Defense/Security

Nino Burjanadze Fakes an Interview of a Former Chief of British Intelligence

3 May, 2018

On April 23, on air at TV Iberia, the Leader of the United Democratic Movement, Nino Burjanadze, stated that a former Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service of Great Britain expressed doubts concerning the use of chemical weapon by Bashar al-Assad in Syria live on BBC and that the BBC journalist connected the respondent’s position with Russia’s propaganda war and an anti-state position.

Nino Burjanadze’s statement is disinformation, as the former Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, John Sawers, on air at BBC Radio 4 on April 12, has not expressed doubts concerning the chemical attack in Syria. Neither did the BBC journalist John Humphrys speak about the “anti-state position, expressed by Sawers in the framework of a propaganda war waged by the West against Russia”.

Real facts

Since 2014, Alex Younger has been the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) of the United Kingdom. His predecessor, John Sawers, headed the MI6 in 2009-2014. On April 12, John Sawers spoke about the Syrian War and Russia on air at BBC Radio 4 program, Today, however, neither the respondent, nor the journalist mentioned anything related to “the propaganda war waged by the West” or “an alleged chemical attack”. The BBC journalist, John Humphrys, did not ask the former Chief of MI6 at all, whether his position was „anti-state“. The conversation touched upon the challenges facing the West, the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the need for new strategic relations between Russia and the United States. Sawers also underlined the role of Russia in Syrian War.


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John Sawers, Chief of MI6 in 2009-2014: “The strategy is not to change the course of events in Syria, the strategy is to restore the red lines against the use of chemical weapons. The issue which faces Western governments at the moment is whether we stand back and allow that [use of chemical weapons] to go ahead without any response, without any answer and just sort of tolerate the use of chemical weapons, or if we try to restore the taboo against using chemical weapons, which is enshrined in law, but now is being breached in practice…President Putin has a world view where he feels that world is trying to bring him down. Of course many of this is prompted by his own actions, and Salisbury is an example, we don’t know exactly how it was approved in Russia, but it is an example of how Russian behaviour is obliging the west to push back against Russia”

You can listern to Sawers’ full interview on this link (from 2:11:00).


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John Scarlett, who was the Chief of MI6 before John Sawers, in 2004-2009, also spoke about the developments in Syria as well in a TV interview. On April 17, 2018, during an interview with CNN Money Switzerland, Scarlett spoke about the Syrian Conflict and the involvement of international powers in it, including Russia. During the interview, which lasted nearly 25 minutes, John Scarlett did not “express his position” on the “alleged chemical attack” in Syria. Neither did the CNN journalist, Hannah Wise mention the “propaganda war waged by the West against Russia” or ask the respondent about “anti-state position”.

John Scarlett, Chief of MI6 in 2004-2009: “There are many problems in Syria as I have already indicated but one particular feature of the situation there is that a lot of outside powers have become involved either regional powers or sort of major international powers. All those powers have got their own objectives and they are not necessarily the same as other the Syrian government or Syrian opposition. …Russian government has backed the government of president Assad from the beginning of the upheaval in Syria in 2011”

Russian media: Russia Today

Nothing was found regarding the interview of the former Chief of MI6 in the Russian media, except an article by Russia Today from April 12, which reviews the interview with John Sawers.

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The article, titled “Britain's ex-MI6 chief thinks Western intervention saves lives, really wants to bomb Syria”, published by Simon Rite, bears anti-Western attitudes. The journalist accentuates the usage of “humanitarian bombs” by the West and the “alleged chemical attack”. In addition, he blames the former Chief of MI6 of incorrect interpretation of events and advises him to take history lessons.

How Russian propaganda webpages faked John Scarlett’s interview in 2016

Russian propaganda platforms faked an interview by the former Chief of MI6 in August 2017, when they disseminated information that John Scarlett allegedly revealed the United States’ and the United Kingdom’s joint three-stage strategic plan directed at disintegrating Russia, in an interview with the Guardian. As the verification of the information, published by the Russian BBC revealed, the material was published by a fake webpage, which was an imitation of the Guardian, whereas John Scarlett’s interview was a total make-believe. The specially created website was visually identical to the British Guardian’s website with only one difference in its URL, where a letter “ı” was used instead of Latin “i”.


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The non-existing interview has been disseminated by pro-Kremlin editions Saqinform and Geworld.ge.

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“Sensation!!! The United States and the Great Britain planned to deploy military and intelligence bases in South Ossetia as well as to involve radical Islamists in destabilization of the situation in the Caucasus!”

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“Former Chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service: After we brought Saakashvili to power, we supposed to implement the Russia Fragmentation Strategic Plan at three stages.”


Prepared by Nino Shvelidze
Myth Detector Lab