Espionage |Developing

EU recalls ambassador to Russia in show of support for UK

  1. UK and Russian ministers trade allegations over nerve agent attack
  2. UK Foreign Secretary says Putin will use forthcoming World Cup to burnish Russia's image
  3. Chemical weapons agency to test samples
  4. Policeman affected released from hospital, but Russian scientist suspects Skripals will not recover

The European Union (EU) recalled its ambassador to Russia as a show of support for the UK in its row with the Kremlin over the poisoning of a former spy, as British diplomats left Moscow on Friday in tit-for-tat expulsions.

EU leaders said in a joint statement they agreed with the UK’s conclusion it is “highly likely” Russia is responsible for the use of a nerve agent against Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said her government views the attack as part of a “pattern of Russian aggression against Europe” as she arrived at an EU summit where she is expected to press for assistance undermining Russian spy networks and ask European leaders to expel Russian diplomats they suspect of being undeclared intelligence operatives.

“Russia staged a brazen and reckless attack against the United Kingdom,” May told reporters when arriving at the summit in Brussels on Thursday.

May last week gave 23 Russian diplomatic staff, identified as undeclared intelligence officers, a week to leave Britain in a statement to the House of Commons. She also said it was “highly likely” the Kremlin was responsible for the use of a “novichok” nerve agent against the Skripals in the English city of Salisbury.

Moscow responded with an expulsion of 23 UK diplomats, who began leaving Russia on March 23. The Kremlin also closed the Russian branch of the British Council cultural center and the British consulate in St Petersburg.

On March 21, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson ratcheted up his rhetoric against the Kremlin by comparing Russia’s World Cup this summer to Germany’s 1936 Olympics, earning a rebuke from the Russian ambassador to the UK on Thursday.

In a press conference, Alexander Yakovenko said Johnson’s comparison was “unacceptable” and “an insult to the Russian people.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin will use the soccer World Cup to bolster Russia’s image to the world, Johnson said, agreeing with another MP’s comparison with the German government’s use of the 1936 Olympics as a propaganda tool. He also said Putin may have targeted the Skripals to send a message ahead of presidential elections, which he won on March 18.

Johnson made the remarks to parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee shortly after a Russian defense minister laid the blame for the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal at the door of the British government.

Help expand this story. What's missing?


Pushed on financial penalties for Putin’s allies, Johnson on Wednesday told the select committee that he expected some form of “Magnitsky-style” amendment to be added to pending anti-money laundering legislation.

Johnson said the British National Crime Agency is currently looking at whether new powers, including Unexplained Wealth Orders which allow authorities to seize ill-gotten assets, should be used against powerful Putin allies. However, he emphasized those law enforcement agencies should not be seen to be acting upon political direction.

In her initial statement to parliament, May appeared to refer to the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by calling the nerve agent attack an “unlawful use of force” against the UK, but Johnson on Wednesday said Russian deliberately acted in a way that did not trigger NATO action.

Inspectors from the United Nations-backed chemical weapons control agency are in Britain. UK police told the BBC’s Today radio program they are still tracing the Skripals’ movements. On March 17, they appealed to the public for information regarding Sergei Skripal’s car, and later seized a vehicle (Guardian) belonging to a family friend, that is thought to have brought Yulia Skripal from the airport when she arrived in the UK from Moscow.

Britain points at Putin

The attempted murder of a 66-year-old former military intelligence officer, Skripal, has created a crisis in Anglo-Russian diplomacy which has now drawn in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and specifically France, Germany and the United States.

Speaking on March 18, the same day Putin won another six-year term virtually unchallenged, Johnson told the BBC: “We actually have evidence within the last 10 years that Russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination but has also been creating and stockpiling novichok.”

Skripal remains in a critical condition along with his daughter Yulia, 33. Britain has said they were poisoned in the cathedral town of Salisbury using a chemical weapon developed by the former Soviet Union known as “novichok.” Large areas of the town remain cordoned off, a police officer who went to the Skripal’s aid is still in hospital and the graves of Skripals wife and of his son who died relatively young are being investigated by a forensics team (Guardian). 

The strike on Skripal echoes the 2006 murder of former KGB secret service agent Alexander Litvinenko using a rare radioactive isotope polonium 210. Radiation was spread across London and even the aircraft used to carry the material from Moscow twelve years ago. Litvinenko was also an associate of Berezovsky and a British inquiry said it was almost certain that Putin ordered that attack. British authorities have opened a new inquiry into a series of suspicious deaths of Russian émigrés and their associates exposed by BuzzFeed News.

Thousands of Russians have moved to or invested in London since the fall of the Soviet Union, taking advantage of a no-questions-asked attitude to real-estate investment. But also drawn by the rule of law, relative safety and a bolthole four hours flight from Moscow. Some are oligarchs, others live less glittering lives.

In other developments:

Earlier reporting and background


The Skripal affair blew up days before presidential elections in Russia on Sunday. Moscow’s Foreign Ministry said (Washington Post) British Prime Minister Theresa May was “aiming to posture as a strong leader” by blaming Russia for the poisoning. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Johnson said it was “overwhelmingly likely” Putin ordered the nerve agent attack.

Members of the emergency services wearing protective clothing work near the bench where former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned in Salisbury, Britain, March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Members of the emergency services wearing protective clothing work near the bench where former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned in Salisbury, Britain, March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

“Our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin, and with his decision, and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War,” Johnson said.

Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Johnson’s remarks were a “shocking and inexcusable breach of diplomatic propriety” and repeated the Kremlin’s denial of any involvement in the attack. A Kremlin spokesperson said the UK blaming Russia for poisonings in England was “absolutely crazy.”

May said Britain would work to incorporate into a pending sanctions bill elements of the so-called Magnitsky Act, which restricts investments by those accused of human rights abuses in Russia, essentially a circle around President Putin, saying: “There is no place for these people, or their money, in our country.”

She also warned that Russian state assets could be frozen if linked to any danger to Britain, though refrained from giving further details on potential financial penalties. She did not mention Russia’s state-funded news channel RT, whose license is being reassessed by media regulator Ofcom following the attack on Skripal.

As well as the expulsion of diplomats, May said her government will suspend all high-level contacts with the Russian government, and revoke an invitation to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. She said Britain would limit royal and official attendance at the soccer World Cup in Russia later in the year.

British politicians and analysts have pointed to similarities between the latest attack and the 2006 assassination of Alexander Litvinenko. More than a dozen Russians have died in suspicious circumstances, according to a 2017 investigation by BuzzFeed News in the UK, which has become relevant after being ignored by the wider media. The government has announced a fresh inquiry into those deaths.

Businessman Bill Browder, the promoter of the Magnitsky Act who has taken on the Kremlin for years and described himself as Putin’s number one enemy, told WikiTribune the attack reflected a “complete failure” by Britain to tackle past Kremlin actions such as the death of Litvinenko, creating “a very serious security risk” for Putin’s opponents in the West, including himself.

“Nothing has changed,” Browder said. “We just need to remember they killed Litvinenko in the middle of London.” Browder, who has successfully campaigned for sanctions against Putin and his allies, said he knew his own life was under threat from the Russian government: “Living in the UK, when they don’t do anything, creates a very serious security risk for me and the people around me.”

Allies back UK over nerve agent attack

The European Union offered its “unqualified solidarity” to the UK after the diplomatic crisis with Moscow over the attempted murder of a former Russian double agent intensified over the weekend.

The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council on March 19 called the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4 a “reckless and illegal act” but stopped just short of endorsing the UK government’s view that the Kremlin was probably responsible.

“The European Union takes extremely seriously the UK Government’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible,” the statement read.

France, Germany, and the United States joined Britain to condemn Russia for what they suspect is Kremlin involvement in the attack on Skripal.

“This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War,” the leaders said in a joint statement. “It is an assault on UK sovereignty and any such use by a State party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of international law. It threatens the security of us all.”

U.S. President Donald J. Trump offered support to the UK on March 13, alongside spokespeople for the German and French governments and a senior EU diplomat. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, reaffirmed the U.S.’s support for the UK on March 14, saying her government agrees with the UK’s conclusion that Russia is responsible for the attack.

Trump spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone on March 20 and congratulated him on his election win, without raising the attack on the Skripals. President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker also congratulated Putin without mentioning the attack.

On March 15, the U.S. government also confirmed it will impose sanctions on 19 Russian government individuals and entities for attempted election meddling and cyber attacks on major infrastructure. The individuals include 13 people who were charged last month by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller and six others named on Thursday.

NATO and a number of senior EU figures all expressed their support for the UK following May’s statement which itself echoed the NATO doctrine that an attack on one member is an attack on all.



Novichok use points to Russia

Novichok was designed to be undetectable by standard NATO methodology, to be stronger than previous strands of nerve agent, and to be easier to transport, as some strands consist of two elements, only becoming dangerous when combined (Stimson Center). The exact strain of novichok used against the Skripals has not been revealed, but at least one type is five-to-eight times as strong as VX, the nerve agent used to kill the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong-un last year.

The existence of novichok was revealed in 1992 by one of its developers, Russian state scientist Vil Mirzayanov, who was concerned about the environmental dangers of the agent, and the likelihood they breached chemical weapons conventions. Mirzayanov was arrested on charges of treason, but later released.

Commenting on why Russia would use an easily traceable rare poison, James Nixey, head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at think-tank Chatham House, suggested two reasons. The first was to send a message to the West, and the second “is because they don’t care.”

Nixey told WikiTribune: “This is an act of terrorism using a chemical agent and we know from whence the provenance is … It is by our weak response to [the 2006 murder of Alexander] Litvinenko that we have encouraged this thing to happen again. Another weak response will further undermine us.”

What else do we need in this story?


Skripal and the “sleepers”

Skripal, a former colonel in the GRU foreign military intelligence, arrived in the UK as part of a prisoner exchange in 2010. Skripal and three others were exchanged for 10 Russian “sleeper” agents living in the United States ( One of the best known of the Russian agents in the swap was Anna Chapman, who posed as a glamour model after the spy swap and this week was featured posing in Thailand (The Sun).

A Moscow court found Skripal guilty of passing information on Russian agents to Britain’s foreign intelligence service MI6 in 2006. He was then pardoned as part of the spy swap.

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
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

After the prisoner swap, Putin said the “swine” who exposed the sleeper cells in the United States wouldn’t be hunted down and killed by Russian intelligence (The Telegraph). “Russia’s special services don’t do that,” he said. “As for the traitors, they will croak all by themselves. Whatever equivalent of 30 pieces of silver they get, it will get stuck in their throats.”

In 2006, the Russian government passed legislation allowing its forces to target “extremists” abroad. The legislation put the power to order a strike in the hands of the president and broadened the definition of those who can be targeted.

Facts and speculation

A highly speculative report in The Telegraph suggested Skripal had been in contact with someone from the security analysis firm founded by former British secret agent Christopher Steele who authored the dossier at the center of claims that the Kremlin had compromising material on President Trump. That connection has not been made elsewhere.

Litvinenko was a former FSB agent who defected to the UK and became a Putin critic working for exiled oligarch Berezovsky. He died in 2006 from radiation poisoning after drinking tea spiked with polonium 210. British authorities said the assassination was ordered by the Kremlin. Berezovsky himself died in 2013 in what was determined to be a suicide.

public inquiry eventually found strong circumstantial evidence that Litvinenko was murdered by the Russian state, and pointed to a number of other political murders apparently carried out in Russia that bore similarities to the Litvinenko’s death.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 on March 6, Marina Litvinenko, Litvinenko’s widow, said the attempt on Sergei and Yulia Skripal felt like “deja vu” and added: “It just shows how we need to take it seriously, all of these people asking for security and for safety in the UK.”

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Peter Bale

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Sources & References

If you want to explore more tenuous scenarios see this report recommended by an RT staffer. One or two contributors to WikiTribune have also noted the comments of former British diplomat Craig Murray who has been disowned by his former employer but who offers an alternative perspective.

Editor’s note: In reports and edits from WikiTribune staff, we will attribute material that we do not receive ourselves to sources we consider to be historically reliable. If we are in doubt, we will leave it out or try to be clear that the assertion is highly contested. We welcome your help in this. This has been particularly important in the reporting of this story and its related items.



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Jack Barton is a staff journalist at WikiTribune where he writes about international law, human rights and finance, whilst covering daily news. He was previously a senior reporter at Law Business Research and has experience covering law and international development, with credits in the Sunday Times, the New Indian Express, and New Statesman online among others. He has an LLM in Human Rights and worked on a UN-funded research project, looking at peace processes.

History for Story "EU recalls ambassador to Russia in show of support for UK"

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23 March 2018

10:55:33, 23 Mar 2018 . .‎ Ed Upright (Updated → updated with EU ambassador recall)
10:35:04, 23 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Updated)

22 March 2018

17:50:34, 22 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Added policeman release and Skripals)
14:17:21, 22 Mar 2018 . .‎ Ed Upright (Updated → updated with May at EU summit)
13:51:42, 22 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Re-topped for today)

21 March 2018

17:37:44, 21 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Fixed para on London)
17:23:18, 21 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Picture)
17:13:45, 21 Mar 2018 . .‎ Burhan Wazir (Updated → updated)
16:18:17, 21 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Re-topped with Johsnon, general shortening)

20 March 2018

21:44:49, 20 Mar 2018 . .‎ Charles Anderson (Updated → tweak)
21:44:12, 20 Mar 2018 . .‎ Charles Anderson (Updated → update with Khodorkovsky story)
17:07:03, 20 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Updated and republished)
16:49:52, 20 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Summary didnt save)
16:49:01, 20 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → )
13:13:08, 20 Mar 2018 . .‎ Ed Upright (Updated → updates, including tests on car)
11:48:55, 20 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Car seizure, focus of investigation)

19 March 2018

18:02:37, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Ingrid Strauch (Updated → Mirzayanov`s contrasting remark to AFP)
12:11:40, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Line on 2006 law)
11:24:02, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Modified headline and updated)
11:19:52, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Publishing with latest information)
11:08:26, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Retopped with EU support)
09:54:44, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Ed Upright (Updated → deploy not deplore; at least not at last)
05:48:20, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Rowland Webb (Updated → "Deploy", not "deplore")

18 March 2018

21:17:15, 18 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Improving headline with latest events)
20:32:59, 18 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Updated)
20:22:46, 18 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Publishing to update with latest developments)

17 March 2018

23:28:38, 17 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Updated and republished, PGB)
21:00:22, 17 Mar 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → links and light copyediting)
20:37:06, 17 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Formatting improvement)
20:34:24, 17 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Updated and republished)
14:27:44, 17 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Publishing and updated to reflect Russia steps)

16 March 2018

18:42:17, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Updated with a line, low on Telegraph suitcase claim)
18:24:44, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Updated and published)
18:23:18, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Fixed headline error)
18:22:56, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Shortened headline)
18:22:13, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Published)
17:50:33, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Added aeroflot)
17:39:27, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → comma)
17:39:06, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Typo)
17:38:39, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → More revisions)
17:36:25, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Picture)
17:35:31, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → typo)
17:35:18, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Summary)
17:34:00, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Clash?)
17:33:03, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Glushkov reworked)
17:31:52, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Harry Ridgewell (Updated → adding related articles)
17:05:34, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Typo)
17:01:06, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Harry Ridgewell (Updated → adding related article)
16:22:01, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jack Barton (Updated → Added Glushkov)
15:36:15, 16 Mar 2018 . .‎ Ed Upright (Updated → typo in highlight)

Talk for Story "EU recalls ambassador to Russia in show of support for UK"

Talk about this Story

  1. Other

    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. Rewrite

      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. Rewrite

        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. Rewrite

            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. Rewrite

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

  2. Other

    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. Rewrite

      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.

    2. Rewrite

      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. Rewrite

      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.

  3. Rewrite

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

    1. Rewrite

      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.

  4. Rewrite

    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. Rewrite

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

  5. Rewrite

    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. Rewrite

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

  6. Rewrite

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

    1. Rewrite

      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. Rewrite

        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. Rewrite

          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

  7. Rewrite

    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. Rewrite

      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. Rewrite

        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. Rewrite

          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.

    2. Rewrite

      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?

  8. Other

    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.

  9. Other

    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. Rewrite

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

  10. Rewrite

    “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. Rewrite

      Thanks Fergus ,

      I’m updating the story and double checking this now

  11. Rewrite

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

  12. Rewrite

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

    1. Rewrite

      Thanks – is there a source for that?

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