“Comrade Putin, we have successfully stockpiled novichoks in secret for ten years, and kept them hidden from the OPCW inspectors. We have also trained our agents in secret novichok assassination techniques. The programme has cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but now we are ready. Naturally, the first time we use it we will expose our secret and suffer massive international blowback. So who should be our first target? The head of a foreign intelligence agency? A leading jihadist rebel in Syria? A key nuclear scientist? Even a Head of State?”
“No, Tovarich. There is this old retired guy I know living in Salisbury. We released him from jail years ago…”
“With respect Comrade Putin, are you sure he is the most important target to reveal a programme we have put so much resource into for ten years?”
“Yes. I sit here every day and I cannot concentrate on the affairs of Russia or the World as all the time am thinking of Sergei Skripal. I should never have let him out of jail to spend his life buying lottery tickets and eating in Zizzis. But you must make absolutely certain to kill him.”
“Don’t worry Comrade Putin, we have been training in secret novichok assassination techniques for ten years. We even have an detailed manual explaining our methods. We will spread the novichok on his outside door handle (fiendish laugh).”
“Are you sure comrade? Is there not a danger it will wash off or get diluted?”
“No Comrade Putin, it never rains in England.”
That is, genuinely, in every detail the official British government version of what happened in Salisbury, including the ten year programme and the secret assassination manual.
Despite this story being one of the most improbably wild conspiracy theories in human history, it is those who express any doubt at all as to its veracity who are smeared as “conspiracy theorists” or even “traitors”.
* Craig Murray is an historian, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, and human rights activist. Posted on his blog on April 8, 2018.