Disinfo: Navalny poisoning: Western media prefer ideology before facts in discussing poisoning

Summary

Western media immediately talked about a poisoning of Alexei Navalny because of their anti-Kremlin bias. They didn’t use the conditional mode or corrected their coverage when the Russian medical team excluded the hypothesis of poisoning. There are two contradictory versions, but only one story against the Kremlin in the media.

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative that aims at impairing credibility of leading media and avoiding the Navalny case. The poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was confirmed in three independent laboratories. 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. There aren't two side to the story. The unknown trouble of metabolism that lead to hypoglycaemia - which is the alternative RT says did not get enough attention from Western media - was a way to talk about poisoning effects without naming the cause, as doctors commented. Read also Navalny was not poisoned, it was his chronic diseases that worsened , Navalny wasn’t poisoned with Novichok, he came out of coma , No proof that Navalny was poisoned .

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 213
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 26/09/2020
  • Outlet language(s) French
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: France, Germany, US, Russia
  • Keywords: novichok, Mainstream media, Alexei Navalny, Media, Russophobia
see more

What is happening in Minsk is primarily a Polish project

What is happening in Minsk is primarily a Polish project. Warsaw is behind the ongoing protests of its neighbours, it provides political and media support to the leaders of the Belarusian opposition. The result, however, is impressive in an exclusively negative sense: only the phenomenon of “President Sveta” (this is how Svyatlana Tsikhanoeskaya’s instagram is called) can serve as an example of how not to do it as political technology.

Disproof

This is a pro-Kremlin narrative about Western attempts to organise a colour revolution in Belarus. It accuses Poland of planning to intervene in the domestic affairs of Belarus, which is a severe violation of the principles of diplomacy and international relations. The protests in Belarus erupted to contest the results of the presidential election in Belarus on the 9th of August, which are considered fraudulent by a large part of Belarusian society. The European Union has also stated that the elections were neither free nor fair. Poland respects the principles of international law and does not intervene in the domestic affairs of any country. Poland has repeatedly denied such accusations. On 11 September, at a meeting of the Visegrad Group, Poland again called on the Belarusian government to stop grossly violating the rights of its own people. “We all agree that free elections should be held in Belarus. We call for the release of all political prisoners,” said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Reports that Poland is allegedly "preparing a coup d'etat" in Belarus appeared after the Presidents of Lithuania and Poland, called for Belarusian authorities to respect democratic standards and stop violence and repression against participants in mass protests. Belarusian politicians who had to flee the country have to meet with foreign representatives abroad because of the current wave of political repressions in Belarus. See other examples of similar messages: Poland presented a plan of active interference in the domestic affairs of Belarus, Polish special services destabilise the situation in Belarus, or Protests in Belarus are driven by Americans from the center near Warsaw, Poland openly interferes in domestic affairs of Belarus.

Euromaidan and pro-European politics led to the collapse of Ukraine

When in 2013, Ukrainian pro-Western politicians who lost two elections in a row drove their fellow citizens to Euromaidan, they promised them European prosperity and the highest standard of living. Instead, Ukraine received a deep economic crisis, war, and the de facto collapse of the country.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign against Ukraine, containing multiple disinformation narratives regarding the Euromaidan and Ukrainian statehood. The Euromaidan did not lead to the loss of Crimea and the war in Donbas; this occurred through Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and its armed aggression in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The occupation of Crimea, which has not been recognised by the democratic world, including the United Nations, and the war in Donbas caused a deep economic crisis in 2014-2015. However, the Ukrainian economy already began to recover in 2015. The war in eastern Ukraine is a well-documented case of Russian armed aggression. The international community, including the European Union, recognises and condemns clear violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014.

Novichok can be produced anywhere

The neurotoxic agent Novichok is a substance which can be produced in any laboratory in the world, as Vil Mirzayanov, who has left Russia for the United States, has published a book about it. In particular, Leonid Rink, the so-called inventor of Novichok, has told RIA Novosti: “Vil Sultanovich (Mirzayanov), although not the creator of Novichok, published a book in the West about the Novichok system and its authors. Therefore, instead of apologizing to (Alexei) Navalny, he should apologize to the Attorney General’s Office, the state security services and the country for revealing secret data in the open literature, and then apologize to the entire world community for giving a complete description, for any kind of aggression, of the Novichok system in his book.” He went on to say that Novichok could be produced in any chemical laboratory in the world, referring to the alleged “poisoning” of Alexei Navalny.

Disproof

This story belongs to a sustained efforts by the pro-Kremlin media to distract and distort the facts about the poisoning of Alexey Navalny, as they have done in the past in the Skripal case. The use of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group in the poisoning of Alexei Navalny was established beyond any doubt by a Bundeswehr laboratory. 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 Novichok was never declared to the OPCW and weren’t included in the Chemical Weapons Convention until 2019. As far as Vil Mitzayanov is concerned, after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal with Novichok in Salisbury in 2018, he 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 because it “is the country that invented it, has the experience, turned it into a weapon... has fully mastered the cycle”. As for Leonid Rink, the expert often quoted as saying that Navalny would have died if it had been Novichok, he indeed has a history of working with the nerve poison. In 2000 Rink was indicted for illegally selling Novichok from his garage, an action that resulted in the first deaths from nerve agent, in 1995. His criminal case was later dismissed on secret grounds and he received a one-year suspended sentence. 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.