Disinfo: Formation of OPCW Syria investigation team was illegal


Moscow does not recognise the [OPCW’s] investigation team because its formation was illegal and outside the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention.


This is a recurring disinformation narrative aiming to discredit the OPCW. The OPCW is an independent inter-governmental international organisation with 193 member states - including Russia.

The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) was formed in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as the voting results for the decision upon which its formation was based on were counted at 82 votes in favour and 24 against. The formation of the IIT was therefore adopted in complete compliance with the relevant standards of the CWC.

The Conference of State Parties adopted a decision on 27 June 2018 reaffirming “that those responsible for the use of chemical weapons should be held accountable”, and recalling the responsibility of the Conference under the paragraph 20 of Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention to oversee the implementation of the Convention and act in order to promote its object and purpose and to review compliance with it.

In paragraph 10 of the decision, the Conference specifically decided that the OPCW's Technical Secretariat shall put in place arrangements to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic by identifying and reporting on all information potentially relevant to the origin of those chemical weapons in those instances in which the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria [“FFM”] determines or has determined that use or likely use occurred.

Pursuant to paragraph 37 of Article VIII of the Convention, the [OPCW's] Secretariat is bound to implement decisions taken by the Conference. In March 2019, the Director-General has accordingly reported that the Secretariat was establishing the IIT with a mandate for identifying the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.


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  • Reported in: Issue 194
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 18/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: Arabic
  • Country: Russia, Syria
  • Keywords: OPCW, Chemical weapons/attack, Syrian War


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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The Pentagon creates biological laboratories around the world to develop “combat” viruses

The Pentagon creates biological laboratories in different parts of the world to develop “combat” viruses and drugs that neutralise viruses. Most of these laboratories are located in the territories of the post-Soviet republics along the perimeter of Russian borders. Outbreaks of serious infectious diseases among the population could be connected with these laboratories. One such laboratory is the so-called Richard Lugar Centre for Public Health in Georgia.


This is a recurring conspiracy theory alleging, without evidence, that the United States develops biological weapons and has secret biological laboratories around the world. The disinformation claim also capitalises on the oft-recurring conspiracy theory about the Lugar Lab in Georgia, as well as laboratories in Ukraine. The implicit claim here is that the coronavirus may have originated in one of these labs as a biological weapon - one of the most common disinformation claims about the pandemic in pro-Kremlin media.

In fact, virology laboratories in Ukraine are involved in preventing the risks of complex diseases by pathogens and, together with other similar projects, counteracting bioterrorism. Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Georgia officially addressed the conspiracy theories behind the Richard Lugar Centre as "nonsense and typical of Russian misinformation and propaganda campaigns." The Richard Lugar Centre for Public Health Research is a facility of the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), which became operational in August 2013. It is a top-tiered institution in NCDC’s laboratory network and serves as a reference laboratory for Georgia’s public health system. Read more about the disinformation campaign surrounding the Lugar Laboratory on Myth Detector.

EU will provide Ukraine with financial support in exchange for the banking system and destruction of trade unions

[…] for its handout, the European Union not only wants to control the country’s banking system but also to strengthen the fight against corruption (read – to expand the network of grant-eaters), to reduce social payments (goodbye pensioners and the poor), to ban trade unions and to approve a Labour Code that legalises slave labour. But, of course, the adoption of the anti-Kolomoyskiy law by the Verkhovna Rada remains the key condition. Amendments to this law are currently being considered by the relevant committee [in the parliament].


Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on Ukraine and its relations with the European Union.

No such demands have been made upon Ukraine. As explained by the permanent representative of Ukraine to the EU, Mykola Tochytskyi, Ukraine will receive €1.2 billion in two tranches to overcome the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first €600 million will be provided at once, after the approval of the decision by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union unconditionally. The second tranche of €600 million will be provided under conditions. These conditions must be defined by the negotiations which will start soon. Therefore, the exact conditions on which this support will be granted to Ukraine have not yet been defined.

Cooperation between the Mediterranean countries threatens Germany’s hegemony

The cooperation between the Mediterranean countries might become a problem for securing Germany’s hegemony over the [European] continent. Of course an issue is that the interests of Spain, Portugal and Greece not always coincide, but all these countries have suffered greatly from the fiscal regime imposed by Germany and its financial policies.

The pandemic has demonstrated that Germany, in a time of crisis, does not with to help its partners in the European Union and is first and foremost preoccupied with its own interests. This has been the same all the time, but in more peaceful years, the illusion of European unity has been stronger.


This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about "German hegemony in Europe" and the EU's alleged imminent collapse.

This narrative also aims to pit EU member states against each other in an attempt to undermine European solidarity, another recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation tactic.