Disinfo: Navalny wasn’t poisoned with Novichok, he would be dead within 10 minutes

Summary

Navalny wasn’t poisoned with Novichok, he would be dead after 10 minutes.

It takes only a few minutes of contact with the nerve poison before the first symptoms appear. “It takes ten minutes until death,” one of the developers of the nerve poison Novichok, Leonid Rink, explained. According to Rink, there are also other indications that contradict the hypothesis that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok – namely that there were no constricted pupils or muscle cramps.

“These are antispasmodic substances that interrupt nerve impulses and thus cause muscle cramps, especially in the eye muscles.” This leads to a narrowing of the pupils, which is “already visible at such low doses of Novichok, where there is no question of poisoning.” According to Rink, these signs are missing in all photos of Navalny taken after the alleged poison attack.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

Leonid Rink, the expert often quoted as saying that Navalny would have died if it had been Novichok, 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. Read a similar disinformation story by Polygraph.

Novichok is known as 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. Novichok does not necessarily lead to the death of everyone who comes in contact with it.

There are at least four people known to have survived a Novichok poisoning. 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 of a poisoning in Salisbury but recovered with intensive medical care. The UK authorities established that the assassination attempt had been carried out by two Russian intelligence operatives using Novichok.

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

Moreover, Novichok was not developed for individual assassination. 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.

Read similar disinformation cases alleging that only traces of alcohol and caffeine were found in Navalny’s blood, that West will falsely accuse Russia of poisoning Navalny, as with Skripal and Litvinenko and that if the victim does not die, it cannot be Novichok.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 213
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 25/09/2020
  • Language/target audience: German
  • Country: Russia
  • Keywords: novichok, 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.

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Disproof

This message is composed of several popular pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives: a conspiracy theory about the US-led coloured revolutions; the impact of secret elites ("Big Finance") on global politics; the anti-Russian character of the US foreign policy and complete subordination of Poland to the will of the United States.

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The OPCW is by no means a trusted organisation

The OPCW is by no means a trusted organisation. Navalny’s case was handed over by the German side to the OPCW, an organisation without a good reputation… Years earlier, the same organisation investigated the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria. Then the OPCW did not work in the best way, especially in the case of “White Helmets”. The “White Helmets” were engaged in blatant falsification, filming deliberately biased (if not false) videos about the use of chemical weapons by the Assad government. And if the case of Navalny is investigated by the OPCW in the same way as the activities of these very “White Helmets”, then there will be no special confidence in the conclusions of this organisation either.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, also to discredit the OPCW, an independent inter-governmental international organisation with 193 member states - including Russia.

Disinformation claim also advances a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the White Helmets. Allegations in the pro-Kremlin media of "staged" chemical attacks are a part of the ongoing campaign by Syria and Russia to smear the White Helmets as terrorists and war criminals. However, available evidence has yet to link a single chemical attack to any other party than the Assad regime.