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Craig Murray / Whistle Blower / Ex-British Ambassador for UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) - (Assange / Salmond / Russians and World Corruption)


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Belarus August 16, 2020  by Craig Murray There is a misperception in western media that Lukashenko is Putin’s man. That is not true; Putin views him as an exasperating and rather d

The Choice



"I came across this 2007 interview I did for BBC Radio 4 with Michael Buerk. He is a good interviewer and challenges me directly and critically at several points. The interview is particularly fascinating for the fact that the British government was still lying through its teeth and issuing desperate denials that torture and collusion with extraordinary rendition had ever happened.

It is also good to remind myself that the audience of this blog has grown exponentially and many readers do not know the back story. I had never listened to this interview since giving it and I found it pretty compelling myself!" 


https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/05/the-choice/ 
 


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Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.

Personal Biography:

Craig Murray was born in West Runton in October 1958 and educated at Sheringham Primary and Paston Grammar schools.

He graduated from the University of Dundee in 1982 with a MA (Hons) 1st Class in Modern History.

From 1982 to 1984 he was President of Dundee University Students Association and he was a member of Dundee’s tournament winning Granada TV University Challenge team in 1983.

Professional Biography:

In 1984 he joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. As a member of the Diplomatic Service his responsibilities included the following:

1986-9 Second Secretary, Commercial, British High Commission, Lagos

Responsible for promoting British exports to, and business interests in, Nigeria.

1989-92 Head of Maritime Section, FCO, London

Responsible for negotiation of the UK and Dependent Territory continental shelf and fisheries boundaries, for implementation of the Channel Tunnel treaty and for negotiations on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. From August 1990 to August 1991 he was also head of the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre, responsible for intelligence analysis on Iraqi attempts at evading sanctions, particularly in the field of weapons procurement, and with providing information to UK military forces and to other governments to effect physical enforcement of the embargo.

1992-4 Head of Cyprus Section, FCO London

Responsible for UN negotiations on the Cyprus dispute, relations with the government of Cyprus and for the mandate and requirements of the British contingent of the UN force in Cyprus,

1994-7 First Secretary (Political and Economic), British Embassy, Warsaw

Head of the Political and Economic sections of our Embassy in Poland. Responsible for relations with Poland, and assisting Poland’s post-communist transition process with reference to preparation for EU membership.

1997-8 Deputy Head, Africa Department (Equatorial), Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Responsible for British political and commercial relationships with West Africa, including development issues.

1998-2002 Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission, West Africa Branch

Responsible for British economic, political, commercial and aid relationships with Ghana and Togo. In Autumn 1998 Craig Murray was the UK Representative at the Sierra Leone Peace talks held in Togo, Liberia and Sierra Leone, including direct negotiation with the RUF terrorist leadership.

2002-2004 British Ambassador, Uzbekistan

Responsible for our relationship with Uzbekistan. He found Western support for the dictatorial Karimov regime unconscionable, as detailed in the rest of this website.

At the 2005 UK General Election, Craig Murray takes on Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in Blackburn as an Independent candidate, winning 2,082 votes. 

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AUTHORITARIANISM IS SHODDY - Craig Murray - his ongoing battles with TPTB.

There will be no jury at the eventual trial, and this worries me. Not least because the indictment (called a “petition”) contains within itself evidence that this process is a stitch up. Please help me here, and read paras 49 to 56 of the indictment after reading this explanation.

Para 49 of the indictment is an utter garble. It states that I sent a twitter message beginning “It is respectfully submitted…”.

I sent no such twitter message. Para 50 is missing. This is not a misnumbering, para 50 really is missing. I assume my twitter message, intended to be quoted at para 49, and whatever led in to the Crown’s argument beginning “it is respectively submitted” were in the missing section.

At para 53 the same thing happens again. It explicitly states that I published another tweet starting: “it is respectfully submitted that”.

I published no such tweet. Again the indictment does not give the actual text of the tweet complained of, even though it claims to do so. This time two paragraphs are clearly missing, and again this is not just a misnumbering, because of the missing material. It jumps from 53 to 56.
 

In short, the indictment from paras 49 to 56 is an inoperable jumble, with three paras missing from two different locations and which does not even contain – though it states it does – the very tweets which form part of the alleged offence with which I am charged.

You may argue this does not matter, and clerical errors are easily corrected. But that is to miss the point. I used to prepare official documents in my 20 year diplomatic career, from ministerial replies to members of the public to fully fledged international treaties.

A Diplomatic Note to a foreign government, which has a legal status, might be the best comparator from my work to this indictment or petition. I always scrupulously proof read every one I sent before signing. It is unthinkable that a Diplomatic Note would be sent containing not one but a series of major, material errors.

Is this document any less solemn? It is an indictment on which they are attempting to brand me a criminal and potentially send me to prison for up to two years. It is signed by Alex Prentice, Depute Advocate General on behalf of the Lord Advocate, and by the senior judge, Lord Turnbull.

But one thing is abundantly clear. Neither Alex Prentice nor Lord Turnbull can have carefully read through the document before they signed it. I do not believe for one moment that they would knowingly sign off a document containing such major errors. The judge, in particular, is meant to weigh carefully the matter to see if there really is a case to answer before he signs the Crown’s “petition”. But, I say it again, plainly Lord Turnbull has not actually read through it; or he would never have signed this garbled mess. 

I am advised that it may be “contempt of court” for me to point out that Lord Turnbull signed this without reading it. But when a law makes it illegal to point out a blindingly obvious fact, then the law is an ass.

If Lord Turnbull does not wish to be criticised, he should try doing his job properly and actually paying attention to what he signs.

Contempt is the right word. I have a great deal of contempt for anybody who would send me such a portentous legal document rotten through with utterly careless error which would have been spotted by even a cursory reading of the document.

They did not read it. The judge who approved it did not read it.

Neither of them bothered to read the indictment or petition because it had already been decided to “get” Craig Murray and it therefore did not matter what the document actually said. The content of the charges is immaterial to them. Otherwise, they would have read them before signing. There can only be two reasons for that failure. The first is incompetence. The second is corruption. In a sense, it does not matter which it is in this case.

A state which is turning to authoritarianism to crush dissent does not need to be very careful about matters of process.

The failure of both Prentice and Turnbull to read before signing is not important for the mistakes in the document, which can be remedied by a new document. It is important because of the clear indication of attitude. This prosecution is abuse of process, a clear Article Six violation under the European Convention on Human Rights. 
 

A series of facts make this abundantly plain. The abuse of process lies in this combined with the extraordinary selectivity in prosecuting me, when others who can be objectively proven to have much more effectively produced “jigsaw identification” are not prosecuted. There is a very clear political motivation behind the selection of who to prosecute and who not to prosecute.

When you put together the facts that there is overwhelming evidence that mainstream media journalists were more guilty of “jigsaw identification” than I, that systematic police action is being taken to harass only supporters of Alex Salmond, and that they don’t even care what the indictment to be used against me actually says, the overall picture becomes very, very clear.

Authoritarianism doesn’t have to worry about mistakes in the indictment, because it can just smash you in the face with the jackboot. That is what is happening here.

My own view is that they were so keen to “get” Craig Murray they just signed without any proper scrutiny whatsoever. I don’t see any other conclusion. Do you?

They do not have the excuse that this is routine. Major prosecutions for contempt in Scotland are extremely rare – the last one was Aamer Anwar about a decade ago (it failed).

So why could the state be so keen to prosecute Craig Murray, that is doesn’t even care what is in the indictment, or even if it is drawn up with the most basic level of competence? Well, I refer you to this excellent letter setting out the fact that the state is only acting against those who defended the innocent Alex Salmond, even though his detractors were much more in contempt of court. And I refer you to the Panelbase opinion poll which showed that very substantially more people who know the identities of the accusers, learnt them from the mainstream media.
 

I remain clear that I identified nobody. If I had wanted to, I would have done so openly. I have never been noted for cowardice.

The other accusation, that I wrote articles stating that the prosecution of Alex Salmond was a fit-up, is something I state again here. It is a proper exercise of my freedom of speech under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Actually, you don’t have to go past the very first sentence of the indictment to understand what is happening here. It reads “On 23 January 2019, Alexander Elliott Anderson Salmond was arrested by police officers in relation to a number of incidents that had taken place in Scotland.” 
 

“That had taken place”.
Not “alleged to have taken place”.
“That had taken place”.
And Prentice wrote this, and Turnbull signed it off, after the acquittal.

After independent witnesses gave eye witness accounts that several of the incidents had not taken place at all. After it was demonstrated in court that the accuser of the most serious offence was not even present when she claimed the offence took place.

After the jury threw out the pile of ordure that the very same Alex Prentice as prosecuting counsel presented to them.

“That had taken place”. No, most of the incidents had not taken place at all, and none in the form alleged.

Right at the start, this wording gives away the motivation. The conspirators have still not psychologically processed the fact their attack on Alex Salmond was foiled by the jury. The Crown is now coming at Mark Hirst and at me in an effort to get some kind of victory from this massive waste of public resources. The conspirators seek to assuage their massive humiliation in the failure of a prosecution that stank and quite obviously ought never to have been brought.

I am not going to pipe down under this abuse of process and attack on freedom of speech. On the contrary, this will be a reasoned, forceful and very public resistance. 


TWO WAYS YOU CAN HELP:

The hearing on 10 June is supposed to be public, but it will be virtual because of coronavirus. While it is a case management hearing, I shall nevertheless be grateful if you are able to “attend” virtually, as I am very keen indeed that I am not stitched up out of the public eye. Please send an email requesting access to the virtual hearing on 10 June to [email protected] I am very keen as many people do this as possible. Journalists please in addition copy in [email protected] for accreditation.

Secondly, many people come to this blog through social media and I am currently suffering a very high level of suppression, on Facebook and especially on Twitter. Rather than just retweet and share any soical media post that brought you here, (which may appear on the face to have worked but the dissemination will be suppressed), I would be very grateful if you could also write your own new posting and put a link. If you have your own blog or access to one, a commendation of this post with a link would be very welcome, even if it is not your normal policy. And finally of course, the entire post is free as always to copy, republish and translate as you wish.

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Craig Murray calls Boris, Blair and others out for using the 'Move On' mantra..

'Let’s Move On From Boris'
.
Boris has a new slogan, “Move on”, which he deployed repeatedly today in his appearance before the House of Commons Liaison Committee. Remembering short slogans is fairly well the extent of his political skills, and he contrived to look pleased with hmself for remembering this one. The public, he solemnly informed those watching, now wanted the narrative to “Move on” from the Dominic Cummings debacle.

The problem with this slogan is it does not have a good history. The aged among us will remember that after the disaster of the Iraq war, it was constantly repeated by Tony Blair. OK, millions of people were dead. But it was time to “move on” from that. Only he could not. The dead of Iraq have haunted him ever since, they enabled Brown to depose him and Blair has the look of a man who believes the dead will be waiting to speak against him in the next life. No matter how much the Guardian still tries constantly to rehabilitate him, he will always have to be protected from the British public, a stinking rich, morally bankrupt pariah.

One of the first articles published in this blog spoke of Blair and his “Move on” mantra. On 21 April 2005 I published from the Blackburn parliamentary election:

Two months ago I arrived here alone, standing forlornly with my rucksack on Blackburn railway station, in the midnight snow. I wanted to make a stand on principle against illegal war, and against Jack Straw’s decision that we should use intelligence obtained under torture. I wanted to get some national publicity for these issues during the campaign, to counter Tony Blair’s mantra: “Let’s move on” from the war.

(Am I the only one to find this mantra insulting? I think I’ll rob a bank to get some campaign funds. When the police come to take me away, I’ll say, “Hey, let’s move on. OK, so I robbed a bank. Whatever the rights and wrongs, that phase is over. What is important is that we all come together now and get behind the really great things I’m going to do with the money.”)

When a politician is desperate enough to use the “move on” slogan, you know they have done something very wrong indeed and are in big trouble.

“And now we must move on from Watergate to the business of the people”

said President Richard Nixon on August 25 1973.

Like Johnson, Nixon made the claim it was “the people” who want to move on. This is the standard mantra for politicians who have done something very illegal: the public do not care, are not interested in justice being visited on politicians. It is always the public who are urging the guilty politicians to “move on” and ignore the trivial detail of their own guilt.

“No decision I have ever made in politics has been as divisive as the decision to go to war to in Iraq. It remains deeply divisive today. I know a large part of the public want to move on.”

Tony Blair on 4 March 2004.

“Our country has been distracted by this matter for too long and I take my responsibility for my part in all of this,” he said. “That is all I can do. Now is the time — in fact, it is past time — to move on. . . . And so tonight I ask you to turn away from the spectacle of the past seven months, to repair the fabric of our national discourse, and to return our attention to all the challenges and all the promise of the next American century.”

Bill Clinton on the Monica Lewinsky affair, August 17th 1998.

We now know it would have been a good deal better if America had not “moved on” but had taken a much deeper interest in Clinton’s appalling history of predatory sexual behaviour.

I presume you see the pattern here. If a politician tells you to “move on” from a subject, it is a gigantic red flag that you should do precisely the opposite. I tried to discover some examples of politicians telling us to “move on” from an issue, where hindsight does not show the politician to have been a massive crook. No examples were readily apparent.

Ladies and gentlemen, I add to this list of shame:

“It is now time to move on… the country wants to move on.”

Boris Johnson 27 May 2020 on the Cummings Scandal.
https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/05/lets-move-on-from-boris/ 
 

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Civilian killings by 'authorities' - USA / UK /Israel;

 

There is a stark contrast between the justified international outrage at Floyd’s death, and the unremarked killing of just a couple more Palestinians. I recommend this twitter thread by the ever excellent Ben White, and the links it gives. Ben does not mention that Iyad, on the left, was on his way to classes for those with special needs when he was chased and gunned down by Israeli soldiers.

This may surprise you. The police in the USA have less impunity for killings than the police in the UK.

Even as straightforward a case as the murder of Jean Charles De Menezes, who did nothing wrong whatsoever, brought no action against the police in the UK. The killing of Sheku Bayoh in Fife had obvious parallels with that of George Floyd, yet nobody was charged. 457 people have died in police custody since 1998, from all causes. From 2005-2015 10% of 294 deaths were “restraint related”. That is 30 people in the UK in ten years who have died at the hands of police in much the same way George Floyd died. That figure excludes those shot by the police.

Not one British policeman has been convicted of an unlawful killing in all these deaths. – not one. The last British policeman convicted was in 1969. That is what I call real impunity.

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/05/racist-killing-and-impunity/ 
 

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Please take a few moments to sign, please..


 

Please Sign the Open Letter by Craig Murray

 

https://civillibertyscotland.com/news/arrests-of-two-scottish-journalists-spark-international-outrage 

I should be grateful if you would join Noam Chomsky, Yanis Varoufakis, David Hare, Roger Waters, Robert Black, Kristinn Hrnafsson, Christine Assange and many others in signing the open letter against the politically motivated legal harassment of people including Mark Hirst and myself.

I am not asking you to endorse our political views; I am asking you to support free speech and oppose this rather startling authoritarianism and highly selective prosecution.
 

To the Lord Advocate

DEAR Mr Wolffe,

We are writing to you to express our growing concern over the actions of both the Crown Office and Police Scotland.

In recent weeks vocal independence supporters and backers of the former First Minister Alex Salmond, specifically the former UK diplomat, human rights campaigner and journalist Craig Murray along with fellow journalist Mark Hirst, have been arrested and charged in relation to comments they made publicly during and following the trial of Mr Salmond. Other supporters of Mr Salmond have also been contacted by police and warned over online comments they made in the wake of the trial.

We are particularly concerned to note that the investigating police officers are the same detectives who led the investigation against Mr Salmond over a period of two years and at considerable cost to the public purse.

As you know, the prosecution following from that investigation, pursued again at considerable cost to the public purse, resulted in the acquittal of Mr Salmond on all charges and now raises the most serious questions about why that investigation and that prosecution were pursued.

Whilst we appreciate that you cannot be involved in individual cases you will undoubtedly be aware that complaints of alleged Contempt of Court were made against six other individual journalists widely regarded as being hostile in their reporting of Mr Salmond. No action by the Crown Office or Police Scotland has been taken against any of those individuals. This leaves the distinct impression that Police Scotland, at the direction of the Crown Office, is acting in a manner that is both biased and disproportionate.

As you will be aware, for public confidence to be maintained in our independent legal system the law must be able to both demonstrate it is acting impartially and be seen to be doing so.

The actions taken so far risk establishing a public perception that both Police Scotland and the Crown Office are conducting themselves in a manner which is biased and is indeed political in nature.

Such perceptions risk seriously damaging confidence in the Scottish legal system.

We would welcome your fullest public response to the concerns raised in this letter and any meaningful public assurances you can offer that both Police Scotland and the Crown Office are complying with their obligations to act with complete impartiality and to apply the law fairly.

Professor Noam Chomsky (linguist and political scientist)
Yanis Varoufakis (Author, former Greek Finance Minister, philosopher, economist)
Professor Robert Black QC (Professor Emeritus of Scots Law, Edinburgh University)
Sir David Hare (Playwright, screenwriter and film director)
Kristinn Hrnaffson (Investigative journalist and Editor in Chief of Wikileaks)
Tariq Ali (human rights campaigner, journalist and historian)
Roger Waters (co-founder Pink Floyd, political activist)
Lawrence B. Wilkerson, (US Colonel, Ret, former Chief of Staff, US Department of State)
Paul Kavanagh (Columnist, The National newspaper)
George Kerevan (Journalist, Former SNP MP, former Associate Editor of The Scotsman)
Tommy Sheridan (Convenor, Solidarity and former MSP)
Ann Wright (US Colonel, Ret, and former US Ambassador)
Christine Assange (human rights campaigner and mother of Julian)
Gordon Dangerfield (Solicitor Advocate)
Hugh Kerr (Former Labour MEP, author and journalist)
John Kiriakou (CIA whistle-blower)
Coleen Rowley (Retired FBI Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel, 2002 Time Magazine Person of the Year)
Ray McGovern (Former CIA Officer, Founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity)
Robert Tibbo (lawyer to Edward Snowden)
Annie Machon (former MI5 officer, author and journalist)
Katherine Gun (former GCHQ whistle-blower)
Clive Ponting (former MOD whistle-blower)
Stuart Campbell (Editor, Wings over Scotland)
James Kelly (Editor of SCOT goes POP! and columnist with The National)
Neil MacKay (Singer-songwriter, Scottish independence activist)
Liz Dangerfield (solicitor)
Campbell Martin (Broadcast journalist and former SNP MSP)
Elizabeth Murray (former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East & CIA political analyst)
Robin McAlpine (Political strategist)
Bogdan Dzakovic (9/11 aviation security whistle-blower, FAA Security, Ret.)
Robert Wing (former US Foreign Service Officer)
Marshall Carter-Tripp (Political science professor and former Division Director, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research)

Details of charges against Mark Hirst are here. The indictment against me is here. You can sign the letter against this persecution here.


This hearing on 10 June is supposed to be public, but it will be virtual because of coronavirus. While it is a case management hearing, I shall nevertheless be grateful if you are able to “attend” virtually, as I am very keen indeed that I am not stitched up out of the public eye. Please send an email requesting access to the virtual hearing on 10 June to [email protected] I am very keen as many people do this as possible. Journalists please in addition copy in [email protected] for accreditation.

This is a procedural hearing before three appeal court judges. It is not the trial itself, but as with Julian Assange it is vital that the whole process is independently witnessed and that there is no potential for injustice to thrive in the dark. I am very grateful to the 700 people who have already registered. 

https://civillibertyscotland.com/news/arrests-of-two-scottish-journalists-spark-international-outrage 
 

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/06/please-sign-the-open-letter/ 
 

 

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Even though Craig Murray is busy defending himself against the corrupt Scottish law system, he still has the time and energy to produce work for his superb blog. 

 

Banana Republic Corruption 
8 Jul, 2020

The Ayanda Capital contract to supply £250 million of PPE to the NHS has not caused anything like the stir it should, because UK citizens appear to have come to accept that we live in a country with a Banana Republic system of capitalism. I suppose when you have a Prime Minister who handed out £60 million of public money for a Garden Bridge that there was no chance would ever be built, and who had no qualms about directing public funds to one of his many mistresses, the norm has changed.

But the Ayanda Capital PPE deal represents all that is wrong with UK capitalism.

Ayanda Capital self-describes as a “family office”. It essentially carries out investment and financial engineering, including tax avoidance, for the private wealth of the Horlick family. “Family office” has a very specific meaning in the City of London. The best simple definition I could find is here:

Family offices are private wealth management advisory firms that serve ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) investors. They are different from traditional wealth management shops in that they offer a total outsourced solution to managing the financial and investment side of an affluent individual or family.

Sometimes family offices invest the wealth of more than one “very high net worth” individual or family, but they do not invest or raise funds from the wider public or from institutions.

The only named “person with significant control” of Ayanda Capital is Timothy Piers Horlick, but he owns it through a Mauritius company. Mauritius is now a notorious tax haven; it offers zero tax and keeps company officers and owners secret.

There is no reason to suppose that the activities of Ayanda Capital in private wealth management were illegal, or any more than part of the execrable trend of late stage capitalism towards super concentration of capital assets into private hands and away from the traditional more distributed forms of institutional and shareholder ownership. What Ayanda does is plain enough from its website:

As you would expect from that profile, Ayanda Capital itself, rather than the wealth it invests, is little more than a shell company. It has two directors, Nathan Philip Engelbrecht and Timothy Piers Horlick. In fact, in December 2019, Ayanda Capital’s balance sheet shows that it was only kept from bankruptcy by “intangible assets” worth £2,890,000. That was an increase of almost exactly £2,000,000 in the value of those “intangible assets” in twelve months, allegedly due to “development” spending of that amount. What was being developed is entirely unclear. It is difficult to see how a private wealth investment company develops some form of intangible asset with a value of nearly £3 million. I find it hard to see all that as more than an accounting wheeze – and a rather hoary one at that.

So far, so unremarkable. So the question is this. Why would the NHS turn to this ethically sordid but zeitgeist banal private wealth management office to provide a quarter of a billion pounds worth of PPE to the NHS? Wealth Manager magazine, who have done excellent journalism on this story, have the contract as supplying only face masks. They have confirmed the astonishing fact that there was no published tender for the quarter billion pound contract. Normal tendering processes were suspended in March through secondary legislation at Westminster for the Covid-19 Crisis.

This is all simply astonishing.

The normal public procurement tendering process has pre-qualification criteria which companies have to meet. These will normally include so many years of experience in the specific sector, employment of suitably qualified staff, possession of the required physical infrastructure and a measure of financial stability. This is perhaps obvious – otherwise you or I could simply stick in a bid to build the HS2 railway that is £10 billion cheaper than anybody else, win the contract then go and look for a builder.

Ayanda Capital would fail every single test in normal procurement criteria to supply PPE to the NHS. I can see no evidence that anybody in the company had ever seen PPE except when visiting the dentist. They appear to have no medical expertise, no established medical procurement network, no quality control inspection ability, no overseas shipment agents, no warehousing or logistics facilities. We have of course seen this before from these crooked Tories with their “emergency procurement”, with the “ferry company” with no ferries. But this – a quarter of a billion pounds – is on a whole different level.

I understand that normal procurement chains were struggling, but I would still trust any of the UK’s numerous long established and globally successful medical supply companies to go out and get the right kind of medical supplies, of the right quality, and arrange their supply and delivery, rather than throw an incredible sum of taxpayers’ cash at the first couple of City wide boys who said they can do it. From a company with a very dodgy balance sheet.

What are Ayanda Capital in this transaction other than the classic Banana Republic “Mr 10%”? Precisely what kind of country has the UK become? No wonder it is falling apart. 

To see the full article with photos / pictures;
 

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/07/banana-republic-corruption/ 
 

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ASSANGE...
 

Damage to the Soul
July 14, 2020

The imprisonment of Julian Assange has been a catalogue of gross injustice heaped upon gross injustice, while a complicit media and indoctrinated population looks the other way. In a truly extraordinary twist, Assange is now being extradited on the basis of an indictment served in the UK, which is substantially different to the actual indictment he now faces in Virginia if extradited.

The Assange hearing was adjourned after its first full week, and its resumption has since been delayed by coronavirus. In that first full week, both the prosecution and the defence outlined their legal arguments over the indictment. As I reported in detail to an audience of millions, Assange’s legal team fairly well demolished the key arguments of the prosecution during that hearing.

This extract from my report of the Defence case is of particular relevance to what has since happened:

For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:

1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.
Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.

2) Assange solicited the material from Manning
Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public

3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk
Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.

In summary, Summers stated the US government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. He described the above three counts as “rubbish, rubbish and rubbish”.

Summers then walked through the facts of the case. He said the charges from the USA divide the materials leaked by Manning to Wikileaks into three categories:

a) Diplomatic Cables
b) Guantanamo detainee assessment briefs
c) Iraq War rules of engagement
d) Afghan and Iraqi war logs

Summers then methodically went through a), b), c) and d) relating each in turn to alleged behaviours 1), 2) and 3), making twelve counts of explanation and exposition in all. This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights, but will relate occasionally to the alleged behaviour number and/or the alleged materials letter. I hope you follow that – it took me some time to do so!

On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. Nor had Manning needed a code to conceal her identity as the prosecution alleged – the database for intelligence analysts Manning could access – as could thousands of others – did not require a username or password to access it from a work military computer. Summers quoted testimony of several officers from Manning’s court-martial to confirm this. Nor would breaking the systems admin code on the system give Manning access to any additional classified databases. Summers quoted evidence from the Manning court-martial, where this had been accepted, that the reason Manning wanted to get in to systems admin was to allow soldiers to put their video-games and movies on their government laptops, which in fact happened frequently.

Magistrate Baraitser twice made major interruptions. She observed that if Chelsea Manning did not know she could not be traced as the user who downloaded the databases, she might have sought Assange’s assistance to crack a code to conceal her identity from ignorance she did not need to do that, and to assist would still be an offence by Assange.

Summers pointed out that Manning knew that she did not need a username and password, because she actually accessed all the materials without one. Baraitser replied that this did not constitute proof she knew she could not be traced. Summers said in logic it made no sense to argue that she was seeking a code to conceal her user ID and password, where there was no user ID and password. Baraitser replied again he could not prove that. At this point Summers became somewhat testy and short with Baraitser, and took her through the court martial evidence again. Of which more…

Baraitser also made the point that even if Assange were helping Manning to crack an admin code, even if it did not enable Manning to access any more databases, that still was unauthorised use and would constitute the crime of aiding and abetting computer misuse, even if for an innocent purpose.

Now while there is no evidence that judge Baraitser is giving any serious consideration to the defence case, what this has done is show the prosecutors the holes in their argument which would cause them serious problems should they get Julian to trial in the United States. In particular, they are wary of the strong freedom of speech protections in the US constitution and so are desperate to portray Julian as a hacker, and not a journalist. But, as you can see above, their case for this is not looking strong.

So the prosecution needed a different case. They have therefore entirely changed the indictment against Julian in Virginia, and brought in a superseding indictment.

As you can see, this is about switching to charges firmly grounded in “hacking”, rather than in publishing leaks about appalling American war crimes. The new indictment is based on the evidence of a “supergrass”, Sigurdur Thordarson, who was acting a a paid informant to the FBI during his contact with Wikileaks.

Thordarson is fond of money and is a serial criminal. He was convicted on 22 December 2014 by Reykjanes District Court in Iceland of stealing over US $40,000 and over 13,000 euro from Wikileaks “Sunshine Press” accounts by forging documents in the name of Julian Assange, and given a two year jail sentence. Thordarson is also a convicted sex offender, and was convicted after being turned in to the police by Julian Assange, who found the evidence – including of offences involving a minor – on Thordarson’s computer.
[Updated 13.45 to add detail of Thordarson’s convictions].

There appears scope to doubt the motives and credentials of the FBI’s supergrass.

The FBI have had Thordarson’s “Evidence” against Assange since long before the closing date for submissions in the extradition hearing, which was June 19th 2019. That they now feel the need to deploy this rather desperate stuff is a good sign of how they feel the extradition hearing has gone so far, as an indicator of the prospects of a successful prosecution in the USA.

This leaves the UK extradition in a state of absolute farce. I was involved in discussion with Wikileaks about what would happen when the supervising indictment was introduced at the procedural hearing last month. It ought not to have been accepted – it is over a year since the closing date, and a week of opening arguments on the old indictment have already been heard. The new indictment is plainly designed to redress flaws in the old one exposed at the hearing.

The superseding indictment also is designed to counter defence witness affidavits which have been disclosed to the prosecution, including expert witness testimony which refutes the indictment on Assange’s alleged hacking assistance to Manning – until now the sole ground of the “hacking” accusation. This switch, we averred, was an outrageous proposition. Was the whole hearing to start again on the basis of the new indictment?

Then, to our amazement, the prosecution did not put forward the new indictment at the procedural hearing at all. To avoid these problems, it appears they are content to allow the extradition hearing to go ahead on the old indictment, when that is not in fact the indictment which awaits Assange in the United States. This is utterly outrageous. The prosecution will argue that the actual espionage charges themselves have not changed. But it is the indictment which forms the basis of the extradition hearing and the different indictment which would form the basis of any US prosecution.

To have extradition decided on the merits of one indictment when the accused actually faces another is an outrage. To change the indictment long after the hearing is underway and defence evidence has been seen is an outrage. The lack of media outrage is an outrage.

None of which will come as any shock to those of us who have been paying attention. We have to continue to build public consciousness of the fact that the annihilation of a journalist for exposing war crimes, based on a catalogue of state lies and dodgy procedure, is not an act that the state can undertake without damage to the very soul of the nation. 

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/07/damage-to-the-soul/ 

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  • 3 weeks later...

More on Assange;

 

Assange Legal Farce Continues 


There has simply never been a broadcast report in the UK on Assange as fair as this one from Sky News Australia.

https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6177251758001

nor is it conceivable that there ever could be.

I have reported already on the US changing the indictment after the defence’s opening statement had been heard and defence written evidence submitted. The latest legal twist in this Kafkaesque saga is that Julian may be released and instantly re-arrested under the new indictment.

The USA and the Crown continue to argue that the charges remain the same, even if the indictment has changed. This is like being halfway through a trial for the murder of Stephanie, the defence having demolished the prosecution case, and they suddenly change the allegation from murdering Stephanie to murdering Peter, but say it makes no difference as it is still the same charge of murder. As I have catalogued the relentless cruelty and the contortions of reason in this case, a little bit of me keeps saying “they cannot get away with this”. But so far, they always do.

If anyone can figure a way to embed the Sky News video…

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Stinking Tory Corruption - £250M PPE scandal 



I wrote a furious article about the £250 million PPE contract inexplicably awarded to the “family office” Ayanda Capital, an investment house for private wealth tax avoidance. We now learn £150 million of face masks delivered are unusable as they do not meet the required standards.

The Times today reports the NHS year’s supply of top level “FFP2” masks for surgical and similar use – 43 million of them – delvered by Ayanda failed regulatory testing. This was entirely predictable. As I wrote on 8 July:

The normal public procurement tendering process has pre-qualification criteria which companies have to meet. These will normally include so many years of experience in the specific sector, employment of suitably qualified staff, possession of the required physical infrastructure and a measure of financial stability. This is perhaps obvious – otherwise you or I could simply stick in a bid to build the HS2 railway that is £10 billion cheaper than anybody else, win the contract then go and look for a builder.

Ayanda Capital would fail every single test in normal procurement criteria to supply PPE to the NHS. I can see no evidence that anybody in the company had ever seen PPE except when visiting the dentist. They appear to have no medical expertise, no established medical procurement network, no quality control inspection ability, no overseas shipment agents, no warehousing or logistics facilities. We have of course seen this before from these crooked Tories with their “emergency procurement”, with the “ferry company” with no ferries. But this – a quarter of a billion pounds – is on a whole different level.

I understand that normal procurement chains were struggling, but I would still trust any of the UK’s numerous long established and globally successful medical supply companies to go out and get the right kind of medical supplies, of the right quality, and arrange their supply and delivery, rather than throw an incredible sum of taxpayers’ cash at the first couple of City wide boys who said they can do it. From a company with a very dodgy balance sheet.

Plainly Ayanda Capital had no pretence of every having the expertise to undertake this kind of procurement. The excellent piece of investigative journalism (and what a delight it is to be able for once to say that) by the Times’ Billy Kenber reveals something still more horrifying. He says the deal was put together by a “government adviser” who is also an “adviser” to Ayanda Capital.

So there you have the answer to how this obscure and completely inappropriate company landed this massive contract; simple network corruption, with a Tory “adviser” taking a cut from both ends. It speaks volumes of how Johnson’s Tories view government; an opportunity for self-enrichment through getting their hands on the state purse. Covid-19 may seem a disaster to us, to them it is an opportunity. Procurement regulations are suspended. Massive contracts are thrown around with no checks and no competition. Public health functions like test and trace are thrown to new start-up companies owned by their their mates instead of being run by the established public infrastructure in councils and the NHS. It is a big, money-making Tory Bonanza.

We do not just need a public inquiry. We need people to go to prison. All those involved in the Ayanda Capital PPE contract would be a good start.

UPDATE 8:58am

I have just seen this absolutely astonishing thread from Jolyon Maugham at 6.25am this morning. It really is mind-blowing. Not only did the “adviser”, named as Andrew Mills, set this all up, he himself established an intermediary company in the transaction to cream off a fortune.

 UK Banana Republic Corruption  https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/07/banana-republic-corruption/ 

 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/ministers-waste-150m-buying-unusable-masks-from-banker-5v8390xtp 
 

 

 

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Tory / EU / Brexit Sugar Corruption..
 

It is being reported that enthusiastic Tory Party donors Tate and Lyle stand to be the sole beneficiary of the abolition of EU tariffs and quotas on raw cane sugar imports, to the tune of over £70 million a year. This is a good anti-Tory and anti-Brexit story, but deeper thought raises some extremely interesting ethical issues around agriculture, trade, the developing world and environmentalism. Let me just unpack a little of it for you to see and start thinking about. I do not claim to have all the answers, but I do have some interesting questions. I want you to indulge me if I start by going back over thirty years to recount an experience of my own.

I was in charge of agriculture and water in the British High Commission in Lagos back in 1986, and in that capacity paid several visits to the state owned Nigerian Sugar plantation and factory at Bacita, Kwara State.

I loved Bacita. Nigeria in the 1980’s was a disheartening place. A ridiculously over-valued Naira allowed the elites who could access the official exchange rate to live lives of sumptuous luxury and buy up top end properties all over London (the nobs’ estate agent, Knight Frank and Rutley, opened a Lagos office staffed by British expats to sell Holland Park mansions and Dockland penthouses). The overvaluation destroyed Nigerian agriculture, as imported food became cheaper than local. In a decade, Nigeria went from being the world’s largest exporter of palm oil to the world’s largest importer of palm oil, and hundreds of thousands of acres of palm oil, coconut, cocoa, pineapple, lime and other plantations withered away and closed down.

To import, you needed an import license and these were a principal source of corruption in probably the most corrupt country in the world. The most valuable of all were the sugar and rice import licenses, controlling the import of a daily staple to a country then of 200 million people. The duopoly right to import sugar to the whole of Nigeria was given to just two Northern families, Dangote and Dantata, well connected to the military regimes. They became billionaires several times over. I was most amused in 2014 to see Aliko Dangote being fawned over at Davos as an example of a great African entrepreneur.

The Dantatas and Dangotes had unlimited access to Nigeria’s oil dollars at the official exchange rate – which was an amazing three to four times more favourable than the real or black market rate. So not only did they have the duopoly on a diet staple, but the system worked like this. For the sake of example let’s say sugar was a dollar a kilo. They could exchange a naira for a dollar at the official one to one exchange rate and buy the kilo of sugar. They could then, given their duopoly position, sell that kilo of sugar to the public for eight nairas, worth two dollars in the real world. They could then exchange that eight nairas at the official rate for eight dollars. Making a 800% markup if you start from the first dollar, or a 3,200% markup if you start with the real value of the first Naira they bought that first dollar with.

I am not trying to recreate the actual sugar price or exchange rates in 1986. I am using notional values to show how the system worked and how the Dangote family originally became, as loudly proclaimed at Davos, the richest in Africa.

So in 1980’s Nigeria, it may appear that the situation for their domestic sugar industry could not have been worse. But it could, and it was the European Union that made it much, much worse. Dantata and Dangote were able to buy beet sugar from the European Union typically at around 70% of the cost of its production. The EU was dumping massive volumes of export subsidised sugar on to Africa as part of the Common Agricultural Policy, destroying much of African sugar production in the process.

One of the abhorrent things about today’s politics is that Brexit has made any sensible discussion of the EU impossible. It ought to be perfectly possible to discuss things the EU has historically done wrong without being labeled a Trump-loving Farage supporter, but that is not how public discourse is going. The EU’s record on effectively dumping did improve substantially with successive reforms to the CAP.

The general problem has not gone away, however. In 2000 I recall the USA dumped vast amounts of subsidised chicken on Ghana while I was working there, putting numerous good quality Ghanaian producers out of business. Africa remains subject to the whims of western politicians seeking to subsidise their farmers either for reasons of food security, or because the Idaho soya bean farmer suddenly became a key voting demographic.

The Common Agricultural Policy was designed to encourage food security and reduce price volatility in Europe. In original concept that functioned through large scale over-production of staples, taxpayer subsidised, and food stability in the rest of the world was not part of the remit.

Despite all of the odds, the Nigerian Sugar Company in Bacita kept going through the 1980’s, employing tens of thousands of people a year and producing some 20 to 30,000 tonnes of refined sugar (out of a nominal capacity of 60,000 tonnes). I loved spending time there. I admired the tenacity of the workforce who struggled every day to maintain both field production and factory with almost no available cash. I marveled at the ancient, massively wrought, crushing, boiling and refining equipment all manufactured in Glasgow or Motherwell, and chatted with the blacksmiths who hammered replacement parts using old matchets as raw material. I would sit with the cane cutters enjoying a drink of fresh cane juice, as the burning prior to cutting drew black feathers across the vivid red of the setting sun. I loved the fact that the entire plant and town were powered by using cane waste as fuel.

You have to understand that Nigeria in the 1980’s had massive societal problems, and honest endeavour and agro-industry were not exactly its hallmarks. Bacita was my haven. I should point out that Bacita had never employed either slave or imported labour, lest you feel my nostalgia for a sugar plantation was misplaced.

I tried very hard to persuade both DFID and the Commonwealth Development Corporation to help update the plant, but both said that the EU dumping policy made Nigerian sugar unsustainable. Bacita somehow limped on another two decades until it closed in 2006. It closed because the international donor community insisted it was privatised.

Once put into the hands of a wealthy owner, international aid was finally forthcoming and the African Development Bank put an amazing 60 million dollars into expanding field production. This was entirely wasted as the new owner decided it was most cost effective to take advantage of tariff advantages of raw versus processed sugar. They simply shut down the field operation, making 10,000 people redundant, and ran the processing plant on imported raw sugar. That lasted a couple of years and then they lost interest and the whole thing went bust. The joys of privatisation.

Sugar is fascinating, because temperate beet sugar is the original and most striking example of industrial selective breeding of a crop deliberately to provide import substitution in temperate countries of a tropical food. Modern sugar beet typically contains 15 to 20% sugar. At the end of the 18th century, when serious breeding started, it was around 8 to 12%, similar to sweet potato today. Industrial scale production of sugar from sugar beet started around 1820.

Contrary to popular belief, sugar beet in a temperate climate can in fact yield more sugar per hectare than sugar cane in the tropics, because of its shorter growth season. Nitrogen fertiliser inputs for the two are comparable. Cane sugar production costs are substantially cheaper than beet sugar, but higher yield in the field is not the reason. Nor is cheaper labour as large a factor as you might think, given the mechanisation of the beet industry.

The reasons cane sugar is cheaper are more complex – for example, sugar beet factories in the UK typically run 100 days a year, whereas a sugar cane factory factory is almost a year round operation, thus giving a better return on the capital employed. The UNFAO argues that in a liberalised market some beet production would be competitive, particularly major scale producers in France and Germany. I am dubious; the general rule that without protection cane sugar is more financially viable, by a wide margin, is not in doubt.

As the UK leaves the EU, the EU quotas and tariff barriers that kept out cane sugar are vanishing and Tate & Lyle are now free to import raw cane sugar for processing. This is where that £71 million tariff reduction comes in. This could theoretically be an advantage of Brexit – sugar ought to get cheaper. But actually, it won’t. You see, Tate & Lyle are the only refiner of raw cane sugar in the UK. They have a monopoly, and the capital costs are a significant bar to market entry. So what will happen is that Tate & Lyle profits will go up, very substantially.

The British sugar market is dominated by British Sugar, who produce beet sugar, and Tate & Lyle, who finish in the UK imported “raw” cane sugar. In theory, Tate & Lyle should now be in a position to put British Sugar out of business and end UK beet production. That will not happen. What will happen is the duopoly will continue to fix the price, with Tate & Lyle simply making mega profits.

As you will have realised, this is all predicated on the fact that the UK intends to maintain high tariffs on the import of fully processed sugar from abroad, to maintain the protection of the processing operations of both British Sugar and Tate & Lyle. The only reason it makes any sense for Tate & Lyle to import raw sugar from Brazil or Pakistan and process it here, is that fully processed sugar from Brazil or Pakistan is subject to a deliberately prohibitive tariff.

This means that extra bulk is being transported across the sea for no good reason. It also keeps the most profitable part of the entire value adding process in the developed world and not in the developing world. I visited a sugar factory in Pakistan last year, where it is a massive industry, and access for their refined sugar to the UK market could be a major economic boost.

It is of course not just sugar; this system of protection aimed at keeping developing countries as raw material exporters and keeping the high value processes in the developed world applies to many commodities. If we take the case of cocoa, my friend President Nana Akuffo Addo of Ghana states that Ghana loses over half of the value of its cocoa by exporting beans rather than processed cake and butter, or still better chocolate.

President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says Ghana no longer wants to be dependent on the production and export of raw materials, including cocoa beans.

According to President Akufo-Addo, Ghana intends to process more and more of its cocoa, with the aim of producing more chocolate, “because we believe there can be no future prosperity for the Ghanaian people, in the short, medium or long term, if we continue to maintain economic structures that are dependent on the production and export of raw materials.”

He, thus, reiterated the commitment of his Government “to add value to our raw materials, industrialise and enhance agricultural productivity. This is the best way we can put Ghana at the high end of the value chain in the global market place, and create jobs for the teeming masses of Ghanaians”.

That the UK in leaving the EU is lifting the barriers to raw sugar import but not to processed sugar import, is indeed a sign that the Tory government is favoring the interests of its donor Tate & Lyle above the interests of the developing world (who still cannot send us more valuable processed sugar), the interests of the consumer (who will not get cheaper sugar from the tariff reduction) and the interests of beet farmers (who will have competition from cheaper imported raw sugar). It really is a spectacularly bad policy decision designed solely to benefit Tate & Lyle, and nobody else. 

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/08/sugar/ 
 

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The Russian Interference - (A Very Dangerous Report)


Now the madding crowd has moved on, I take a mature look at the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee on Russia. It is so flawed it is tempting simply to mock it. But in fact, it is extremely dangerous.

It calls expressly and repeatedly for the security services to be actively involved in “policing the democratic space” and castigates the security services for their unwillingness to interfere in democratic process. It calls for tough government action against social media companies who refuse to censor and remove from the internet material it believes to be inspired by foreign states. It specifically accepts the Integrity Initiative’s Christopher Donnelly and Ben Nimmo as examples of good identifiers of the material which should be banned – even though Nimmo is the man who stated that use of the phrase “Cui bono” is indicative of a Russian troll, and who accused scores of ordinary Scottish Independence supporters of being Russian trolls.

In order for you to assess the threat of a report which specifically calls on the social media companies to ban those individuals the British government identifies as Russian trolls, and which calls on the security services to act against those people, remember Ian.

Ian was identified by the British government as a Russian troll, on the word of Nimmo and Donnelly – exactly the “experts” on which this report relies. This report proposes Ian, and people like him, be banned from social media and subject to security service surveillance.

Listen to Ian:

In short the report is a real threat to democracy. Its evidence base is appalling, and that is what I shall look at first.

The ISC took evidence from just five “experts” outside the intelligence services. They were Anne Applebaum, Bill Browder, Christopher Donnelly, Edward Lucas and Christopher Steele. I do not quite know how to get over to you the full significance of this. It would be impossible to assemble a group of five witnesses with any pretence whatsoever to respectability (and some of them have an extremely tenuous link to respectability) that would be more far out, right wing and Russophobic. They are the extreme fringe of anti-Russian thinking. They are nowhere near the consensus among the academic, diplomatic and other genuinely expert communities on Russia.

There is simply no attempt at balance whatsoever. The best I can try to get over the extent of this would be to compare it to a hypothetical parliamentary inquiry into Old Firm rivalry where the only witnesses are Scott Brown, Neil Lennon, John Hartson, the Green Brigade, and a Cardinal. There is not any attempt from the ISC to interview any witness who is even remotely balanced or can give the view from the other side. Some might feel that a report entitled simply “Russia” which called zero actual Russians as witnesses is somewhat flawed.

To go through those witnesses.

Anne Applebaum is the most respectable of them. I should state that I know both Anne (whom I know as Ania) and her husband, Radek Sikorski MEP, slightly from my time as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Poland (1994-8). Anne is a right wing journalist who has worked at both the Spectator and the American Enterprise Institute, a Randian think tank. She identifies as Polish and shares the understandable visceral distrust of Russia felt by the Polish right. Her husband Radek Sikorski is a long term friend of Boris Johnson, member of the Bullingdon Club, also worked at the American Enterprise Institute and is a former Defence Minister of Poland. Radek’s persona as a politician is very much based around his hawkish stance on Russia. Both Anne and Radek have consistently argued for the aggressive eastward expansion of NATO and forward stationing of US troops and missiles towards Russia.

Bill Browder is a billionaire who made his money out of the Russian people from the fallout of Russia’s chaotic privatisation process. He achieved fame by portraying his highly corrupt accountant, Sergei Magnitskiy, as a human rights campaigner murdered by the Russian authorities. Browder’s account of events was found to be fundamentally false by the European Court of Human Rights, in a judgement which received zero truthful reporting in Western media. Here is an extract from the judgement of the ECHR:

The applicants argued that Mr Magnitskiy’s arrest had not been based on a reasonable suspicion of a
crime and that the authorities had lacked impartiality as they had actually wanted to force him to
retract his allegations of corruption by State officials. The Government argued that there had been
ample evidence of tax evasion and that Mr Magnitskiy had been a flight risk.
The Court reiterated the general principles on arbitrary detention, which could arise if the
authorities had complied with the letter of the law but had acted with bad faith or deception. It
found no such elements in this case: the enquiry into alleged tax evasion which had led to
Mr Magnitskiy’s arrest had begun long before he had complained of fraud by officials. The decision
to arrest him had only been made after investigators had learned that he had previously applied for
a UK visa, had booked tickets to Kyiv, and had not been residing at his registered address.
Furthermore, the evidence against him, including witness testimony, had been enough to satisfy an
objective observer that he might have committed the offence in question. The list of reasons given
by the domestic court to justify his subsequent detention had been specific and sufficiently detailed.
The Court thus rejected the applicants’ complaint about Mr Magnitskiy’s arrest and subsequent
detention as being manifestly ill-founded.

The ECJ found that Magnitskiy indeed died as a result of the shortcomings of Russia’s brutal prison regime – very similar to that of the United States in this regard – but that he was properly in prison on viable criminal charges. The western media may ignore the fact that Browder’s activism is motivated entirely by a desire to hold on to his own vast ill-gotten wealth, and that the highest of courts has found his campaigning is based on a false narrative, but it is deeply, deeply shocking that the members of the Intelligence and Security Committee, who must know the truth, still give Browder credibility. There is no sense in which Browder is a respectable witness.

Christopher Donnelly was forced to step down as a person with significant control of fake charity “The Institute for Statecraft” after the Scottish Charity Regulator found that:

“There was no clear explanation as to why the salaries being paid to charity trustees were considered reasonable and necessary, and we had concern about the charity trustees’ decision-making process around these payments. We do not consider that this private benefit was incidental to the organisation’s activities that advanced its purposes”.

In other words, making money for its trustees, principally Christopher Donnelly, was a purpose of the Institute for Statecraft, not an incidental benefit. This is what the Charity Regulator also found about this fake charity:

Screenshot-1194.png

The Charity Regulator also found that the Integrity Initiative, run by the Institute for Statecraft, was sending out party political tweets. All of this activity was of course carried out with taxpayers money, the Integrity Initiative being funded by the FCO, the MOD, and the security services.

The Integrity Initiative is a covert propaganda organisation designed to do precisely what the ISC report accuses Russia of doing – covertly influencing politics in both the UK and numerous other countries by state sponsored propaganda disguised as independent journalism or social media posts. Christopher Donnelly heads the Integrity Initiative. Its basic method of operation is secretly to pay mainstream media journalists around the world to pump out disguised British government propaganda, and to run hidden social media campaigns doing the same thing.

All of the “expert witnesses” before the committee feature in the leaked Integrity Initiative documents as part of Integrity Initiative activites. They are all engaged in doing precisely what they here accuse the Russians of doing. The best exposition, to the highest academic standards, of the fascinating leaked documents of the Integrity Initiative operation is by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and the Media. You can very happily spend an hour looking through their report.

Screenshot-1202.png

So the UK UK was asking its own paid propagandists what they thought of the Russian propagandists. Every one of the witnesses makes their living from postulating the Russian threat. They therefore said the Russian threat is very big indeed.

Edward Lucas is a hilarious professional Russophobe. He is the go-to anti-Russia expert of the BBC, and can be guaranteed to say something stimulating, such as this:

Screenshot-1203.png

Lucas actually uses #newcoldwar in his twitter profile, and is jolly keen on the idea.

Christopher Steele is a charlatan and con-man. He is by no means unique in trading on the glamour and reputation of MI6 to build up a consultancy business after an undistinguished career as a middle ranking MI6 officer.

When Steele produced, for a large sum of money, his famous “Pee dossier” on Donald Trump’s “collusion” with Russia, it was obvious to anyone with any professional background in intelligence analysis that it simply could not be genuine. It claimed to have a level of access into Russian security circles which is greater than the penetration ever secured by MI6 or the CIA. I immediately pointed out its deficiencies, but these were ignored by an establishment media desperate to explain away the Trump insurgency into their political space.

Since then the dossier has simply fallen apart. Steele has been successfully sued by people named in the dossier. The lawyer Michael Cohen has shown that he was definitively not in Prague on the date Steele claimed he was meeting Russian hackers there, and indeed has never been to Prague. Most telling of all, it turns out that most of the content of the dossier was simply a compilation of the gossip of the Russian emigre community in Washington by Igor Danchenko, formerly a junior staff member at the Brookings Institute, a liberal foreign policy thinktank.

The silence of the media on the unravelling of the Steele Dossier has been so remarkable it has drawn comment in unexpected quarters:

Screenshot-1204.png

Having seen the quality of the input, it is unsurprising that the report is a case of “rubbish in, rubbish out”. So let us now, with rubber gloves and a peg on the nose, pick through the rubbish.

To start at para 1, the tone is immediately set of paranoid antagonism to Russia. There is no attempt at balance whatsoever; anti-Russian statement is built on anti-Russian statement until we are supposed to be carried away by the stream of rhetoric to accept each succeeding proposition as it is piled up. Like this one:

The murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 demonstrated that Russia under President Putin had moved from potential partner to established threat.

Did it really? Accepting for the sake of argument that the official British explanation of Litvinenko’s death is true and it was a murder by the Russian state, does that show that Russia is an “established threat”? It would certainly be an appalling abuse of human rights and show Russia is a threat to Russian dissidents, but would it really show Russia is an “established threat” to you and me? Plenty of other countries murder their opponents abroad, notably the USA, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Uzbekistan, countries the UK government is proud to call allies. The UK kills opponents abroad continually, in drone strikes, including deliberately by drone killing its own citizens and even killing young British children. I can condemn all such murders equally. But why should we be carried away by the anti-Russian rhetoric into finding it uniquely reprehensible, only when Russia does it?

I could go through every single para of the report, but life is too short. I will however pick out places where the logic is far less convincing than the rhetoric is impressive. From Para 3:

its lack of strong independent public bodies and the fusion of government and business allow it to leverage all its intelligence, military and economic power at the same time to pose an all-encompassing security threat.

Really? Is Russia really that unified? In fact, this is a startling over-simplification. The extreme oligarchic structure which resulted from the wholesale looting of assets in the western-inspired and western-overseen chaos of Russian privatisation has resulted in a state which is indeed not a healthy democracy. But neither is it a monolith with no dissent and no conflicting interests, and Putin has continually to balance the desires and goals of different oligarchs and factions. Not many Russians would recognise the portrayal here of a super efficient and coherent state and business machine.

Besides, even if it were true, Russia would still only have one fifth of the population of the European Union and an economy the size of Spain. The attempt to pump up Russia as a massive threatening superpower is simply nonsense. What Russia does have is the ability to take decisive politico-military action, on a small scale in limited theatres, such as Crimea or Syria. It does so with success because it has a leader who is better at the game of international realpolitik that his western contemporaries. That is not a value judgement: I personally believe Putin is right in Syria and wrong in Crimea. But to blame Russia for the decrepit state of current western diplomacy is a stretch.

By para 4 the report is surfing along on a surreal wave of nonsense:

The security threat posed by Russia is difficult for the West to manage as, in our view and that of many others, it appears fundamentally nihilistic.

Really? Nihilistic? Now the report has already stated that Russia is a remarkably monolithic and unified state apparatus, controlled presumably by President Putin. I can think of many adjectives to describe Putin, some of them not very pleasant – calculating, machiavellian and devious would be amongst them. But he is the absolute opposite of nihilist. He has a clearly defined view of Russia’s interests – and that view identifies Russian interests far too closely with himself and other oligarchs – and sets out diligently and consistently to advance those interests.

So you can define clear Russian policy goals in the international sphere. These include the consolidation of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union and, where possible, the re-integration of contiguous Russian majority speaking territory into Russia, as seen in Georgia and Ukraine. They include the reduction of democratic space for political dissent at home. They include the countering of American influence abroad, particularly in the Middle East and Central Asia. These are serious, hard-headed policies. The very last word I would use to describe them is nihilistic. The Russian oligarch class are as unquestioningly materialist as any class in any society, ever. They are not nihilists.

I can only imagine that the committee picked up on the word “nihilist” from one of the crazed flights of fancy of Edward Lucas.

Para 4 then blunders on into still stranger territory:

It is also seemingly fed by paranoia, believing that Western institutions such as NATO and the EU have a far more aggressive posture towards it than they do in reality.

What could give them that idea?

russiawantswar.jpg

But what is really strange is the lack of self awareness; a report built entirely upon paranoia about the Russian threat accuses Russia of paranoia about the western threat.

The next few paragraphs make repeated reference to the “Salisbury attacks” and simply take for granted the narrative that Russia was responsible for these. This I am not prepared to do. Clearly some kind of spy subterfuge took place in Salisbury involving both the UK and Russia, but there are too many obvious lies in the official UK government account. I still have seen no answers to my ten outstanding questions, while the attribution of the poison gets ever shakier, with new revelations from that cesspool of corruption, the bureaucracy of the OPCW.

Paras 13 to 20, on cyber warfare, again show that complete lack of self-awareness. They attribute a number of cyber hacks to Russia and the GRU, as though we did not know from Wikileaks Vault 7 leaks that the CIA specifically has a programme, “Umbrage” for leaving behind fake evidence of a Russian hack. But more tellingly, they quote GCHQ as their source of information.

Now it is a simple truth that hacking Russian communications, including military, political, security, research and commercial communications, has been a core part of GCHQ tasking from its establishment. Assuming at least some of the attributions to Russia on cyber warfare are correct, the synthetic outrage at Russia doing what we have been doing to Russia on a far, far larger scale for decades, is laughable. Even more so when paras 20 to 24 talk of the need for the MOD and GCHQ to expand their offensive cyber warfare as though this were a retaliatory measure.

From para 27 onwards the committee is talking about broadcast and new media disinformation campaigns. Here it stops pretending it knows any secret intelligence and states its information is open source, as at footnote 24 where the sources are frothing mad Edward Lucas and fake charity purveyor Christopher Donnelly, telling us how terrible Russian troll campaigns are.

Yet again, there is a total lack of self awareness. The committee fails to note that Donnelly himself has been spending millions of UK taxpayers’ money (at least that which did not go into his own pocket) running absolutely, precisely the same kind of covert campaign of hidden influence propaganda that they are accusing Russia of running. They accuse Russia Today of bias as though the BBC did not have its own state propaganda bias. Yet again, the lack of self-awareness is stunning.

Now we start to reach the stage where all this sanctimonious hypocrisy become really dangerous. Before you read this next few paras of the report, I would remind you that the repression of every bad regime everywhere has always been, in the eyes of the repressive security service, defensive. It is always to protect the truth, to prevent the spread of the lies and disaffection of evil foreign influence. That was the justification of the Cheka, the Gestapo, the Stasi and every South American dictator. They were all protecting the people from foreign lies. Now read this from the committee, and consider what it really means:

33. Whilst we understand the nervousness around any suggestion that the intelligence
and security Agencies might be involved in democratic processes – certainly a fear that is
writ large in other countries – that cannot apply when it comes to the protection of those
processes. And without seeking in any way to imply that DCMS is not capable, or that the
Electoral Commission is not a staunch defender of democracy, it is a question of scale and
access. DCMS is a small Whitehall policy department and the Electoral Commission is an
arm’s length body; neither is in the central position required to tackle a major hostile state
threat to our democracy. Protecting our democratic discourse and processes from hostile
foreign interference is a central responsibility of Government, and should be a ministerial
priority.
34. In our opinion, the operational role must sit primarily with MI5, in line with its
statutory responsibility for “the protection of national security and, in particular, its
protection against threats from espionage, terrorism and sabotage, from the activities of
agents of foreign powers and from actions intended to overthrow or undermine
parliamentary democracy … ”.38 The policy role should sit with the Office for Security and
Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) – primarily due to its ten years of experience in countering the
terrorist threat and its position working closely with MI5 within the central Government
machinery. This would also have the advantage that the relationship built with social media
companies to encourage them to co-operate in dealing with terrorist use of social media
could be brought to bear against the hostile state threat; indeed, it is not clear to us why the
Government is not already doing this.
35. With that said, we note that – as with so many other issues currently – it is the social
media companies which hold the key and yet are failing to play their part. The Government must
now seek to establish a protocol with the social media companies to ensure that they take
covert hostile state use of their platforms seriously, and have clear timescales within which
they commit to removing such material. Government should ‘name and shame’ those which fail to
act. Such a protocol could, usefully, be expanded to encompass the other areas in which action
is required from the social media companies, since this issue is not unique to Hostile State
Activity. This matter is, in our view, urgent and we expect the Government to report on progress
in this area as soon as possible.

The government endorsed Donnelly/Nimmo operation identified Ian above as a Russian agent. I have no doubt they would count this article as Russian disinformation. They would set MI5 on Ian and I, and ensure our posts would be banned from social media. Only such a corrupt mainstream media as we have in the UK would fail entirely to note – and they have failed entirely to note – the extreme and illiberal aspects of this report.

There is a real danger identified by the report. But it is not Russia, it is the McCarthyite witch-hunt the report seeks to promote, ironically based upon an entire sea of disinformation.

By paragraph 42 the committee has left reality entirely behind in favour of a tour of Clintonland.

42. It was only when Russia completed a ‘hack and leak’ operation against the
Democratic National Committee in the US – with the stolen emails being made public a
month after the EU referendum – that it appears that the Government belatedly realised the
level of threat which Russia could pose in this area, given that the risk thresholds in the
Kremlin had clearly shifted, describing the US ‘hack and leak’ as a “game changer”,46 and
admitting that “prior to what we saw in the States, [Russian interference] wasn’t generally
understood as a big threat to [electoral] processes”.

Contrary to the committee’s bland assertion, it is now well established that there never was any Russian hack of the DNC. Mueller failed entirely, after spending US $32million, to establish either a hack or Russian “collusion” with the Trump campaign. The only “evidence” there ever was for the Russian hack was an affirmation by the DNC’s security consultants, Crowdstrike, and this summer we learnt that Crowdstrike had never had any evidence of a Russian hack either. While those of us close to Wikileaks have been explaining for years it was a leak, not a hack. We were ignored by the media as it did not fit with the official disinformation campaign.

The committee query why the UK security services were not alerted by the DNC hack to take additional measures against Russia. The answer to that is very simple. The UK and US security services share all intelligence, so the UK security services were well aware from the US intelligence information that there was in fact no Russian hack. Unlike their US counterparts, they were not led by Clinton appointed loyalists prepared to perpetuate and act upon the lie to try to serve their political masters. On the other hand, the UK security services evidently did not feel it necessary to dampen the ardour of the committee on this point when it was about to propose a large increase in their powers and their budgets.

I had already blogged on paragraph 41 of the report and its accusation of Russian interference in the election campaign, founded entirely on a published article on Medium by witch-finder general, the Livingston unionist Ben Nimmo. That article states, among other things, that many Independence supporters on social media also support Russia on Ukraine, and therefore must be agents of Russian influence – as opposed to Scots who happen to support Russia over Ukraine. It notes that a number of people who support Scottish Independence appear not to have English as their first language, and some have trouble with definite and indefinite articles; therefore, Nimmo concludes they must be Russian trolls. As though we have no migrants who support Scottish Independence – and ignoring the fact Polish, Lithuanian, indeed the majority of languages in the world, also do not use definite and indefinite articles.

Let us remind ourselves of Ben Nimmo’s brilliant identification of top Russian trolls, nine out of ten of which turned out to be ordinary Scottish Independence supporters who simply tweeted things Nimmo does not like, while the tenth is a news aggregation bot which actually has the word “bot” in its name. That the committee takes this stuff seriously is a fact so eloquent in itself, I need hardly say more.

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When we arrive at section 49 we finally reach material with which I can wholeheartedly agree. The UK, and the City of London in particular, was absolutely wrong to have welcomed in with open arms the Russian billionaires whose fortunes had been looted from the Russian people in the chaotic privatisation process, where assets were seized often by brute force, sometimes by bribery. There is no decent society in which the Deripaskas, the Usmanovs, the Lebvedevs, the Abramovics, should be accorded respect. Dirty money corrupts financial and political institutions. The committee is absolutely correct about that.

But have these people been living under a rock? UK politics and society have been a stinking morass of corruption for generations. Saudi money has worked in exactly the same way as Russian, and has had a bigger political influence, leading to a quite disgusting blind eye being turned to appalling human rights violations and military aggression against civilians. The same is true of all the Gulf states. London has been awash for over 40 years with Nigerian plutocrats, every single one of whose wealth has been corruptly looted. When I worked at the British High Commission in Lagos, the snobs’ estate agent Knight Frank and Rutley had an office there, staffed by expatriates, which did nothing but sell Surrey mansions and Docklands penthouses to crooks.

Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Angola, Sierra Leone, there is not a blood diamond or corruptly acquired oil barrel whose proceeds do not wash up in London. Four of the world’s top ten tax evasion bases are British colonies. The committee was right to describe the City of London as a “laundromat” for looted money, but wrong to ascribe that mainly to Russia. That is without considering the disgusting activities of our own UK and US billionaires, who control our media and ultimately our politics.

I can join in the committee’s condemnation of Russian oligarchs influence in British society, and especially their influence as donors on the Tory party. But remember Mandelson/Deripaska. The corruption has no ideological basis except selfishness. The financial interests of British, American, Russian, Saudi, French, Malaysian or any other billionaires are entirely intertwined, as is their political influence. It is the billionaires against the people. The nationality of the particular billionaire is irrelevant. I strongly recommend this report by Transparency International on the massive involvement of “respectable” British institutions in facilitating obviously corrupt transactions.

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Does anybody seriously believe the influence of Russian billionaires is somehow more pernicious in the UK than the Saudis or any of the others I have mentioned? Of course nobody believes that; this report only achieves its aim by a blinkered focus on a singular anti-Russian racism. I am not going to expound on any more of the report, because there is a limit to how much racism I am prepared to wade through.

But before closing, I want to consider how enthusiasm for the new Cold War has swept up pretty well the entire political and media class. There are of course those who were enthusiasts for the last Cold War, the military and security services, the arms industry and bottom feeders like Christopher Steele and Christopher Donnelly, who make a surprisingly fat living from peddling the disinformation the state wishes to hear.

But the “Russia is the enemy” narrative has been taken up not just by the traditional right, but by those who would probably self-describe as liberal or social democrat, by supporters of Blair and Hillary.

Most of the explanation for this lies in the success of Blair and Clinton in diverting the “left” into the neo-con foreign policy agenda, through the doctrine of “liberal intervention”, which was the excuse for much Victorian imperialism. The notion is that if you only bomb and maim people in developing countries enough, they will develop democratic forms of government.

This thesis is at best unproven. But once you persuade people to accept one form of war, they seem to become enthusiasts for more of it, particularly those who work in media. It remains the most important single fact in British politics that, despite the fact almost everybody now acknowledges that it was a disaster, nobody ever lost their job for supporting the Iraq war. Quite a few lost their job for opposing it, Greg Dyke, Carne Ross, Elizabeth Wilmshurst and Piers Morgan being among the examples. It is a simple matter of fact that the Iraq War’s biggest cheerleaders dominate the London political and media landscape, whereas there is no critic of the Iraq War in an important position of power.

But apart from the argument that we must oppose Russia because it is not a democracy (but not oppose Saudi Arabia because… well, because), something else is in play. The cosy liberal worldview has been shattered by a populist surge, as represented by Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Both events are cataclysmic to the liberal mind and need to be explained.

For some reason, many mainstream liberals, especially the well-heeled ones who control the media and are columnists therein, are unable to acknowledge the truth. The truth is that our apparently comfortable modern society left a large number of people behind, who suffered loss of status from the ever-growing wealth gap and believed their opinions were not valued by an urban establishment they despised. These people revolted and had a right to revolt. That their discontent was seized upon and diverted by charlatans to unworthy political causes did not nullify the just causes of discontent. Loss of wages, job security and social status has bedeviled the disenfranchised at the same time that the plutocrats have been piling up personal wealth.

The upsurge of populism is a direct consequence of the vicious inequality of late stage capitalism, seasoned with racist attitudes to migrants which were themselves triggered by large waves of immigration the “liberal left” in fact caused with their obsessive pursuit of foreign invasion and destruction. That analysis, that the capitalist system they so wholeheartedly espouse and the wars for “freedom” they so ardently promote are the cause of the political setbacks they have encountered – is unpalatable to the media and political classes.

They therefore look for another cause for the raw political wounds of Trump and Brexit. Incredibly, they attempt to blame Putin for both. The notion that Russia, rather than deep disaffection of the less privileged classes, “caused” Trump, Brexit and even support for Scottish Independence is completely risible, yet uncritical acceptance of that analysis is fundamental to this report. It fits the mindset of the entire political and media establishment which is why it has been lauded, when it should be condemned as a real threat to the very political freedoms which it claims differentiate us from Russia. 
 

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/08/the-russian-interference-report-without-laughing/ 
 

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Belarus


There is a misperception in western media that Lukashenko is Putin’s man. That is not true; Putin views him as an exasperating and rather dim legacy. There is also a misperception in the west that Lukashenko really lost the recent election. That is not true. He almost certainly won, though the margin is much exaggerated by the official result. Minsk is not Belarus, just as London is not the UK. Most of Belarus is pretty backward and heavily influenced by the state machinery. Dictators have all kinds of means at their disposal to make themselves popular. That is why the odd election or plebiscite does not mean that somebody is not a dictator. Lukashenko is a dictator, as I have been saying for nigh on twenty years.

My analysis is that Lukashenko probably won handily, with over 60% of the vote. But it was by no means a free and fair election. The media is heavily biased (remember you can also say that of the UK), and the weak opposition candidate was only there because, one way or the other, all the important opposition figures are prevented from standing.

The West is trying to engineer popular opinion in Belarus towards a “colour revolution”, fairly obviously. But they are on a sticky wicket. Western Ukraine was genuinely enthusiastic to move towards the west and the EU, in the hope of attaining a consumer lifestyle. Outside of central Minsk, there is very little such sentiment in Belarus. Most important of all, Belarus means “White Russia”, and the White Russians very strongly identify themselves as culturally Russian. We will not see a colour revolution in Belarus. The West is trying, however.

Unlike many of my readers, I see nothing outrageous in this. Attempting to influence the political direction of another country to your favour is a key aim of diplomacy, and always has been. I was a rather good exponent of it on behalf of the UK government for a couple of decades. The BBC World Service has always been FCO funded and its entire existence has been based on this attempt to influence, by pumping out propaganda in scores of languages, from its very inception. The British Council is not spending millions promoting British culture abroad from a pure love of Shakespeare. Government funding is given to NGO’s that aim to influence media and society. Future leaders are identified and brought on training and degree courses to wed them to pro-British sympathies.

I do not have any trouble with any of that. It is part of what diplomacy is. It is of course amusing when the British state works itself into a frenzy over Russia carrying out exactly the same type of activity that the British do on a much larger scale. But it is all part of an age old game. If I were Ambassador to Belarus now, I would have no moral qualms about turning up to support an anti-Lukashenko demo. It is all part of the job.

There is of course a murkier aspect of all this, where activities are hidden rather than open. The British state funded Integrity Initiative’s work in secretly paying foreign media journalists, or creating thousands of false social media identities to push a narrative (the latter also undertaken by MOD and GCHQ among others), is more dubious. So is MI6’s more traditional work of simply suborning politicians, civil servants and generals with large bundles of cash. But again, I can’t get too worked up about it. It is the dirtier end of the game, but time-honoured, with understood boundaries. Again, my major objection is when the UK gets ludicrously sanctimonious about Russia doing precisely what the UK does on a far larger scale.

But then we get into a far darker area, of assassinations, false flag shootings and bombings and false incrimination. Here a line is crossed, lives are destroyed and violent conflict precipitated. Here I am not prepared to say that time honoured international practice makes these acts acceptable. This line was crossed in the Ukraine; for reasons given above I do not think that the tinder exists to trigger the striking of such a spark in Belarus.

I should be very happy to see Lukashenko go. Term limits on the executive should be a factor in any decent democracy. Once you have the levers of power, it is not difficult to maintain personal popularity for many decades, barring external shock; popularity is not the same as democratic legitimacy. I should state very plainly, as I have before, that I think it was absolutely wrong of Putin to outstay his two terms, irrespective of constitutional sophistry and irrespective of popular support.

The ideal would be for Lukashenko to go and for there to be fresh elections, as opposed to the Venezuelan tactic of the West just announcing a President who has never won an election. The best result for the people of Belarus and for international stability would be the election of a reform minded but broadly pro-Russian candidate. Putin has used the crisis to re-assert the “union” of Russia and Belarus – signed 20 years ago this is a single market and free trade area. Few would doubt, crucially including few Belarussians, that the future of Belarus lies with integration with Russia rather than the EU.

History’s greatest criticism of Putin will be his failure to diversify the Russian economic base and move it from raw commodity exporter to high value added economy. His aims for Belarus will be to ensure it fits neatly with the template of massive commodity exports controlled by a tight knit and highly wealthy oligarchy. Putin will have no interest in the economic reforms Belarus needs.

My expectation is that Lukashenko will hang on, reorienting the economy back towards Russia. Putin’s long term policy goal has always been the reintegration into Russia of majority Russophone areas of the old USSR. That has been his policy in Ukraine and Georgia. Belarus is a major prize. He will seek to bind Belarus in tighter, probably through increased energy subsidy (Putin’s economic arsenal is very limited). Getting rid of Lukashenko is going to move up Putin’s to do list; I give it three years. The current demonstrations in Minsk have no major economic or social effect, and will pass.

UPDATE 17 AUGUST

I just wrote the following in response to a comment below, and I think it usefully explains an important bit of my thinking: and not just on Belarus.

I think the difference between myself and many of my readers is that while we both recognise “western” government as plunder by the capitalist elite exploiting the working class and a fake democracy controlled by a media serving the elite, you and others seem to think that governments are a lot better just because they are anti-Western.
Whereas I believe that many anti-Western governments – Lukashenko, Assad and yes Putin – are also plunder by the capitalist elite exploiting the working class and a fake democracy controlled by a media serving the elite. Just organised a bit differently. And with a still worse approach to civil liberties.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate. 

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/08/belarus/ 
 

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Made in the First Minister’s Office -
(Alex Salmond stitch up continues)


The first piece of evidence came out at the Holyrood Inquiry today which I have known for the last year but had not been allowed to tell you.

The drafting of the new complaints procedure so that it could be used to fit up Alex Salmond was NOT a unionist scheme hatched in Whitehall and implemented by Leslie Evans, a UK civil servant. I have seen fellow SNP members give themselve false comfort with the idea it was Whitehall and not Nicola; I have tried gently to explain they are wrong, without ever being able to produce the evidence, although I had it.

This is the first morsel of a very great deal of evidence that is going to come out.

The adoption of a new complaints procedure that permitted retrospective complaints against former ministers was in fact cooked up between Leslie Evans and Nicola Sturgeon. LONDON ADVISED AGAINST IT. The Cabinet Office strongly advised that it would be “unwise” to allow retrospective action against ex-ministers. Nicola and Evans decided to plough ahead and implement the policy against London’s advice. They must have had a strong motive for that. Evans denied today that the policy was designed against Alex Salmond. I certainly do not believe her, and there is much more to come.

This is the evidence of Leslie Evans that confirmed this today. As I say, I had known this a long while but was not able to reveal it as I was pledged to confidence. The emails before the committee show indisputably in writing the Cabinet Office advice against the retrospective complaints policy. This is the first piece in a jigsaw, but it is a key piece. I have seen enough other pieces, too, to have no doubt at all of the final picture.

 

Video Player - to see video, click on the link at the bottom.
 
 
00:00
 
01:27I cannot tell you how desperately I wish all of this was not true. I cannot tell you how desperately I wish the plot against Alex Salmond had indeed all been made in Whitehall. I cannot tell you how much I have hated the fact that my knowledge of Nicola’s plot against Alex has alienated me from so many fellow SNP members I worked alongside during the 2014 campaign. I do hope that scales are at least beginning now to drop from some eyes.

 

 

 
 
00:00
 
01:27
 
 

I cannot tell you how desperately I wish all of this was not true. I cannot tell you how desperately I wish the plot against Alex Salmond had indeed all been made in Whitehall. I cannot tell you how much I have hated the fact that my knowledge of Nicola’s plot against Alex has alienated me from so many fellow SNP members I worked alongside during the 2014 campaign. I do hope that scales are at least beginning now to drop from some eyes.

But this together with Nicola’s insistence there can be no Independence without a referendum, and there must be no referendum without Westminster permission and a S30 order. Put this together with Nicola’s insistence that even discussion of Independence is off the agenda until after Covid and its economic consequences are past. Put this together with the NEC blocking of Joanna Cherry – which Sturgeon and Murrell were definitely behind. Put this together, if I may, with the attempt to jail me for writing this blog.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

 

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/08/made-in-the-first-ministers-office/ 
 

 

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Preparing for my Trial- (Craig is in a very serious situation)


The Crown Office is objecting to the appearance of, and trying to block from court, ALL of my witnesses and ALL of our proposed evidence for my defence at my trial for Contempt of Court. Today I have to complete the first draft of my own witness statement. We understand the Lord Advocate may object to the hearing of my own evidence also.

 

I shall write more on this tomorrow. Today is very busy.

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Manni Singh Jailed for Organising Peaceful Independence Demonstration 


My good friend Manni Singh has been jailed for 72 days – an incredibly draconian sentence – for organising an entirely peaceful political demonstration at which I was a speaker, on which there were zero incidents of violence or damage.

The harsh sentence is completely out of line with any recent treatment of peaceful protestors, for example from the Occupy movement or Extinction Rebellion.

People attended the Glasgow All Under One Banner march from all over Scotland. Singh made all the correct applications to hold it to Glasgow City Council. His application was for simply a repeat of the highly successful and peaceful event a year previously. As I reported at the time, it was the SNP group who control Glasgow City Council who ordered the start time be moved forward from 1.30pm until 11am, specifically in order to reduce the numbers on this pro-Independence march. 100,000 people attend AUOB marches from all over Scotland, including the Highlands and Islands, so an 11am start is simply not practical.

Manni went ahead with the original start time in close cooperation with the police. There were no problems whatsoever. Glasgow City Council is not only SNP controlled, it is controlled by a group specifically close to Nicola Sturgeon. It was the SNP on Glasgow City Council who pushed the police to arrest Manni Singh and initiated his jailing, as confirmed here in this tweet from NEC national executive member and Glasgow City Councillor Rhiannon Spear.

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Many prominent SNP supporters – including the brilliant writer Paul Kavanagh – are baffled by the SNP’s hostility to the AUOB marches. As Paul wrote at the time of the Glasgow demonstration:

Yet Nicola Sturgeon, who was happy to attend an anti-Brexit march in London, not only didn’t attend the Glasgow event, she didn’t even tweet a supportive message afterwards. Other SNP figures went on social media to criticise the march for taking place. Because apparently demonstrating that there is indeed mass support for independence in Scotland in the face of anti-independence parties and press which insist there is not is a waste of time that could better be spent sticking SNP leaflets through doors, leaflets that invariably get stuck in a bin without being read.

In fact, the last time that the SNP officially supported a mass participation independence event was the rally at Calton Hill back in 2013. That’s simply not good enough. But worse than that, the SNP led council in Glasgow became embroiled in a dispute with the march organisers, and now Manny Singh of All Under One Banner has been charged with an offence under the Civil Government Act. None of this is a good look for the SNP.

Here is a photo of Nicola Sturgeon on that anti-Brexit march in London.

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The vicious jailing of Manni Singh shows you just the kind of oppressive society Scotland is becoming under the Sturgeon government. The fact that diehard Independence supporters like Elaine C Smith and Brian Cox have had to come out and oppose the oppressive hate crime bill should tell you something. AUOB is a genuine grassroots, working class Independence organisation. That Independence is the genuine aim of the SNP careerists who try to sabotage it I very much doubt.

The jailing of Manni Singh for a peaceful demonstration should be a wake up call to all those who believe that the Scottish establishment will not jail me for publishing the truth about the trial of Alex Salmond. Precisely the same people are behind the political persecution of me as behind the jailing of Manni. That is why I am extremely keen that you should follow my trial, and dial in to listen to the hearing tomorrow morning. Please read my article from earlier today.

Manni was given the alternative of a curfew sentence which he refused because of his employment as a taxi driver.

You can see my account of the demonstration for which Manni has been imprisoned.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate. 
 

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/08/manni-singh-jailed-for-organising-peaceful-independence-demonstration/ 

 

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The Great Cover-Up (Craigs biased Court Case with no jury)


The greatest cover-up in modern Scottish history is underway. I am not permitted to say more at present. I will however venture to say that this is massively bigger than just the attempt to imprison me, that most of these documents are also being withheld from the Holyrood Inquiry.

In stating they are banning Alex Salmond’s solicitors also from releasing any of the documents, the Crown is admitting their existence.

I have made a redaction to avoid any further accusation of jigsaw identification.

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I am EXTREMELY keen for you to follow tomorrow’s procedural hearing where the question of what evidence is permitted will be addressed. That’s tomorrow, 9.45am British Summer Time. The dial in instructions are here.

Dial (+44)-207 660 8149
Access code 137 161 9904

I really do not know why it is a telephone system and not internet, obviously it is the court and not me. Please do listen in. I realise nothing much happened at the last two procedural hearings, but this should be very different. I am very anxious indeed that the powers that be should not get the impression that public interest is waning.

Please do go to the linked page and check their instructions about what you are and are not allowed to do.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate. 
 

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/08/the-great-cover-up/ 
 

 

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  • Basket Case changed the title to Craig Murray / Whistle Blower / Ex-British Ambassador for UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) - (Assange / Salmond / Russians and World Corruption)

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