Disinfo: Novichok is a word coined by a British TV series in early 2000

Summary

The name Novichok isn’t a Russian name but was taken from a British series broadcast in early 2000, and it has since stuck in people’s heads.

Disproof

The story advances the recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the poisoning ofAlexei Navalny. “Novichok” - “Newcomer in English” is a name that was given to a group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s in a covert programmecodenamed Foliant that was revealed by defectors. Most of whatwe understand about Novichok agents comes from the testimony and memoirs of Dr Vil S. Mirzayanov, the Chief of the Department of Counteraction against Foreign Technical Intelligence at the Russian State Union Scientific Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology (GosNIIOKhT) who authoreda 1994 report with the Stimson Center describing the state of chemical weapon disarmament in Russia, revealingNovichok's existence. Following this revelation, the US National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in 1998, added Novichiok to its spectral data which has 300,000 compounds and is regularly updated. Furthermore, since the beginning of the 1990s, US chemical demilitarization programmes in the Commonwealth of Independent States (former USSR) included joint research on Novichoks in order to develop effective detectors, detoxifiers, reactivators and bio-scavengers. Alas, the name Novichok has already appeared in several news articles before 2000, including the New York Times 1999, New Scientist in 1994. See other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives on Alexei Navalny’s poisoning in our database, such as claims thatonly caffeine and alcohol were found in his blood, that the US wanted to use it toblock Nord Stream 2 andRussia’s vaccine against coronavirus, that the West hopes that he dies to havean excuse for new sanctions, or that Western accusations about Navalny’s case are as false as they wereabout Sergey Skripal and Aleksandr Litvinenko. The same video interview contained another disinformation claim alleging that Alexei Navalny did not shown any symptoms of Novichok.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 215
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 09/10/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Arabic
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: UK, Russia
  • Keywords: novichok, Virus / bacteria threat, Alexei Navalny
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Disproof

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Disproof

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Disproof

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