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by John Helmer, Moscow 

What with all the noise of the dogs and camels, a swan song can be easily missed. But not Maria Pevchikh’s (lead image, right) broadcast by the BBC’s Russian Service.

For the first  time, the British state propaganda organ has said too much too loudly in defence of one of its Russian assets, and confirmed the combination of celebrity, political ambition, and money which has made the poisoning of Alexei Navalny a faulty fabrication; and Navalny’s attempt to make political capital out of it,  a modest  success for the British secret services;  an immodest failure for the German Foreign Ministry, Defence Ministry, German Army, and the Berlin medical clinic which goes by the name of Charity.  

The difference between the evidence of success and failure is the problem the BBC has attempted to overcome in an unusually long interview Pevchikh recorded with the BBC in Berlin, published on September 18.  

She is recorded as saying that she and her colleagues from the Navalny group had been having breakfast in the restaurant of their Tomsk hotel when they received the news that Navalny’s flight to Moscow had been diverted to Omsk, and that he was in hospital with symptoms of poisoning. She then went to his hotel room, she said, to recover the evidence of the poisoning – three blue-capped bottles of Saint Springs water drunk by Navalny during the night before.

The time shown on the wrist watch of Pevchikh, in the film she directed and released last week, 28 days after the event, shows a time when Navalny’s flight was still in the air. This was more than an hour before his poisoning had been discovered and reported to his team in Tomsk, and to the rest of the world.

Navalny’s dogs were barking, but their caravan had failed to start according to plan. The BBC has demonstrated what that plan was.  

The last time the BBC rehearsed in advance such an elaborate propaganda operation inside Russia was the Pussy Riot episode of February 2012.

A BBC correspondent in Moscow named Steven Rosenberg staged and filmed a rehearsal of what he claims Pussy Riot told him they were planning at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral at least a day, possibly several days before February 21, 2012. That was the day when three of the group members committed the acts for which they were convicted in a Moscow court on August 17, 2012, and sentenced to prison for two years. The BBC’s role in encouraging those acts, coaching them in rehearsal in front of a camera, and then acting as an international megaphone for their songs and claims was in planning for months before Pussy Riot’s 90-second appearance at the cathedral.

The staging required faking behind the camera; lying in front of the camera by Rosenberg;  and careful editing of news broadcasts to make Pussy Riot’s altar performance what it wasn’t. Rosenberg refused to answer questions about these details. His headquarters in London later released the statement that “any suggestion that the BBC fabricated or staged any footage is absolutely untrue.” Minor errors in voiceover reporting were admitted: “We are taking steps to ensure the errors are not repeated.” Read the full story here  and here.

Rosenberg has been rewarded for his propaganda operations against Russia with an invitation on June 20 of this year to tour the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) headquarters and interview its director, Sergei Naryshkin.  Naryshkin was quoted as telling Rosenberg “we don’t trust what British government officials have been saying about Salisbury [Skripal poisonings]. When they say it’s ‘highly likely’ [that Russia is to blame], we’re not convinced by that.”

That Naryshkin would say he is “not convinced” by the British Novichok narrative has been an encouragement to make a new attempt. Navalny’s poisoning, according to the BBC’s interview with Pevchikh, took place on August 20, exactly two months later.  

 Source: https://twitter.com/bbcstever/

For its account of the Navalny poisoning by an eyewitness, the BBC Russian Service has not yet translated the interview with Pevchikh by reporter Andrei Kozenko into English. View the Russian text, with video clips, here.

Maria Pevchikh in interview on the bank of the River Spree, Berlin, with  BBC reporter, Andrei Kozenko.

Pevchikh’s long career in London, and her association, including employment, with three financiers of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK is the Russian acronym) – Yevgeny Chichvarkin, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Vladimir Ashurkov — can be found in the Russian media, and here. The BBC did not ask for details, and Pevchikh volunteered none.  

Photographed in London, where they hold asylum status, left to right, Yevgeny Chichvarkin, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Vladimir Ashurkov.

Instead, to establish for how long and how close she has been to Navalny and how important to the work of his FBK, Pevchikh said: “My job is that I am responsible for everything called the Anti-Corruption Fund investigation for the factual part in the first place. I directly investigate myself, and the greatest pleasure that I get from my own work is at the moment when I am looking for something for a long time, and then I find it, and this is certainly the part I love most.  If you could only do that, I would do it all the time. Well, then, as the head of the department, I am also responsible for someone else’s work: I help to finish something, to further investigate. Well, then the texture that we found, I carefully fold, comb and write the script with Alexei.”

In her remarks, Pevchikh went on to reveal that one of her Tomsk colleagues had been monitoring trouble on Navalny’s flight from Tomsk  because tracking aircraft was his “hobby… without any reason for this. He just does it. He tracks my flights, Alexei’s, any and all of them.” Pevchikh then claims to have learned from Navalny’s accompanying press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, that he had been hospitalised in Omsk and that poisoning was suspected. Pevchikh moved immediately to the hotel room to collect the evidence.

“This is the only thing that we could do in that situation. There is Alexei, a healthy person, whom we had watched the previous few days in Novosibirsk and Tomsk. And there is a very unpleasant video from the plane, where you can only see the seats and hear his scream. Nothing needed to be explained further. Healthy people do not turn into someone just like that. He does not have diabetes;  he does not have any diseases that could lead to this. It was clear to us that something was very wrong. And naturally, this is Russia. Poisoning here is, to my great horror, almost normal. With some people it has happened twice. And if we are talking about poisoning, then this could have left traces.”

There is evidence, already published in Russia and not denied before, that Navalny has suffered from diabetes, Quincke’s Disease, and anaphylactic shock. The Omsk Hospital has reported that Navalny’s measured blood glucose level after his admission on August 20 was 13 millimoles per lire. This is well above normal for a person without diabetes; it is risky for a diagnosed diabetic. By itself, however, the level is not high enough to have triggered Navalny’s symptoms on the aircraft. If Pevchikh is lying, or if she is telling the truth, public release of Navalny’s medical records would be decisive. To date, Navalny and his family refuse to permit it.  

Pevchikh told the BBC that she and her group returned to the hotel room in which, she claims, Navalny had slept during the night before. He had checked out between 05:30 and 06:00 that morning in order to make his 07:55 flight to Moscow. Inside the room Pevchikh directed a film which the Navalny group published on September 17. The edited footage runs for 59 seconds; the raw film may still be released. Pevchikh can be seen and heard directing the camera and the evidence gathering. The local time, according to a bedside clock on display at Min. 0:29,  was 11:45.  At that time, Navalny was already hospitalised in Omsk.

The film can be watched in full in the original Navalny Instagram account broadcast here;   and in the YouTube time-tagged version here.    Analysis of the film, and of the London edited version appearing in the Murdoch media, can be read here.

In last week’s BBC film in Berlin, Pevchikh is no longer displaying the wrist watch she was wearing in the Tomsk hotel-room film on August 20,  neither on her left wrist nor right:  

Close-up magnification of the images of Pevchikh’s watch in the Tomsk film appears to indicate a time between 09:00 and 09:30. However,  at that instant, Navalny’s S7 flight was still airborne; Navalny and his accompanying staff were incommunicado. Pevchikh could not have known of the poisoning incident unless she was anticipating it.  

The significance of this is plain. On the other hand, if the unedited film recorded in the Tomsk hotel room proves the time was after Navalny’s arrival in Omsk, not before, then this evidence has not yet been presented in Russia, Germany or the UK.

Pevchikh’s left wrist wearing what appears to be a Rolex wrist watch in Tomsk on August 20. See:  https://www.instagram.com/p/CFOnffrHZ0d/ and   https://www.youtube.com

The time in Tomsk on Pevchikh’s watch can be compared with the time showing on the watch worn by one of the men in her group who was being directed by Pevchikh in the bagging of the water bottles.  Difficult to tell from observation of the film in broadcast, but possible to verify from the unedited footage, the time showing on the watch appears to be between 07:30 and 08:50.  The evidence of the two watches is that the real time was running more than two hours before the bedside clock which was selected for display in the edited film.  The Navalny group will have the opportunity to verify the time readings from the unedited film evidence in due course.

The BBC has forgotten that more than sixty years ago, it pioneered the scheme of telling the time by writing it down. In a 1958  broadcast of the Goon Show, Bluebottle (Peter Sellers) asked Eccles (Spike Milligan) what the time was, and Milligan replied he knew it was 8 o’clock because “when I asked a fellow to write it down, it was 8 o’clock”. But suppose, asked Sellers, “when someone asks you for the time, it isn’t 8 o’clock?” “Well then I don’t show it to them.” “Well, how do you know when it’s 8 o’clock?” “I’ve got it writted down on a piece of paper.” “I wish I could afford a piece of paper with the time writted on.” 

The BBC also reveals that its reporters and photographers had been rehearsing with Pevchikh five days before the Tomsk flight on August 15, when they filmed her in Novosibirsk. “Aircraft do not fly from Tomsk to Omsk,” Pevchikh told the BBC. “I learned this very recently, it seems extremely illogical, but this is a fact. We got by car to Novosibirsk, and from there we already flew by plane.” This is misleading. There is a daily afternoon flight on S7 from Tomsk to Omsk, stopping in Novosibirsk. Pevchikh chose to drive for more than three hours from Tomsk to  Novosibirsk, in order to catch the flight to Omsk from there.  

In her luggage in the car to Novosibirsk,  Pevchikh says she was carrying the bottle evidence. Her bottle count is uncertain. Three bottles have been filmed in the Tomsk hotel room; one bottle has been reported in the German press as undergoing testing at the German chemical warfare laboratory in Munich. The BBC reports Pevchikh as saying there was more than one bottle in evidence; she does not say how the poisoned one was identified, or when.

“It was strategically packed in different places, because we understood that, despite everything, these bottles were just bottles, nothing significant. But there is a microscopic chance that they will prove valuable. If not taken from Tomsk, they would become garbage. There is no doubt that now these bottles and the trail would have gone cold… Russian doctors had Alexei himself for 48 hours, who, as far as we know from their endless press releases, speeches, Facebook posts and radio appearances, had all the analyses that were needed. One or the other bottle does not play any role for Russian doctors when they have a person from whom these tests can be taken and everything can be determined with a much greater degree of accuracy.”

“I don’t understand all this hype around this bottle, because its semantic load is quite small. On it were found residual particles of the ‘Novichok’– a chemical warfare agent. And the same substance was found in the body of Alexei Navalny by three independent laboratories. As far as I understand, the only benefit of this bottle is that it makes it approximately clear when [Navalny]  was poisoned. And it happened before he came to the airport. I really hope that someday we will find out how Alexei was poisoned. But now we have not even the slightest idea of ​ ​ this… About the plane [to Berlin] it is true. I really flew away on the very same medical craft that took Alexei away. And these bad bottles flew away with us.”

In Omsk, according to Pevchikh’s BBC version, Navalny was mistreated by the Omsk hospital doctors and would have died there, if not for his evacuation to Berlin. “They tried to kill a person with a chemical warfare agent. Somewhere in the middle of Siberia, he almost died, and most likely would have died in Omsk if he had not been released from there, where some incomprehensible people in gray jackets were snorting around the hospital and doing anything but save his life.”

Russian press reporting has been skeptical of Pevchikh’s claims;  there is speculation that she has been working with the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). The trail between MI6, the Skripal poisoning in England in March 2018, and the collaboration between the BBC and MI6 has been documented in this book.

German sources close to the thinking of the Chancellery in Berlin and of Chancellor Angela Merkel believe that whatever she has been told by her subordinates and experts, her intention is to let the Navalny poisoning narrative fade away for lack of evidence of a crime the Germans are willing to publish. The sources expect Navalny to be released soon from the Charité clinic and to return home to Moscow. There will be no German endorsement of the proposed sanctions on completion of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline project. “The dogs will keep barking,” commented one of the German sources, “but Merkel’s caravan will move on.”

Other German sources acknowledge that to stop this caravan and substitute Pevchikh’s BBC version, more technical evidence of the Novichok matching and tracing process carried out by  German scientists will have to be published.

For an interview discussing this with Michael Welch of the Global News Hour in Canada, listen in:

Min 8:00 to 29:00. Source: https://www.globalresearch.ca/ and https://soundcloud.com/

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