There was once a notion that enjoyed wide acceptance throughout the world, especially in those countries that shared a common heritage with the United Kingdom, that was known as “British justice”. It was probably always a flawed notion, but such was the power of British colonialism that it enjoyed a reputation nonetheless. Recent history however has put a substantial dent in the mythology. Two recent examples illustrate the point.
The first was the case involving the father and daughter duo of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Sergei as is well known was a traitor to his native Russia. He was caught, tried and imprisoned. After several years in jail serving his sentence, he was the subject of a prisoner swap with Russian spies held in British prisons. He was released and immediately travelled to England where he settled in the town of Salisbury.
The house he occupied was owned by the British government. It was constantly monitored with a security camera. Sergei was visited by his daughter Yulia, a resident of Moscow, where she also had a fiancé, as well as friends and relatives.
On a visit to her father they left his house and visited her mother’s grave. They then went into Salisbury city centre and had a meal. This was followed by a drink at a nearby pub. They then went to a local park where they fed the ducks (along with some children). They both then suddenly took ill whilst sitting on a park bench. They were attended to by a woman and her daughter. The woman just happened to be the chief nurse of the British Army, with the rank of Colonel. No plausible explanation has ever been given for their just happening to be in the park at that time.
Sergei and Yulia were rushed to hospital in an unconscious state where they remained for some time. They recovered, but apart from a brief carefully staged television statement, neither has been seen or heard of again.
The Russian Embassy in London has made repeated requests to speak with Yulia, but this has been refused. What the western media never point out is that this refusal of consular access is a gross breach of international law. Where the Skripals are now, or even if they are still alive, is simply unknown.
The British government and British media were quick to blame Russia for what allegedly happened to the Skripals. The complete absence of any evidence to support this claim was apparently not a barrier. Neither has the growth in continuing violations of international law been deemed a suitable topic of discussion in the British mainstream media.
The public were subjected to the charade of chemical cleansing of the Skripal house, despite the attending police officers wearing no protective equipment and the domestic cat being totally unaffected. It was a complete charade, ably assisted by a non-sceptical media who were content to publish or broadcast the Government’s fabrications and turn a blind eye to the glaring absence of anything approaching actual evidence of any Russian complicity in wrongdoing.
The counter-productive effects of Russia actually damaging or killing Skripal were ignored. This charade, with its manifest lies, duplicity and multiple improbabilities has been brought vividly to mind by the latest alleged Russian malpractice of what happened to the dissident politician Alexi Navalny.
The parallels are eerie, right down to the alleged role of “Novichok” in causing Mr Navalny’s illness. We were initially told that Navalny was poisoned with a cup of tea he drank before boarding his plane. Even the perpetrators of this fiction eventually realised its inherent im- probability and abandoned it.
Instead, we are not told, the “Novichok” was in water bottles that Navalny left behind in his hotel room. Very conveniently, ours after being vacated, the hotel room had not been serviced, allowing Navalny’s supporters to recover the allegedly infected bottles of water. These bottles were then sent to Germany but have never been produced for independent analysis.
Navalny was treated in a Russian hospital before being transferred to Germany. The Russian doctors performed all the usual analyses of Navalny’s blood, but did not detect the presence of Novichok. This is allegedly suddenly discovered by the German doctors who, despite repeated requests, have failed to share the evidence with their Russian counterparts.
Instead, the Germans claimed to have sent the evidence to the OPCW who, when asked for the evidence by the Russians, were referred back to Germany. We are expected to take this farcical performance with an unquestioning and straight face.
Navalny duly recovers and declares that he wants to return to Russia. Perhaps he hopes that all this publicity will help him improve upon the less than 2% of the vote he received when he last stood for elective office. Once again, the much feared and lethal capacity of Novichok had failed!
What has emerged however, are hints as to the real motivation behind whatever caused Navalny’s illness. The Americans, who have long bitterly opposed Nord Stream 2 reiterated their demand that the contract for the supply of Russian gas to Germany be cancelled. (at huge compensation costs) They just happened to have an alternative available, albeit at 40% higher cost to the German public, and with the additional benefit of increasing German reliance upon the United States. German opinion polls strongly suggest that the German – United States alliance is rapidly losing its favour with the German public.
At the time of writing, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding firm on the original contract with the Russians, but the pressure to cancel Nord Stream 2 may prove irresistible.
While seemingly unrelated at first glance, the Skripal and Navalny incidents show some remarkable parallels. Both are manifestly fake incidents. Both have been used by the respective governments, the United Kingdom and Germany, to challenge the reputation and reliability of the Russian government. Both have been sought to be capitalised upon by forces opposed to any sign of rapprochement and goodwill shown to Russia, whether it is an international football tournament (the last World Cup finals) or the provision of vital and cheaper sources of energy to Europe.
From the American point of view there are several plusses. It inhibits the increasing restlessness of the German public to still being occupied and dictated to by the Americans 75 years after World War II ended. It provides an excuse to maintain a US military presence in countries close to Russia to counter the Russian “threat”, a fictional concept that the Americans never tire of trotting out.
It also provides a perfect opportunity for the United States gas industry to make huge profits at a time when the world’s energy structures are undergoing major realignments, not least because of the increasingly economic and political importance of the growth of China’s influence in the world.
From the United States point of view, Navalny is a win-win situation. The industry profits; their presence in Europe is reinforced; and damage is done to Russia’s reputation as well as its economy.
Just like the unfortunate Mr Skripal, Mr Navalny has been used and abused as a puppet in a much wider geopolitical game. That it is the ordinary people of Russia and Germany who suffer is the least concern of the American puppet masters for whom the retention of their fading credibility is more important than the safety of the world and its citizens.
James O’Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.