Disinfo: Western governments could have produced Novichok to poison Navalny

Summary

Once again bold-faced lies about Novichok as “evidence”.

Apart from the fact that there are plenty of very reasonable, even compelling doubts about this brazen claim, there follows a clumsy lie in the very next paragraph, but one that is important for the Western narrative of the evil Russians.

[…]

One of the Soviet co-developers of the Novichok group’s poisons has been living in the USA for years. The USA had dismantled the Soviet Novichok production site in Uzbekistan in the 1990s, with the OPCW excluded. The British secret military agent laboratory in Porton Down, a few kilometres from the site of the attack on former Soviet double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, is also capable of producing Novichok. And the Swedish military laboratory in Umeå surprised (everyone) in the Navalny case by announcing that it had reference samples of Novichok, which it did not have in the Skripal case. Anyone who can detect Novichok from alleged Russian production as reliably as Western governments can, should also be able to produce any quantity of this poison, especially since the “recipe” is known.

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 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 Sergey and Yuliya 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.”

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 Centre describing the state of chemical weapon disarmament in Russia, revealing Novichok's existence. Mirzayanov said that only Russia would have the capability to deploy the agent.

Later on, in 1998, the US National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, added Novichok to its spectral data which has 300,000 compounds and is regularly updated.

A recently published year-long investigation by Bellingcat has discovered evidence that Russia continued its Novichok development programme long beyond the officially announced closure date.

There are also other cases following the same trend of disputing Navalny's poisoning and the use of Novichok by Russian state operatives, which can be found here and here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue225
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 14/12/2020
  • Language/target audience: German
  • Country: Russia, Germany
  • Keywords: West, Alexei Navalny

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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Bellingcat investigation of Navalny poisoning is embarrassing anti-Russian agitation in its purest form

At least eight agents of the Russian secret service FSB were apparently involved in the poison attack on Alexei Navalny, according to research by SPIEGEL, Bellingcat and other partners. After naming the five authors that the Hamburg-based news magazine claims to have brought in for this story, averagely educated readers actually expect concrete evidence such as: Ivan the Terrible dripped a dose of Novichok into Alexei Navalny’s nostril while agent Grigory Rasputin held him down.

However, even this sensational story is nothing more than embarrassing anti-Russian agitation in its purest form.

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 as well as to label recent investigations by Bellingcat, Der Spiegel, The Insider as inherently Russophobic and Anti-Russian.

A joint investigation between Bellingcat and The Insider, in cooperation with Der Spiegel and CNN, has discovered voluminous telecom and travel data that implicates Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in the poisoning of the prominent Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny. According to the Bellingcat investigation, the August 2020 poisoning in the Siberian city of Tomsk appears to have happened after years of surveillance, which began in 2017 shortly after Navalny first announced his intention to run for president of Russia. Throughout 2017, and again in 2019 and 2020, FSB operatives from a clandestine unit specialised in working with poisonous substances shadowed Navalny during his trips across Russia, traveling alongside him on more than 30 overlapping flights to the same destinations. It is also possible there were earlier attempts to poison Navalny, including one in the Western Russian city of Kaliningrad only a month before the near-fatal Novichok poisoning in Siberia.

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Disproof

This message is a part of the narrative about the lack of real democracy in Western countries, in this case, it promotes the idea that “authoritarian” Poland may “brutally punish its citizens for their opinions and views”.

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Disproof

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