2016 is already shaping up to be a watershed year in world history in several respects. It will be – probably – the year that ISIS’ resistance to the Syrian Arab Army collapses, and Bashar al-Assad drives them out and reclaims control of the whole of the country. It will be – probably – the year that something big happens in Ukraine. It’s impossible to say what, exactly, but the present reality is unsustainable, and if Ukraine rolls into spring with nothing much changed about the situation – no visa-free travel to Europe, no resolution on the eastern mess, the economy still passively obedient to the law of gravity – I believe the Poroshenko government will fall. Probably.
It will also be the year that “probably” entered the British official and legal lexicon as an acceptable modifier to judgment. Let’s preview what the updated definition might look like, shall we?
Used to mean, “very likely”
I’ll probably be home by midnight I’m probably going – it depends on the weather He probably didn’t even notice
2. judicial modifier/UK/ˈprɒb.ə.bli
Used to mean, ” judged to have occurred as described despite the inability to prove it did through the introduction of compelling and demonstrable evidence; based, rather, on a surpassing need for it to be true. Shall be assumed for reporting purposes to constitute sufficient certainty that extrapolations can be made as if they were facts”
The murder was probably carried out by the Russian state, probably on the personal orders of Vladimir Putin
The British press has long been an embarrassment (as is, in fact, the political establishment itself), and it often seems as if every British newspaper is nothing more than a tabloid, filled with the most salacious gossip interspersed with photos of the idle rich or ‘hot’ celebrities capering and mugging and showing off their naughty bits. The Independent is owned by a former Foreign Intelligence officer of the KGB and billionaire, although nobody in the British press ever refers confrontationally to his spy background – instead making excuses for it and suggesting he was not really very interested in British secrets, ho, ho – or calls him an oligarch unless it is immediately followed by an explanation of why the label ‘tycoon’ or ‘businessman’ fits better.
Let’s look at their latest cacophony of outrage over thoroughly un-British evildoing, featuring the British media’s favourite target – Russia, and its president, Vladimir Putin. No barbarism, savagery or disgusting perversion is beneath him, as we will learn. Try to keep a stiff upper lip.
I refer, of course, to the ignoramus festival surrounding the release of the “Owen Report’, which is being presented as ‘findings’ and in which Sir Robert ‘finds’ that the Russian state ‘probably’ killed Litvinenko, and that his killing was ‘probably’ personally ordered by Vladimir Putin…because, you know, only a state can get hold of that quantity of polonium and if the state did so, it must have been at Putin’s order. Or something. Because he is personally in charge of everything in Russia.
Including, I imagine, the transfer to the United States of America of around 8 grams of polonium 210 per month, made in Russian state reactors, at a cost of around $2 million per gram. A milligram, the same article reports, would have been enough to kill Litvinenko. What the United States receives every month – with the telltale signature of having been made in a Russian reactor, ha, ha – would kill about eight thousand Litvinenkos. The United States is Russia’s sole buyer of polonium 210, and the United States has an official government policy of hatred for Russia and is committed to its downfall. Hear that whooshing noise? It’s your beyond reasonable doubt being sucked out the window. At least two states are known to possess easily enough polonium 210 to have killed Litvinenko, and in both cases it would be traceable to a Russian reactor, according to the silliness broadcast by the press. What, the USA would never kill someone just to blame it on someone else? Don’t make me laugh.
Follow this amazing tale, as the British media goes on an extravagant tour of finding polonium traces all over the City of London. Alexander Lebedev’s The Independent makes clear that when Mrs. Litvinenko originally sought an inquiry, Her Majesty’s government blocked it, because it needed Russian help on the ‘denuclearization of Iran’. But once Britain got its nose out of joint – or, more correctly, was told by Washington that its nose must be out of joint – over Ukraine, despite there being no proof at all of Russian intervention on a scale that would make any difference at all, why, it was ‘game on’ for an inquiry. Comically, there was massive and widely-trumpeted interference from the west on Ukraine’s side. Just before I leave this piece, I could not help laughing at the headline, which includes, “Moscow Fumes at Kremlin-Killing Verdict”, although it does not mention a single word of a Russian response. We’re just supposed to assume Moscow is fuming, because making it fume was the objective. Psychologists call that “projection”.
For her own part, the widow Litvinenko always adamantly denied her husband was working for MI6…until Berezovsky stopped the monthly cheques. Once that happened, she was okay with admitting that Sasha worked for MI6, which employment is now a matter of public record.
Walter Litvinenko, Sasha’s father, described how he told an impromptu press conference that his son had ‘a small atom bomb’ in his body and that he had given his life for Britain – and inspired a very agitated response from Alexander Goldfarb. Goldfarb, you’ll recall, was Boris Berezovsky’s lieutenant, a former research scientist once employed at the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy in Moscow. Walter Litvinenko had the impression, from this, that he had said something too soon, and indeed he did, because he had been prompted with this information by Goldfarb, which suggests that Goldfarb – probably – knew about the radioactive isotope before Scotland Yard did. Polonium 210 was discovered in Litvinenko’s urine, in a plastic drain bottle under his bed, after he had died. The same source reports that Litvinenko’s head was shaved by someone in the employ of Ahmed Zakayev, the famous (in the UK) ‘Chechen dissident’ who was allegedly a friend of Litvinenko as well as an associate of Berezovsky. We can therefore not know to what extent Litvinenko’s hair was falling out, because it was all removed. Alexander Goldfarb is also the alleged receiver of the ‘deathbed letter’, in which Litvinenko accuses Putin of murdering him in lurid prose which would do Tom Clancy proud, although Litvinenko could barely speak English and, by that stage of his poisoning, should have been incapable of speech.
Edward ‘Snappin’-Turtle Crazy’ Lucas works himself into such a froth that he could shave without even soaping up, over the Owen Report – which, you heard it here first, is rendered all the more credible because “It does not back every allegation against Russia – just those where the evidence is incontrovertible.” The report, such as it was, did not ever say that any evidence it relied upon was incontrovertible, and in many cases simply extrapolated ‘truths’ from previous unsubstantiated statements made earlier in the report. That’s incontrovertible enough for Lucas, though, whose loathing of Russia and everything in it is legendary. He also tries to get the British off the hook for relying on secret evidence; it may have come from an electronic intercept from the Kremlin, and we don’t want them to know that their conversations are being overheard and recorded. At that point, Saddam Hussein rode through the room on a three-legged zebra, wearing a cheerleaders costume of the Los Angeles Rams, and I’m afraid I was distracted and did not catch the rest of what he said.
Polonium 210 traces were found, we’re told, at the Millenium Hotel where the Pine Bar is located, in the Itsu sushi restaurant where Litvinenko met with ‘Italian academic’ Mario Scaramella, in a cab Litvinenko shared with Akhmed Zakayev, in the lap-dancing bar Hey Jo and on the fax machine at Boris Berzovsky’s offices. The machine, allegedly, was used by Litvinenko, probably to send a message to the library to apologize for being late returning his copy of “The Power of Positive Thinking” because he was busy helping old ladies across the street. Because he was just that kind of guy.
Did he lick the fax machine? Because according to all the testimony presented by Her Majesty’s Government, Litvinenko did not ever touch polonium with his hands. He drank it, in tea, presumably by pouring it into his mouth and swallowing it as the great majority of people do. Now the polonium is inside Litvinenko. Polonium, we are told, can be safely held in the hand because it cannot penetrate skin. Litvinenko, presumably, was covered with several layers of skin. Vice News tries to head off this line of inquiry by adding that Lugovoi also visited Berezovsky’s offices ‘in the days before the poisoning’, but we have only Berezovsky’s word for that. Does anyone need a reminder what kind of witness Berezovsky was? According to the trial judge who found against him in Berezovsky vs. Abramovich, Berezovsky was “an unimpressive, and inherently unreliable, witness, who regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes.”
Even if we spot the Russia-dunnit side the polonium traces in Berezovsky’s office, and stipulate that Lugovoi was there, how do we explain Scaramella’s contamination? Did Lugovoi and Kovtun come along for some sushi as well? No, they didn’t, and Litvinenko should not have had any polonium residue on him at all. Scaramella, who once claimed to work for the CIA. Where did the polonium in the cab, which was allegedly so toxic it had to be withdrawn from service, come from? Only Litvinenko and Zakayev were in the cab, and all the polonium was supposed to be inside Litvenko, safe from transmission behind Litvinenko’s skin.
Which brings up another question – why are Kovtun and Lugovoi still alive, and in apparent good health? They apparently were covered with polonium from head to foot for a month; after not being able to detect it at all, the British suddenly found it everywhere. Lugovoi, according to upstanding, honest citizen Boris Berezovsky, visited his offices days before the poisoning, and left traces of polonium on his fax machine and office furniture. According to the British Embassy in Moscow, Kovtun and Lugovoi came in unannounced, in a great sweat to prove their innocence, after Litvinenko had died. He lived for three weeks after being poisoned, yet Lugovoi and Kovtun were still so toxic that they left traces of it on the table where their hands rested! The British Embassy, or that section of it, was ‘locked down for months’. What does it take to get rid of polonium? Are we to assume these men did not shower or wash their hands for a month? And, that being the case, how is it possible that neither man touched something with his bare hands which later ended up in his mouth – a hamburger, a dill pickle, the rim of his glass or the lip of a bottle? Radiation on the table where their hands touched, a month after they allegedly poisoned Litvinenko – suggesting there was still transferable residue – severe enough to lock down the Embassy, yet they’re still alive? When it takes only a milligram to kill you? Come on – who would believe that?
Anyway, enough about that – I want to move on to Stage Two of the British smear campaign, in which the press gleefully passes on that Litvinenko accused Vladimir Putin of being a ‘practicing pedophile’; gee, maybe that’s even why Putin had him killed!!
All the accusations that Putin has been a pedophile since, like, forever spring from this moment – when he kissed a small boy’s stomach during some kind of public appearance in which onlookers were lining the road. The official story is that the boy did not appear particularly happy to be there, and that Mr. Putin asked him why he was sad. He, or perhaps his mother, replied that it was because he had a stomach-ache. Mr. Putin, apparently spontaneously, ‘kissed it better’ as mothers commonly do with their children. Nobody in Russia appeared to be greatly upset by it or to see anything sexually untoward in it, and the child’s mother was visibly proud. I suppose the western media will counter that of course she appeared happy about it – she would not dare appear any other way, or Putin would have them all killed.
The western press, however, was in an uproar. Litvinenko quickly injected a story that Putin’s superiors during his time in the KGB knew that he was a pedophile, and there were suspicious gaps in his career history. As well, he said, there were videotapes of Putin, while he was a student, ‘making sex with underage boys’. When Putin became Director of the FSB, his story went, he sought the evidence out and destroyed it.
Just one of the many problems with that story is that videotapes did not exist when Putin was a student. The first video recorder – the Sony Betamax – was rolled out the year Putin graduated; 1975. Another problem is why the KGB would record, even if they had the capability, some student ‘making sex with underage boys’, and then stash the tapes away for later leverage – why would they not immediately arrest him instead? Or had they already been to the future in their time machine, and knew he would someday be the President? Shame they hadn’t stopped at the year he was appointed Director of the FSB (1998), because that might have warned them that when he found those tapes, he might not just settle for quietly destroying them, and might come looking for whoever recorded them on a medium which had not yet been invented.
Was there ever any record of Putin being arrested for sex offenses against children? They’d have nothing to fear from him when he was just a snot-nosed student, would they? All right, did anyone ever come forward after the accusations from the western media, perhaps flee to the west where Putin couldn’t reach them, and confess, “Putin assaulted me”. Nope. So what we have is the word of a probable liar – at least, his brother reported that he had proudly recounted his part in the phony ‘poison pen’ attempt to kill Berezovsky (which was a successful fabrication in that it allowed Berezovsky to stay in England), and we know that ‘probably’ is close enough for government work – who worked for a known liar, so assessed by Madame Justice Gloster in Berezovsky vs. Abramovich.
Home Secretary Theresa May, who personifies today’s western weathervane politician, announced that what Russia had done constituted an “unacceptable breach of international law” – probably, because there wasn’t any evidence which conclusively proved it did anything. But Theresa May steadfastly blocked an inquiry until July 2014, after she had been ordered by High Court judges to reconsider. What happened in July of 2014, do you remember? Yes, the shooting down of MH-17, which was immediately and vociferously blamed – by Britain – on Russia in general and Mr. Putin personally. That investigation is now falling apart, as the evidence simply cannot be made to fit the narrative. Britain’s politicians continue to embarrass the country, and its press slathers on the crazy like the frosting on a great big fruitcake.
But Britain has likely made a lifelong enemy this time, and it seems to sense this; several sources suggest the country, having thrown shit at the walls like a two-year-old, wants to move on without making the situation any worse. The talking chancre known as James Nixey, who has popped up here before, offers several possible reasons for this;
- They fear that a firm response will cause British commercial assets in Russia to be expropriated. Russia is only a moderately important export market but some UK financial services companies and energy companies are over-extended there.
- It is in the nature of politicians and diplomats to want a quick fix of better relations through mollification. This quick fix necessarily entails drawing a veil over such inconvenient truths as one country murdering the citizens of another in its capital city.
- Russia is ‘too big and too important’ to antagonize further.
- Russia has had considerable success in encouraging Western diplomats to believe that no major international problem can be resolved without it.
- The UK is too caught up in tactical issues to think broadly about what needs to be done with Russia.
- The government believes, erroneously of course, that Russia has half a point on many international issues, including debates over spheres of influence, missile defence and NATO enlargement.
Incredibly, he seems to think that if Britain would finally get tough with Russia and beat it like a redheaded stepchild, that would promote better trade ties with Russia and safeguard British assets from being expropriated, as he plainly disagrees with the government’s too-tepid response. I don’t know what kind of secret weapon he must be hiding in his basement, but Britain is not in any shape to be slapping anyone around without one.
I think the relationship – such as it was – between Russia and the Russophobic Empire of Formerly Great Britain is at an end. I hope all that bootlicking to Washington was worth it.
Editor’s Note: As usual, I am indebted to the readers for their advice and their provision of great substantiating links. For this post, special thanks to Nat and Russian Bot for their stellar assistance.