Disinfo: It is impossible to recover from a Novichok poisoning

Summary

It is impossible for a person poisoned by Novichok to recover, which indicates the existence of a plot against Russia.

Disproof

The story is part of an emerging web of counter-narratives designed to confuse Western public opinion and deny Moscow's involvement in the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. This argument follows a recurring Kremlin pattern of denying that Navalny was poisoned and that Moscow had anything to do with it.

In this case, the argument is that Novichok is only a lethal military-grade nerve agent and that the result is always death. However, we know that Novichok is a highly toxic nerve agent that slows the heart, paralyses the muscles used for breathing and — if the dose is big enough — can lead to death by asphyxiation. A smaller dose may result in seizures, neuromuscular weakness, liver failure and other damage. This has been presented in various other reports herehere, and here.

So, Novichok does not necessarily lead to the death of everyone who came in contact with it.

Furthermore, Navalny's coma was medically induced and did not constitute a symptom of poisoning. Several other confirmed Novichok victims were put in a coma and subsequently regained consciousness. In 1987 Andrey Zheleznyakov, a researcher attached to the Soviet chemical warfare programme, suffered an accidental exposure to a Novichok-type compound. The accident left him permanently disabled but alive for another six years.

In March 2018, Russian ex-spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yuliya fell victim to poisoning in Salisbury but recovered with intensive medical care as did a police officer who had been exposed when he visited their home to investigate. The UK authorities established that the assassination attempt had been carried out by two Russian intelligence operatives using Novichok.

The following June, two individuals in Amesbury, England were accidentally exposed to Novichok contained in a fake perfume bottle. One of the victims survived.

It should be further noted that, like most other chemical weapons, Novichok was not developed with the individual assassination in mind. Marc-Michael Blum, former head of the OPCW Laboratory, explains that "these substances are designed for the mass destruction of enemy personnel during the war," and are thus "not reliable enough" if used to kill one, specific individual in peacetime conditions. In other words, it cannot be ruled out that Navalny was poisoned by Novichok simply because he survived the ordeal and regained consciousness.

Read similar disinformation messages alleging that the West has an interest in the death of Navalny to launch a new wave of sanctions against Russia, that only traces of alcohol and caffeine were found in Navalny's blood, that the West will falsely accuse Russia of poisoning Navalny, as with Skripal and Litvinenko or that US used Navalny case to block Russian vaccine against COVID-19.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 213
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 24/09/2020
  • Language/target audience: Arabic
  • Country: Russia
  • Keywords: Conspiracy theory, novichok, Alexei Navalny

Disclaimer

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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Ukrainian community in Crimea says there is no hint of national hostility on the peninsula

Ukrainians who live in Crimea got the opportunity to comfortably integrate into the cultural, social and economic space of Russia. This was announced at the UN Security Council by video conference from the inhabitants of the peninsula themselves. They got the opportunity to speak at the meeting of the organisation for the first time. According to the head of the Ukrainian community of Crimea, Anastasia Gridchina, there is no hint of national hostility on the peninsula: after reunification with Russia, no one perceived Ukrainians as strangers.

Disproof

Pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Crimea.

The TV channel cites Anastasia Gridchina, the president of the Ukrainian Community in Crimea. The "Ukrainian Community in Crimea" is a Kremlin-controlled organisation, headed by members of Russia’s ruling party United Russia. The organisation was established in 2016, two years after Russia annexed Crimea and its purpose is to showcase a positive life for Ukrainians on the occupied peninsula.

The objective of EU sanctions is to increase Russophobia

Calls for tougher sanctions and an independent investigation, despite the fact that no one will provide answers to all the questions about Navalny to Russia, aims exclusively to increase “Russophobia” in order to advance the selfish interests of some actors.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the poisoning of Navalny, portraying Western governments and institutions as inherently Russophobic and trying to harm Russia.

A prominent Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny fell ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow on the 20th of August. Initially hospitalized in Omsk,  at the request of his family he was transferred to Charité hospital in Berlin.

Belarusians will become beggars if Lukashenko is overthrown

It is a bit incorrect to compare events in Belarus with the events in Ukraine in 2014, but it is worth noting that Western countries do not lose hope of turning Minsk into Kyiv six years ago.

For example, Lithuania and Poland (by the way, it is known that it is the Polish special services that oversee the Belarusian opposition) offered Belarus a visa-free regime. But the prospect of becoming another Slavic migrant workers does not tempt Belarusians at all.

The Ukrainian government, of course, supports the Belarusian opposition. And this is not surprising. The current government is taking its seats solely thanks to the overthrow of Yanukovych. But ordinary Ukrainians dissuade Belarusians from trying to overthrow the president and tell what will happen to their country if they make a fatal mistake: “Shove Lukashenko off, and that’s it, you will become beggars.”

Disproof

This is part of an ongoing Russian disinformation campaign on Belarus based on recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives, such as accusing other countries of interference and portraying popular protests against electoral fraud in the country as a Western-led colour revolution.

There is no evidence that European countries interfere in any way in the internal affairs of Belarus, or that without Alexander Lukashenko Belarus will become poor.