Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Lets’s recruit some Russian taxi drivers

I think that’s a Russian plate on the car.

Here, we just have a sign saying something like ‘No food or drink in taxi’.

In Russia, taxi drivers just deals with any problems as they arise.

Much better.

Imagine what he’d do if his fare threw up back there.


24/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Russian mystery satellite? What mystery, it’s obvious

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the following story, and the portrayal of the Russian satellite’s behaviour as ‘mysterious’.

A mysterious Russian satellite displaying “very abnormal behaviour” has raised alarm in the US, according to a State Department official.

“We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it,” said assistant secretary Yleem Poblete at a conference in Switzerland on 14 August.

She voiced fears that it was impossible to say if the object may be a weapon.

Russia has dismissed the comments as “unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions”.

The satellite in question was launched in October last year.

“[The satellite’s] behaviour on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities,” Ms Poblete told the conference on disarmament in Switzerland.

Mystery Russian satellite’s behaviour raises alarm in US

Surely the solution to this supposed ‘mystery’ is obvious, and our American friend need only look to the north of Scotland to learn why the Russian satellite is moving to an odd position.

It’s angling to keep an eye on the upcoming…

Scottish spaceport

The fantasy view (as a vertical launch facility for microsatellites, it won’t look anything remotely like this fanciful artist’s impression).

Think more along the lines of a portacabin and a lump of concrete.

UK Space Agency Spaceport

UK Space Agency Spaceport

17/08/2018 Posted by | Cold War, military, Surveillance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Did pro-cycling groups report this Russian father for child cruelty

Well, maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, but it wouldn’t have surprised me in the least if pro-cycling activists had used the following video as evidence in some sort of action against the father of this great little girl, who is starting her education in the best way possible.

But he’ll have to start the advanced classes soon… and take her to the areas of Russia where super and hypercars are more common. Their shapes and badges can be much more abstract, and harder to tie down.


19/07/2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Arctic convoy veterans return to Loch Ewe once more – but short of one member

It’s become something of a tradition to mention the annual journey of the surviving veterans of the Arctic Convoys of World War II, who meet at Loch Ewe, the gathering point for many of the convoys just before they departed for the freezing waters on their way to deliver their cargoes to Murmansk. Between 1941 and 1945,  crews kept supplies, weapons, and ammunition flowing and through German blockades to their Russian allies in Operation Dervish, the first of the convoys in 1941.

Five years ago, it looked as if the gathering was set to end, as numbers had fallen from 70 in 2002, to 13 in 2008, and the journey to Loch Ewe was becoming a strain for some of the survivors.

This year, the Russian Arctic Convoy Museum, Aultbea, has organised the reunion as part of its Arctic Convoys Week, which run until Saturday, May 11, 2013.

View Programme in PDF HERE

Russian Arctic Convoy Museum Aultbea

It seems that more than 40 veterans, all of whom are about 90 years old, are set to gather at Loch Ewe, some of whom have not been back to the  Wester Ross sea loch since the end of the war.

Via Arctic Convoy veterans to gather at Loch Ewe – Top stories –

Arctic Convoys campaign veteran Jock Dempster dies

There will be one significant absence from the gathering this years, as Jack Dempster passed away last Sunday,  just days before he had been due wear his Arctic Star medal at a public ceremony for the first time. He had also planned to wear the medal during the traditional remembrance commemorations in November, at the Cenotaph.

Mr Dempster, from Dunbar in East Lothian, had fought for decades to win official recognition for those who had taken part in the Arctic Convoys, who were considered to have been forgotten.

They had been given awards from the Russians, but the rules on such things meant they were not able to wear them at official events.

His campaign ended in success when Prime Minister David Cameron presented the newly created Arctic Star to a group of 40 veterans in March of 2013.

Via Arctic Convoys veteran who campaigned for recognition dies aged 85 | News | Edinburgh | STV

Also Arctic Convoys campaign veteran Jock Dempster dies

The funeral, in Dunbar, of Mr Dempster was also reported:

Arctic convoy veteran Jock Dempster who campaigned for medals laid to rest | News | Edinburgh | STV

A memorial lies at the north west corner of Loch Ewe, near Cove, overlooking the entrance into this sea loch, where many of the convoys gathered and departed from.

07/05/2013 Posted by | Maritime, Naval, Transport, World War II | , , , , , | 2 Comments

RTD – Russia Today Documentary – launched

There are probably more secrets to be found in the vastness of Russia, once locked behind the doors of the Soviet Union, than anywhere else.

RT has amassed a stunning array of documentaries for viewing online, but they can be hard to track down on what is really a news channel, and is now sprawling and huge.

There is a wealth of amazing subjects to be found in a huge country, and where many things that were once secret and hidden – and you would probably have been shot and forgotten if you had tried to see them – are now lying abandoned and derelict.

Chances are you can now learn about them a little more easily now, than yesterday:

RT has launched a brand new 24-hour documentary channel bringing you the best of Russia in English. The channel was launched on Thursday by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who visited RT’s studio in Moscow.

RT’s launching a new project – an English language documentary channel about Russia. The project team worked for over five years making documentaries about the world’s largest country and taking viewers to its farthermost and little-known corners.

Today, they are ready to present all of their findings. RT’s new channel will feature RT-made unique documentaries which received high appraisal from industry’s professionals, were distinguished by Media Excellence Awards, and won a New York Festivals prize. Discovering Russia will offer a tour of Russia’s most beautiful and interesting cities and towns.

Meeting with Nature will take viewers to Russia’s unique nature reserves. Technology Update will report on advancement in science and technologies. Faces of Russia will introduce the audience to culture, arts and crafts of Russia’s ethnic minorities. Culture Fair will report on culture, arts and fashion, while history fans will learn a lot about Russian history from the Historical Files series.

RTD – Russia Today Documentary

23/06/2011 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, Cold War, Lost, Maritime, military, photography, Transport, World War II | , | Leave a comment

£6.5 million and a Freedom of Information enquiry is waiting

Money grabAnyone with an interest in cars and Russia can’t have failed to notice that the Bugatti factory should have invested in some sort of enhanced customer care programme, and employed the services of a specialist carrier to get their cars over to Russia, where one might be forgiven for assuming most of the factory’s output has gone, shifted on the back of a fleet of rusty old flat-bed trucks. One  might be forgiven for wondering why those who can afford a million pound car don’t splash a bit more cash and treat it to a better delivery experience, and if they made it there without a scratch.

One might also wonder how they are paid for.

This came to mind when a story about the Scottish Money Laundering Unit appeared, where the Civil Recovery Unit of the Crown Office used Proceeds of Crime legislation to restrain £6.5 million from a Moscow based businessman after a suspect bank transfer of $10 million from a bank account in Hungary to a Scottish bank back in 2004, following inquiries by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) and the Crown Office. The businessman (64 years old) provided a supposedly legitimate audit trail for the funds, but the investigators discredited the trail, and linked the cash to a Russian bank which had been bankrupted in 2004, in relation to money laundering offences.

This Scottish case is being described as the country’s largest ever recovery under Proceeds of Crime legislation.

It’s an impressive amount of money to land virtually ‘out of nowhere’, and according to the news, “Will be invested in community projects around Scotland”.

While this is fine, the windfall is far from insignificant, and although there will no doubt be many claimants for a slice, I suspect none will actually have a viable plan in place to take advantage from it.

In a year or two, or three, I’d quite like to see some sort of report regarding the dispersal of this money, and to know that it actually was put to good use, and someone benefitted from it in a positive way.

If not, perhaps someone who is experienced in the way of Freedom if Information enquiries might like to put this item in their diary, and make this particular enquiry in a few years, and let the rest of us know the outcome?

05/05/2010 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Honour for veterans of Arctic convoys

Cargo shipThe opportunity to mention those who took place in the Russian Arctic convoys has arisen more than once, the last time being to note that their last gathering at their Scottish departure point may be their last occasion to do so, Arctic veterans may be making last march.

This time, it’s to note the presentation of a medal marking the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II. Thirty convey veterans will receive the honour, described by Consul General of the Russian Federation, Sergey Krutokov, as a “sign of appreciation for their heroic deeds during the tough years of the war”, at a ceremony in Edinburgh. The Consul General said that the Russians had the same warm feeling for the veterans as the British.

Jock Dempster, chairman of the Russian Arctic Convoy Club, said, “This event marks a very special day for us. The long-standing bond of friendship which existed between the Russian people and the veterans during the war has become even stronger since. The medal is much appreciated for adding formal recognition of the critical role we played in shipping vital supplies to Murmansk and Archangel. The Russians have never forgotten the ultimate sacrifice made by the 2,800 seamen who never returned to our shores”. Between 1941 and 1945, the convoys transported some four million tons of essential supplies and munitions to Russia.

With Norway occupied, the ships had to travel the treacherous northern route to the Russian ports, enduring the freezing conditions and Arctic ice floes. Churchill described the convoys as ‘suicide missions’, and in the years they sailed, they lost a to of 104 Merchant ships, 20 Royal Navy ships, one submarine, and two armed whalers, while Germany lost 31 submarines.

24/04/2010 Posted by | World War II | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Next time it snows call the Russians

After covering the amphibious coach (or bus) options discovered after it was announced that the Renfrew ferry service was to end, we happened to come across a Russian option for dealing with the snow, and other minor inconvenience.

I can’t speak Russian, or I’d tell you more, so you’ll have to depend on the videos below, but suffice to say all you need is a suitable vehicle, and the corresponding caterpillar tracked base unit, and a little time to bolt the two together, then it would seem that snow, rough ground, and even water, are unlikely to prove any sort of obstacle.

Between amphibious coaches for summer, and snow-cat conversions for winter, there just has to be a business opportunity out there for someone positioned in the right place to take advantage of these toys, especially with climate change promising to raise water levels, leading to more streams and the like to be crossed, and either more mud as things get wetter, demanding tracked vehicles rather than 4x4s, or maybe more snow when it’s colder.

16/02/2010 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Arctic veterans may be making last march

Sea Hurricanes

Sea Hurricanes

We mentioned the forthcoming tribute to be hosted at the Pool House Hotel in Poolewe, scheduled to take place on October 9, 2008, a few days ago, and this has been followed up by another story relating to the veterans.

This relates to the Armistice, and the day when those involved parade together at London’s Cenotaph. Jock Dempster, one of the Scottish veterans, has suggested that this could be the last year they march together, as old age and ill health catches up with the those who took part in the Arctic convoys. Mr Dempster is the youngest of those, at 80, while the average age 86. The number attending has fallen from almost 70 six years ago, and only 13 were in attendance last year.

He remembered the bravery of the Hurricane pilots who accompanied the convoys to provide air defence. The aircraft were launched by catapult, and there was no way for them to return to the ship once they had left on their mission. They had to ditch into the freezing sea and hope that they survived not only the ditching, but the intense cold, long enough to be found and picked up. At those temperatures, and without modern survival gear, they could lose their lives in the water in only a few minutes.

An estimated 3,000 men lost their lives on the Russian runs, which involved Britain, the United States, and Canada in shipping supplies to Russia, with destinations in ports such as Murmansk and Archangel.

02/10/2008 Posted by | World War II | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arctic convoy veterans return to Loch Ewe

Pool House Hotel © Roger McLachlan

Pool House Hotel © Roger McLachlan

Lying at the south end of Loch Ewe, Pool House Hotel in Poolewe will host a tribute to those who took part in the Arctic convoys of World War II, in an event scheduled to take place on October 9, 2008. Now a hotel, the house was requisitioned and served as a command centre for vessels departing the loch. Representatives from the Royal Navy, Russia, and Norway have also been invited.

In addition to the danger of enemy action, many were lost in the freezing conditions and storms which lashed the vessels. One crew member described conditions where the only cargo left on deck was a consignment of tanks, secured to the deck, and how he watched as one wave stripped the crates from the vehicles stored on deck, while the next carried the exposed trucks away.

The convoys managed to deliver 12,755 tanks, 22,200 aircraft and 375,800 trucks, as well as four million tons of ammunition and other supplies to the USSR. Carrier escort aircraft and Army gunners on board defended the ships from German attacks from air and sea.

Just under 3,000 British sailors and merchant seamen lost their lives while taking part in these convoys.

In 2006, the first of them received a special UK award to mark their bravery. Arctic Emblems were presented in ceremonies on HMS Belfast, in London, and HMS Ark Royal, in Rosyth, Fife.

Loch Ewe was also the starting point for the Atlantic convoys, vital for the country’s supply line with America, and veterans gathered there recently for an annual visit, and some may return for this event.

The owners of the hotel are used to the regular visit, but reflected that as time passes, time and health is taking its toll of the veterans, and the number able to make the trip is gradually reducing.

18/09/2008 Posted by | Maritime, Naval, Transport, World War II | , , , , , | 15 Comments


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