Disinfo: Russia’s accusation of Skripal poisoning is a deadcatting strategy


What happened in Salisbury on March 4, 2018? A year later, the British have not yet provided a clear explanation. But the answer to the question “why is all this necessary?” is now obvious.

This is part of the “dead cat” strategy, explained by former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. When someone is being defeated in an argument, the best thing to do is to “throw a dead cat on the table” said Johnson. This produces a clear effect: it attracts attention and makes everyone scream  – distracting from the real problems.


Boris Johnson indeed spoke about a "dead cat", but it was 5 years before the Skripals’ poisoning, on 3 March 2013, while talking about the euro.

Straight after the poisoning of the Skripals, Boris Johnson pointed the finger at Russian President Vladimir Putin as "overwhelmingly likely" to be responsible: "Our quarrel is with Putin's Kremlin and with his decision, and we think it is overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the U.K." Johnson said.

British police have presented a solid chain of evidence about the Skripal's poisoning by the highly toxic nerve agent Novichok, including pictures, that connect the two suspects to particular locations involved in the case. Parts of the material have been released to the public.

Independent investigative media outlets Belligcat and The Insider recently identified a third GRU agent involved in the Salisbury operation, in addition to the other two identified before.

More disinformation cases on the Skripal poisoning can be seen here.


  • Reported in: Issue 139
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 04/03/2019
  • Language/target audience: French
  • Country: UK, Russia
  • Keywords: novichok, Sergei Skripal


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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Theresa May was probably behind poisoning of Skripals, to compensate for Brexit negotiations failure

The poisoning was meant to turn public attention away from Theresa May’s Brexit-associated problems and to demonize Russia. Theresa May herself probably ordered the Skripals’ poisoning. No evidence of Russia’s involvement in the Skripals’ poisoning was produced. All accusations against Russia turned out to be groundless. There was no certainty concerning the form of the poisonous substance. If Novichok had been brought to Salisbury, its entire population would have died. Documents published by hacker group Anonymous prove that the poisoning was a distraction. 


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative of the UK behind poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

By March 2018, EUvsDisinfo had already collected 20 different narratives about the Skripal case. It had catalogued over 100 disinformation messages around the Salisbury attack. The disinformation messages implying UK government conspiracy behind the Skripal case are often-used method of applying a pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Salisbury poisoning.

West continues investing in the destabilisation of Belarus through Lithuania and Western media

A recent report by Lithuania’s State Security Department and articles relating to Belarus in the Western media are part of Western information war against Belarus.

Western countries and the US want to foster negative public opinion about Belarusian authorities and their policies. Closer cooperation between Belarus and Russia should take place to counteract the West’s information war and hybrid threats.


Conspiracy theory, which is part of the recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about Western information war against Russia and Belarus.

The National Threat Assessment 2019 is a regular annual report produced by the State Security Department and Lithuania's Ministry of National Defence.

Russia shut down its chemical weapons programmes decades ago and has destroyed its stockpiles of chemical weapons

Russia ceased producing chemical weapons in 1992 and has destroyed its stockpile of chemical weapons.



Recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative that Russia shut down all its chemical weapons programmes decades ago and that it had nothing to do with the poisoning and attempted murder of former Russian spy Skripal in Salisbury. See previous cases here.

The first claim about chemical weapons has been refuted by the UK government’s investigation into the Salisbury attack. The UK government's assessment of the attack is fully supported by leading Western states. This investigation found that Sergey and Yuliya Skripal were poisoned using a specific Novichok nerve agent. This was confirmed by an independent OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] analysis.