EXCLUSIVE: Revealed…the tangled espionage web behind a dolphin yarn


Slog investigation reveals web of covert US disinformation stretching from Albania to Singapore

At the beginning of last week, US news site TopNews.com ran an odd sort of ‘curio corner’ story. It claimed that the Russian Defence Ministry ‘wants to acquire five bottlenose dolphins, two females and three males, aged between three and five years, ranging in body length from 2.3 meters to 2.7 meters’. The Putin government, it seemed, had advertised the fact on the Zakupki.gov.ru website earlier that week.

The dolphins were to be ‘transported to Sebastopol…..the base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, located on the Crimea peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014’.

This was the first I’d seen of the story, but an article describing this in full appeared in The Moscow Times the day before. It seemed like the stuff to set hares running .And indeed it did: by the end of the week, Sky News, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, CNN and a plethora of other sites all ran with the story.

There’s just one problem with it: it’s bollocks. And it’s pretty clear that none of the above media checked out the story at source.

I’ve been all over the Zakupki site (French translation, including search engine in Russian using ‘Delphini’ in Russian cyrillic) and can’t find any reference to Dolphin requirements, bottle-nosed or otherwise. Also, it strikes me as unlikely bordering on absurd to suggest that, if Russia was experimenting with dolphins as weapons, they’d place an ad on a popular website advertising for them. Even as ‘black’ information, it’s too daft to be taken seriously. Although to be fair, it’s quite possible that it had been there, but was then hastily taken down.

But the story itself does seem to have started spreading from this apparently reputable US-based publication – strapline ‘Topnews.com, Your reliable source’. However, all is not what it seems. For the company (which has the shortest entry I’ve ever found at Wikipedia) is a subsidiary of Top Media, which also owns Top Channel and DigitAlb. But from there, on it gets far more  complicated.

Top Media is a $100 shelf company founded 27 years ago and registered in Singapore. It also operates actively in South Korea. It is in turn owned by Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC) – which is odd, because that’s the NGO Singaporean institution responsible for the regulation of domain names. SIGNIC is a wholly owned subsidiary of IDA – and this is clearly part of the dictatorial neoliberal Government.

The IDA Board is chaired by Mr CHAN Yeng Kit, the Permanent Secretary at the Singapore Ministry of Defence.

The stated aim of the SMoD is “the continuing security of the Singapore State”. In other words, Chan Yeng Kit is a top Spook. His specific skills are recorded as ‘military spy planes and satellite surveillance technology’.

Three months ago on 8th December, SMoD and the US Defence Department signed the enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (eDCA) to ‘increase cooperation on cyber defence, biosecurity and public communications’. The agreement was signed by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and his US counterpart, Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter, at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The two signatories added that (my italics) they were:

‘….pleased with not only the strong military-to-military cooperation between the Singapore Armed Forces and the US Armed Forces, but also how the interoperability built up between the militaries through joint exercises had allowed both countries to work well together in operations such as the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.’

Ng Eng Hen is Chan Yeng Kit’s political boss in the One-Party State of Singapore.

While in Washington, Ng Eng Hen held meetings with Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator John McCain.

The Slog is among several blogsites who have fingered McCain as a constant and duplicitous presence in Iraq and Syria.

But the complexity doesn’t end there. The Channel Top News broadcasts on in the US is headquartered in…Tirana, Albania. Apart from the US, it transmits in Kosovo and the EU. It was founded by Dritan Hoxha, a prominent Albanian businessman with powerful contacts. After clashing with Democratic Party Prime Minister Sali Berisha, Hoxha was killed in a car accident in 2008. And while the Board of Digitalb still contains five members of his family, it’s notable that the Albanian Government now has a 20% golden shareholding.


Albania has been described as “the world’s most pro-US Muslim State”. The American defence industry (most sponsored Congressman, John McCain) has a long record of supplying arms, and giving support, to Albania since the collapse of the USSR.

The Albanian Parliament is situated on George W. Bush Street, and in its main international airport, you will find the Bar Kafe George W. Bush.  Sali Berisha, called Bush “the greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all times.” Berisha’s rival, Socialist Party leader and Tirana Mayor Edi Rama, said, “Albania is for sure the most pro-American country in Europe, maybe even in the world.”

Just over a week ago on 3rd March 2016, LSI, the junior party in Albania’s Socialist-led government, hired US firm Global Security and Innovative Strategies (GSIS).

GSIS is a Washington-based consulting firm whose principals include the former head of the US Secret Service Marc Sullivan, and the former Deputy Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, David Aguilar.
It’s quite a trail, is it not?
There is not a scintilla of conspiracy theory supposition in this piece. Starting with an odd piece of disinformation – in which the Moscow Times seems curiously complicit – the links run unbroken from Sebastopol, Singapore, Iraq, Syria and Albania with two near ever-present features: American security/defence staff, and John McCain.
And all from a seemingly benign news site running a silly-season story about dolphins.
My point here is not to position the US as a sort of Sovereign Goldman Sachs – although the cap does fit rather well. Rather, it is to remind every citizen of just how difficult it is in the 21st century to establish the provenance of any article that appears in the media at any time.
I can only speculate as to the games being played by the Smiley’s People involved in this bizarre exchange of baffling garbage. It’s possible that ‘dolphins’ is a code dropped in to alert, warn off or fire a warning shot. But one would think they’d at least take the trouble to actually put the ad on Zakupki. However, that would have looked even odder; because you see, Zakupki is a State-sponsored site promoting the exchange of useful b2b information between SMEs in Russia. ‘Wanted: five dolphins’ would’ve stood out like the proverbial canine male undercarriage.
Barmy as it might seem, the story was presumably designed to scare the West: whether it was being done by the CIA, or Moscow (or both) is anyone’s guess. The point is a much simpler one: our media set swallowed the story whole, merely parrotting what they’d heard second-hand. It’s sloppy and lazy, but it is what passes for journalism in the 21st century.

23 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: Revealed…the tangled espionage web behind a dolphin yarn

  1. “There’s just one problem with it: it’s bollocks.”

    Just this story, John? The entire mainstream media output is bollocks. Once you tell one lie…you have to tell another….and another….and another. Until the whole facade goes up in smoke.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Mrs Rawlinson and I are sitting here on the sofa on a Sunday morning reading each other the ‘news’ off our smartphones. This is the kind of article we would have read in a Sunday paper in the too distant past. Light is only shone into dark corners on the internet now. Keep the batteries in the torch charged JW.


  3. The McCain Rat and the Doctor
    With apols to A.A. Milne

    There once was a McCain Rat who lived in is head
    Of dolphiniums (blue) and Ruskies (red)
    And all the day long he’d a wonderful view
    Of Ruskies (red) and dolphiniums (blue)

    Dr Ward came hurrying round, and he said:
    “Tut-tut, I am sorry to find you lost in your head.
    Just say ‘Ninety-nine’, while I look at your chest…
    Don’t you find that decency answers the best?”

    The McCain Rat looked round at the view and replied
    (When he’d said “Ninety-nine”) that he’d tried and he’d tried,
    And much the most answering things that he knew
    Were Ruskies (red) and dolphiniums (blue)……..


  4. John McCain is the CIA point man for regime change, with the front cover of his position as US Senator.
    His fingerprints are all over the Ukraine,Libya and SYRIA fiasco. There have been photos of him in meetings with the leaders of ISIS available on voltairenet..org.
    He is not the sharpest knife in the toolbox and had a chequered career as a Navy pilot. His


  5. McCains Daddy was an Admiral in the US Navy, but son John has been a bitter disappointment, Finishing close to last at his Annapolis Navy graduation class., Certainly a wooden-top and proably easily manipulated by his handlers.


  6. The dolphins allegory could of course be the Russians obliquely referring to the dodgy meeting held between Execs of 5 EPL teams with the consigliere of Matthew Webb, billionaire owner of the Miami Dolphins, who wishes to take over European football with a closed-shop European Super League…….

    No evidence for or against, but it’s one possible conspiracy theory……


  7. What makes this even more weird as a completely pointless non-story is that both the US and Russia (and likely many other countries including the UK) are well known to have experimented with training dolphins for all manner of military purposes (eavesdropping, tracking shipping, recovering items lost at sea, attaching limpet mines and other devices to shipping, etc etc) since at least the seventies. Indeed while Russia typically says nothing official on the subject, the US often brags about their ‘success’ in such activities even today. Just Google “Dolphin Limpet mine”.

    Unless the whole thing was a modern implementation of the WW2 SOE coded messages, you know; ““Le lapin a bu un apéritif” (The rabbit drank an aperitif)” type thing it seems an utterly pointless ‘story’ to plant or even to report if true. And I know, the MSM is 90% composed of pointless stories, whether fact, fiction or both few can tell.


  8. It would seem that the dumbing down of neoliberalism,means even coded messages rather than in one column in one paper,now as to be made so obvious! but maybe it was just a plain recruitment exercise after all the money spent on dolphin training maybe enticing trained dolphins with the opportunity of sex and turning them into double agents by sending them back after the enticement armed to the teeth isn’t a bad policy but a very human one


  9. thanks for the spy vs. spy research.. how daft can they get?.. enough to make hitlers efforts look like a sunday afternoon garden party…


  10. Police are investigating whether former Russian Press Minister Mikhail Lesin, who was found dead in a Washington hotel in November, was brutally assaulted by a dolphin before returning to the hotel, a U.S. law enforcement source said on Friday.


  11. We used to holiday a lot in Croatia. Often we’d drive south of Dubrovnik over to Montenegro. The Bay of Kotor is incredibly beautiful. We even drove far south to Ulcinj the Muslim part where you can see mosques. One time we did a day trip round Lake Skadar into Albania. Jesus is the place primitive! Potholed motorways and horses and carts….but fascinating.


  12. Bellvue – but if Sir Henry Rawlinson was in a trendy same-sex marriage, his ‘wife’ would be Mr Rawlinson, the additional ‘s’ being a Sunday morning typo – no evidence was presented to confirm the gender of Sir Henry’s spouse, so we can’t be sure that the title ‘Lady’ should apply.


  13. Methinks you didn’t look very carefully at the posts. Also you can’t count: note the posting date – last Thursday. The Topnews piece appeared last Tuesday.
    Curiouser and curiouser…


  14. Don’t understand your “can’t count” comment… I just posted the fact that there *is* a request for dolphins on that Russian site, and the accompanying word document does indeed specify the ages and sizes of the dolphins in question. You appeared to say that you could find no trace of such a request.

    The link I posted dates from 9 March, but it is of course possible that it replaced an earlier one. I o

    PS – how did you spell “дельфин” when you searched? I wonder if you forgot the ‘ь’? Also, if you searched for “дельфины” then that wouldn’t have turned up anything – due to the way Russian grammar works (pedantry alert) :-)

    Just trying to help…


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