For some, the creation of Novichok in the USSR is equivalent to say that Russia and its special services are guilty of the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. But Russia not only doesn’t have the monopoly over Novichok, but it has also stopped the development and production of these substances and destroyed its reserves. It is also known that Vil Mirzayanov, the chemist that worked with the creators of Novichok in the 1970s and 1980s and run to the US afterwards, published the formula of the nerve agent that, according to his own words, was repeatedly synthesised outside Russia.
The claims are false. 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 Novichoks were never declared to the OPCW and weren’t included in the Chemical Weapons Convention until 2019. Also, Dr. Vil Mirzayanov didn’t state what is affirmed. After the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal with Novichok in Salisbury in 2018, Mirzayanov 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 on the Skripals because it “is the country that invented it, has the experience, turned it into a weapon... has fully mastered the cycle”. This is part of a pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign on the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny after the use of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group was established beyond any doubt by a specialist Bundeswehr laboratory. The use of multiple and simultaneous versions about an event involving questionable actions by the Russian government or its allies, in order to confound citizens about the actual truth, is a recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation strategy, already seen in the cases of the MH17 downing, the illegal annexation of Crimea, the murder attempt against Sergei and Yulia Skripal or chemical attacks in Syria. See other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives on Alexei Navalny’s poisoning in our database, such as claims that only caffeine and alcohol were found in his blood, that the US wanted to use it to block Nord Stream 2 and Russia’s vaccine against coronavirus, that the West hopes that he dies to have an excuse for new sanctions, or that Western accusations about Navalny’s case are as false as they were about Sergei Skripal and Alexander Litvinenko. This disinformation message appeared in the same article as the claim that "The continuous poisoning of Russian dissidents apparently implicating the Kremlin is suspicious".