y tonight, July 9, the FIFA World Cup tournament being held in Russia will have entered its semi final stage. Since the tournament was awarded to Russia, over the British bid to host the prestigious event, Britain’s tabloid press had been at pains to question Russia’s ability to host the mega event. Frivolous allegations of unfair and corrupt practice to buy votes needed to host the event were also made, without a shred of evidence being provided.
In the aftermath of the Russians being awarded the rights to host the tournament, sections of the British press speculated racism would be rife in Russia, endangering lives of spectators and players alike.
And then just around three months prior to the commencement of the tournament, the British government accused Russia of having attempted to assassinate ex-Soviet era double agent, Sergei Skripal who had settled in the UK in 2010 following the ‘Illegals Programme Spy Swap’ and his daughter using the nerve agent Novichok. Once again no proof has been offered other than the fact Novichok was first discovered in Russia.
Britain’s tabloids and even some among Britain’s ruling party suggested a boycott of the World Cup tournament. Fortunately they found no backers, and Britain did get support among its NATO colleagues to impose sanctions on Russia.
Despite the drawbacks, the atmosphere and organization of the games have been described by one and all -- spectators and players alike -- as exhilarating, with many describing the games as among the best ever staged. Then unbelievably on Saturday, just as the World Cup tournament was in full swing so-to-say, another allegation of a Novichok attack in Britain.
Again another couple. This time a pair of drug users, with no known political affiliation or links to cloak and dagger outfits of the world, were discovered in their lodgings suffering similar symptoms to the Skripals; a few kilometres away from where the Skripals were attacked.
Little is known about Novichok, save that it is a military grade nerve agent which is a colourless, ordourless and tasteless chemical which kills. It has no known antidote and was invented in Russia -- a response to the American nerve agent Sarin. But, the Skripals did not die. They are alive and in the hands of the British intelligence services.
The latest victims too still remain hospitalized. The Russian government rejected British claims of complicity in the attempted murders. They have stressed that if indeed military grade Novichok was used, all victims would have been dead.
The British government repeatedly accuses Russia of being behind the attacks on British citizens but provides no proof except a repeated charge that the nerve agent was originally discovered in Russia.
While it is understandable that Russia may have wanted to make an example of the ex-spy, the question that comes to mind is, why the Russians would wait for so long to attack an ex-spy, and if at all, with a chemical agent and why, especially with the World Cup tournament just months away.
Yet today, Novichok is no longer a monopoly of the Russians. In the 1990s, the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) obtained a sample of a Novichok from a Russian scientist. The sample was analysed in Sweden, according to a Reuters report and the chemical formula given to Western NATO countries.
Three long months after the attack, Britain has not been able to provide a clue to back up its accusations of Russian involvement in the Skripal attack. Again what could be the reasons for Russia to plan and implement an attack on civillians in another country at the time it is hosting such a prestigious sporting event?
What’s becoming clear is that someone wants to embarrass Russia and its President. What we are seeing today is sport being used to carry forward cheap political agendas. In other words the politicisation of sport at the highest level.
The argument that Russia is involved in attacks using Novichok, simply because it discovered the nerve agent, is like saying Germany was responsible for the Sarin Gas attacks in Tokyo back in 1994/95, which killed 13 persons and injured thousands of others, because it was Germany that discovered the nerve agent Sarin!