Tag Archives: Bellingcat

Rishi Sunak fails to answer why he helped a sanctioned Russian warlord

Rishi Sunak at PMQs: This is a stock pic – he’s not usually this animated.

Rishi Sunak is coming under pressure to explain why he apparently helped Russian oligarch and warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin dodge sanctions against him in order to sue a UK journalist for libel (the case later collapsed but left the journalist owing £70,000 in legal fees).

Prigozhin is the founder of Wagner, a private army that is currently understood to be committing atrocities in Ukraine.

Challenged on it in Prime Minister’s Questions, Sunak had the nerve to say he was proud of the UK’s sanction system – a system over which he appears to have run roughshod.

And he copped out of answering the question by saying there’s a government organisation that deals with such matters.

This Writer was watching the exchange via the BBC’s Politics Live programme, and was hoping the panel would discuss this matter afterwards, as my tweets showed.

No such luck. I wonder why?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Did Rishi Sunak help a Russian oligarch dodge sanctions to sue a UK journalist? Will it finish him?

Rishi Sunak: yes, this image again. He looks shifty in it – as he should, if he authorised the activities described below.

This is what happens when celebrities get to sue UK journalists like me – the government ends up giving financial support to a Russian oligarch whose private army is currently rampaging through Ukraine.

It seems the UK Treasury helped a close ally of Vladimir Putin to evade sanctions imposed against him personally (this was before the Ukraine-Russia war) in order to sue a UK journalist.

Rishi Sunak was Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time. The Russian oligarch was Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Wagner, a private army that is currently understood to be committing atrocities in Ukraine.

In the light of the Ukraine-Russia war, the UK’s apparent support for Ukraine in that conflict (while actually having supported a Russian through this case) makes it seem clear that both Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson before him are hypocrites.

Some say it should bring down the UK government. Here’s Phil Moorhouse of A Different Bias:

He took his information from the website Open Democracy, whose article can be found here.

Here’s where this story intersects with my own legal case, in which I was sued by a certain TV celebrity (I’m currently appealing against the judgment):

Revelations about Wagner and Prigozhin were exposed by Bellingcat in 2020, leading to the notorious libel case against Higgins.

Higgins was targeted individually, rather than as part of a legal case against Bellingcat. This meant that, instead of claiming Bellingcat’s investigations into Wagner were defamatory, the lawyers instead relied on tweets Higgins had sent to promote the investigations on social media.

The approach allowed Prigozhin to launch his legal attack in the UK – where Higgins lives, and where libel laws are more punishing for journalists – rather than in the Netherlands, where Bellingcat is headquartered.

The case collapsed when the lawyers from Discreet withdrew their services in March last year, a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and was eventually struck out in May. Higgins was left with estimated costs of £70,000.

The case has been highlighted as an example of a SLAPP action (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation), an abuse of the legal process designed to intimidate and close down legitimate scrutiny.

You see, the idea is to intimidate the victim (Eliot Higgins in this case, or myself) by threatening them with huge damages to pay and/or huge legal bills.

Higgins told openDemocracy… it was clear that “wealthy individuals abuse the UK legal system to attack legitimate journalists with the assistance of British lawyers” and said the case demonstrated the need for “robust anti-SLAPP legislation” to protect journalists from similar actions in the future.

On a national level – and therefore more serious (even) than what happened to Mr Higgins or myself – is the allegation that the current UK government, and a department headed at the time by the current UK prime minister, deliberately evaded sanctions it had itself imposed, in order to help someone whose private army is currently attacking a country with which the UK has ostensibly allied itself.

How many other times has the Tory government done this? Is it still doing this? Why does Parliament not know about it?

This should be enough to bring Sunak down – along with his government. Please share – and ask your favourite national media outlets (newspapers, TV, whoever) to cover it.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Do you believe the latest tall story about the alleged Skripal poisoners?

Identity crisis: Alexander Petrov? Or Alexander Mishkin?

What do you think?

When Bellingcat claimed to have revealed one of the suspects in the Skripal poisoning as Anatoliy Chepiga, I published the claim on This Site and received a lot of flak for it.

Bellingcat had simply gone into photographs of GRU agents and found one that looked like the suspect, according to many critics.

Well, now that website has claimed it has identified the other man as Alexander Mishkin.

What do you think of that claim?

The name of the second suspect in the Salisbury case is actually Alexander Mishkin, the BBC understands.

The Bellingcat investigative website says the man who travelled under the alias Alexander Petrov is in reality a military doctor working for Russian intelligence, the GRU.

Last month, Bellingcat named the first suspect as Anatoliy Chepiga, a claim rejected by Russia.

Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in March.

The British open-source website said it had identified the suspect using testimonies from people the suspect knew and a scanned copy of his passport.

Source: Skripal attack: Bellingcat names second Salisbury suspect – BBC News

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Humiliation for Putin as Russian intelligence officer conclusively linked to Salisbury and Amesbury poisonings

Does anybody doubt that the man Vladimir Putin claimed was tourist “Ruslan Boshirov” is actually Russian intelligence colonel Anatoliy Chepiga? The evidence seems conclusive to me!

But it raises question after question about both the poisonings of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, and the UK government’s investigations into those poisonings.

If assassins were sent to the UK to poison the Skripals, why did they fail to kill their victims? I know some people have claimed that this was a ‘signature’ attack – intended to show other traitors to Russia that they can be found and harmed by the Russian government at any time, but I’m not buying it – simply because of the substance that was used. We have been told – repeatedly – that Novichok is highly toxic. But the substance used on the Skripals, and ingested by the policeman who tried to help them – was not fatal.

If the intention was to send a ‘signature’ message to Russian traitors, why were two British people also poisoned – one of them fatally? Professional assassins (or whatever you want to call them) would not have left their tools lying around, but would have disposed of them in order to leave no evidence behind. The lack of care suggested by this would indicate that it was not a professional job.

Why was a highly-decorated colonel sent to the UK to do an operation like this? Usually, a field operative with a rank no higher than captain would have carried out such work. Even Bellingcat admitted that this was unusual, quoting a source who said it indicated that the operation had been ordered at the highest level (meaning, one concludes, by Mr Putin). But then we come back to the issue of the substance used and the fact that the wrong person was killed. It doesn’t make sense.

Why did the UK government change its story so many times and why are there so many inconsistencies in it? I really want to know the answer to this. I don’t think it’s about the story altering as evidence came to light. I wonder if there is a more sinister, cynical motive behind it. Was Theresa May trying to take advantage of a tragedy to promote her own foreign policy ambitions?

Too many aspects of this case are failing to add up and it seems the result will be not only that the Russian government has set itself up as an enemy of the UK, but that the British people must now also be highly suspicious of their own government.

Here‘s the Bellingcat investigative piece on Chepiga/Boshirov:

The suspect using the cover identity of “Ruslan Boshirov” is in fact Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated GRU officer bestowed with Russia’s highest state award, Hero of the Russian Federation. Following Bellingcat’s own identification, multiple sources familiar with the person and/or the investigation have confirmed the suspect’s identity.

This finding eliminates any remaining doubt that the two suspects in the Novichok poisonings were in fact Russian officers operating on a clandestine government mission.

While civilians in Russia can generally own more than one passport, no civilian – or even an intelligence service officer on a personal trip – can cross the state border under a fake identity. The discovery also highlights the extent of the effort – and public diplomacy risk – Russia has taken to protect the identities of the officers. President Putin publicly vouched that “Boshirov” and “Petrov” are civilians. As it is established practice that the awards Hero of the Russian Federation are handed out by the Russian president personally, it is highly likely that Vladimir Putin would have been familiar with the identity of Colonel Chepiga, given that only a handful of officers receive this award each year.

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