By Dr Roger Cottrell
To listen to the selective media coverage and political sound bites regarding the poisoning, on March 4, in Salisbury, of Russian defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, you might for a moment start to believe that Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Amber Rudd planned to do something about it beyond throwing their toys out of the pram.
After all, the implication of the Kremlin and of Vladimir Putin’s “murder incorporated” in this heinous and actually terrorist act is plain enough to see.
But so, too, has been the reluctance of the British authorities to pursue other such murders in the UK, all linked to the Russian leader before and after the Russian Parliament itself sanctioned Putin’s “right” to murder his political opponents overseas in 2006.
In Britain alone some 14 or 15 Russian opponents of Vladimir Putin and his oligarch cabal, Georgian business rivals and British fixers for the ever growing community of Russian Oligarchs living in the UK, have met their deaths.
In almost every case the Police and Crown Prosecution Service have accepted at face value that these were accidental deaths or suicides.
But when it comes to polonium poisoning and nerve agents, emergency responders – like Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey in Salisbury – and the general public are also at risk.
This isn’t “simply” murder it is also state sanctioned terrorism and we all know it would be a different story entirely if a Muslim state such as Iran were involved.
The Prime Minister today told the House of Commons that it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind the “brazen” attack.
Meanwhile, the echoes of Roberto Calvi supposedly hanging himself under Blackfriars Bridge are all too obvious and threats that British politicians might boycott the World Cup in Moscow count for nothing.
The authorities and the British government have it in their power to seize every penny held by Putin’s murderous cabal of Oligarch supporters both in the UK and throughout the British overseas territories using the same counter terrorism laws that Gordon Brown deployed against the Icelandic banks.
Indeed, evidence linking the Kremlin to assassinations in the UK have consistently emerged for example, BuzzFeed’s disclosures about 14 deaths linked to Russia in 2017.
The article last year followed the death of Scott Young, a property tycoon who fell to his death onto railings from a fourth floor luxury flat.
It was later revealed that Scott was an associate of the late Boris Berezovsky, an outspoken critic of Putin who supposedly hanged himself in his bathroom in Surrey in 2013 after a couple of alleged assassination attempts.
The source of BuzzFeed’s exclusive was later revealed to be Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer and Russian Specialist who ran the Russia Desk at Vauxhall Bridge from 2006 until 2009.
Steele’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence, had been hired by Hillary Clinton’s election team via the legal firm, Perkins Coie and Fusion GPS to investigate Donald Trump’s financial links to Russia and any compromising information that Putin’s Kremlin might have on Trump.
Steele’s investigations formed the basis for charges brought by Robert Mueller and the US Supreme Court that have led to indictments against 14 Putin connected Russians in connection with subverting the US Presidential election.
These include the deeply sinister Yevgeny Victorovich Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s Chef,” and his Internet Research Agency troll farm based in St Petersburg.
Steele was subsequently smeared as a “failed agent” (he was nothing of the sort!) both by Trump and his supporters e.g. on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, that included Tucker Carlsen.
So what is the connection between the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury and investigations both into the financial irregularities of Putin and his allies, and their interference in British, European and US politics?
The police accepted the deaths both of Berezovsky and Young as suicides and in the latter instance closed the case on the spot. According to a BuzzFeed investigation, US intellligence believed the Russian state was involved in the death, and UK police shut down the investigation without forensics tests or investigating Young’s alleged business ties with Putin’s enemies.
In fact, seven more associates of Berezovsky and Young had also died under unusual circumstances in the UK. These included Paul Castle, Johnny Elichaoff and Robert Curtis.
Young’s murder also followed the leaking of the Panama Papers from Mossack Fonseca to the International Committee of Investigative Journalists on May 5, 2016. With Putin assoicates implicated. This has been described by Edward Snowden as the biggest data journalism scoop in history.
Perhaps significantly, the Kremlin only recently turned against Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, with Czech retired spy Jan Sarkocy making his false accusations to Murdoch’s Sun, when the Labour leader (and shadow Chancellor) threatened to get tough on money laundering and tax evasion through the City of London and British Overseas territories.
This, after all, is what makes the UK such an attraction to the Russian Mafia and oligarchs and which makes for some strange alliances, such as Fox TV colluding in Kremlin smears against Christopher Steele.
in Putin’s Russia, organized crime is the government and the oligarchs who control the looted and privatized economy can only thrive through the sanction of the Mafia linked to the criminal organization of Putin itself.
As in the west, deniable operations are also outsourced to the private sector by the secret state, e.g. through the Internet Research Agency troll farms and private corporate armies like Wagner, while private sector hit men can only get their hands on nerve agents and polonium through the collusion of the state.
What is interesting, if one examines the history of possible Kremlin connected deaths in Britain since Stephen Moss suffered a sudden heart attack in 2003 and Stephen Morris died in a helicopter crash in 2004 is that the earliest deaths seem linked to financial gain. By contrast, the more recent deaths, especially following the publication of the Panama Papers, are about preventing investigations into Putin’s criminal activities and those of his cabal.
Boris Berezovsky and his dead associates were involved in investigations into Putin’s affairs. This particularly included Alexander Litvinenko, who had been in contact with Berezovsky before the latter supposedly hanged himself in his bathroom in 2013.
Litvinenko was also in contact with Christopher Steele, and Orbis Business Intelligence, when he was poisoned in 2006 with polonium in a plot which a public inquiry concluded was probably on instruction from Putin and his cabal.
So, too, was Sergei Skripol when he was poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury two years later.
This also conforms to a pattern that is replicated in other Kremlin linked deaths, in other countries, from Austria and Malta to the Middle East.
Although there is no clear evidence connecting the Kremlin to the radio detonated car bomb murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on October 11, 2017, she had been involved in the Panama Papers investigation from the start. In particular, she had been investigating the activities of Pilatus Bank, owned by Ali Sadr and well known to be a money laundering favourite both of the Italian and Russian Mafia – the two of them now linked in the subversion of Italy’s recent elections.
What applies to Malta applies equally to Slovakia, where Italian and Russian Mafia revenues are laundered via the Calabrian mafia called the Ndrangheta, with the alleged complicity of members of the government.
On February 28, 2018, Slovak journalist Jan Kuclak was murdered, together with his fiancée Martina Kusnirova, after investigations into Ndrangheta on behalf of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism (CCIJ), the Investigative Reporting Project in Italy and Aktuality.Sk, in Slovakia.
In Russia, itself, the murder of journalists and of Putin’s political opponents is routine. As an example, in 2000, journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered after investigating Russian war crimes in Chechnya. Again, the killing probably outsourced to the private sector to afford for plausible deniability.
So much of the financial activity of these Mafia connected oligarchs is concentrated in the UK.
This is because of the connection between the increasingly criminal practices of the City of London and offshore tax havens in the British overseas territories which is precisely why so many Russian oligarchs live here.
The Sunday Times yesterday reported that Russian oligarchs and their associates had registered donations of £826,100 to the Tories since Theresa May entered No 10. And Marina Litvinenko, widow of assassinated Alexander Litvinenko, told Sky News that the party risked their reputation if they held onto dirty money.
When all is said and done there may be many reasons why, as the Business Insider puts it, Theresa May is “asleep at the wheel when it comes to Russia.” Having cut Britain off from its most important market, namely in Europe, she scours the world looking for vile dictators with whom to do business from Beijing to Moscow to Riyadh. But most of all, Britain’s government and authorities are scared to look at how the Russian criminal elite are becoming embroiled in the activities of Britain’s financial institutions and its constellation of tax shelters throughout the British Commonwealth.
After all, we are fast turning into a Mafia state ourselves.