Disinfo: Navalny wasn’t poisoned with Novichok, he came out of coma

Summary

A scientist who was involved in Novichok’s development, said Navalny’s recoverage proves that this substance was not used to poison him.

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 here, here 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 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. This article also claimed that Berlin considers Navalny's data a state secret. 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

View more
  • Reported in: Issue 212
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 15/09/2020
  • Language/target audience: Arabic
  • Country: Russia
  • Keywords: Skripal, novichok, Amesbury poisoning, Sergei Skripal, Chemical weapons/attack, 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.

see more

The West destabilises Belarus to destroy Russian civilisation, an alternative route of human development

Leading Western think tanks set the trends and define collective West policies towards Belarus. An analysis of publications by Northern American think tanks demonstrates that the main Belarus-related strategic goals were to create conflict in Belarus, to topple Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and to tear Belarus away from Russia. This would become the West’s success in destroying Russian civilisation as an alternative route of human development. It is clear that Poles and Lithuanians were only the executors of a thoroughly planned hybrid attack. However, Westerners failed to bring discord to Belarus-Russia relations which did not allow them to organise a colour revolution and to knock Belarus out of Russian civilisation. Belarus is just a square on a chessboard. The Western strategy to withdraw Belarus from the Russian camp remains long-term and unchanged. The Belarusian proposal to become a bridge amid the geopolitical conflict was nearly burnt down. The West tried to put Belarusians into impoverishment and emigration just as happened in Serbia, Ukraine and Libya where colour revolutions replaced legal authorities.

Disproof

This article promotes recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about West's attempt to organise a colour revolution in Belarus and to disrupt Belarusian-Russian relations, and about Poland and Lithuania as the US's puppets. It also promotes the concept of the Russian world / civilisation and Russia superiority by claiming an "alternative route of human development" The Russian world is an imperial Russian and Russian irredentist ideology that is a favoured pro-Kremlin narrative aimed at weakening the national identity of Belarusians and Ukrainians, as well as their sovereignty. Belarus and Ukraine are well-defined nation-states with a long history, which preserved their languages, literature and identity, despite foreign rule for long periods. There is no evidence that Poland, the Baltic states or any other Western governments are in any involved in the protests in Belarus. Lithuania and Poland are independent states, which shape their own foreign and domestic policies. The US is an important ally to the EU but EU policy is not determined by the US, as explained by the EU High Representative. The large-scale Belarusian protests began in Minsk on August 9 against the results of the presidential election, and then in other cities. People revolted against election fraud and police violence towards thousands of rally participants. The European Council condemned the violence against peaceful protesters and announced that it would soon adopt a list of sanctions for those responsible for violence in Belarus. "As the elections in Belarus were neither free nor fair, and did not meet international standards, the EU does not recognise the results presented by the Belarus authorities," is mentioned in a European Council press release. However, Western countries are not waging any "hybrid attack" as alleged in the publication. Pro-Kremlin media frequently use disinformation narratives about popular protests around the world allegedly incited and funded by the US and other Western states, including colour revolutions in post-Soviet states, the “Arab Spring” revolts, Euromaidan in Ukraine, protests in Catalonia and others. This narrative claims that protests, disorders and civil uprisings are never manifestations of popular discontent but are “colour revolutions” directed and funded by the West. Read earlier disinformation cases claiming that Russia saved Belarus from Western bombing like in Yugoslavia, that the West destroyed the USSR and is currently targeting the Union State between Belarus and Russia, that the EU is trying to disrupt Belarus-Russia relations, that the West's only interest in Belarus is to make it anti-Russian, and that Belarus faces either normal development under Russia or a forced Polonization and economic devastation.

Ukraine loses visa-free travel and 1.5 billion euros of loans from the EU

Ukraine loses visa-free travel and 1.5 billion euros of loans from the EU.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine and its relations with the EU. This disinformation claim appeared following the approval by Verkhovna Rada, on September 17, of the representatives to the competition commission for the election of the head of the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. There is no intention to suspend visa-free travel. The last European Commission report, adopted on 10 July 2020, confirmed that Ukraine continued to fulfil the visa liberalisation benchmarks. Later, the Joint Declaration after the Ukraine-EU summit on October 6, 2020, welcomed the continued successful implementation of the visa-free regime for the citizens of Ukraine and underlined the importance of continuing to fulfil the visa liberalisation benchmarks and accelerating related reform efforts. The EU has mobilised 1.2 billion EUR macro-financial assistance programme for Ukraine. In the summit, the EU and Ukraine reaffirmed the emphasis on maintaining Ukraine’s macro-economic stability, keeping the IMF commitments on track and implementing all medium-term structural policies agreed within the EU macrofinancial assistance programme. Read a similar case: Visa liberalisation for Ukraine “bites the dust”.

Ukraine has been barbarically plundering Crimea for 23 years

Ukraine did not invest anything in these lands. For twenty-three long years there was a deliberate barbaric plunder of the USSR heritage and the systematic destruction of the region.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on Crimea. In 2014 before the annexation by Russia, the Minister of Finance of Ukraine Oleksandr Shlapak announced:

“Crimea was and remains a subsidised region. In 2013, Crimea was able to provide its financial needs by 51.2%. Crimean taxpayers paid 8.5 billion UAH to budgets of all levels. At the same time, 16.6 billion UAH were received from the budget. The subsidy to the Pension Fund of Crimea amounted to 3.4 billion UAH.”

The Crimean budget, just like the local budgets of the southeastern regions of Ukraine, is traditionally subsidised, that is, it usually received more from the state treasury than it gave. Crimean economist Yuri Smelyansky in an interview with BBC Ukraine noted that before the illegal annexation by Russia, Crimea was financed in Ukraine in much the same way as other regions. “No matter how hard it was, in the conditions of the permanent economic crisis in which Ukraine has been living for 23 years, roads were being built in Crimea, small and medium-sized businesses, which are now dying, were actively developing, the economy was recovering, although not in the way I wanted it to,” said Yuri Smelyansky.