Disinfo: Stories connecting the Skripal poisoning to Russia are pure speculation

Summary

We still don’t know what happened in Salisbury. Sergey Skripal, a former Russian intelligence operative, was allegedly poisoned with an alleged chemical warfare agent which had allegedly been manufactured in Russia. All of this is still based on speculation, seeing as London has yet to provide any evidence in support of this theory.

However, the case has greatly helped those Western actors who want to score political points, divert public attention from domestic problems, or simply make some money. “When in doubt, blame Russia” - this is hardly the first time we have seen this rule in operation.

Disproof

The story advances a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative casting the Skripal poisoning as wholly 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. 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 laboratories confirmed the UK’s identification of the Russian produced Novichok nerve agent, and specifically the purity of the toxin. The report also emphasised 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"

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

Novichok was developed in Russia in the 1970s and 1980s. The compound is so uncommon 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. See here and here for more details.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 234
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 08/03/2021
  • Article language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: UK, Russia
  • Keywords: Russophobia, novichok, Chemical weapons/attack, Anti-Russian, Skripal, Sergei Skripal
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Disproof

Disinformation that advances pro-Kremlin propaganda against the COVID-19 vaccines produced in the USA and Europe. The claim appeared in the title wrongly creating an impression that AstraZeneca Vaccine is designed to cause deaths.

It is true that in Austria a 49-year old woman died as a result of multiple thromboses and a 35-year-old was also hospitalised for a pulmonary embolism after receiving a vaccine from the same batch. However, the Federal Office for Safety in Health Care of Austria said that there is no evidence of a causal relationship with vaccination.

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Disproof

Pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative denigrating Ukraine and its president Volodymyr Zelensky.

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Disinfo: Teenagers in Estonia are infected by Russophobic alarmism

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The myth about “threat from East” is the idee fix of the Estonian government. The biggest part of society is infected by Russophobic alarmism.

Disproof

A recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that Estonia is Russophobic.

The starting point of the disinformation narrative was data from the Public Opinion and National Defence Survey, which was published by the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Estonia. The Survey showed that readiness among young people of upper secondary school age to participate in defence activities has increased to 63 per cent, while a year ago it was only 54 per cent.