Disinfo: The US is working on a biological weapon in Georgia

Summary

The US is working on a biological weapon in Georgia. Any leakage of such biomaterial can lead to outbreaks of serious diseases. Therefore, Americans are transferring laboratories in other countries.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Lugar lab. Consistent to the wide-spread pro-Kremlin conspiracy theory alleging that the United States develops biological weapons around the world, including in Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine and other countries. Read the latest here Richard Lugar Centre for Public Health Research is a facility of the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) in Tbilisi, Georgia. It is a top-tiered institution in NCDC’s laboratory network and serves as a reference laboratory for Georgia’s public health system. Read more about the disinformation campaign surrounding the Lugar Laboratory on Myth Detector. See related disinformation cases, alleging that the US military is testing bacteriological weapons on Ukrainians; the US surrounds Russia with biological laboratories for future attack; Novichok is produced in Georgia and the US.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 211
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 07/09/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Georgia, US
  • Keywords: Lugar Laboratory, Biological weapons
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Navalny was not poisoned with Novichok

If Alexei Navalny’s condition was caused by poisoning from Novichok, the people accompanying him would have to suffer the same symptoms. According to the chief toxicologist who first treated Navalny in Omsk hospital in Siberia, his situation was triggered by an “internal activation mechanism”. Novichok is an organophosphate compound and because of its high toxicity, it is not possible to poison just one person.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on Navalny poisoning. Clinical findings at the Charité hospital indicated that Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors. Subsequent toxicological tests provided unequivocal evidence of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group in the blood samples of Alexei Navalny. 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, already seen in the cases of the MH17 downing, the illegal annexation of Crimea, the murder attempt against Sergei and Yulia Skripal or chemical attacks in Syria.

Alexei Navalny was not poisoned, he suffered from a metabolic disorder

A Russian opposition politician, blogger and critic of the current regime Alexei Navalny suffered a metabolic disorder that made him feel bad on the plane, and the plane had to make an emergency landing in Omsk, where he was given all the care. All necessary tests have been performed in Omsk to show that this is not poisoning but a metabolic disorder.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on Navalny poisoning. Alexei Navalny was under the pressure of his family transferred from hospital in Omsk to Charité hospital in Berlin. The preliminary test results from the Charité – Universitätsmedizin hospital in Berlin indicated that the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned during his stay in Siberia. Clinical findings indicate poisoning with a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors. German government later confirmed that Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was poisoned with a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok. See related disinformation message claiming that only traces of alcohol and caffeine were found in Navalny´s blood.

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:

"It [the EU] has repeatedly made clear that the full implementation of the Minsk agreements is the only way to find a lasting and peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine."

The French Ambassador to Ukraine Etienne de Poncins also said that France considers the Minsk agreements the only instrument to bring peace to Eastern Ukraine:

“The Minsk agreements are criticised, but they are the only available roadmap to peace. Apart from their implementation, there is no other way. I do not see another possibility at the moment, except the Minsk and Normandy formats.”

The German Ambassador to Ukraine Anka Feldhusen stated in a recent interview that "the Minsk deal still provides a structure that could help find a solution to the conflict." France and Germany also supported the decisions taken on the Normandy Format meeting in December 2019, including further steps in the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Read previous disinformation cases: that the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada admitted that Kyiv will not implement the Minsk agreements; that Ukrainian ex-President Leonid Kravchuk is looking for new ways to deceive Donbas; that the US wants to discredit Belarus and the Minsk agreements; that Normandy format will cease to exist because Ukraine is unwilling to implement Minsk agreements; and that Ukraine is trying to compromise and undermine the Minsk agreements.