, at the Kremlin Barber told Putin there had been a second fatal Novichok victim in Salisbury; that the victim was male; and that he had died after touching the poison in a Salisbury carpark – these were details which had never been published before. They have not been published since.

Because the Skripals were refusing to testify publicly that they believed they had been Novichok or Russian targets, and because the door-handle fabrication had failed the police, prosecutor, coroner’s court tests, Barber’s identification of another victim, “a gentleman who had a drug problem”, appeared to refer to Young. However, the public record of his death was confirmed in the coroner’s court to have been suicide.

To check what the police and inquest evidence had been in the Young case, a request was made to Coroner David Ridley in Salisbury for details of the investigation of Young’s death and the reported suicide finding by his court. “I request,” I wrote Ridley last month, on February 5, “to know who was the presiding coroner; the list of witnesses called and deponents in the proceeding; the Home Office pathologist who conducted the post-mortem; and the finding, ruling or inquest report on cause of death.”

Ridley refused in a formal ruling on March 14.  

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