Disinfo: Novichok is a purely “Western product”

Summary

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced that a substance similar to the neurotoxic agent Novichok was detected in the body of Alexey Navalny. However, Novichok is a “purely Western product” which does not exist in Russia.

The Novichok chemical warfare agent exists in about 140 variants in Western countries, but not in Russia. The structure and mass spectrum of “Novichok”, which is allegedly responsible for the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was first revealed in the American spectroscopy database (American Institute of Standards) in 1988.

Disproof

This is part of a pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign on the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny after the use of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group was established beyond any doubt by a specialist Bundeswehr laboratory. This is also a narrative employed during the Sergey Skripal case in 2018.

In September 2017, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed the full destruction  of the 39,967 metric tons of chemical weapons possessed by Russia, but Novichoks were never declared to the OPCW and weren’t included in the Chemical Weapons Convention until 2019. Novichok is known to be more powerful than VX and was developed in Russia in 1970s and in 1980s.

The use of multiple and simultaneous versions about an event involving questionable actions by the Russian government or its allies, in order to confound citizens about the actual truth, is a recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation strategy.

Other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives on Alexei Navalny contain claims that only caffeine and alcohol were found in his blood, that the US wanted to use it to block Nord Stream 2 and Russia’s vaccine against coronavirus, that the West hopes that he dies to have an excuse for new sanctions et al.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 217
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 10/10/2020
  • Language/target audience: Greek
  • Country: Russia, US, Germany
  • Keywords: novichok, OPCW, Sergei Skripal, 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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The European Union sent Moldova instructions on how to conduct the elections

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Disproof

Recurring the pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Western involvement in internal affairs, including elections, in many states, especially the ones of the former Soviet Union. See here a case about the West trying to destabilise the situation in Belarus before the election.

The claim refers to the Statement by the Spokesperson on the upcoming presidential elections in Moldova, issued on 30 September 2020, calling on the Moldovan authorities to organize credible, inclusive and transparent elections. "The European Union calls on the authorities of the Republic of Moldova to implement fully and without further delay the recommendations of the Council of Europe Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR to guarantee the transparency of party and campaign financing," the statement said.

Euro-Atlantic powers want to use Navalny’s case to foil Nord Stream 2

Behind the [Alexy] Navalny case are Euro-Atlantic interests aimed at promoting anti-Russian policy.

It is clear that what the Euro-Atlantic powers are interested in is not clarifying the situation around Navalny, but rather foiling the “Nord Stream 2” gas pipeline between Russia and Europe.

Disproof

This is a pro-Kremlin conspiracy theory aimed at linking the case of Alexei Navalny with the Nord Stream 2 project. See a very similar case here (although in this case, the United States is accused alone).

A prominent Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny fell ill during a flight and the plane had to make an emergency landing in Omsk. Doctors there said he was in a coma and they were trying to save his life. Since then he has been transferred to Berlin and is receiving treatment at Berlin's Charité Hospital. The German Federal government said that toxicological tests provided  “unequivocal evidence of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group” in the blood samples of Alexei Navalny.

COVID is not a killer virus, wearing masks and testing has no sense at all

It is completely unjustified to portray COVID as a killer virus that it simply isn’t. […]

I don’t know why the government continues to govern this way. Possibly to justify their hard approach – namely also that of wearing mask is, in my opinion, nothing more than to keep up with the epidemic mood. There is nothing going on, nothing at all. No corona activity for a long time is going on. […]

It is not clear to me what this is all about … except, as I said, to keep the epidemic mood going and what is behind it is not clear to me, why this is made. In my opinion, it is completely absurd and should be stopped at any time, both the wearing of the masks and the testing – there is no point in any of it at all.

Disproof

Interview downplays downplay the severity and urgency of the COVID-19 outbreak and the imposed measures of the German government

The statements were published in a video interview at RT Deutsch and generated a high level of attention in social media. The author of the statements is a German physician, who had previously attracted attention with controversial statements on the subject of COVID-19. In the video interview, the RT-moderator does not refute or question the doctor's theses. The disinformative narratives remain unquestioned.