Talk for Article "Earlier: Diplomatic crisis sparked by nerve agent attack on former Russian spy"

Talk about this Article

  1. Editors Note:

    In order to keep this ongoing story manageable we have decided to freeze work this particular article and create a new one which expands on the diplomatic phase of this incident rather than the initial attack and immediate aftermath.

    This is the new main lead on the aftermath of the nerve agent attack on the former Russian double agent

  2. 9/10
    A very good article, I like the broad scope in which it covers everything connected with this. It is more than just a poisoning, it is a globally repeating assassination streak we are talking about here.

    Speculation still seems rather blurred with the facts in such a long article.
    It seems to me speculations should have a different font or something else to differentiate it with facts.

    1. Interesting idea. Of course one person’s fact is another’s speculation but I’ll see what I can do while still keeping it readable.

      1. In fact, this article has a readability problem rather than anything else.

        To sum up, I already commented on this topic in another article, about reporting on this complex Nerve gas story, in Talk:
        “Nerve agent attack would be new chapter in Kremlin playbook”

        I commented:

        Overall good article.

        But there is something really not good, not directly linked to this article.
        I feel you need to internally sit down as a team of journalists and make reporting of this assassination more structural.
        There are too many articles with no clear division of who covers what and how it should be read by someone not reading updates about this every day.

        This story needs to have a general story, which sums up the important facts. Then is should have sub-articles which can be expanded with further informed speculations and are accessible through hyperlinks, which comprise of:
        the beginning, the story, sections of the story, and the conclusion.

        With all due respect for your excellent work, the current structure is a shitshow to read through, to be completely frank and blunt.

        Keep on the good work.”

        I found an unusually substantial number of irregularities between articles that stem from 2 or more reporters writing something forms an interview that was dismantled by some other Wikimedia reporter in a separate article. So, both sides of the question were reported in 2 different articles, one side in each article, which is not good.

        If you are interested, I commented under almost all 6 or 8 Nerve gas articles in Talk, you can read what I found and judge if it seems valid to you.

        Hope it helps.

        1. Thanks. Unless there are ellipsis to show a quote has been trimmed for length any quotes in stories should be the same.
          There is a main, running story in which all developments from all others are incorporated and which links back to all “sidebar” type stories which are intended to illuminate a particular element of the story:
          I will look at how to make what is now an er…Russian doll of a story, clearer.

          1. I didn’t suggest there were any problems with the quotes themselves.
            I suggested there is a problem in your articles that goes exactly like this:
            1.) somebody said the UK can definitely say the nerve gas points to Russia in article A,
            2.) the other guy said the UK definitely can’t say the nerve gas points to Russia in article B
            Those things should be in the same article, not separate.

            Writing below –> With story, I meant article…

            There should be:
            1.) a clear marker which is the main story that other stories link to, or
            2.) a clear marker which story is a sub-story at what is the main article, or
            2.) there should be a “tree” structure that lets you get to other sub-stories through going through the main story.

            I like the second approach the most, but they all have some merit, depending on your editorial preference

            1. Clear marker is something we can work harder on. Thanks very much.

  3. This post by Craig Murray may be of interest:

    In it, he cites recent journal publications discussing the lack of evidence of the existence of Novichoks to refute the claims that Russia is to blame for the attack.

    “It is a scientific impossibility for Porton Down to have been able to test for Russian novichoks if they have never possessed a Russian sample to compare them to. They can analyse a sample as conforming to a Mirzayanov formula, but as he published those to the world twenty years ago, that is no proof of Russian origin. If Porton Down can synthesise it, so can many others, not just the Russians.”

    1. Further info from Craig Murray:

      “I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve gas as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so. Porton Down would only sign up to the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” after a rather difficult meeting where this was agreed as a compromise formulation.”

      It seems to me that this angle is worth pursuing if possible. I think at the very least, your articles on this topic should have a more skeptical tone toward the official pronouncements by the UK & USA governments.

      1. We will keep an eye on what Murray is saying and thanks for bringing it up again. We try to avoid comment or opinion and certainly not of our own and try to let you make up your own mind. However, we have been trying to reiterate what Theresa May said at the start that Russia was responsible one way or another in the sense that it either did it directly or created the circumstances in which a state-created chemical weapon could be used. It is also true today that Boris Johnson has gone much further than she did.

    2. Thanks. Yes, we put that in the separate story on what novichok is:
      He is an interesting character and has some good counter views even if he isn’t himself a weapons scientist. Thank you.

    3. I have put Murray into the main story as well, this one we’re talking about. He is an outlier but it is worth adding that alternative perspective.

  4. I’ve seen the picture many times, Skripal being manhandled by “security forces”. Do we know who those guards are working for?

    1. This is the caption we have on it from Reuters news agency: A still image taken from an undated video shows Sergei Skripal, a former colonel of Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, being detained by secret service officers in an unknown location. RTR/via Reuters TV
      It would be a guess but since he was caught in a sting I imagine it is either his own GRU or FSB people.

  5. Since currently it is not known whether Russia is behind the attack or not I think that the title will be less biased in a reverse form:
    “May says: Russia is behind nerve agent attack on former spy”
    The emphasis here is that Theresa May speaks out everyone’s suspicions, but it isn’t a proven fact yet.

    1. Fair enough. We did try to get that across with the one way or another angle. Will do.

  6. Does unidentified mean the same thing as undisclosed? You say that it’s an unidentified nerve agent, but I believe it’s been identified, we just haven’t been told what it is

    1. I will make that clear that it is undisclosed. So far as we know, yes.

  7. Tell us the conclusions of the Litvenyenko enquiry and the justifications for these

    1. Hi Bob,
      The conclusions of the Litvinenko inquiry are summarised in the second paragraph of the section on Litvinenko. The full text of the inquiry report is also linked. Jack

      1. Hello Jack

        Yes, sorry I missed the link. I suppose I was asking for a 2-3 sentence summary of the findings in your text. Perhaps that’s too much to ask.


        1. Hi Bob,
          I have expanded the section that set out the inquiry’s findings – particularly explaining the inquiry’s methodology. Do feel free to add more detail from the inquiry yourself if you would like. Thanks

  8. Sorry for Jack and his collaborators, but feel this story has a lot of speculations. Just give us the facts, the known facts. That will take about two or three paragraphs. Quoting what Boris Johnson thinks! Come on. You say “The exact nature of the nerve agent used on the Skripal’s has not been disclosed by British authorities”. So why are you speculating?

    And why the last two paragraphs at all. This guy Kaszeta has nothing to say at this stage. It’s all speculative waffle.

    Sorry, I’m saying it as I see it.

    1. Interesting perspective. I couldn’t agree less though. Boris Johnson is the foreign secretary and what he says matters — whether speculative or not. We will be clear when we are reporting what people who know what they are talking about believe at this point. We are not reporting random speculation. However, when we re-write the story today I will try to make clear what is absolutely known and what is speculative. Informed speculation is the essence of a story like this at this point of the investigation. It is also clear that police and the government are declining for good reason to disclose what the nerve agent is. Given that there are only four or five likely types it is surely a journalistic pursuit to try to answer a question: what could it be?

    2. John, I have redone the story and actually broken the sections into specific areas of what we definitely know, what politicians and police have said and what is subject to informed speculation. I stress informed. See if that helps break it into a structure that makes clearer which is which.

      1. Hi Peter,

        First of all apologies for using the term “speculative waffle”, that was rather rude, I really should have just said speculation. Anyhow thanks for the edit, I think it reads better, however finding it hard to find the precise version I originally commented on via HISTORY for technical reasons to do with the Wikitribune site which I will take up with the appropriate people.

        However I want to make a point here. You said “Given that there are only four or five likely types [nerve agent] it is surely a journalistic pursuit to try to answer a question: what could it be?” I don’t agree that in this case you should speculate on this because it is early days and the police either are not sure yet or have their reasons for not disclosing it. Why not wait until the facts come out? If you think that the police are unreasonably delaying release of evidence then you have a reason to report on “what it could be”.

        I realise I am a particular type of news ready who does not like a news item to be any longer than necessary. I am not someone who likes news items that pander the the public’s “need to know” before facts have been established. That’s why I have lost interest in most main stream media. I can’t see what it adds to the story by naming the “likely” types of nerve agent.

        I’m not a journalist, I am just giving my opinion as a consumer of news. I just want to give my comment in the hope that it might contribute to the evolution of Wikitribune and preventing it’s content mimicking every other media outlet. Sorry, I’m a harsh critic but that is the way it is.

        1. Of course and thanks. We don’t want to be the same as other outlets either which is one reason I am quite pleased with the extent to which we have been able to our own named sources on much of this.

  9. So, Putin said ““Russia’s special services don’t do that,” (hunt and kill traitors).

    In the same way that there are no Russian soldiers fighting in the Ukraine, according to Putin?

    I think he gets away with misleading people based on prefabricated technicalities of his own creation.

  10. Rowley said the first police officer to respond to the scene is also in critical condition in hospital.

    I made an edit to change this to “serious condition” if only because those were his words.

    Also, I think there might be some difference between critical condition and serious condition. Critical being worse than serious. But, I’m not sure on that.

    1. Thanks Dan, you’re right, best to be as accurate as possible re technical terms. Jack

  11. “Police said that two people were found unconscious on a bench in The Maltings shopping complex in Salisbury, southwestern England, on March 4, and later identified them as Sergei Skripal, 66, a former Russian colonel, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia.”

    I haven’t seen the police identify either of them, but I may have missed it.
    Most recently, Met Police said “We are not releasing details of the man and woman who are critically ill.”

    1. Thanks Fergus ,

      I’m updating the story and double checking this now

  12. Minor update – Met Police Counter Terrorism Policing network is leading the investigation

  13. …reddit post says that his wife, his older brother and his son all have died in the last two years….

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