So, Erm, How Did You Get that Bottle?

The question that nobody seems to want to ask.

Following the attempted [correction, we regret the mistake — Emp.M.] murder of Sergey Skripal with the nerve agent “novichok” which apparently, uniquely among chemical molecules, comes with a “Made in XXX” stamped on its atoms, two further victims have been found.

One Dawn Sturgess, who died, as well as her boyfriend Charlie Rowley, who did not.

One might, if one were interested in finding out whodunnit, want to suss out the connection between the two incidents. Who knows, there might be some actionable intel hiding in there?

We’ve been digging around, and this is just about the best we’ve been able to find:

LONDON — The Soviet-made nerve agent that killed a woman and left three other people critically ill was contained in a perfume bottle, the brother of one of the victims said.

Soviet-made? That’s one remarkably stable compound, considering that the Soviet Union went out of business about three decades ago. Not to mention, again, that we weren’t aware that molecules had a “made in” stamp” on them. That’s some pretty impressive engraving skills, right there. “Soviet-invented” might be more accurate but, then again, who expects accuracy from the sub-cretinous apes calling themselves “journalists” nowadays, if you know what we mean?

Charlie Rowley, 45, and his partner Dawn Sturgess, 44, were found unconscious on June 30 in the town of Amesbury in Wiltshire, southern England. Sturgess died on July 7 and Rowley remains in the hospital in serious but stable condition. British authorities said they were poisoned with Novichok nerve agent.

Matthew Rowley [that would be one of the victims’ brother — Emp.Misha] told the BBC in an interview published Sunday that his brother, who regained consciousness last week, said he picked up a perfume bottle that contained the chemical.

Last week, the London Metropolitan Police, which is investigating the incident, said they found the source of the nerve agent — a small bottle in Rowley’s house. They would not confirm any further details about the bottle.

More’s the pity, we’d say, because personally, just how he came into the possession of said bottle and passed it on to his girlfriend without having the first clue about what was in it just might be something that might aid the investigation of the whole Skripal case, but apparently that’s not a question that anybody’s interested in asking.

Unless it had already been decided whodunnit and nobody really wanted to find out who really dunnit, that is, but that’d just be silly. Yes, we know.

Clearly the Russians, after having swapped him 8 years ago after having caught him as a double agent had second thoughts and decided that, potential consequences be damned, he needed to be put down almost a decade after he’d already spilled the beans and whatever beans he might have had left were already obsolete.

Who cares about sanctions, expulsions and such?

He was safe enough to include in a spy swap (considering he was arrested in 2004, six years before he was swapped in 2010) until he wasn’t. The most recent knowledge he had of Russian ops was 6 years old when he was swapped and 14 years old when he was “murdered to keep his mouth shut.”

Makes perfect sense. If you have the mental acuity of a fern, that is.

Listen, before anybody starts throwing aspersions around about His Imperial Majesty (not that we care, we’ve always spoken our mind based on what makes sense rather than what is convenient to whatever narrative is popular at any give time), let’s just state for the record that we don’t doubt that the former KGB thug currently the president of Russia most likely weren’t shedding any more tears over Sergey Skripal’s demise than we were over the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, but we do find it interesting that said thug, after having had six years of being able to make Sergey conveniently “disappear” while in the clutches of the FSB (nobody would have ever known it happened), then released him only to allegedly murder him 8 years later.

But, most of all, we find it interesting why absolutely NOBODY finds it relevant to figure out how poor Dawn’s boyfriend accidentally ended up with a “perfume bottle” containing the same nerve agent that murdered poor Sergey and, completely innocently, happened to hand off said bottle that just inexplicably ended up at his home to her.

Are we the only one wondering why that is so manifestly uninteresting?

P.S.: As somebody with a background in chemistry, we’d also like to know if it’s really true that science has advanced to the point where you can not only identify a chemical through mass spectrophotometry, you can also state without a scintilla of doubt where it was manufactured? That is awesome, if true!

13 comments

  1. 1
    Terrapod growls and barks:

    Misha

    LECO, probably the world leader in chemical analysis is located about 400 yards from my house. They produce most of the gas chromatographs in use today along with dozens of other kind of machines to analyze metals, chemicals, coal and you name it. I have seen one of the latest GC units in use, it is absolutely amazing what it can do with just a trace of a chemical.

    The machinery can indeed analyze the chemical makeup of something like Novichok and give a very accurate reading of the compounds in it. If the Russians/Soviets use a particular technique to make the compound, there will be trace elements that show up only in their product and not the same if made by others.

    The burning question is whether the UK has a past encounter with this product and has a record of this kind of chemical analysis to compare it with. If no benchmark exists, ahem! “acquired from source by other means” to compare to, would be much more difficult to be that certain as to the origin but one can still get a “fingerprint” with fine detail..

    I would suspect that they do know given the USSR has used the UK as their killing fields for past escaped spies (yes I know they used Bulgarians as a front) , but one does have to question why/how and if someone is stupid enough to pass on a bottle of “perfume” so called, purportedly found on the street in a dustbin, to their girlfriend. I know what the reaction would be in my house if I attempted such idiocy.

    I suspect there is more to this story than is public, and her majesties government is going to cover it up till it dies or the surviving witness dies, unexpectedly.

  2. 2
    angrywebmaster growls and barks:

    P.S.: As somebody with a background in chemistry, we’d also like to know if it’s really true that science has advanced to the point where you can not only identify a chemical through mass spectrophotometry, you can also state without a scintilla of doubt where it was manufactured? That is awesome, if true!

    You might want to ask Abby Scuito. :em05:

  3. 3
    Terrapod growls and barks:

    Hahahaha! Good one.

    The way I see it, let’s say that Russia uses glass tubing or stainless conduits or some other materials when manufacturing this stuff. All those parts introduce trace elements of their own into the liquid/gas going by. These elements show up as minor peaks among the larger ones for the actual material being produced, impurities that cannot be removed. Anything produced in country X will show those trace elements. Other countries have other processes to make their systems (unless they bought them lock. stock and barrel from Russia). This is what might give you the “fingerprint” on the source but again, someone has to have analyzed other stuff coming from country “X” to have even a possibility of knowing with some degree of certainty what the customary trace elements are where it was produced.

    That is why it is really suspect when anyone gives you an absolute for an answer. Usually it is ” we have a 75% or 90% confidence level of whatever.

    I mean, really, does anyone take the word a any modern UK boffin as the absolute truth? Where is it that the data was coming from in the UK on global wormening? They were so damned sure of themselves until proven they were cooking the whole volume set of books.

    Still think this smells of a setup. Would not put it past certain elements trying to keep “Russia, Russia, Russia” in the news of late to stoop to this level and also keep thinking that this couple may have been the delivery agents in the attempt to poison the two Russians that were first targeted. What better way to get rid of any weak links than to get rid of the persons that carried that out.

    In my best Monte Pythonesqe voice – Herring, herring, get your year old herring. Tuppence for the Herring, 10 shillings for the nose clip.

    Why, yes, I have tasted surströmming and lutefisk just to be polite.

  4. 4
    VonZorch Imperial Researcher growls and barks:

    Boiling down Terrapod’s accurate, if lengthy, answer.
    Yes, a modern mass spectrograph is accurate enough to determine where and when a chemical was manufactured, by it’s impurities, IF there is a good enough database of samples.

  5. 5
    Emperor Misha I growls and barks:

    It absolutely is, provided one has the samples from the various production sites to compare with, which we must assume that somebody, somewhere, does, because otherwise nothing makes sense.

    Still doesn’t come close to answering why nobody seems to be interested in just how and when poor ol’ Charlie got a hold of that bottle and what possessed him to pass it on to his lady.

    Unless he really IS a complete Charlie (sorry, couldn’t resist) 😉

  6. 6
    LCBren growls and barks:

    Y’know Misha, theres one hole in your article.

    Clearly the Russians, after having swapped him 8 years ago after having caught him as a double agent had second thoughts and decided that, potential consequences be damned, he needed to be put down almost a decade after he’d already spilled the beans and whatever beans he might have had left were already obsolete.

    Or there was more to it than we know, maybe he was involved in something or came into possession of information he should not have seen.

    Clearly the Russians, after having swapped him 8 years ago after having caught him as a double agent

    ..who maybe never really retired and was “hiding in plain sight?”

    What gets me is this: it doesnt make sense, SMERSH is gone long since, Beria is dead and good riddance, both spy agencies these days dont resort to assassination, they “out them”, make their lives miserable by making sure they never go undercover again.

    Heres the million dollar question: how did Skripal get his hands on it..or how was he exposed to it..and a nerve agent?

    Is clumsy as all hell.

    Seriously..if they wanted him dead why not stage a burglary or a “car accident”? Neither of those would have really attracted any attention.

    This?

    Screams for attention and publicity.

    Work of an amateur.

  7. 7
    Terrapod growls and barks:

    Makes one wonder if there is a faction in Moscow or Moscow on the Potomac that is trying to make things a tad uncomfortable for old Vlad ? Wheels within wheels has always been a Soviet/Russian tradition and now we are finding out that DC is the same only more amateurish in their bungling. Somewhere down in hell Beria and Stalin are laughing there asses off..

  8. 8
    taran1900 growls and barks:

    “Following the murder of Sergey (Sergei) Skripal with the nerve agent “novichok””

    He’s not dead. He was discharged from hospital on May 18. Of course the Brits didn’t need to kill him to frame the Ruskies. :em03:

  9. 9
    Emperor Misha I growls and barks:

    taran1900 says:

    “Following the murder of Sergey (Sergei) Skripal with the nerve agent “novichok””

    He’s not dead. He was discharged from hospital on May 18. Of course the Brits didn’t need to kill him to frame the Ruskies.

    Very true, I’ll correct that and thanks for catching it.

    I must have been in a hurry to type, because I already knew that. I remember thinking to myself “well, we at least have one piece of evidence at this point strongly suggesting that the FSB had nothing to do with it, namely that Mr. Skripal, G-d bless him, is still breathing” 😉

  10. 10
    taran1900 growls and barks:

    You are very welcome Herr Emperor. I think the FBI is too inept to have anything to do with it. Bless their hearts.

  11. 11
    Terrapod growls and barks:

    Sad to say Maxwell Smart and inspector Clouseau are looking like a frigging mental giants next to the current crop of Obungles and prior era CIA/FBI/DNI actors. The fact the first two are fictional constructs does not change my estimation. Until we see Comey, Strozk, Clapper and Brennan in jail there will be no justice done :em05:

  12. 12
    Fa Cube Itches growls and barks:

    taran1900 @ #:10

    I think the FBI is too inept to have anything to do with it.

    With no innocent women with children in their arms to snipe, and no compounds to burn down, it really isn’t their bailiwick.

  13. 13