Disinfo: The US has worked on Novichok since the 70s

Summary

Although the US has been working on Novichok and similar poisonous substances since the 1970s, they quite actively deny its existence in their military arsenal.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on Novichok and the Navalny poisoning. Also, a good example of whataboutism.

No proof given. Until 2019, Novichok was not on the list of banned chemicals, as Russia had not confirmed its existence. Novichok was listed after the Skripals' poisoning at the initiative of the US,  the Netherlands and Canada. Suspicions that the USSR had been concealing the existence of poisonous chemical substances have been raised before.

Back in 1992, the newspaper Moskovskie Novosti published an article by two Russian scientists about a powerful fourth-generation chemical weapon developed in Soviet Russia in the period of 1970-1990s.

Later, on the basis of the same article, Vil Mirzayanov, one of the authors was arrested with the accusation of revealing a state secret. In 1994, the Moscow Municipal Court tried to hold a closed hearing in the case, after which the case was returned to the prosecutor's office due to insufficient grounds for confirmation of the charges. Already living in the United States, Mirzayanov published a book in 2008 entitled State Secrets: An Insider's Chronicle of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program, in which he discussed Novichok's formula.

See an earlier disinformation example of the Kremlin accusing the US and US laboratories of developing Novichok here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 212
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 15/09/2020
  • Language/target audience: Georgian
  • Country: Russia, US
  • Keywords: novichok, 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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Labs could not prove that Novichok was involved because they don’t have any sample

Without the original Novichok sample to compare the analysis made with a mass spectrometer, it is impossible to know if the traces found in Alexei Navalny are really Novichok. This is a huge inconsistency and it makes us doubt the veracity of the public declarations.

Disproof

Disinformation message on the Alexei Navalny poisoning and the Novichok class of lethal agents.

On Monday, 14 September 2020 the German government stated that:

Georgia aims at infecting South Ossetians with Covid-19

Amid the outbreak of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Georgia, the committee regards the appearance of people who may be carriers of the infection near the territory of South Ossetia as a deliberate provocation that could negatively affect the epidemiological situation in South Ossetia… Also, there are no “occupying forces” in South Ossetia. It is a state, recognised by a number of countries of the international community.

Disproof

The claim contains multiple disinformation narratives on coronavirus, Georgia and Russian-occupied territories of Georgia.

In fact, local activists and the majoritarian candidate in Gori from opposition party United National Movement (UNM) held a demonstration near the occupation line to protest about the creeping occupation. It was not a secret gathering or provocation, aiming at infecting the South Ossetian population as the event was covered by media.

The West is preparing the disintegration of Ukraine

Western countries have never needed a strong and prosperous Ukraine, so they plan to break up the country in Yugoslav scenario.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory with no evidence given. This message is an example of a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine being abandoned by its Western partners and the disintegration of Ukraine.

Ukraine is a priority partner for the EU and NATO. Its sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected by almost all the world. Neither the EU, nor NATO, or their member states are planning to destroy Ukraine. On the contrary, they support the economic development of Ukraine and, for example, right now provide financial assistance amidst the crisis caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.