Call it a farce! Call it a pantomime! Whatever you call it the alleged poisoning of Yulia Skripal and her father, Sergei, was no farce or pantomime for them. But they are not the only victims of this home-grown false-flag event which was not properly thought through. You and I and all UK nationals are victims now too. This has become apparent from the arrest of Paul Whelan on charges of espionage.
The discrepencies in the case are outlined here so I will not repeat them but stick to the problems it has caused the rest of us British passport-holders. When it was clear that the Skripals were out of danger the Russian embassy repeatedly made requests to see them, particularly Yulia, who lives in Russia and was only visiting her father at the time of the incident. The Skripals were refused consular access, something almost unheard of before, and something which is a basic human right under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963). The United Kingdom signed this in 1964 and ratified it 9 May 1972. Article 36 (c) of the Convention states:
“consular officers shall have the right to visit a national of the sending State who is in prison, custody or detention, to converse and correspond with him and to arrange for his legal representation. They shall also have the right to visit any national of the sending State who is in prison, custody or detention in their district in pursuance of a judgement. Nevertheless, consular officers shall refrain from taking action on behalf of a national who is in prison, custody or detention if he expressly opposes such action.”
It appears that we (UK) have relied on the only possible get out that “he” and presumably “she” have “expressly” opposed a visit from a representative of the Russian embassy. However nobody has heard either Skripal state this. There has been no personal statement at all from Sergei. And the carefully-scripted statement that Yulia Skripal made (broadcast in late May 2018) does not “expressly” state that she wants no contact with the Russian Embassy. What she says is that she is grateful for offers of help but she does not wish to avail herself “of their services” for the moment.
She also expressed a desire to go home to Russia as soon as her father was better. The video statement was made at a time when Sergei Skripal had only recently been released from hospital. What pressure had been put on Yulia nobody, except those who put the pressure on, knows but something is evidently wrong since no journalist (in the “free” west) has been given access to either her or her father, and no independent journalist has been allowed to interview staff at Salisbury District Hospital.
Yulia it seems had previously been drip-fed news from those holding her captive. It was only towards the end of July that she could speak with Viktoria Skripal and apologise for previous accusations against her cousin. She now had access to the internet and understood everything. Going off script like this has been costly for Yulia since nothing has been heard subsequently from either Skripal despite Yulia saying her father would phone in 2 or 3 days. Yulia’s initial reason for phoning was to wish her grandmother greetings on her birthday. Viktoria explained that because her grandmother was hard of hearing and because of his tracheotomy Yulia’s father, who allegedly tried to speak, could not be understood.
What all this means for UK nationals detained in Russia is precisely what has happened. Paul Whelan arrested on charges of spying (which in Russia carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years) has had no UK consular access. Whelan has quadruple nationality: Canada, UK, US and Ireland. As a result he has been visited by representatives from the US and Irish embassies under the Vienna Convention (1963) showing that Russia at least complies with the treaty. The UK says it has made a request for access while Russia claims it has received no such request. Three days ago it was reported that Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, stated emphatically that Whelan was not arrested in order that a trade in detainees could be made. He also stated that the UK in not giving consular access to the Skripals shows that it does not believe in the Vienna Convention and therefore access to Paul Whelan from the UK embassy is unlikely to be granted should Russia receive a request.
The featured image shows Paul Whelan in happier days (credit: vk.com)