Disinfo: USSR and Russia never conducted research into the toxic substance Novichok

Summary

We (Russia) have repeatedly stated that, unlike Western countries, neither the Soviet Union nor Russia, have ever performed research or experimental projects under the code “Novichok”.

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. The test proving Navalny's poisoning was conducted in a special German military lab. It was something far more dangerous, requiring the attention of the Army’s chemical weapons specialists.

The claim that research and experimental projects under the code "Novichok" have never been implemented in Russia or USSR is not true. The name Novichok means "newcomer" in Russian, and applies to a group of advanced nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. They were known as fourth-generation chemical weapons and were developed under a Soviet programme codenamed Foliant.

In 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 were not included in the Chemical Weapons Convention until 2019. After the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal with Novichok in Salisbury in 2018, Dr. Vil  Mirzayanov said that “many countries could have had test samples, but production was only refined in the U.S.S.R. and Russia” and that Russia had to be behind the attempt on the Skripals because it “is the country that invented it, has the experience, turned it into a weapon... has fully mastered the cycle”.

German Die Zeit says Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the newest type of chemical warfare agent Novichok - slower in effect than the already known Novichok, but more dangerous. According to some media, the new poison could not be created in any other conditions, except for the laboratories of the special services.

See similar cases claiming that Russia doesn’t have Novichok anymore, that Poisoning of Navalny is a provocation to stop the construction of Nord Stream 2, that Navalny case is a special operation used to put pressure on Putin and just a pretext for the West to enforce Russophobia, and that the Novichok group doest not exist.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 213
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 24/09/2020
  • Language/target audience: Armenian
  • Country: Russia
  • Keywords: novichok, Chemical weapons/attack, USSR

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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The West’s attack against Belarus is also an attack against Russia

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Poland and Lithuania are the main actors in the destabilisation of Belarus. The US is also involved because Washington seeks to destroy the Eurasian Economic Union.  The Czech Republic and Ukraine also play a role in the West’s attack against Belarus.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative portraying popular protests against electoral fraud in Belarus as a Western-led colour revolution that aims to destabilise not only Belarus but also Russia. The article also contains another disinformation narrative that accuses Poland and Lithuania of implementing of anti-Russian policies.

There is no evidence that Poland, the Baltic states, or any other Western governments are involved in organising and funding the protests in Belarus nor that they are conducting any activities aimed at destabilising Belarus.

Situation with Navalny is a massive disinformation campaign of Western countries

Western countries, the leadership of these countries, officials, educational institutions and groups led by Western countries have started a massive disinformation campaign about the situation of the Russian citizen Navalny.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, portraying Western governments and institutions as inherently Russophobic and trying to harm Russia.

A prominent Russian opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, fell ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow on the 20th of August. Initially hospitalised in Omsk, at the request of his family he was transferred to Charité hospital in Berlin.

Russia never developed Novichok

The Soviet Union and Russia, unlike the Western countries, never developed or produced Novichok. There is no evidence of Russian traces (of poisoning) and there can be no such evidence.

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.

In September 2017, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed the full destruction of the 39,967 tonnes of chemical weapons possessed by Russia, but Novichoks were never declared to the OPCW and were not included in the Chemical Weapons Convention until 2019.