Disinfo: Sergei Skripal was victim of food poisoning, no novichok or Russian secret service was involved

Summary

The only established poisoning by Russian secret services was Stepan Bandera in 1959. All other cases are not true.

In 2018, Sergei Skripal and his daughter were most likely victim of food poisoning. And even if a real poison was involved, there is no evidence that it comes from Russia or was synthesised in a Russian laboratory. We know that other western laboratories already synthesised this poison.

 

Disproof

The story advances a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative casting the Skripal poisoning, and by consequence the Navalny poisoning, as entirely unconnected to Russia.

Moscow's involvement in the poisoning has been proven via a thorough investigation. The British Police have presented a solid chain of evidence on the Skripal case, with pictures, connecting the suspects to the locations in the case. Parts of the material have been released to the public. The evidence was sufficient to charge two Russian nationals, Anatoliy Chepiga and Aleksandr Mishkin with the attack on the Skripals, both Russian military intelligence operatives from the GRU, who travelled to the UK using fake names and documents. The picture of the bottle that contained the poison was published by Scotland Yard after a Salisbury couple Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were intoxicated by the same substance. Ms. Sturgess died from the poison.

Following this attack, the United Kingdom notified the OPCW, invited them to confirm the identity of the substance involved, and briefed members of the Security Council. The OPCW’s independent expert laboratories confirmed the UK’s identification of the Russian produced Novichok nerve agent, specifically the purity of the toxin while emphasising that the OPCW team “worked independently and was not involved in the national investigation by the UK authorities. No State Party was involved in the technical work carried out by the Technical Secretariat, to ensure the integrity of the examinations and investigations.

According to the UK intelligence assessment, based on open-source analysis and intelligence information, in the past decade, Russia has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichok agents, long after it signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Novichok was developed in Russia in the 1970s and 1980s. It is so unusual, that very few scientists outside of Russia have any real experience in dealing with it and no country outside of Russia is known to have developed the substance. Reports about the substance can be read here and here.

See more disinformation cases on the Salisbury poisoning.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 210
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 03/09/2020
  • Language/target audience: French
  • Country: UK, Russia
  • Keywords: Skripal, novichok, GRU, Sergei Skripal

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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Peace in Ukraine is not in the interests of Western governments

The Ukrainian government does nothing to end the war in Donbas.

[…] the Western governments could have an impact on Kyiv, so the latter starts to implement the Minsk agreements. However, the preservation of tension near the borders of Russia is beneficial to the players of this geopolitical game. Thus, the West does not need peace in Ukraine.

Disproof

An unfounded conspiracy theory and a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine, claiming that Ukraine refuses to implement the Minsk agreements. Also consistent with a narrative that the war in Ukraine is a civil war waged by Ukraine and its Western partners against the "Republics of Donbas".

Contrary to the disinformation claim, the European governments and the US have been insisting many times that the full implementation of the Minsk agreements is the only way to end the war in Donbas. In July 2020, the European Council stated the following:

Navalny was not poisoned by novichok and Russian secret services are not involved

Novichok is a BATTLE POISONING GAS it cannot harm one person inside a plane or his cup of tea or as in Skripal’s case, rub the door handle with it. It is a gas and weapon of mass destruction it cannot harm specifically one person.

The poisoning doesn’t make any sense because Russia special services have a tradition of killing their enemies and terrorist like they did with Trotsky, Konovalets, Bandera. If Skripal had been a missed target for them, they wouldn’t have use the same technique for Navalny. There are many simple and efficient techniques to kill someone and bury his body in the forest. But Navalny was deep in debts (t 30 million roubles according to court decisions) and interested nobody.

Disproof

The story advances a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative casting the Skripal and Navalny poisoning as wholly unconnected to Russia.

Some forms of the chemical weapon range known as Novichok are stable as a powder or a gel and can be easily carried in perfume bottles for instance and used on a surface. It has been established widely publicized in the Salisbury poisoning.

First-graders from Ukrainian schools will not be able to count beyond one hundred

Ukrainian schools aren’t able to give proper education apart from “patriotic education”.

In 10 years, there will be a generation unable to read or write competently. Ukrainian first-graders can hardly count beyond a hundred. Already now children are leaving Ukrainian schools functionally illiterate.

Disproof

A common pro-Kremlin narrative about the Ukrainian education system.

The state standard of primary education in Ukraine is common to all general secondary education institutions in the country. Among the competencies that a first-grader should have is mathematical competence, "which involves identifying simple mathematical relationships in the world, modeling processes and situations using mathematical relationships and measurements, understanding the role of mathematical knowledge and skills in personal and social life."