Disinfo: The US is on the verge of a civil war, and militias are only a reaction against government abuse

Summary

The US is on the verge of a civil war, as shown by the case of 13 members of a militia called Wolverine Watchmen, who are accused of conspiring to kidnap the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer. Top democrats, including Whitmer and Joe Biden, tried to blame Trump for it, but the events in Michigan were not an expression of crazed white supremacy, but a matter of abuse of power by the government and the feeling of frustration among a population segment who thinks that there is little, if anything, that they can do about it.

Disproof

Recurrent disinformation narrative about the United States consistent with a narrative on the imminent collapse of the Western society.

Contrary to the claim, the Wolverine Watchmen is an extremist group who aspired to cause a civil war in the US through violent action that involved kidnapping or even killing top US officials, not a reaction against alleged governmental abuses.

See other examples of disinformation on US politics in our database, such as claims that Donald Trump faced several coup attempts, that Joe Biden refused to condemn street violence out of fear of losing electoral weight, that the CIA is organising a colour revolution in its own country, or that the result of the US election doesn’t matter because the real ruler is the Deep State.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 215
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 11/10/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Spanish, Castilian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: US
  • Keywords: Civil war, Donald Trump, Joe Biden
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Euro-Atlantic powers want to use Navalny's case to foil Nord Stream 2

Behind the [Alexy] Navalny case are Euro-Atlantic interests aimed at promoting anti-Russian policy. It is clear that what the Euro-Atlantic powers are interested in is not clarifying the situation around Navalny, but rather foiling the “Nord Stream 2” gas pipeline between Russia and Europe.

Disproof

This is a pro-Kremlin conspiracy theory aimed at linking the case of Alexei Navalny with the Nord Stream 2 project. See a very similar case here (although in this case, the United States is accused alone). A prominent Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny fell ill during a flight and the plane had to make an emergency landing in Omsk. Doctors there said he was in a coma and they were trying to save his life. Since then he has been transferred to Berlin and is receiving treatment at Berlin's Charité Hospital. The German Federal government said that toxicological tests provided “unequivocal evidence of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group” in the blood samples of Alexei Navalny. The European Union condemned the poisoning of Alexei Navalny in the strongest possible terms. Read similar disinformation messages alleging that Americans are recouping their long-term investment in Navalny, the West has an interest in the death of Navalny to launch a new wave of sanctions against Russia, or that US used Navalny case to block Russian vaccine against COVID-19, or that political scandal in Austria was a CIA operation to stop the construction of Nord Stream 2.

Novichok is a purely "Western product"

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced that a substance similar to the neurotoxic agent Novichok was detected in the body of Alexey Navalny. However, Novichok is a “purely Western product” which does not exist in Russia. The Novichok chemical warfare agent exists in about 140 variants in Western countries, but not in Russia. The structure and mass spectrum of “Novichok”, which is allegedly responsible for the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was first revealed in the American spectroscopy database (American Institute of Standards) in 1988.

Disproof

This is part of a pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign on the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny after the use of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group was established beyond any doubt by a specialist Bundeswehr laboratory. This is also a narrative employed during the Sergey Skripal case in 2018. In September 2017, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed the full destruction of the 39,967 metric tons of chemical weapons possessed by Russia, but Novichoks were never declared to the OPCW and weren’t included in the Chemical Weapons Convention until 2019. Novichok is known to be more powerful than VX and was developed in Russia in 1970s and in 1980s. The use of multiple and simultaneous versions about an event involving questionable actions by the Russian government or its allies, in order to confound citizens about the actual truth, is a recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation strategy. Other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives on Alexei Navalny contain claims that only caffeine and alcohol were found in his blood, that the US wanted to use it to block Nord Stream 2 and Russia’s vaccine against coronavirus, that the West hopes that he dies to have an excuse for new sanctions et al.

We first knew of Novichok's existence from American databases

The Novichok poison, which [Russia] was accused of using against opponent Alexei Navalny, is a Western product and Russia does not have it. Novichok’s structure and mass spectrometry was first unveiled in the database of the American National Bureau of Standards in 1998.

Disproof

The story advances the recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, to distract and distort the facts, as they have done in the past in the Skripal case. “Novichok” is a name that was given to a group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s in a covert programme codenamed Foliant that was revealed by defectors. Most of what we understand of Novichok agents comes from testimony and memoirs of Dr Vil S. Mirzayanov, the Chief of the Department of Counteraction against Foreign Technical Intelligence at the Russian State Union Scientific Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology (GosNIIOKhT) who authored a 1994 report with the Stimson Center describing the state of chemical weapon disarmament in Russia, revealing Novichok's existence. Mirzayanov said that only the Kremlin would have the capability to deploy the agent. Leonid Rink, identified as one of the scientists who developed Novichok, was cited frequently in Russian media during the 2018 Salisbury poisonings, admitted to working on the development of the chemical agent in the Soviet era. Later on, in 1998, the US National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, added Novichiok to its spectral data which has 300,000 compounds and is regularly updated. See other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives on Alexei Navalny’s poisoning in our database, such as claims that only caffeine and alcohol were found in his blood, that the US wanted to use it to block Nord Stream 2 and Russia’s vaccine against coronavirus, that the West hopes that he dies to have an excuse for new sanctions, or that Western accusations about Navalny’s case are as false as they were about Sergey Skripal and Aleksandr Litvinenko.