Disinfo: OPCW covered up the chemical attack in Douma

Summary

The “Wikileaks” website published last November an email from a member of the “Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons” investigation team about the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma in 2018, in which he accused the organization of covering up a defect in the report alleging the use of chlorine in Douma.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative seeking to absolve the Assad regime of responsibility for chemical attacks perpetrated in the course of the Syrian civil war, as well as to undermine the credibility and independence of the OPCW.

The internal OPCW e-mail message sent to WikiLeaks on June 22, 2018, by an unidentified member of OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), does not accuse the OPCW management of deliberately manipulating and suppressing evidence gathered by the FFM in order to blame the Assad government for the Douma attack and to justify Western military intervention against Syria.

For example, the management's draft said that chlorine or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical was "likely" to have been released from two cylinders found at the scene. The email argues, instead, that while the cylinders might have been the sources of the suspected chemical there was "insufficient evidence to affirm this".

The e-mail message actually refers to a draft OPCW  interim report, not to the final report published in March 2019. The interim report published in July 2018 was basically a progress report which described the FFM’s activities until that date. The final OPCW report actually accepts the points made by the FFM member in the internal e-mail.

The email in question is dated 22 June 2018 and therefore could not have been referring to the final OPCW report on Douma, which was released on 1 March 2019. In fact, the final report addresses all the points raised by the employee and addresses some of his/ her concerns. See here for a point-by-point disproof by Bellingcat.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 177
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 09/12/2019
  • Language/target audience: Arabic
  • Country: Syria
  • Keywords: Douma, OPCW, Wikileaks, Chemical weapons/attack
  • Outlet: RT web Arabic
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To contain and intimidate Russia, the West came up with a new Skripal-like Khangoshvili murder story

The story of murdered Chechen insurgent Zelimkhan Khangoshvili is strikingly similar to the Skripal case. In both cases Western media started their information campaigns only after some time: a week after the poisoning in the Skripal case and four months following Khangoshvili’s murder. The thing is in summer 2019 the West was seemingly interested in improving relations with Russia, so anti-Russian activists who started speaking about “Kremlin’s arm” and “mayhem” created by Russian security bodies in Europe, suddenly shut up for some time. In both cases, no conclusive proofs of Russian implication have been presented.

By all accounts, in both cases, there was a political decision to find a good reason to wage an information war against growing Russia. On the eve of Salisbury poisoning, Vladimir Putin demonstrated Russian brand-new hypersonic weapon which devalued the American anti-missile system and NATO infrastructure and made Russia the only country totally free from US’s military coercion.

The year of 2019 has also been successful for Moscow,  Russia does very well at the international stage. We are observing Russian negotiations about deeper integration with Belarus, its interim victory in Moldova, and Uzbekistan’s plans to enter the Eurasian Economic Union. In order to contain Russia and to make its position at the Normandy summit softer, Russia is being intimidated by Khangoshvili’s murder as a new Skripal case. It will not work though, and the Skripal case proved just that. Russia will be named a threat to the whole mankind again but talks with it will continue anyway.

Disproof

This is a mix of conspiracies suggesting Western Russophobia and coordinated Western media campaign against Russia in Skripal and Khangoshvili cases. The publication groundlessly presents two cases as Western provocations to punish Russia for its alleged successes in the military and foreign policy spheres.

It is reported that Germany’s chief public prosecutor suspects Russian intelligence agencies to be behind the killing of a former Chechen insurgent Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in Berlin and plans to take over investigations into the case. The assassin who shot Khangoshvili on 23 August 2019 was arrested by German police. He had travelled to Germany on a Russian passport issued in the name of Vadim Sokolov, but the document's authenticity is questioned.

NATO is planning to disrupt Belarusian-Russian relations

NATO works to involve Belarus in cooperation with the bloc and significantly reduce its military contacts with Russia, including within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. Belarus is seen in the West as a strategic “key” to Eastern Europe, and Moscow must be deprived of this “key”. […] Western politicians work to undermine Russian-Belarusian relations, especially in anticipation of a possible deepening of integration between Belarus and the Russian Federation.

Disproof

This is a conspiracy which is consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about Western aggressiveness and anti-Russian activities and the West's attempts to disrupt Belarus-Russia relations.

Belarus and NATO cooperate in a number of areas, such as civil preparedness and defence reforms. Their partnership is based on the pursuit of common interests. NATO has no plans to disrupt the relations between Belarus and Russia.

The Porton Down Laboratory was involved in the poisoning and attempted murder of Sergey Skripal and his daughter

The Porton Down Laboratory was involved in the poisoning and attempted murder of Sergey Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. It is worth remembering that the famous Porton Down laboratory, specialised in the study, development and countering of chemical and bacteriological weapons, is located near Salisbury.

Western media are silent about the involvement of the Porton Down laboratory in the Skripal poisoning and about the Novichok that could be hidden in this laboratory. Instead of serious investigative journalism, Western media have published an increasing number of Russophobic and fantasy-based “spy novels” and “detective stories” about the Skripal case.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory. No evidence is given. Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Skripal poisoning in the UK claiming that the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in Porton Down, a UK Ministry of Defence agency, was somehow responsible for the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury and that the Laboratory might have manufactured Novichok.

This conspiracy theory is one of the many competing and contradictory narratives promulgated by Russian state-controlled media, to confuse their audience and exclude any possibility of Russian involvement (see our article on EU vs Disinformation). British police and intelligence investigations have produced hard forensic evidence which was sufficient to charge two Russian nationals, identified as officers of the Russian Military Intelligence, GRU, for the attack on the Skripals. Parts of the material have been released to the public.