The neurotoxic agent Novichok is a substance which can be produced in any laboratory in the world, as Vil Mirzayanov, who has left Russia for the United States, has published a book about it. In particular, Leonid Rink, the so-called inventor of Novichok, has told RIA Novosti: “Vil Sultanovich (Mirzayanov), although not the creator of Novichok, published a book in the West about the Novichok system and its authors. Therefore, instead of apologizing to (Alexei) Navalny, he should apologize to the Attorney General’s Office, the state security services and the country for revealing secret data in the open literature, and then apologize to the entire world community for giving a complete description, for any kind of aggression, of the Novichok system in his book.” He went on to say that Novichok could be produced in any chemical laboratory in the world, referring to the alleged “poisoning” of Alexei Navalny.
This story belongs to a sustained efforts by the pro-Kremlin media to distract and distort the facts about the poisoning of Alexey Navalny, as they have done in the past in the Skripal case. The use of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group in the poisoning of Alexei Navalny was established beyond any doubt by a Bundeswehr laboratory. In September 2017, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed the full destruction of the 39,967 metric tons of chemical weapons possessed by Russia, but Novichok was never declared to the OPCW and weren’t included in the Chemical Weapons Convention until 2019. As far as Vil Mitzayanov is concerned, after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal with Novichok in Salisbury in 2018, he said that “many countries could have had test samples, but production was only refined in the U.S.S.R. and Russia” and that Russia had to be behind the attempt because it “is the country that invented it, has the experience, turned it into a weapon... has fully mastered the cycle”. As for Leonid Rink, the expert often quoted as saying that Navalny would have died if it had been Novichok, he indeed has a history of working with the nerve poison. In 2000 Rink was indicted for illegally selling Novichok from his garage, an action that resulted in the first deaths from nerve agent, in 1995. His criminal case was later dismissed on secret grounds and he received a one-year suspended sentence. There are also other cases following the same trend of disputing Navalny's poisoning and the use of Novichok by Russian state operatives, which can be found here and here.