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Former Soviet chemist linked Novichok with Russia for political reasons — Foreign Ministry

May 11, 20:26 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Vil Mirzayanov possessed no real knowledge because he conducted work only for the technical support for the research, the Foreign Ministry said

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© Roman Kanashchuk/TASS

MOSCOW, May 11. /TASS/. Former Soviet chemist Vil Mirzayanov had no real knowledge in developing toxic chemicals and composed the formula of the Novichok nerve agent on the basis of data of a US institute, linking it with Russia for political reasons, according to a memo posted on the website of Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday.

The memo was presented by the Russian delegation at the 59th session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

As the UK alleges, the Novichok nerve agent was used to poison former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4.

"His [Mirzayanov’s] first large monograph in the early 2000s appeared in the Russian language. It contained a historical sketch of his life. It also had absolutely no formulas and lacked the methods of the synthesis of toxic substances," the memo says.

"This confirmed that Mirzayanov possessed no real knowledge because he performed the functions of providing technical support for the ongoing works in the scientific organization," the memo points out.

The chemical substances of the new type, about which Mirzayanov wrote in his next paper in 2008, had been studied in various countries, including the United States, since early 1998. The formula of this substance was presented, in particular, by the US Army’s Edgewood Center for Defense Research in 1998. As the Russian Foreign Ministry’s document suggests, precisely this formula was used by Mirzayanov in his new paper published in the English language this time.

"The book unveiled for the first time over 12 years of [Mirzayanov’s] emigration in the US, the formula of the substance, which fully corresponded to the spectral data presented by the Edgewood Arsenal in 1998," the memo says.

"Naturally, from the political viewpoint (otherwise, he would have not received the dividends) Mirzayanov linked this chemical to Russia."

In this regard, Russia’s Foreign Ministry rhetorically asks: why did Mirzayanov publish the formula of the new toxin allegedly available to Russia just 12 years after his emigration to the US.

"The answer is obvious: because he conducted work only for the technical support for the research and lacked knowledge in the field of real research," the document says.

"These data were provided to him by the Edgewood Arsenal."

Novichok agent

Just several days after the Skripal incident, London rushed to assert that the Novichok agent had allegedly been developed in Russia and on these grounds accused Moscow of its complicity in the poisoning of the Skripals. Russia has flatly rejected all the speculations on this score.

As Russia’s Defense Ministry reported, the word Novichok became widely known after a US report titled: "Chemical Weapons Disarmament in Russia: Problems and Prospects" was published in 1995. The report contained actually no data on the substances of this group and only mentioned the name. The formulas and characteristics appeared in the Handbook of Chemical and Biological Warfare Agents that was published in the United States in 2007 and already the following year Mirzayanov published the book: "State Secrets: an Insider’s Chronicle of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program," in which he unveiled six formulas united under the term of Novichok. He pointed out, however, that this substance had been allegedly developed in the Soviet Union and Russia and its stocks had remained. This publication drew the attention of the OPCW but no measures were taken: the organization came to a decision that this was a scientific paper and, therefore, it was simply necessary to keep an eye on further developments on this issue.

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