MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
Good morning ladies and gentlemen!
I would like to start today’s online briefing, which is an official event on the sidelines of the upcoming Conference of the States Parties to the CWC, in order to discuss the so-called “A. Navalny case” through the prism of what is happening on the OPCW platform.
Indeed, it is required to clarify many issues, to eliminate a lot of misunderstandings.
More than a year has passed since the moment when on August 20, 2020, on board the Tomsk-Moscow flight, A. Navalny felt unwell. Thanks to the prompt actions of the ship’s commander, the plane made an emergency landing in Omsk. A medical team that was waiting at the airport provided A. Navalny with the emergency assistance necessary in such situations, after which he was hospitalized to undergo the entire complex of examination and treatment. At the same time, the relatives of the Russian turned to Russian President Vladimir Putin for permission to be transferred to a Berlin clinic for further treatment and rehabilitation. The President personally intervened to ensure the prompt sanitary evacuation of A. Navalny. This became possible, even despite the blogger’s legal restrictions.
Thus, there should be no doubt about the goodwill of the Russian authorities, who did everything in their power to provide all possible assistance to A. Navalny. Russian doctors handed over to their German colleagues a complete package of treatment protocols, expressed their readiness to provide the necessary additional assistance and advice.
Against the background of all this, the reaction of Western countries was unreasonably tough and confrontational. As soon as A. Navalny was in Berlin, traces of some cholinesterase inhibitor were quickly found in his biomaterials. A couple of days later, German doctors made a significant clarification. They came to the conclusion that A. Navalny had been exposed to a “chemical warfare agent” from the “novice” class. At the same time, I repeat, this was established in a record short time – in just a few days. And the speed of these actions is understandable, since contrary to the provisions of the Convention, in 2000-2020. many Western countries were engaged in research of such substances. And this was clearly demonstrated in 2018-2019, when Russia came up with an initiative and insisted on the inclusion of samples and formulas of such substances in the lists of the Convention.
The above statements by German military doctors became the starting point of the anti-Russian campaign. In order to save time, I will not describe in detail how the events developed with the participation of France and Sweden, as well as with the notorious confirmation by the OPCW Technical Secretariat of the presence of a nerve agent in the analyzes of A. Navalny. I would like to recall how the conclusion of the Technical Secretariat sounded. Without disclosing any verifiable evidence, it was stated that in the blogger’s biomaterials “cholinesterase inhibitor biomarkers were found with structural characteristics similar to the toxic chemicals listed 1.A.14 and 1.A.15, which were added to the Appendix on chemicals on 24th session of the Conference of the States Parties in November 2019 This cholinesterase inhibitor is not listed in the Convention’s Chemicals Annex. “
From that moment on, not a single session of the governing bodies of the OPCW was complete without the United States, Great Britain and others making loud statements demanding that Russia fully cooperate with the Organization in order to properly clarify the circumstances of what happened to A. Navalny on Russian territory.
In pursuit of whipping up tensions over this issue, the United States and its allies have attempted to raise the stakes even further. Thus, the British Embassy, acting on behalf of 45 “concerned countries”, on October 5, 2021, undertook a diplomatic demarche on paragraph 2 of Article IX of the CWC. They called on the Russian Federation to provide them with answers to questions about what the Russian authorities have done to investigate the so-called poisoning of A. Navalny in Russia. They also asked us to explain why we did not accept some of the “standard” procedures proposed by the Technical Secretariat to provide us with the technical assistance we requested in accordance with paragraph 38 (E) of Article VIII of the CWC.
Just two days after receiving this request, on October 7, we initiated our own demarche. We have transmitted through the Technical Secretariat our note with two annexes answering questions from 45 countries and also re-asking questions from the UK, France, Germany and Sweden. We are talking about the same questions that we asked them before, but to which we did not receive answers. In addition, they asked to clarify some additional details. This document can be found in open sources. Among other things, we also asked why the fact of sending a technical assistance mission to Berlin – rather formal than really necessary – was hidden from the Russian Federation; why the formula of the toxic substance, presumably found in the biological samples of A. Navalny, continues to be kept secret from us; what was the role of the newly minted British citizen M. Singers; How did it happen that on a bottle of mineral water bought by M. Pevchikh in the sterile zone of the Tolmachevo airport, German experts found traces of a toxic substance similar to that found in A. Navalny’s urine and blood?
From reading Appendix 1 to our note, it becomes clear what measures the Russian authorities were taking in connection with the incident. During the preliminary investigation, which is necessary in accordance with Russian law to establish signs of corpus delicti, the police interviewed 230 people, including people who contacted A. Navalny, attended his events during a trip to Siberia, as well as passengers who traveled with him on the same flight. … Law enforcement authorities seized more than 100 items that could contain samples necessary for comparative studies. The police watched the CCTV footage for hours. At least 20 forensic examinations and 64 biochemical studies were carried out. Our experts did not find any trace of organophosphate. The reason for the deterioration of health, identified by medical personnel in Omsk, was, presumably, a violation of carbohydrate metabolism against the background of possible chronic diabetes, which led to a decrease in blood sugar levels. In the course of the verification, any data indicating the commission of deliberate criminal acts by third parties against A. Navalny and allowing to qualify this incident under the criminal law has not yet been established.
In order to obtain all available information and clarify the situation in the light of statements from German, French, Swedish toxicologists, as well as the Technical Secretariat, indicating the presence of a chemical from the Novichok family, Russian law enforcement agencies turned to their Western counterparts for help. In this regard, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office sent eight requests for legal assistance to the German authorities. Similar requests were sent to the relevant authorities in France and Sweden. Using diplomatic channels, we also invited Germany to provide us with responses in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article IX of the CWC. None of these have been properly answered.
This explains why we had to repeat the same questions as before, to the representatives of Germany, France, Sweden, formulating a request based on paragraph 2 of Article IX of the CWC, and also to ask questions to the Technical Secretariat. We were extremely disappointed with the responses we received on October 18, 2021, as they were either very evasive or just formal replies.
To be honest, this result did not come as a surprise to us. We are not the only ones with whom the German federal government does not want to talk. The German authorities were also very superficial in dealing with their own parliament – the Bundestag. I would like to recommend that you read the transcript of the questions asked by the German MPs and the answers provided by the federal government. Please study them and judge for yourself how openly the German government was ready to speak with the people’s representatives. I suggest that you pay special attention to questions numbered 16, 38, 57 and 61. And especially the question of bottles with mineral water, allegedly taken from the hotel room of A. Navalny in Tomsk.
It is worth dwelling on the topic of bottles in more detail. There is a video showing how A. Navalny’s supporters collect various items in a hotel room, take bottles and pack them. They operate without any protective gear other than rubber gloves. Likewise, the people who accompanied A. Navalny on board the plane that evacuated him to Berlin were not specially equipped. There is no information that any of them, be they supporters of A. Navalny, M. Pevchikh, or people who came into contact with him on board the aircraft, were contaminated with a toxic substance.
The behavior of one of A. Navalny’s colleagues M. Pevchikh, who recently became a British subject and, presumably, has connections with the British special services, was extremely suspicious. Apparently, it was she who transported the notorious bottle / bottles from the hotel room of A. Navalny to Berlin. However, when she passed the pre-flight inspection at the Tolmachevo airport, they were not found in her luggage. However, just a few minutes later, M. Pevchikh appeared on the CCTV footage at the moment when she was buying a bottle of water from a vending machine in the sterile area of the airport. We cannot help but ask a question: is this the very bottle on which, as they say, the German experts, found traces of a toxic substance similar to that identified in the analyzes of A. Navalny? What’s wrong with this bottle? This appears to be a tricky question for German officials. They do not bother to answer it even to their own deputies, let alone the Russian investigating authorities. At best, they are reluctant to admit that the bottle, allegedly taken from A. Navalny’s room, should not be considered as a key element, since it was not transferred to the OPCW laboratory for study. We certainly cannot agree with this. It’s just the opposite. The water bottle is the main piece of evidence that is likely to shed light on the darker sides of this extremely murky story.
We are deeply concerned about the role played by the OPCW Technical Secretariat in this whole matter. He not only concealed the fact that the FRG had provided technical assistance even before the Germans themselves made an official request, but in fact tried to mislead us about the nature of their interaction with Germany. To be honest, this is very similar to what is called a “mutual guarantee” between Germany and the Technical Secretariat. Indeed, we ask the Technical Secretariat, for example, about the formula for this mysterious substance, which is believed to be poison, and they just say: Germany is the owner of the TC mission report for providing technical assistance. Therefore, you need to, de, decide this issue on a bilateral Russian-German basis.
Then we turn to Germany and the only answer we hear is that this is by no means a bilateral issue. We are sent back to The Hague, to the Technical Secretariat.
During the 97th session of the Executive Council (July of this year), it was the Germans who volunteered to explain for the Technical Secretariat why the TC official draft report of the OPCW on the implementation of the CWC in 2020 indicated August 20 as the date on which the Technical Secretariat sent its expert group to Germany … By the way, let me emphasize: this was quite an official document, and not at all a draft, as some journalists might think.
Based on the indicated date – August 20 – it can be concluded that the OPCW experts arrived in Germany at the same time or even before the incident with A. Navalny on board the Tomsk-Moscow plane.
Needless to say, this fact has fueled even more suspicions about foul play against us. Surprisingly, the Technical Secretariat did not really provide any clarification on this matter. In turn, the representatives of Germany, speaking on behalf of the Customs Union, actively insisted that “August 20” in the text of the report was, they say, just a typo. This is hard to believe, given that such documents are compiled by a whole team of authors, checked and rechecked by many people before they are published. The vehicle, kindly rescued from the embarrassing situation by the Germans, seems to have decided to reciprocate, rejecting our requests to provide photographic and video footage showing the sampling from A. Navalny at the Charite clinic and their separation for transfer to certified laboratories. We have every right to make such a request. As a State Party committed to the integrity of the Chemical Weapons Convention, we must ascertain whether the chain of custody, an immutable principle of the OPCW’s operational activities, has been duly respected. It is significant that we are still refused to receive such documentation.
The time has come to dot the i’s regarding the failed technical assistance visit of the Technical Secretariat to the Russian Federation. We have already repeatedly explained the reasons and circumstances of the incident. We should do it again, because our opponents either refuse to hear us, or deliberately distort our position. American-led Euro-Atlantic allies continue to blame Russia on the pretext that we did not accept the so-called “standard procedures” proposed by the Technical Secretariat for the visit of the OPCW team to Russia.
In fact, the TS itself has not yet been able to clearly explain to us what these “standard procedures” are. At the same time, the sponsors of the CU, in particular the British and the Germans, give this their own interpretation. In their understanding, Russia’s proposal on joint research of A. Navalny’s remaining biomaterials is unacceptable, since the Technical Secretariat must study them independently, “independently,” “in the quiet of its certified laboratories”, i.e. without a peep from the outside. Under normal circumstances, we might well accept such an argument. But in our particular case, this explanation is completely inappropriate.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that today we trust the Technical Secretariat much less than, say, five years ago. And he himself is to blame for this. What is the fraud in the preparation of the FFM report on the incident in the Syrian Duma? We saw what the “highly professional” work of the OPCW specialists turned into there. They attracted some three supposedly independent experts, declared as specialists in ballistics, who made conclusions beneficial to the United States, Great Britain and France, namely: chlorine cylinders were dropped from the air, and not brought in manually, as, apparently was actually and as written in the original report. In doing so, the Technical Secretariat rejected the initial report, effectively rewriting it, to remove any suspicion that the United States, Britain and France carried out an unprovoked attack on the Syrian Arab Republic in April 2018. And this is despite the well-founded criticism of prominent scientists, public figures, incl. and the very first general director of the OPCW, J. Bustani. All of them unanimously argued that the “independent” assessments of the events that took place, if not falsified, then strongly “far-fetched.”
Against the background of all this, we, of course, cannot believe that the “independent” study of A. Navalny’s biomaterials will be carried out by the OPCW experts in the strictest manner and without any violations.
We also invited the Technical Secretariat to conduct a study in Russia using the same equipment and methodology used in the OPCW certified laboratories. They did this because there were hints about the use of Omsk doctors supposedly hopelessly outdated equipment and their lack of proper expertise. In response, they again heard from the ozhoshniki: there was nothing like that in the previous practice. Therefore, they argued, we cannot deviate from the rules, since we work only on precedents. But this is a dubious position, which does not correspond at all with the bulimic excitement with which the Technical Secretariat began to implement the decision of the 4th special session of the KSU to endow the OPCW with prosecutorial functions, which also had no precedents and, moreover, went beyond the framework of the Convention. Even our American colleagues did not expect such agility from the vehicle. They thought in terms of the technical secretariat going to make a long run, but in fact, the TS leadership got a feverish sprint to accomplish what was planned at that time even in the very first approximation.
Today the situation is such that the TS by its actions and the invention of some standard procedures and precedents actually blocked the fulfillment of our request for technical assistance. In the light of what I have explained, at some point it lost its relevance.
In view of the entire combination of factors – the inoperability of our Western partners, refusal to respond to inquiries and official appeals, unwillingness to accept our comments and explanations, as well as the biased position of the Technical Secretariat on this topic – we are forced to state that there is no possibility to establish the main fact for us: where, when and when In what circumstances were traces of a chemical warfare agent found outside the Russian Federation in A. Navalny’s analyzes?
Plus, if a toxic substance has indeed been identified that is not on the checklists, why then does no one come up with a proposal to include it on those checklists, as they did in 2019?
The reason for this deadlock cannot be explained otherwise than by the concealment of critical information on the part of the aforementioned Western countries, as well as by the unwillingness of the Technical Secretariat to cooperate. We saw nothing surprising in this behavior. We understood before that A. Navalny’s health was secondary for our colleagues. They put their geopolitical objectives first.
Now there is no doubt about it at all. Judge for yourself. When, at the 98th session of the Executive Council, we asked for the floor to answer the demarche of 45 concerned states, the colleagues from the United States and Great Britain reared up, lay down on their hind legs, just to keep the Russian ambassador out of the microphone. They used far-fetched pretexts, referred to procedural aspects, the absence in the hall of the Bulgarian ambassador, who had read the statement earlier, and the unwillingness to waste precious time – which they just did not invent to disrupt the speech. Addressing an American and an Englishwoman, I said: “Listen, comrades, are you still a member of the group of concerned states?” In view of the fact that they did not seem to refute this, I tried to get an answer as to why they prevent the Ambassador of Russia from speaking out in connection with their own demarche. The American and the Englishwoman shrugged their shoulders, then with an imperturbable air condescended to advice: throw your documents …. I thought: where? Was it in the trash can? No – to the mailbox. Well, we know firsthand how materials sent by mail are interpreted. For example, our foreign minister corresponded with colleagues from Germany and France on the issue of the “Normandy format”. Then, in the light of constant rumors and distortions of his words, we had to literally, without cuts, publish all the correspondence on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Now you can figure out for yourself – who, in reality, is right, and who is manipulating the facts.
Taking into account all of the above, we are increasingly becoming convinced that we are dealing with the maneuvering of Western countries in The Hague in order to cover up the traces of a grandiose subversive operation planned by their special services with the participation of extremist elements in the Russian non-systemic opposition. It was carried out just on the eve of important events in the internal political life of Russia.
In addition, Western activists led by the United States are trying to use this case to create new reasons for sanctions against Russia. The first economic and personal restrictions were introduced by the United States just a few days after what happened in Siberia. Attempts are being made to achieve the marginalization of Russia in the OPCW, presenting us with groundless accusations of the presence of hidden chemical arsenals in our country, of carrying out developments prohibited by the chemical convention.
To use the expression of my American colleague in The Hague: the world has turned upside down. It couldn’t be better. The world has really turned upside down, since those who still have a chemical arsenal accuse those who have long ago got rid of such weapons of using it.
I want to stress again: Russia completed the destruction of its chemical arsenal ahead of schedule, which was certified by the OPCW. Our country fully complies with the provisions of the CWC. We are the Custodians of the Convention, we strive to protect it from encroachments on the part of those states that are struggling here in The Hague to replace international law with their own rules. To date, the United States remains the only country that has not destroyed its chemical arsenal, despite the available financial and technical resources.
How will the events on the Hague site develop further in connection with this story? Let no one have any illusions: any attacks against our country will invariably meet with a tough response. We will continue to seek answers to our questions in order to establish the truth in this whole murky story.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.