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.