Excerpt from remarks by Russian Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, April 19, 2018 – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
And now I am asking everyone to fasten their belts. During a briefing on the OPCW report held for the international diplomatic community on April 13, UK Ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow said that “the Russian state has a record in state-sponsored assassinations including in the UK.” It is not the first Russophobic statement made by a UK official, or, for that matter, not the first UK statement that is an offense to law, standards of decency or any morals. But it’s not the main point. Let’s put aside morals and the law and talk about something different. Maybe the UK Ambassador does not know his own country’s history, role and involvement in processes that took place in other countries over the past centuries. I don’t think Mr Bristow is to blame for absence of law in the UK. He probably just doesn’t know his country’s history. British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie wrote that the “trouble with the new Englishness is that their history happened overseas, so they don’t know what it means.” And so the island status that motivated Britain’s imperial story in the first place has helped them distance themselves from all aspects of that story. I think now is the time to fill this cognitive vacuum and tell the world something about Britain’s history and its international activities and their consequences. Let us talk about state contracts, assassinations and Britain’s reputation.
Let’s start with modern history. It is not a common subject, but Britain was one of the most ruthless metropolises in terms of the repressive actions it took in its colonies and dependent territories. On November 22, 2017, British journalist and writer Afua Hirsch wrote in The Guardian that “from the Norman conquest of Ireland in the 12th century, the English began imagining themselves as the new Romans, persuading themselves they were as duty-bound to civilise ‘backward’ tribes as they were destined to exploit their resources, land and labour.” The British see “Britain’s empire as a great moral achievement and its collapse as an act of casual generosity.”
This accepted view of Britain’s history completely overshadows some inconvenient facts. If the motive is what matters most of all, nobody wants to know the details. But today we will be speaking about details. The establishment of concentration camps in the Boer War that later inspired the Nazis’ death camps, the cultural annihilation of kingdoms and palaces from Ashanti to Beijing, British army massacres in Ireland and the devastation of Bengal, the industrial-scale exploitation of natural resources and the slave trade. These are only the most glaring facts.
The impact of colonial rule in India was extremely devastating. In 1930, American historian Will Durant published a book about the history and life in India, The Case for India. His study of India brought him to the following conclusion: “The more I read the more I was filled with astonishment and indignation at the apparently conscious and deliberate bleeding of India by England throughout a hundred and fifty years. I began to feel that I had come upon the greatest crime in all history.”
Britain has left fault lines across the globe, which is most acutely felt in the South Asian subcontinent, where a single nation was forcibly split into two in 1947. Today each of these parts is overcoming the consequences of the British colonial “legacy” on its own. Member of Parliament, former UN Under-Secretary General Shashi Tharoor, an astute statesman who once ran for UN Secretary-General and deservedly enjoys respect the world over has repeatedly stated that the British authorities suffer from “historical amnesia” as regards their imperial atrocities. One has to agree. Speaking at Oxford on July 22, 2015, he said: “India’s share of the world economy when Britain arrived on its shores was 23 per cent. By the time the British left it was down to below four per cent. Why? Simply because India had been governed for the benefit of Britain. Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India.” According to Dr Tharoor, in fact, Britain’s industrial revolution was actually premised upon the de-industrialisation of India. Britain repeatedly provoked famine in India, which killed between 15 million and 29 million people. The best known famine was that in Bengal in 1943, when four million Indians died. You could think this to be just journalistic speculations. But no. Addressing Speaker’s Research Initiative on July 24, 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed that the discourse by Dr Shashi Tharoor met the aspirations of his country’s citizens. I am saying this to you, Mr Bristow.
In his book Inglorious Empire released in 2017, Dr Tharoor cited the atrocities of the British Empire, stating that the former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, should be regarded as one of the cruellest dictators of the 20th century. This is what Churchill said in a conversation with Secretary of State for India and Burma Leopold Amery: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.” This is not what we are saying, nor are these our inventions. It’s a fact.
The Russian artist Vasily Vereshchagin has a famous picture, “The Devil’s Wind.” This is not a symbolic comparison. The canvas shows a type of execution invented by the British to crush the 19th-century Sepoy Mutiny in India. A victim was tied to a gun with his back to the muzzle and blown to pieces by a gunshot. This was one of the most barbaric punishments in the history of civilisations aimed not so much at physical extermination or intimidation. Even without it, the British had so many infernal instruments of torture and execution that this option doesn’t seem so original and, honestly, was rather costly for the Brits. But from the religious and caste point of view this method of putting to death is absolutely unacceptable for Indians. Their bodies were blown to pieces and the dead were buried together regardless of caste, which is radically at variance with the Indian tradition.
Yet another episode of the same kind occurred in Amritsar, Punjab, on April 13, 1919, when 50 British troops under Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer fired their rifles without warning at pilgrims celebrating Baishakhi, the Punjabi harvest and New Year festival, at the centrally located Jallianwala Bagh public garden. The gathering was mostly made up of women and children. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that these British subjects were acting on direct orders of the British authorities. According to the British government, 379 people were killed and over 1,000 wounded. The Indian National Congress said 1,000 people were killed and 1,500 wounded. Regrettably, millions of Indians were to fall victim to the acts committed by the British authorities, including mass executions by a firing squad, during at least several decades after these sad events.
Africa has also suffered its share of British abuses. Some 13 million Africans have been removed from the continent as slaves. This has to do with Britain’s reputation and the UK Ambassador’s allegations regarding Russia. The number of Africans who died in that period is three or four times larger than the number of those who were removed from the continent. In other words, the overall number of victims runs into tens of millions of people. It is notable that English philosopher John Locke, who advanced the theory of civil society and whose works influenced those who wrote the US Constitution, was a major investor in Britain’s slave trade. It is a fact.
The British were among the first to invent concentration camps for civilians in the Boer War of 1899-1902. These camps were created for the civilians who were suspected of sympathising with the rebels or who could help them. The British torched their farms and fields and slaughtered their cattle. Women and children were separated from men. All this happened long before WWII. The men were taken to outlying regions or Britain’s other colonies, such as India or Ceylon.
When the world learned about this horrible invention of British military commander, Lord Kitchener, the British government published an official statement saying that the camps had been created to keep the peaceful population of the Boer Republics safe from harm’s way, and the camps were renamed “refugee camps.” This is remindful of the story of the White Helmets: take militants, extremists and terrorists, put white helmets on them with “Peace” written on these helmets, and then use them to stage provocations and present mobile phone footage of their crimes as evidence of the plight of the civilians who must be saved. Centuries have passed, yet nothing has changed. Prisoners are now called “guests of the Crown.” Overall, 200,000 people or half of the white Boer population was herded into the British camps, where about 30,000 of them died from disease and hunger.
There were British camps in Cyprus and in Palestine between the late 1930s and 1948, where Jewish refugees were sent and many of them were executed.
Another dark page from Britain’s history concerns the notorious Special Air Service (SAS) of the British Army, which have been used in over 30 local conflicts, mostly former British colonies, including Kenya and several South African countries.
In particular, about 50 former SAS servicemen were included in the Rhodesian regiment that was to play a key role in the coup staged during the transfer of power to the indigenous population of Rhodesia (renamed Zimbabwe).
Historians believe that Britain is the world’s leader when it comes to genocide, given the millions of innocent civilians that have been killed in British colonies.
According to different estimates, between 90 and 95 per cent of aborigines were exterminated during the colonisation of Australia. Indigenous Australians were not only killed but also used for experiments. The British deliberately infected them with various diseases, primarily pox.
The armed conflict between the British colonisers and the indigenous people of Tasmania known as the Black War all but exterminated Tasmanians in the early 19th century. Some British historians consider the war to have been a genocide. The British colonisers had official license to kill Tasmanians, with a bounty put on every person killed. That’s talking about an international reputation. They were poisoned, driven out into the dessert, where they died from hunger and thirst, they were hunted like wild animals. By 1835 about 200 of them survived. They were simply moved to neighbouring islands.
In the 1870s, on the orders of the British authorities, a genocide of Zulus was perpetrated in the Cape Colony and in 1954-1961 of the Kikuyu people in Kenya. In retaliation for the killing of 32 white settlers by the local rebels, the British authorities massacred 300,000 Kikuyus and sent 1.5 million to work camps. An account of these events is given in the book by Caroline Elkins titled The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya. The Western media are reluctant and embarrassed to talk about it, but the personal story of the former US President Barack Obama speaks volumes. We have read that his father was tortured by the British during the Kenya rebellion. Or is that story untrue?
Remembering the notorious Opium Wars would not come amiss. London was poisoning Chinese people with drugs for decades. Britain organised a supply of opium to China making fabulous profits. The operation also pursued the military-strategic aim of demoralising the Chinese army and people and depriving them of the will to resist. In a bid to save his country, the Chinese Emperor in 1839 launched a massive operation to confiscate and destroy opium stocks in Canton. London retaliated by unleashing the Opium Wars. China was defeated and had to sign a crippling peace with Britain.
“As long as China remains a nation of opium-smokers there is not the least reason to fear that she will become a military power of any importance, as the habit saps the energies and vitality of the nation.” This was how Richard Hurst, the British Consul in China, ended his speech to the Royal Opium Commission in 1895. It was not until 1905 that the Chinese authorities managed to adopt and start implementing a programme to gradually ban opium.
And now for instances from recent history, when London was already vocal in upholding human rights calling itself a bastion of democracy and freedom.
We have already described the suffering inflicted on India. This is not our question, this is common sense. Think of the suffering inflicted by the British authorities in the Middle East. One needs hardly go to any length to argue that Britain seeking to retain as much influence as possible in the region as it saw the colonial system crumble, made some moves which created a deep rift between the Arabs and the Jews. One need not go into historical details, it is enough to open the world map and look at the borders in the region as they were redrawn by the British after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Nobody thought about borders as something more than lines drawn with a ruler. But it concerned lives of whole nations. As a result, tribes, ethnic and religious communities and peoples were divided. The world is still reaping the fruit of that policy in the Middle East today. Yet Britain is still very active on this issue.
One more interesting fact. According to the British national archives declassified in 2014, the British authorities made wide use of chemical weapons to put down the Arab rebellion in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) in the spring of 1920. Winston Churchill as Britain’s Secretary of State for War supported “the use of gas against uncivilised tribes.” According to archives, Churchill ordered the use of thousands of mustard gas shells against the rebels. The anti-British rebellion in Iraq claimed between 6,000 and 10,000 lives, according to various sources, a negligible number from London’s point of view compared to other regions.
The Greeks, too, got their share of British brutality. In the spring of 1944, Britain crushed a revolt in the Greek army in Egypt. Many historians believe that the suppression of that revolt paved the way to and was a prelude to the British invasion of Greece in December 1944 and the Civil War of 1946-1949. Of the 30,000 Greek officers and men in the Middle East between 20,000 and 22,000 were imprisoned in British camps in Eritrea, Egypt, Sudan and Libya.
In the late 1960s and 1970s the British authorities evicted 1,500 indigenous people from the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. At the United Nations, the British diplomats passed off the indigenous Ilua people as “contract workers.” The reason was the US wish to set up a military base on one of the islands. It was that simple.
Moreover, the whole archipelago was declared to be a marine reserve. In 2009, Wikileaks reported that the British government had backed the project to make sure that the continued attempts of deported islanders to return to their home island would fail. Ironically, the American military base on Diego Garcia Island was called Camp Justice. Sounds great.
Here is another example from recent history. The secret service of the British Armed Forces intentionally falsified reports on military crimes committed between 2010 and 2013 so as to conceal information on killings of civilians in Afghanistan. Unarmed Afghan civilians, who were regarded as potential Taliban militants, were killed, not detained as per the reports, during raids on their homes.
Launched in 2014, the investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan committed in 2010-2013 was codenamed Operation Northmoor, with investigators establishing that the secret service in question had forged documents to shift the blame for killing unarmed civilians to the Afghan army. This is apropos international reputation, Mr British Ambassador. The investigators got hold of drone footage, the so-called Kill TV, which clearly shows that it was the British rather than their Afghan colleagues, who were firing at unarmed Afghans. According to The Times (July2, 2017), the UK Defence Ministry intended to conceal these war crimes from the media, because it believed that the publication of the investigation’s details could cause damage to national security, public confidence and collaboration with the allies. At the same time, the UK top army brass described the evidence of mass killings that had been discovered during the investigation as reliable, very serious and disastrous for the government. But no disaster ensued. The British authorities always have something to distract the attention of esteemed journalists.
On November 19, 2017, The Sunday Times published another story on SAS killings, specifically an admission by Major Chris Green, who testified to a SAS unit killing in cold blood three peaceful Afghans in the courtyard of their house at the village of Rahim, Nahr-e-Saraj, Helmand Province. The civilians had no connections with the Taliban.
Now to Iraq. According to information from open sources, 326 criminal proceedings were instituted in connection with British military abuses during the Iraq war in 2003-2011, with charges brought against 1,500 persons and the compensations paid to the injured parties adding up to ₤20 million. It could be said that these are just isolated occurrences unrelated to the official state strategy. After all, there is always an investigation following any wrongdoing. Well, there are investigations, of course, and people get punished. But the British government, which sanctions all these things, never suffers any punishment and, what is most important, all of this keeps happening again and again, year after year, decade after decade, century after century.
The media focused on an episode that happened in Basra in 2003, when the British military detained two Iraqis for an alleged killing of two British snipers. They were kept in prison without charge or trial for several years. They were charged with murder only in 2006. But Iraq’s Supreme Tribunal dropped the charges as unsubstantiated.
To minimise the number of lawsuits against the British military for crimes committed during military campaigns, the Tory annual conference in Birmingham held in October 2016 was presented with a government plan to grant British servicemen involved in conflicts abroad immunity from prosecution by the European Convention on Human Rights.
Now let’s move on to espionage operations and pinpoint sabotage and subversive acts. From time immemorial, representatives of Great Britain have been avid fans of various kinds of covert operations and targeted subversive acts against specific individuals as a way to secure political benefits for Great Britain. This predisposition is richly represented in their art, things like the James Bond gold collection. This may sound ridiculous unless you know that the author of the series, Ian Fleming, had searched through the archives, so Agent 007 in fact has real prototypes. This anthology of crime, artfully described by writer and part-time naval intelligence officer Fleming is a light version for those who are not interested in historiography, who see archive work as boring or believe that materials there may have various interpretations and require additional checks.
Indeed, the Bondiana is a very symptomatic example of the British government’s love of such things. Fleming died in 1964, but what he described lives and thrives. New James Bond episodes are regularly released, as everyone is used to the superhero. Times change, the actors and sets change, but the idea remains unchanged – a British agent, in the service of the Kingdom, gets nothing less than ‘license to kill.’ Once again I repeat, this is not a fictional invention, but a result of work with archival materials. What we see in the Bondiana is actually taking place under the cover of MI5 and MI6.
Thanks to the films, people have a basic understanding of the license to kill concept – a term denoting the permission granted by the official government or a state agency to a secret agent who serves this authority to independently make a decision on the necessity and expediency of murder to achieve a certain goal. Once the mission is completed, the agent always returns to the base. We have seen that as well.
It is a pity that in normal life, to which we will now return, things are not so beautiful and dignified. Fleming did something brilliant: he took facts and packaged them beautifully. What we see is a very beautiful picture.
And now getting back to reality. The following historical episodes are not fiction, they are facts. Some of them are proven whereas others are highly likely hypotheses put forward by historians. But the key is that while as far back as a month and a half ago we did not use materials which are just hypotheses in official statements, with a helping hand from Theresa May who introduced the “highly likely” phrase to level an accusation of a most grave crime, why should we deny it to ourselves?
Scotland Yard historians also maintained the British authorities’ complicity in the murder of Grigory Rasputin. Michael Smith, a historian of the British intelligence, writes in his book SIX: A History of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service that at the height of World War I in 1916, the resident agent of the British intelligence in Petrograd heard rumours that Grigory Rasputin was trying to conclude a separate peace treaty with Germany through the Tsarina. This fact worried the British a great deal. Captain Oswald Raymer of MI6 was dispatched to Petrograd to get information about the talks from Rasputin and eliminate him, if necessary. According to Michael Smith, the third, security shot in Rasputin’s head (the “official” murderers’ testimony does not say anything about that) came from a 455 Webley, a British revolver, whereas the plotters’ memoirs indicate that Yusupov fired a pocket-size Browning and Purishkevich – a Savage pistol. The following is a striking admission from the declassified correspondence of British intelligence agents. A friend of Oswald Rayner’s wrote a letter to a British intelligence officer, John Scale, on December 24, 1916: “Although matters have not proceeded entirely to plan, our objective has been achieved … Rayner is attending to loose ends and will certainly contact you.” A number of historians are convinced that the message refers to Rasputin’s murder. In 2004, the BBC aired its documentary “Who Killed Rasputin?” According to British journalists, the “glory” and the plot of the murder belong to Great Britain, whereas the Russian conspirators were just the actors or the instruments.
By the way, there are similar versions regarding the murder of Russian Emperor Paul I, but I think this is a question to be addressed to historians.
Historians also write about the so-called Lockhart Conspiracy organised in 1918 by the heads of the diplomatic missions of Britain, France and the USA to Soviet Russia in order to overthrow the Bolsheviks. The conspiracy involved the chief of the British special mission, Robert Lockhart, French Ambassador Joseph Noulens, and US Ambassador David Francis.
Robert Lockhart tried to bribe the Latvian Riflemen who were guarding the Kremlin. You know the rest of the story. The Latvians were supposed to be sent to Vologda to join the British troops who would be landed in Arkhangelsk, so as to assist them in their advance. This is just a brief summary. You can read more on that.
In 2013, information was made public indicating that the MI6 intelligence service was the mastermind of the assassination (now we are moving to another continent) of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister the Congo.
A Labour member of the House of Lords said that Baroness Daphne Park of Monmouth had confessed to him a few months prior to her death in March 2010 that she had been behind the 1961 assassination of Patrice Lumumba, because she feared that the new democracy would forge an alliance with the Soviet Union.
In a letter to the London Review of Books, Lord Lea reported that Daphne Park made her confession as they were having a cup of tea. From 1959 to 1961, she was the consul and first secretary in Leopoldville, the capital of the Belgian Congo, which was renamed Kinshasa after the country gained independence. Lord Lea writes, “I mentioned the uproar surrounding Lumumba’s abduction and murder, and recalled the theory that MI6 might have had something to do with it. ‘We did,’ she replied, ‘I organised it.’”
As time went by, official London and its diplomatic missions continued to actively meddle in the domestic affairs of other states and to influence their political regimes. Suffice it to recall 20th century events when British secret services “took part” in staging a coup d’état in Iran in 1953. Since the early 20th century, British capital controlled the Iranian oil industry via a concession agreement that appropriated most of the country’s oil revenues. This situation provoked social and political tensions in Iran, which became more pronounced by the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1951, Mohammad Mossadegh was appointed Prime Minister of Iran and started implementing an independent foreign and domestic policy. His policies were mostly aimed at eliminating foreign monopolies operating in the country on highly unprofitable terms to the detriment of Iranian interests. A movement for the nationalisation of Iranian oilfields became the main symbol of Mossadegh’s independent policy. At that time, oil export revenues were allotted disproportionately in favour of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now called British Petroleum, with British government acting as its main shareholder. With the support of the Majlis (Parliament), Mossadegh passed a law on the nationalisation of the Iranian oil industry. This hit British interests hard. After that, official London launched subversive operations against the Iranian government, imposed an international embargo on Iranian petroleum products and thus caused a major economic crisis in Iran.
British diplomats working in Moscow are probably listening and recording all this. They will have to send their report to London today. I have done my best, and this statement is 17 pages long. I have one question: Are you proud of your history? Then you need to make a choice: either you advocate human rights, international law and democracy, or you are proud of what you did in the past and continue to do today.
In August 1953, the CIA and the British Secret Intelligence Service staged their joint Operation Ajax to overthrow the government of Mossadegh. A new Iranian government signed another agreement on establishing a consortium of US and British companies that obtained part of Iranian oil revenues and the right to develop oilfields in that country.
Although we were members of the Anti-Hitler Coalition, the UK’s behaviour during World War II can also hardly be called equivocal, due to a number of factors. Some historical episodes give rise to major questions about the essence of the UK’s policies on the international scene. This includes, for example, Rudolf Hess’ mysterious flight to the UK on the eve of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The history of every country has some unpleasant facts, for which future generations will have to pay the price and assume moral responsibility. But the British secret services have classified all the documents on this case for 100 years, and this deadline is being extended. During the Nuremberg Tribunal, Hess tried to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding his visit, but the British prosecutor, presiding over the court, promptly stopped the hearings. During the break, representatives of British secret services visited Hess, and he later started feigning amnesia. Under the court ruling, Hess was transferred to Spandau Prison to serve a life sentence but he died there under mysterious circumstances in August 1987, pending his possible release three months later. All relevant documents were classified. The situation remains unclear. Certain facts exist but the full circumstances remain classified.
Volume Five of Essays on the History of Russian Foreign Intelligence mentions another extremely curious episode of World War II. A joint British-US plan for a military attack against the Soviet Union was declassified in October 1998 and the relevant files of the UK’s National Archives were published. In all, ten German divisions, as well as 47 US and British divisions, were to have attacked the unsuspecting forces of the Soviet Union, then an ally of Washington and London. Intelligence officers received information about Allied military preparations, launched after the surrender of Germany. The plan’s codename, Operation Unthinkable, truly reflected its ambitious concept, which involved forcing Soviet Russia to submit to the will of the United States and the British Empire. But, after analysing the balance of forces and equipment, the new Allies decided that it would prove impossible to achieve a rapid limited success, and that they would be dragged into a protracted war against superior forces.
Another example of subversive operations can be found in Kim Philby’s book “My Silent War”, which contains some interesting evidence. In April 1951, London hosted a meeting of representatives of the British and US intelligence services regarding both countries’ use of Ukrainian nationalist organisations. Again, everything ties up. By that time, the secret services had supported Stepan Bandera’s Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) for many years and used them to recruit agents and obtain intelligence on the USSR. Cooperation between OUN and the Intelligence Service grew steadily. In 1949 and 1950, several OUN saboteur squads were para-dropped to Ukraine. In the early hours of May 15, 1951, British secret services para-dropped three reconnaissance-saboteur squads. Everyone knows about the atrocities committed by Bandera’s supporters, including mass executions of civilians, hundreds of thousands of men and women, old people and children, Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Jews, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Yugoslavs, the Volhynia massacre, the murder of Polish professors, the Khatyn tragedy, punitive operations in Slovakia, Warsaw and Prague.
The British authorities actively recruited professional criminals during their subversive operations. Remember, they told us that Russia is a criminal state with which there should be no cooperation? But the British authorities cooperate nicely with criminals. We are not even talking about White Helmets and people recruited into this organisation who are supported all the same. Let’s talk about “mundane” things. In 1973, Her Majesty’s Government officially admitted that Kenneth Littlejohn and his brother Keith had robbed banks in the Republic of Ireland for over 12 months in order to discredit the Official Irish Republican Army (IRA). This amounts to classic tactics. Kenneth Littlejohn claims that he was instructed to kill Sean Mac Stíofáin, the former chief of staff of the IRA.
And here is another example: Howard Marx, an Oxford graduate who became a drug dealer, was recruited for the purpose of obtaining information about the IRA’s weapons supply chain. In return, the authorities promised not to prosecute him for drug-related crimes. These are isolated examples.
By the way, the British government is known to have created comfortable conditions in the UK for criminals from other countries. According to the UK Home Office’s information for a period between 2005 and 2012, there were over 700 war crime perpetrators living in Britain.
The British authorities also like to use prohibited methods for treating prisoners, especially when they need to get information from them. And, of course, nobody has called off the licence to kill.
A recent case in point is the story of Libyan field commander Abdelhakim Belhaj, who was arrested by US special services, after a tip-off from the British, in 2004. After his release in 2009, Belhaj accused London of organising his abduction and of taking part in his interrogation and torture. He has been fighting for a formal apology from the British government since 2011. He has brought the case against former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and several MI6 officers, including former Director of Counter-Terrorism Mark Allen, whose correspondence with members of Libya’s special services was made public after Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow. We also remember how Gaddafi was removed and that London applauded the execution of the head of a sovereign state.
In December 2013, the High Court of England and Wales concluded that Belhaj’s claims cannot be settled in the UK. In July 2016, the Attorney General’s Office confirmed its decision to release the MI6 officers involved in the case.
On January 17, 2016, the UK Supreme Court ruled that “claims that the rendition and torture of Abdelhakim Belhaj breached rights enshrined in the Magna Carta should be put before an English court.”
It was reported in February 2018 that the next hearing of this case would not be held sooner than 2019. While history is history, claims have been lodged and are being investigated. And the latest news: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office insists that the hearings be held behind closed doors for national security interests, which is another classical pretext.
In 2015, a non-fiction book titled The Third Bullet: The Political Background of the Assassination of Zoran Dindic (Djindjic) was published in Serbia. The authors blame the murder of the Serbian prime minister in 2003 on the British intelligence. They claim that the MI6 agent in Serbia, Anthony Monckton, who was connected with the alleged killers, the Zemun criminal clan, was also involved in this crime.
God knows in how many other such cases the UK government is involved. On March 21, 1985, a Soviet engineer working at the Indian nuclear power plant, Valentin Khitrichenko, was assassinated in New Delhi by members of an Afghan terrorist group. What makes us think that the UK special services were involved if Khitrichenko was killed by Afghan terrorists? Those who maintained contact with that group knew about the planned terrorist attack but did nothing to prevent it.
In conclusion, I will provide the “deadly list” of the prominent and talented people who died a strange death in the UK in the early 21st century.
November 2001: Vladimir Pasechnik, a Soviet microbiologist and former head of the Institute of Highly Pure Biochemical Preparations in Leningrad, dies in Salisbury, allegedly of a stroke. Pasechnik worked at a secret military chemical laboratory at Porton Down. You know about that laboratory at Porton Down. Well, he worked there. While on a trip to France in 1989, he asked for political asylum in the UK and subsequently told the British intelligence service about the alleged biological weapons programme in the Soviet Union.
July 2003: a UK authority on biological warfare David Kelly was found dead in Oxfordshire. The inquiry concluded that he had committed suicide. I would like to remind you that David Kelly criticised the Tony Blair government and claimed that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was based on falsified data. A decade later, the UK government admitted that the data was indeed falsified.
2003: Lawyer Stephen Moss died of a sudden heart attack. He was hired by Boris Berezovsky and his partner Badri Patarkatsishvili to sell the assets of their Devonia investment company.
2004: Dr Paul Norman, who succeeded David Kelly at the Porton Down laboratory, died in an air crash in Devon. He was a leading chemical and biological weapons expert in the UK.
March 2004: Lawyer Stephen Curtis died in a helicopter crash near Bournemouth Airport. The UK media allege that he feared for his life. Several weeks before his death, he allegedly told his friend, “If anything happens to me in the next few weeks, it will not be an accident.” According to the media, Curtis was the managing director of Menatep Group and a lawyer of Boris Berezovsky and Nikolai Glushkov. He was also an independent witness at the hearing of their lawsuit against Forbes in the UK Supreme Court.
Some deaths I will not even mention. Let’s just list the major cases. In November 2006, former officer of the Russian Federal Security Service, Alexander Litvinenko, died in London. I will not go into details, everything is top secret. In January 2007, one of Yukos founders, Yury Golubev, died in London. In February 2008, Badri Patarkatsishvili died of a heart attack in his mansion in Leatherhead, Surrey. In August 2010, former employee of the Government Communications Headquarters (electronic intelligence) Gareth Williams died under suspicious circumstances. He was found dead in a sports bag zipped from the outside. Investigators concluded that his death was an accident (allegedly, he got into the bag himself, zipped it and could not get out). Why are you laughing? This is not funny. This is the official data from the British investigation report.
In April 2012, Richard Holmes, who had worked at a secret military chemical lab in Porton Down, died in Salisbury. The investigation determined that one month before his death, Holmes quit his job for unknown reasons. Forensics found that he died of a stroke. However, his colleagues claimed the scientist had been in great physical shape and had no health problems. Perhaps it has something to do with Porton Down. Maybe it is the toxic environment.
In November 2012, Russian financier Alexander Perepilichny died in Weybridge, Surrey. This case is also very mysterious. In December 2012, millionaire and real estate tycoon Robert Curtis died in London. According to the investigation, he jumped in front of a train. In March 2013, Boris Berezovsky died in Ascot. There is nothing to comment on here. Nobody has established what exactly happened there to this day. In December 2014, a close friend of Berezovsky, businessman Scot Young, died in London after he fell out of the fourth floor window. It does happen that people sometimes fall out of the fourth floor windows but it was not the only such death at the time.
In 2016, prominent British scientist and radioactive substance expert Matthew Puncher died in Oxfordshire. He had been a key expert on the Alexander Litvinenko death probe. His death was ruled suicide. Law enforcement agencies promptly closed the case.
I want to say that this smear campaign that the British government is waging against Russia is Britain’s stock in trade. This is talking about the reputation at the international scene. And boy, they are constantly talking about our reputation! I gave you a short list. There are volumes written about what the British government and those who report to it have been doing around the world over centuries, including the 20th and the 21st century. This is nothing new for the people who are aware of this. But the point is that many people are not aware.
Spanish historian Julian Juderias described the British establishment’s habit of badmouthing its competitors since the 16th century very well. He gave a definition to this act by the British government (“Black Legend” is a special term used to mean smear campaign by Britain): “The environment created by the fantastic stories about our homeland that have seen the light of publicity in all countries, the grotesque descriptions that have always been made of the character of Spaniards as individuals and collectively, the denial or at least the systematic ignorance of all that is favourable and beautiful in the various manifestations of culture and art, the accusations that in every era have been flung against Spain” “which are based on depictions of events that are exaggerated, misinterpreted or indeed entirely false, and finally the claim found in books that at first sight seem respectable and truthful, which is repeatedly reproduced, commentated upon and magnified in the foreign press, that our fatherland should be seen as a lamentable exception among the group of European nations.” Once again, this was written by a Spanish historian about the purpose of Black Legend.
But enough of poetry, let’s move on to facts. Speaking about the motives suggested by London in the Skripal case and considering the long-standing policy conducted against us by British Ambassador in Russia Laurie Bristow, it is highly likely that the provocation against the Russian nationals in Salisbury was to the advantage of and perhaps even organised by the British secret services to compromise Russia and its political leadership. Historically, Britain has practiced this on a regular basis. This measure fits in with the general anti-Russian course of the conservative government seeking to demonise our country.
The UK’s national security strategy and Prime Minister Theresa May’s banquet speech late last year indicate the same.
The outright refusal to cooperate with Russia in the Salisbury poisoning investigation, London’s violation of its obligations under the Consular Convention, avoidance of cooperation with the OPCW and concealing source documents essential for an objective investigation are quite illustrative of this.