Disinfo: UK's Porton Down laboratory disproved that Novichok was made in Russia

Summary

The US introduced new sanctions against Russia in relation to the Skripals’ poisoning. London was quick to declare Russia’s responsibility for the accident. The Russian authorities denied their involvement, offered investigative assistance to the UK and demanded consular access to Skripal’s daughter. All official Russian requests were ignored by the UK. The UK’s laboratory in Porton Down disproved that the poisonous substance was produced in Russia.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Skripal poisoning in the UK, attempting to divert attention from Russia's proven responsibility for the attack. 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 a UK government conspiracy behind the Skripal case are an often-used method of applying a pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Salisbury poisoning. 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. British scientists at the Porton Down defence research laboratory were indeed unable to verify the precise source of the Novichok. However, they did not disprove the Russian source of it as claimed. In 2018, Gary Aitkenhead, the chief executive of the government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), stated the following: "We were able to identify it as Novichok, to identify it was a military-grade nerve agent. We have not verified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific information to the government, who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions that they have come to.” See EUvsDisinfo's analysis on how pro-Kremlin media covered one year since the Salisbury attack and a variety of conspiracy theories behind the Skripals' poisoning. See earlier conspiracy theories focused on the Porton Down laboratory claiming that Porton Down might have manufactured Novichok and that Porton Down was responsible for the Amesbury poisoning.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 163
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 26/08/2019
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Country: UK, US, Russia
  • Keywords: Sergei Skripal, Chemical weapons/attack, Conspiracy theory
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No transparency and objectivity in the media of East European NATO members, just propaganda

In East European countries, led by NATO, there will be less public information and even fewer accountable media. What Vyshinsky and Assange are going through is a warning to everyone else. No transparency required, no place for objectivity. Just propaganda. Like the 1930s in Germany, like the 50s in the Soviet Union. Journalists who report objectively are declared as ineligible in order to open up space for propaganda and placement of various half-truths. Great resources are allocated with the aim of creating the half-truth and in order to create confusion where it will become difficult to discern what is true. If that fails, influential individuals, identified as threatening, are risking charges of treason, espionage, theft of state secrets, endangering national security, “psychological torture” etc.

Disproof

No evidence given. This complete disinformation message is an attempt of whataboutism and counter-accusations as international organisations often criticise Russia for violating the right to freedom of speech and rights of journalists. The claim is the part of a bigger narrative of alleged Western attacks on Russian journalists. Similar cases can be found here, here, here and here. The freest countries in terms of press freedom are predominantly European countries, including Norway, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Estonia, Portugal, Germany, etc.

The US ruled Ukraine during Poroshenko's presidency

The US was ruling Ukraine during the presidency of Petro Poroshenko. Although established as an independent body, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine was directly managed by the State Department. This body was used to pressure the Ukrainian authorities to make the necessary decisions. Also, the US aimed to weaken Russia through continuous military operations in Donbas. For the same reason, the US was interested in failing to comply with the Minsk agreements.

Disproof

No evidence provided for these claims. Recurring pro-Kremlin conspiracy about Ukraine - US Relations. This conspiracy theory is also a part of the pro-Kremlin narrative that claims everyone is against Russia. The US is not a party in the Donbas conflict or to the Minsk Agreements. There are only two parties to the Agreements, Ukraine and Russia. France, Germany, and the OSCE oversee the negotiations. See more disinformation cases about the Minsk agreements here and about Donbas here.

German observers assessed elections in Abkhazia as democratic

Observers from Germany and Austria said the Abkhazian Presidential elections were free and fair. No significant violations were observed.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative attempting to portray Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent and democratic regions. See previous disinformation case that the members of the European Parliament will observe elections in Abkhazia. In fact, Russia continues illegal military presence, and increasing military exercises and infrastructure reinforcements in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stated that the so-called ‘presidential elections’ in the Georgian region of Abkhazia on 25 August 2019 were not legal or legitimate. The government in Tbilisi described the "Presidential election" in Abkhazia that took place on Sunday as "another illegal action". Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili called the election "a sham". Individual observers from Germany and Austria decided themselves to arrive in Abkhazia and make public comments on the presidential elections there. Thus, these are their personal opinions, which do not reflect the official position of the German or Austrian governments. The German Embassy in Tbilisi stated that Germany supports the territorial integrity of Georgia. Only a handful of countries have recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which make up around 20 percent of Georgian territory, and Moscow’s backing of the regions has drawn broad international condemnation.