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by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.”

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by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Everything, including artillery fire, infantry movements, launch of drones, rockets and refugees,  even losses of territory and men, is planned by three Turks – President Tayyip Recep Erdogan (lead images);  Defence Minister and former head of the Turkish General Staff, Hulusi Akar;   and Hakan Fidan, head of the National Intelligence Organization (in Turkish, MIT). Call them the Sultan and the Ugly Viziers (SUV).  

An SUV is never as serious as it would like to appear.  This Turkish SUV also planned the July 2016 coup in Istanbul and Ankara. Nothing they do, including the sacrifice of large numbers of their own people, will result in a military coup to remove them, no matter how costly their mistakes. Those Turks who can calculate their mistakes are in jail or dead.  

The SUV has decided to fight for Syria outside the lines of the Sochi agreement. With artillery firing from the Turkish side of the Syrian border, they decided to fight a new battle for Saraqib, east of Idlib, and succeeded. In the battle they lost up to 60 regulars; the Syrian Army lost more than a thousand. The Syrians have gained in the south of Idlib; they have lost Saraqib.  They must retake it and hold it; they will; they have done so.

Russian forces have now established a cordon around the city. They have restored air cover for the Syrian Army, and just as importantly, extended their electronic counter measure (ECM) defences to the frontier and further. The drones on which the SUV depended for targeting their long-range guns and for attacking Syrian Army units have been neutralized. The Russian resupplies now arriving by sea and air are more than a match for the small force the SUV has committed so far.

Defeat makes the SUV keener than ever to hide their weakness. Akar has retreated from his field headquarters in the south to Ankara, as the SUV prepares to meet Putin and the Stavka on Thursday in Moscow. A Russian military analyst reports the General Staff assessment awaiting him: “General Akar should keep himself in check, because it is one thing to inflate the enemy’s losses somewhat and pass off old videos as fresh ones. It’s quite another to write fiction novels in the context of information war.”

The SUV responds to force of arms more than to the force of money. They calculate President Vladimir Putin and his Kremlin advisors are the opposite. The SUV will continue to operate NATO AWACS aircraft for attempting the same ambush tactics they used against the Russian Air Force in November 2015. The SUV will try to threaten with US weapons the Pentagon will not hazard in a losing fight.  The Turks will push against the cowardice they have come to expect from the Greek Government in Athens and President Nikos Anastasiades in Nicosia. This has been a winning strategy for the SUV until they overreached with force instead of bluff. When the SUV goes through the Spassky Gate on Thursday, for the first time in the four hundred years since the Ottoman siege of Vienna, a single army, Russia’s, is defending all of Europe.  

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by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

A London newspaper on Sunday, citing “security insiders” as the source, claims Sergei and Yulia Skripal are “desperate to leave the UK”, and are “living under house arrest…[at] a secret location where [they are] guarded by British intelligence agents.” The report also claims they “may have already travelled to Australia and New Zealand to scout possible locations.”

The newspaper report has appeared days before the second anniversary of the incident in Salisbury, England, on March 4, 2018. Then, according to British Government allegations, the Skripals were the targets of a murder attempt by a nerve agent manufactured in Russia and delivered by Russian assassins. The attempt failed.  

In the history of the British criminal law, the Skripals are the only targets of a crime who have not been allowed to testify in public nor communicate with their kin; Sergei Skripal was last heard of in a telephone call to his mother’s house on June 26, 2019; Yulia Skripal on July 18, 2018. The British authorities have yet to produce in court evidence of the crime, the weapon, the crime scene, or even the arrest warrants allegedly issued by the Crown Prosecution Service for the culprits.

The book, Skripal in Prison, just published, provides the full story.

Sources in the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the organisation in charge of witness protection in that country, indicate there is “no verification that the [London] article is correct.” The Australian Minister of Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, to whom the AFP reports, refuses to say whether the Skripals have visited Australia, or whether there has been any discussion with the British Government on relocation to Australia and protection for the Skripals. Nicole Chant, confirming her role as Dutton’s spokesman and agreeing to follow up on the London press report, said by telephone: “I don’t want to be referred to in any article.”

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by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Two weeks is not a long time in Russian politics. But it’s just enough for Kremlin deputy staff chief Sergei Kirienko to send the instruction to the Central Election Commission head Ella Pamfilova (lead image) that any turnout, big or small, for the national vote on constitutional amendments will be enough.  The 50% turnout required for the validation of the constitutional referendum in December 1993 has been abandoned.

Pamfilova announced in Moscow yesterday: “The individual who considers himself an active citizen, the one who believes that his opinion can and should influence certain decisions, takes part. Knowing our realities, the obligation to vote [Обязаловка] always gives the opposite result.” This is the strongest indication yet that the Kremlin is afraid that the national turnout for the vote, now confirmed for April 22, will be less than 50%.

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by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The ongoing release of secret information about nerve agent manufacture and testing at Porton Down, the British Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), indicates that monkeys were used as targets for several years before Sergei and Yulia Skripal suffered poisoning in Salisbury on March 4, 2018.

The British kill dose and death speed experiments on the monkeys were paid for by the US Defence Department.  

Publication of the experiment details and the number of monkeys and other animals tested show that the Anglo-American nerve agent weapon programme was under way for several years before the Skripal case began, and has continued since then. This gives the lie to the 2018  declaration to parliament by then-Prime Minister Theresa May that “only Russia had the technical means, operational experience and motive to carry out the attack”. 

That was a special kind of deceit.  May knew that what she intended the House of Commons and everyone outside to believe wasn’t the whole truth. May’s phrase “only Russia” was false, because the rest of the truth was that the UK and US also had the technical means, operational experience and motive to manufacture and test organophosphate weapons like Novichok. This truth May intended to dissemble. 

The top-secret nerve agent programme at DSTL, or Porton Down as it is also known for short, has not been fully disclosed to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); it violates Article II of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC);  concealment from other, non-allied states, is a violation of Article IX of the Convention.

If suspected by the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, the Porton Down operations with Novichok would have been an obvious target for espionage for years before the Skripal attack, and reason thereby for the circulation of GRU agents in the Salisbury area.  If British counter-intelligence suspected that Sergei Skripal might try to pass Porton Down’s Novichok secrets to GRU, and been caught red-handed two years ago, the meaning of next month’s anniversary of the Salisbury incident changes more than a little.   

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by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

There was a new release of documents by Bonanza Media, Max van der Werff and Yana Yerlashova on Monday morning. They add to the evidence released last week from the files of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) prosecuting the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 on July 17, 2014.

Two secret reports by Major General Onno Eichelsheim, head of Dutch military intelligence (MIVD), have been disclosed in their Dutch origanals. The first told Dutch prosecutors that the MIVD relied on intelligence obtained from “partner informatie” – partner intelligence — to conclude no Russian BUK missile radar and launch units had crossed the border into Ukraine before or on July 17, 2014; no BUK missile radar targeting or firing on MH17 had been detected; and no identified Russian units on the Russian side of the border had launched missiles.

In his reporting Eichelsheim told the prosecutors his intelligence came from “reliable sources and analyses of all locations”. The prosecutors understood Eichelsheim to be referring to US satellite and airborne electronic surveillance and NATO and British signals monitoring. Despite statements from Washington officials in the aftermath of the shootdown that they had seen US satellite data, and statements from Dutch officials claiming to have been briefed on these data, none has been documented until the Eichelsheim disclosures from the JIT files. Eichelsheim reveals that US intelligence means the opposite of what US officials have told their allies to insist upon.  

A second letter report by Eichelsheim was revealed by Bonanza Media today. Dated September 21, 2016 – the same date as the first report – Eichelsheim identified the same “partner” intelligence – US, NATO and British – for the details of a BUK missile radar and launcher unit detected in the Donetsk area on the day of the shootdown.

Referring to photographs of this unit which had been published on the internet by Ukrainian and NATO propaganda sources, Eichelsheim explicitly denied the BUK  was capable of being fired. “Based on the available information,” Eichelsheim discreetly identified his US and NATO sources. He concluded: “On the internet, there are additional photos (annexes 1 and 2) showing a 9A310M1 radar and launch vehicle of which the electronics section located in the rear of the unit has been completely destroyed.”

This military report flatly contradicts the core allegation in the JIT press statements and the Dutch prosecutors’ indictment charging four men – three Russians, one Ukrainian fighting on the Novorussian side —  with culpable homicide in the downing of MH17. They are scheduled to go on trial, in their absence, next month. According to van der Werff and Yerlashova, Eichelseheim’s agency will neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the two reports.

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by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Russian and Syrian general staffs and their men have been doing to the Turks what no one has achieved in the Middle East since 1917.

So the Sultan has called the Tsar – three times this month so far; in January, once by telephone, twice in face-to-face meetings; and twice by telephone in December. Every time the telephone rings, it is, as the Kremlin communiqué doesn’t fail to mention, “at the Turkish side’s initiative.”

On the battlefields of northwest Syria, the initiative at the start of each day has been the Turkish side’s, too. But at the end of the day the Russians have inflicted defeat. Not often in five hundred years of communications between the Porte and the Kremlin, has the subliminal message been so clear.     There is another subliminal message from the Kremlin. “We,” Dmitry Peskov, the Turkish-speaking spokesman for the Russian President, said on Wednesday. “used to be satisfied with the agreements reached in Sochi more than a year ago and this satisfaction was mutual. However, we are completely dissatisfied now that militants and terrorists have begun advancing from Idlib and attacking Syrian forces and Russian military installations.” This is a signal from the Moscow lobby for the Turks that it too is in retreat — from the Russian Defence Ministry and the General Staff.

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by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

If your eyes aren’t deceiving you, the picture you see ought to be preposterous.   

A Russian assassin employed by the military intelligence agency GRU is pointing a bottle of Nina Ricci perfume filled with a deadly nerve agent called Novichok at a man turning the handle of his front-door. The man is Sergei Skripal, a GRU officer himself, who turned double agent for the British; was caught and imprisoned by the Russians; then swapped into a second retirement in Salisbury, in the middle of England, paid for by the British intelligence service, MI6. From the handle to the man’s hand, through his skin, the poison should cause the man’s lungs to seize up in as many seconds as it takes you to look at the picture and judge if the potted bush beside the front-door is a genuine English boxwoood or a plastic one. The man’s heart will then stop, and he’ll be dead. There will be froth from his mouth on the linoleum, and other bodily stains too. Job done, the man in the mask will step clear and bolt out the door. He doesn’t have a getaway car; he’ll be making on foot for the railway station.  But he won’t go direct. He will take a detour to find a place in which to dismantle his weapon, returning the bottle, the atomiser and applicator tube to its Nina Ricci box and wrapper, then toss the lot in a rubbish bin.  

But what if the only genuine thing in the picture is the jagged lightning in the sky? What if the picture is a cartoon of what happened to Skripal on March 4, 2018? Skripal himself would know, but he isn’t allowed by the British authorities to say. That’s the giveaway this picture is a fake. You suspected as much from the start, didn’t you? But if the British Prime Minister, the House of Commons, MI6, the state broadcaster BBC, and everybody else in authority in England insists the cartoon is the truth, who are you to think otherwise, or me to suggest the picture is laughable? Read the book – then try laughing at everybody in authority in England.

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by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

New evidence leaked last week from the files of the  Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) proves that Dutch state prosecutors  have concealed and suppressed evidence of a direct witness of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine on July 14, 2014.

That witness, a Ukrainian villager under MH17’s flight path, reported to a Dutch police investigator in July 2015 that he had seen two Ukrainian Air Force fighter jets in the air at the time of the shootdown; a plume moving horizontally across the sky, indicating an air-to-air missile launch, not a missile fired from the ground; and the subsequent fall of the MH17 itself.  

Another of the documents leaked shows that Dutch prosecutors have concealed an official report by Major-General Onno Eichelsheim, director of the Dutch military intelligence service (MIVD). Addressed to the National Prosecutor’s Office for Counter-Terrorism, and dated September 21, 2016, Eichelsheim said that “flight MH17 was flying beyond the range of all identified and operational Ukrainian and Russian locations where 9K37M1 Buk M1 systems were deployed.”

A third piece of evidence, hidden until now, is a report by the Australian Federal Police to the JIT dated July 2015. This concludes that images published internationally of a Russian BUK missile carrier alleged to have been the weapon used against MH17 had been “manipulated” and almost certainly had not been recorded at the time of the MH17 incident. The newly discovered evidence is inconclusive on what or who caused the downing of MH17. But the leaked documents show that the Dutch court trial, scheduled to start in The Hague on March 9 is a sham, its evidence inadmissible in a criminal proceeding in the UK or the US.  

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by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Despite an order from President Vladimir Putin to arrange a nationwide vote on his proposed amendments to the Russian Constitution, the Central Election Commission and its director Ella Pamfilova are unable to confirm the contents of the ballot paper, the counting rule for voter approval or disapproval, the threshold of voter turnout for the vote to be valid, or even the date of the vote itself.

“This is a true plebiscite”, Putin told a meeting of the Kremlin-appointed working group on the constitutional amendments last week.   “Citizens of the Russian Federation should record their authorship of the law. It will be as the people say. If the people reaffirm during the vote that they support the law, it will enter in force and amendments will be made to the Constitution. If they do not confirm their support for the law, there will be no amendments to the Constitution.”

A press release, issued the next day by the Commission, claimed that “on February 14, 2020, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin signed an order to prepare for the all-Russian vote on the approval of changes to the Constitution of the Russian Federation”. The text of the three-page order combines the obvious with the superfluous;  it omits the important altogether. 

Paragraph 1 says: “State authorities, local self-government bodies, and other state bodies and organizations should prepare for the all-Russian vote on approving amendments to the Constitution”.  Nowhere in the six paragraphs which follow does the President make clear what an “all-Russian vote” shall be or do.  Para.2 says the CEC should be in charge of “introduction, operation and development of automation tools, legal training of voters, professional training of members of election commissions and other organizers of elections, referendums, and publication of the necessary printed materials”. Government officials at all levels “should assist election commissions in preparing for the all-Russian vote, as well as in providing logistical support for its preparation”, according to Para. 3. The remaining paragraphs set out how state budget money should be transferred, banked, and disbursed for the CEC’s expenses.

When officials were asked to clarify the rules of the “all-Russian vote” for valid turnout, voter approval or disapproval, and the law regulating this “all-Russian vote”, as distinct from a constitutional referendum, spokesmen for Pamfilova at the CEC and for Sergei Kirienko, the deputy chief of the president’s staff in charge of the vote, refused to say. “We will answer when we are ready,” a CEC official said. Her telephone is no longer being answered. The Commission is unready because Kirienko has been unable to finalize Kremlin agreement on the instructions. In the meantime, the Kremlin has also ordered the State Duma to delay its second-reading debate on the proposed constitutional amendment law for another month. In his February 14 order Putin omitted fixing the date of the national vote for April 22, which had been reported days earlier. That day, the Kremlin did not realize, is the 150th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birth.

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