Investigations and fact-checking

The case of Navalny’s “poisoning” with Novichok turns into an absurd farce

The case of Navalny’s “poisoning” with Novichok turns into an absurd farce
Modified photo. Original: Mitya Aleshkovsky - CC 2.0 Licence

Almost a month after Alexey Navalny was allegedly poisoned with Novichok, the story goes on and on, and turns into the most absurd farce when we look at this “poisoning” story from a logical and scientific point of view.

Version change and stolen evidence

It seems that, faced with the inconsistencies of the scenario of a poisoning at Novichok when Navalny drank tea at the airport (I refer you to my article from two weeks ago for the details of the scientific demonstration showing that if this had been the case several people would have been affected by the poison), or of the poisoning of his underwear, the German authorities and the “Mr. 2%” team decided to change the version, so that the story would not look too much like a fairy tale.

So now the poison was no longer in the tea or on the cup, or on his underwear, but on a bottle of water that was “miraculously” found in his hotel room. Except that there is a big problem of traceability regarding this “evidence”. It was members of his team who, after he felt ill on the plane, went to his hotel room with a lawyer and took several bottles with them, as shown in the video they posted on Instagram.

Problem: they had no right to take potential evidence with them, as a hotel employee tells them that they can’t take anything away without police approval! Navalny’s team refuses to comply with this legal obligation. In the absence of traceability, this “evidence” is now unacceptable in a criminal investigation. By proceeding as they did, the members of Navalny’s team have literally scuttled this evidence.

Indeed, without clear traceability, no one can know if these bottles were indeed the ones that were then handed over to Germany, who handled them, and what treatment they may have undergone along the way! Who says that the poison was not added to the bottle before it was handed over to the German doctors? Who can prove it now? No one can.

Result what is on this bottle proves nothing, except that someone put poison on it, but we can’t now know who or when! In legal language what they did is called concealment of evidence (in France it can cost 3 to 5 years in prison).

As a bonus, smuggling toxic substances (i.e. objects that are obviously contaminated with poison) out of the country is illegal (and dangerous given the conditions under which the bottles were transported). Navalny’s relatives risk up to 7 years in prison for violating article 226.1 of the Russian penal code!

And when you watch the video, the precautionary measures taken by Navalny’s team are enough to make anyone who knows a little bit about chemistry laugh, and even more so one of the scientists who worked with Novichok, Leonid Rink.

As he pointed out, anyone touching the bottle without proper protection would be dead. On the video we see one of the people walking around the room in shorts and barefoot. And the plastic gloves worn by one of the men would not be enough to protect him completely (if a drop of Novichok fell on his skin it was the end of him). Not to mention the plastic bags in which the bottles were placed. Simple plastic bags absolutely not waterproof!

They try to make us swallow that people without Hazmat suits (full hazmat suits) have handled a bottle covered with Novichok, without getting sick at all.

Moreover if, as they claim, the poison was also detected on Navalny’s hands, the flight crew who took care of him during the landing should also have gotten sick, since they touched him without protection!

We had already had the fairy tale of the white helmets in Syria walking around in an area allegedly contaminated with sarin gas in sandals, now we have barefoot FBK employees without Hazmat suits handling objects allegedly contaminated with Novichok (which, I remind you, is more deadly and dangerous than sarin), and members of the plane’s flight crew touching Navalny whose hands would be covered with nerve agent without dying or getting sick.

This leaves only two options: 1) There was no poison on the bottle when the FBK employees picked it up, nor on Navalny’s hands before arriving in Omsk, 2) the FBK employees and the plane’s crew are Superman’s relatives.

The Strange Maria Pevchikh

And that’s where we come to the continuation of the bizarre story. According to the information published by the German media, the bottles would have been taken to Germany at the same time as Navalny and in the same plane! And the bottles were not brought by just anyone, but by Maria Pevtchikh, who admitted it herself to the BBC.

However, this woman, close to Khodorkovsky’s networks, is the only one in the Navalny group who did not respond to the summons of the Russian investigators. Moreover, it should be emphasized that in wanting to liquidate FBK following its judicial defeat, Navalny has alienated Vladimir Ashurkov, his associate, who has strong ties with Khodorkovsky. The same Khodorkovsky to whom dear Maria Pevchikh is close. How strange…

Even stranger, this woman’s father works in the medical and nanotechnology fields. He is the co-owner of the Igla company that produces micro-needles. And her daughter is involved in the Skinport project, which aims to allow drugs and vaccines to be injected through the skin, without having to go through the bloodstream.

Léonid Rink, one of the inventors of Novichok, called to check the scientific laboratories of Maria Pevtchikh’s father, because it would have been very easy to manufacture a number of toxic substances.

Navalny’s miraculous healing after his “poisoning” at Novichok

And if you think we’ve hit rock bottom, hang on, because it’s far from over. Indeed, it doesn’t only seem that it’s not only the FBK employees who seem to be Superman’s family, Navalny too!

Indeed, not only has Navalny come out of his coma, but on September 14, the Charity Hospital even announced that he is “able to get out of bed for short periods of time“, and Navalny himself published photos of him in his bed, and then on the stairs of the hospital!

Now, there is a historical example of someone who survived a poisoning with one of the components of the Novichok family, a man who was working on these very molecules, Andrey Zhelezniakov, who was accidentally poisoned by the substance A-232 in 1987 because of the failure of the hood of the laboratory where he was doing tests (when I tell you that handling this stuff without a Hazmat suit is suicide)!

He survived because he immediately identified the origin of his hallucinations and shortness of breath, warned his colleagues and they immediately injected him with an antidote. Despite this, his condition deteriorated, he fell into a coma, and by the time he came to, he had lost the ability to walk, developed chronic hepatitis that developed into cirrhosis, epilepsy, weakness of the hands, and an inability to read or concentrate. The man remained disabled, unable to return to work, and died just five years later!

Now look at Alexey Navalny in these pictures posted on Instagram, read again the announcement from the Charity Hospital, saying that he can get out of bed, and read again Zhelezniakov’s list of symptoms. There is nothing that shocks you? If Navalny had really been poisoned with Novichok he should be unable to get out of bed, and in a state of pronounced mental confusion.

Why is that? Because even if you inject an antidote quickly, you should know that Novichok irreversibly deactivates acetylcholinesterase (the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter) where it had time to act. It only takes a few minutes to irreversibly deactivate the enzyme (no therapy can restore its activity after it has been deactivated by Novichok).

And without an enzyme to degrade acetylcholine, the latter will then accumulate in the synapses, causing various symptoms depending on the nervous system affected: contraction of the pupils, hypersecretion of the glands, urinary incontinence, defecation, hyper-sudation, vomiting, weakness, paralysis, and especially muscle contraction (including the diaphragm), leading to convulsions, coma and death by asphyxiation.

A former member of the UN Commission on Chemical and Biological Weapons, Igor Nikulin, confirmed to KP that if Navalny had really been poisoned in Novichok he should be disabled and in poor condition, and not as fresh as a roach as can be seen in this photo.

The doctors who treated him in Omsk also stated that they did not apply to Navalny the treatment that is necessary in case of Novichok poisoning, namely ultra-hemodiafiltration (i.e. a blood cleansing combining haemodialysis and haemofiltration). However, without such a treatment, if he had been poisoned with Novichok, Navalny should be dead!

If we come back now to this story of a water bottle covered with Novichok, it means that Navalny would have absorbed the poison while he was still at his hotel. However, if we go back to the story of the tea drunk at the airport, the chronology given by his secretary indicates that Navalny was at the airport at least a good hour before the plane took off.

If we take into account the time to go to the airport, to check in etc, and the fact that it takes at least 30 min by car to go from his hotel (the Xander in Tomsk) to the airport, it means that Navalny was poisoned at least two good hours before the plane took off, and more than three hours before he was taken to the hospital! Knowing that the Novichok only needs a few minutes to act, do I really need to explain why Navalny should be dead or at least severely disabled (if we admit the hypothesis that he would have taken a dose lower than the lethal dose)?

More importantly, if Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok by the Russian authorities as NATO, Germany and Navalny’s relatives are trying to make us believe, why did Navalny say he wanted to return to Russia (either he believes he is really Superman’s son or he is suicidal)? And above all, why does he refuse to cooperate with Russian investigators and why is it that the evidence that Germany says it has in its possession is being passed on to Russia?

How can Russia investigate a poisoning case without the evidence proving that there was poisoning, given that the samples taken from Navalny in Omsk did not reveal the presence of any poison?

Germany’s troubled gambling that requires an investigation without providing evidence

This is where one comes to the next inconsistency in this case, namely the attitude of Germany, which demands from Russia a quick and complete investigation into the alleged poisoning of Navalny with a new type of Novichok (supposedly more dangerous and deadly according to Spiegel), while refusing to provide the evidence to launch the said investigation.

It was first the Bundeswehr, whose laboratory would have been the first to detect the presence of this new Novichok in the samples of Navalny, which refused to transmit the information on Russia in the name of defence secrecy (sic).

“Additional information on the research results may allow conclusions to be drawn about the Bundeswehr’s specific expertise and knowledge of the substances involved. In such a sensitive area, this is not acceptable for reasons of security and interest in Germany,” explained the Bundeswehr.

So the Bundeswehr is afraid that Russia will discover that Germany knows the Novichok formula, and that its scientists are not complete morons who don’t know how to detect a poison (in other words, Berlin is afraid that Moscow will know that German scientists are competent, which is totally debilitating).

Except that the formulas of several of the compounds grouped under the name Novichok have been known and public for years, that the Czech Republic produced them for study in 2017, that the stocks of A-232 that were in Uzbekistan were destroyed in 2000 under American control and supervision, and that more than 150 patents for the use of these compounds as combat weapons have been filed in the United States precisely!

So the knowledge and skills of Western secret services on the compounds called Novichok, are already known to Russia. There is nothing secret about it! Not only do Western countries know these molecules but they also know how to produce them! Novichok is no longer a poison produced exclusively in Russia since the fall of the USSR and the flight of its scientists to the West (and I remind you once again that all of Russia’s stockpiles of chemical weapons have been destroyed under OPCW’s supervision)!

And if the Bundeswehr is talking about the detection method, I am kindly pointing out to the Germans that the Russians know what a mass spectrometer is and how it is used to detect poisons. The proof is that they ran Navalny’s body fluid samples through a state-of-the-art mass spectrometer made in the USA, and found nothing poisonous in it! So if the Bundeswehr could stop taking the Russians for fools, that would be pretty good.

The confirmation of the presence of this new Novichok in Navalny’s samples by laboratories all belonging to NATO or EU countries (France and Sweden), i.e. countries that obey American injunctions, proves nothing.

The sickly russophobia of both the EU and NATO is no longer to be proven, and therefore one cannot exclude political or even simply physical manipulations of the samples (as with the famous water bottles). If the coronavirus epidemic has taught us something, it is that science is not immune from falsifications in the name of money and politics (see the scandal of the Lancet study which was supposed to prove the dangers of hydroxychloroquine, and which turned out to be a vast falsification).

Besides, as the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out, it is strange that the Swedish laboratory that confirmed having detected this new Novichok in the samples of Navalny is the same one, which in 2018, during the Skripal case, swore its great gods not to have and not to be able to have samples of Novichok precisely.

Now without a typical sample to compare the analysis obtained with the mass spectrometer, I would like this laboratory to explain to me how they can confirm that what they found in Navalny’s bodily fluids is Novichok and not something else. There is a huge inconsistency here that casts doubt on the veracity of this lab’s public statement about what they found in Navalny’s samples.

As for the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) which has just entered the dance by also taking samples from Navalny for analysis, the reputation of the organization is so tarnished by the scandal of the doctored report on the chemical attack that would have taken place in Duma in Syria in April 2018, that the reliability of the analyses carried out cannot be guaranteed. Since the organization has falsified a report to satisfy a political agenda, it is clearly neither neutral nor reliable, and neither are its conclusions.

With this in mind, Germany’s response to Russia’s repeated requests for detailed analytical data on the Navalny case, telling Moscow to deal with the OPCW, which itself tells it to deal with Berlin, has the potential to seriously annoy the Russian authorities. The Russian authorities have stated that the Western countries have crossed all limits and have turned the OPCW into a dishonest instrument for their destructive purposes.

Moreover, the ping-pong game between Germany and the OPCW concerning the analysis data of the Navalny samples contravenes Berlin’s obligations to provide the Russian justice system with the requested elements, as stipulated in the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 1959.

As pointed out by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russia needs the requested samples to complete the preliminary investigation by Russian law enforcement agencies, which is a necessary condition for criminal prosecution and proper investigation. No evidence of poisoning at Alexey Navalny’s Novichok means no investigation!

Faced with Germany’s silence, and since French and Swedish laboratories received samples from Navalny, Russia turned to both countries to request their assistance in the name of the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters to obtain the data that Berlin refuses to provide.

The case of Navalny’s alleged poisoning at Novichok is turning into the most absurd farce. A sordid farce that some want to use to stop the Nord Stream 2 project (although I don’t remember seeing any call for a Saudi oil boycott after the successful assassination of Jamal Khashoggi), and even to demand that Russia reverse recent changes to its constitution (see the EU’s delusional resolution on the Navalny affair). Unless the amendments to the Russian constitution are part of the Novichok formula I don’t see what they come to do in this story!

There we are in a delirium of interference from the EU, which allows itself to dictate to Russia what it has the right to have in its constitution or not. I remind the MEPs who voted for this delirious resolution, that Russia is not part of the EU (firstly), that it is a sovereign country unlike the members of the EU (secondly), and that it is not a European or American colony (thirdly), and that consequently the EU has nothing to say to Russia about what it does with its constitution, especially when the changes made have been validated by a referendum!

Russia’s patience seems to have run out regarding the literally colonialist attitude of Western countries towards it. As for their idea to put Navalny’s name on the new set of sanctions they want to impose on Russia because of this shaky Novichok poisoning story, there is nothing better to finish politically torpedoing “Mr. 2%” in his native country. If they go through with this debility, there is no point in Navalny returning to Russia, his uselessness there will be even worse than before this grotesque farce.

But above all the Western countries would do well to take seriously the statements of the Russian authorities, and especially the fact that if Germany continues to obstruct and refuses to provide the data requested by Russia, Moscow will consider this as a hostile act, with all the consequences that go with it.

Well done guys, you have finally found the limit to the patience of the Russian authorities. The problem is that once you’ve pissed off a bear, it’s too late to say you shouldn’t have.

Christelle Néant

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