Novichok, the 2018 World Cup in Russia & What COULD Happen Next Week…

Posted: July 5, 2018 in (All Things) CULTURE, (Politics) CURRENT AFFAIRS, Uncategorized
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Another two people have been allegedly poisoned by the Soviet-era nerve-agent ‘Novichok‘, this time in Amesbury.

And Russia and England are both still in the 2018 World Cup, with just over a week left to go. Those probably seem like two unrelated statements: and maybe they are.

Then again, maybe not.

Regarding this latest alleged nerve-agent incident, the authorities have been careful not to be seen to jump to conclusions – so there has been no overt statement implicating Russia. And the media reports all suggest that the two individuals in question had nothing to do with Russia.

Still, it will be interesting to see what kind of statements or accusations come out – if any – over the next few days. Note that, in the Sergei Skripal case, it wasn’t the police or the scientists who said anything about Russia, but it was politicians and the media who immediately accused the Russian state of being behind the alleged poisoning.

Nevertheless, we might guess what sort of direction this could go in, given that it has apparently been confirmed the substance in question in this latest incident was Novichok (which we were previously told could only have come from Russia – a premise that was refuted elsewhere).

My reaction to the Salisbury case was balanced: I acknowledged a Russian history – in my opinion – of assassinations, but also expressed doubt about the Skripal poisoning narrative specifically.

As I was quick to point out after the Salisbury poisoning, Salisbury is just a short drive from Porton Down – 5 miles, to be precise.

 


Well, guess what? Amesbury is also just five miles (again) from Porton Down. As you can see here, it’s a 14-minute journey by car or 40 minutes by bus.


 

When Salisbury happened, I noted that the MP for Salisbury, John Glenn, referenced this himself when talking to the BBC about the Skripal incident. He said “Fortunately just down the road in my constituency at Porton Down defence, science and technology labs exist and they will have taken the substance and will be trying to evaluate what they can.”.

I wrote then: ‘Of course, what he’s saying is that the substance will be analysed there – but what he was also reminding us, deliberately or by accident, is that Skripal was found only a short distance from an installation that specialises in producing and experimenting with chemical agents…

It is by now well known that Porton Down, under the MoD, has been involved in chemical warfare research and human testing, with thousands of people subject to chemical and biological warfare trials over a number of years. As previously pointed out, it was also where the late Dr David Kelly was head of biological defense research.

As with the Salisbury case, Porton Down has been responsible for analysing this Amesbury substance, reporting that this new couple were exposed to the same nerve agent (Novichok) that was used against the Skripals.

It remains to be seen what the ‘official’ narrative of this incident will be in the long-run.

 


 

I tend to wonder, however, if some British elements have been so agitated by how well things have gone in Russia during this 2018 World Cup tournament that we’re seeing a low-key false-flag as a kind of petulant lashing out.

Just the word ‘novichok’ immediately evokes Russia, even if official statements are not overtly implicating Russia.

Back in March, Boris Johnson and others were citing the Skripal incident as a possible justification for England boycotting the Russia World Cup – there were also many fear stories about what would happen to unsafe England fans if they went to Russia.

Some of this was justified, given the insanely appalling behaviour of Russian ‘ultra’ hooligans (specifically targeting English fans) during the 2016 European Championship in France: but some of it was also, without doubt, motivated by fear of Russia hosting a very popular, successful tournament and possibly countering or undoing some of the negative media coverage of Russia over the last few years.

As I recall, Johnson had even said at the time that Putin shouldn’t have the opportunity to showcase Russia in a positive way by having the biggest, most important sports tournament in the world be hosted there.

In fact, Russia has ended up hosting a very successful World Cup up until this point: almost every commentator, including British reporters, pundits and fans who’ve gone over to Russia to cover the tournament, have been full of praise for the Russian hosting of the competition, the atmosphere at the games and in the streets, the security situation, and the general positivity.

The expected negative incidents never manifested. Russian authorities, from what I understand, rounded up and suppressed known trouble-makers and hooligans before the tournament started and foreign supporters began arriving.

I’ve been listening to a lot of sports-based radio (which I tend to do during a World Cup tournament) and English football pundits who were led into expecting the worst from their Russia experience have been admitting how surprised they’ve been at how pleasant their experience has been. Some have also remarked what a shame it is that English fans have been fewer in number than fans from other countries (like Columbia and Argentina), due to the fear-factor having kept a lot of English supporters away.

Again, some of that fear-factor was justified: given the horrednous behaviour of Russian ultras two years ago. I, admittedly, was one of the people saying two years ago that a World Cup in Russia would be a disaster for that reason. But it is clear that the Russian authorities knew precisely what the danger was and where it would come from – and so took every preemptive measure to negate that problem and ensure a trouble-free tournament.

Again, we have to wait and see how this story develops: but it feels immediately suspect that this new novichok incident has been reported with just a week-and-a-half to go in the World Cup.

What’s also curious is that – due to the highly unexpected way the games have gone in this tournament – there is a possibility of an England versus Russia semi-final within the next week or so.

At the start of the competition, that seemed like an impossibility: no one expected much from this England team and even fewer people expected a sub-standard Russia team to remain in the competition for this long.

 


But if Russia beats Croatia later this week, and England beats Sweden, then we are looking at a Russia/England semi-final – possibly with this new ‘novichok’ business hanging over it.


 

People generally agree that politics should be kept out of sport: but we all know it doesn’t always happen. Recall, for example, the infamous and highly-charged England v Argentina quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup, which featured the infamous Maradona ‘hand of god’ incident and which took place in the shadow of the Falklands War.

Hell, even the relatively meaningless Iran v USA group-match of the 1998 World Cup has had a whole film made about it.

And we have to note that the Russian ‘ultra’ violence in 2016 wasn’t random hooliganism: it was specifically targeted at England supporters.

It almost seems contrived at this point.

I did wonder – when watching a very poor Russian team inexplicably knock a supposedly world-class Spain team out of the tournament – whether match-fixing or corruption of some kind was going on. As I watched a Spannish team full of experienced, quality players aimlessly kick a ball around for two hours and then lose a penalty shoot-out to a Russia squad that even the Russian media had been calling “hopeless” prior to the tournament (when all Spain needed was to put one goal passed a second-rate defense), I did wonder if some funny business was in play.

I was probably being overly paranoid – I don’t think it would work to fix a World Cup fixture like that. And there’s a still a good chance Croatia will eliminate Russia on Friday anyway: indeed, as likely as it is that England will beat Sweden to reach that semi-final, Croatia will probably eliminate Russia.

But, at the very least, I wonder if this latest incident is simply trying to piss on the Russian parade: if someone, somewhere, just couldn’t bear to watch Russia – and, by extension, Putin – getting all of this positive coverage all over the world as it hosts joyful and vibrant visitors from every corner of the earth.

There’s also egg on the face of politicians who advocated an England boycott of the tournament – given that this has already turned out to be the England team’s most successful World Cup since 2006 and there’s a possibility of England getting all the way to the final (which would make it England’s most successful World Cup since 1966).

But, again, we’ll have to wait and see how things develop, particularly with this latest novichok story.

However, now that I’ve raised the prospect, I can’t get it out of my head: just imagine if it does end up being a Russia v England semi- final next week.

 

 


Read more:The Skripal Poisoning, Porton Down & a Massive Rabbit-Hole‘, ‘The 20 Most Memorable World Cup Moments of Our Lifetimes‘, ‘Why ITALIA 90 Was the Greatest World Cup‘, ‘Lionel Messi & the 2014 World Cup‘…


 

 

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Comments
  1. Olive Farmer says:

    My guess is that the UK government/debt collection agency have data mined their fake Skripal story and found that there are sufficient dummies out there that believe the big lie such that they know they can do a rerun. My guess is that these two patsies have been selected to die (I pray that is not the case). If they do die, then the debt collection agency has a huge number of options available to move the collective consciousness of the country towards Armageddon, whilst plunging the country into internal chaos (Brexit v Remain, Free the wanker Timmy Robinson v them Muslims) whilst the NHS murders old people and babies and people get their pensions stolen by deferring the pension age (soon to be 70) so that everyone’s dead before they can collect what they paid for all their lives…..
    This is a rant.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Smoothsailing says:

    Hi BBB,

    I have to say I am a big fan of your work. Many years of consistent, high-quality investigative writing has made you one of my favorite writers. I literally look forward to every new post you make, and am always curious what you come up with to entertaint us with. Especially your work on Libya from a deep-rooted urge to expose the evildoings of the empire we live in, and to restore Khadaffi’s name is truly inspiring. I take my hat of to you for that one sir!

    The reason I make my first comment here is a dumb one: simply to point out that Croatia, Russia, England and Sweden will play on Saturday, not Friday. Not that this really matters, at all. But I thought it would give me the chance to pay you a well deserved compliment.

    Keep up the good work, Cheers from the Netherlands!

    Like

    • Thanks for your very kind comments, smoothsailing: it’s always nice to hear from a regular reader who I’ve never spoken to before. And you’re right about the days, of course. Still, there’s a decent chance of an ENG v RUS semi final. Though I suppose we in England should not underestimate the Swedes – something that Dutch fans now know only too well.

      Like

  3. Football is a passion of mine and so here are my thoughts as a fan of nearly 50 years…

    I have always thought this World Cup would be a great success because Russia is a football loving nation – unlike Qatar (the real FIFA scandal) – and it is clear that the Russian authorities made sure their hooligans could be kept at bay. (With the world watching they obviously they had every reason to do so.)

    Russia beat Spain fair and square. As underdogs they ‘parked the bus’ but this must be expected. The ref was fair and Russia finally won on penalties by virtue of keeping their nerve and thanks to a tremendous save by their keeper. Nothing wrong with any of that. It’s what underdogs do.

    Given the history of the two nations the quarter final against Croatia is now set to be a fascinating encounter. Croatia are clearly favourites but Russia as hosts have a great chance to do the seemingly impossible and make it to the semis. Meanwhile, I’ll be cheering on England to accomplish something almost as improbable!

    And this latest poisoning… our thoughts must be with the victims. But just how credulous do they think the public are?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep, WoC, I accepted the innocence of Russia’s win over Spain – I was only briefly suspicious. Russia, both as hosts and as a football team, did a great job. As for how credulous they think people are – evidently quite, quite credulous. Anyhow, I would be delighted if England wins the World Cup; though I have a feeling France will win it. A touch sadly, I’m already hearing people talk about a possible England/Belgium final as the ‘Brexit’ W/C final.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. My theory is simple:

    ~ the couple in Amesbury will not survive as they are MI5/MI6/CIA/Mossad agents
    ~ the investigation will turn up financial links to a russian oligarch with links to putin/kremlin to explain how a previously homeless drug addict could afford an expensive house
    ~ they will blame the deaths on incompetence of the couple not disposing of the leftover novichok safely

    Thankfully we won’t have an England v Russia semi-final but the Brexit Final is definitely a possibility 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting theory, Trinkats. I just heard Boris Johnson has resigned – so I don’t know who’s going to read out the Russia scripts now. Also, I admit I was – a touch sadistically – looking forward to England v Russia. Oh well.

      Like

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