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by John Helmer, Moscow 

The Navalny poison plot spread to Paris on Monday, compelling President Emmanuel Macron to telephone President Vladimir Putin to explain what a French chemical warfare laboratory has just done with evidence sent from Berlin by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Macron told Putin he agreed “German specialists must send to Russia the biomaterials and an official statement on the test results of the samples collected from Alexei Navalny, and must start working together with Russian doctors.” Macron also agreed “to contribute towards determining the parameters of possible interaction with European partners.” This wording of the Kremlin communiqué meant that Macron and Putin decided to discuss with German Chancellor Angela Merkel how the Chancellor can extricate herself from the Novichok fabrications they now believe were initiated by Navalny’s staff and a British agent.

The poison plot has also spread to the headquarters in The Hague of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). After days of concealing that Foreign Minister Maas had requested a technical team from OPCW to take samples in Berlin, Kai Chen, head of the OPCW’s external relations department, refused late on Monday to confirm what role the OPCW is playing in the poison plot; what evidence the OPCW has collected in Berlin; and what provisions of the OPCW charter have been invoked to legalise the OPCW’s involvement in the Navalny affair.

In London on Monday evening, a leading British organophosphate chemist and toxicologist said it was too late for the OPCW to have identified a nerve agent in Navalny’s blood or urine. “A functioning liver should hydrolyse the parent compound and then [OPCW testing would] identify the metabolites in the urine secretion. There are no cases of finding the parent compound, so maybe it is not there to be found.”

On Monday morning in Berlin, reading from a script drafted at the German Foreign Ministry, Steffen Seibert , the government spokesman, announced:

 “The Federal Government has therefore included the OPCW in the analysis of evidence in the Navalny case.  This involvement of the OPCW is based on Art. VIII 38 (e) of the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention], which gives all contracting states the opportunity to receive technical support from the OPCW. On this basis, the OPCW took samples from Mr. Navalny and took the necessary steps to have them examined by the OPCW reference laboratories.”

In English: https://twitter.com/

“The federal government has also asked other European partners with France and Sweden for an independent review of the German evidence based on new samples from Mr. Navalny. The results of this review by special laboratories in France and Sweden are now available and confirm the German evidence. Regardless of the ongoing investigations by the OPCW, three laboratories have now independently provided evidence of a nerve agent from the Novichok group as the cause of Mr. Navalny’s poisoning. We renew the call for Russia to explain what has happened. We are in close contact with our European partners on further steps.”

Seibert revealed a shift of German policy at the OPCW. Berlin has not made an official complaint against Russia for the prohibited use of a chemical warfare agent, according to Article IX of the OPCW charter.  That article requires Germany to provide Russia with the evidence it claims to substantiate its case that a crime was committed against Navalny.  Maas’s letter of last week to the OPCW director-general – a retired Spanish diplomat named Fernando Arias   —  did not mention Article IX;  his letter provided no information from the German Army laboratory to the OPCW’s council of member states, including Russia. For more details, read this.

Instead, in citing Article VIII Section 38 (e), Seibert and Maas were claiming they had done no more than request “technical assistance and technical evaluation to States Parties in the implementation of the provisions of this Convention, including evaluation of scheduled and unscheduled chemicals.”

Deepti Choubey, an American who runs the OPCW’s press office, was emailed with the request for OPCW confirmation of what the organisation had done in Berlin. “I have received official confirmation this morning from the German Government that an OPCW team has visited Berlin; has been in contact with Mr. Navalny; and has obtained from him samples of blood and urine. This email is a direct request for you to confirm this for and on behalf of the OPCW…  the OPCW is requested hereby to confirm the source of its authority in the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention to act in Berlin in this matter and in this way.” Choubey is refusing to answer.

When telephoned at her office, an OPCW telephonist named Sabina Schwartz put through the call but claimed she did not know Choubey has blocked all incoming calls with a recorded message. This says that because of Covid-19, callers must leave recorded messages or file internet enquiries through the OPCW website.  Choubey will not reply to them. For more details on Choubey’s background as a US warfighter against Russia, starting during the Skripal affair, read this.

Left, Deepti Choubey, head of the OPCW’s press branch; right, Kai Chen, who supervises the OPCW’s  press branch and also the political affairs and protocol branch.

Choubey’s boss, Kai Chen, a Chinese national who is chief of the OPCW’s external relations division, picks up his telephone at OPCW headquarters. He is responsible, according to an OPCW manual, for “liais[on] with governments, international organisations, the media, and non-governmental organisations”. On Monday he said he knew nothing about OPCW’s involvement in Germany at the moment, and doesn’t answer questions directed to his press branch. He claimed that a duty officer works around the clock in Choubey’s office where “we process all inquiries”. Why then was Chen’s division refusing to answer questions about the OPCW’s involvement in the Navalny case? He refused to say.

The evidence which, according to Seibert, the OPCW has been asked to investigate includes “test samples from Mr Navalny”, collected last week in Berlin; plus evidence already analysed at the military laboratory in Munich. The latter, Seibert repeated on Monday, “revealed unequivocal proof of the presence of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group”.

British and other international toxicological experts say that without technical reporting by the laboratory of the spectrometric composition of the chemical, and without identifying the compound by the international naming protocol there is no evidence at all; read more. “There is not much organophosphate poisoning toxicological data published,” comments a British organophosphate source. “Most of the published evidence focuses on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. A functioning liver should hydrolyse the parent compound and then [OPCW testing would] identify the metabolites in the urine secretion. There are no cases of finding the parent compound, so maybe it is not there to be found.”

The British expert referred to a recently published research paper by US Army chemists at the Aberdeen chemical warfare centre in Maryland. This paper revealed that the US Army had recently manufactured its own Novichok types:  “A230, A232 and A234 were synthesized by in-house methods and characterized by multinuclear nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS). All were greater than 95% pure. A232 has a CAS number of 2308498-31-7. A230 and A234 have no known CAS numbers.”

The purpose of the research, funded by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency, was to find out how quickly, or how slowly, different chemical nerve agents dissolved in water (hydrolysed) over a 10-minute experiment. The objective was “relevant to the effort to determine the persistence of Novichok agents in the environment or in the body although other factors such as binding to inorganic materials or proteins may play a role.”

Between August 20, when Navalny was allegedly poisoned in flight between Tomsk and Moscow, and September 10, when OPCW took samples of his blood and urine in Berlin, the natural hydrolysis of his body had eliminated the identifying traces of the alleged poison chemical. The evidence of the Omsk Hospital testing, conducted on August 20-21,   revealed no trace of a Novichok-type chemical. Testing at the Charité hospital in Berlin did not begin for at least 48 hours after Navalny’s medical symptoms appeared. The hospital’s press release – dated August 24 but not signed by a treating doctor or toxicologist – claimed “clinical findings indicate poisoning with a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors. The specific substance involved remains unknown”.   For analysis, read this.

By the time the OPCW technicians arrived at Navalny’s bedside to take their samples, three weeks had elapsed, and no trace of the “substance” is likely to have been found. For that reason, the German Government spokesman announced yesterday, “regardless of the ongoing investigations by the OPCW”, the evidence remained “of a nerve agent from the Novichok group as the cause of Mr. Navalny’s poisoning.” Seibert claimed this has been corroborated by the German military laboratory in Munich, and also by unnamed “special laboratories” in France and Sweden.

This evidence – the only evidence available to the Munich laboratory, and then the French and Swedish labs which had not been hydrolysed — was the bottle which had been brought to Berlin with Navalny, carried either by his wife Yulia Navalnaya or by the witness who was with him in Tomsk and is the only one of the six staff from Tomsk to have accompanied him on the aircraft to Berlin. That is Maria Pevchikh.

This evidence lacks the required chain of custody for prosecution of a crime in a court of law. Also, the bottle and Pevchikh appear to have disappeared.  Pevchikh left the alleged crime scene after spending the night with Navalny in Tomsk. As he flew towards Moscow, Pevchikh drove to Novosibirsk. She then flew to Omsk where Navalny’s flight had been diverted and he was hospitalised. On August 22 Pevchikh was aboard the charter flight with  Navalny from Omsk to Berlin. Photographic evidence of her arrival with Navalnaya at the Charité hospital was published here.

Pevchikh appears to have left Germany and is now in the UK. Every other witness, including five of Navalny’s staff who had been with him in Tomsk, have been interviewed by police in Russia, and they are talking freely to the Russian and western press.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said late Monday on state television: “we questioned those five people who accompanied him to the plane, and took part in the events of the days before Navalny boarded the plane. We posed questions to those who waited for the departure from Tomsk to Moscow and went to a bar with him. We found out what they ordered and what he drank. As you know, the sixth lady that accompanied him just fled. They say it was she who gave the bottle to the German laboratory. All this was done. Even if all this were called a ‘criminal case’, we cannot do anything else.”  

The “sixth lady” is Pevchikh. Her record in the UK reveals her working association with anti-Russian regime-change organisations of Yevgeny Chichvarkin, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation; Navalny’s staff claim Pevchikh has been employed as head of investigations for their group.  

Left: Maria Pevchikh; centre, Pevchikh with a London associate, reportedly Katerina Tereshkina;  right, Tereshkina in London.

For uncorroborated details of Pevchikh’s London bookselling business, her father, and her home, read this.   

Like Pevchikh, Tereshkina has studied at an English university and then found paying employment and visa status in London with Russians plotting the downfall of President Putin. Before she left Moscow for the UK, Tereshkina worked for eighteen months as an English  teacher at the Federal Security Service (FSB) Academy.

A record at the UK Companies House reveals that one of the companies Tereshkina has worked for, Anti-Corruption and Libertarian Fundraising Limited,  was the creation of Chichvarkin last year.  Chichvarkin is one of the financiers for Navalny’s similarly named Anti-Corruption Foundation.

Between its incorporation on November 7, 2019 and its filing for deregistration on February 17, 2020, Chichvarkin nominated Tereshkina, and then another Russian woman, Anna Beletskaya, to run the company’s projects. Tereshkina — the Companies House filing has misspelled her names – is also paid to be Chichvarkin’s personal assistant and a “business development manager” of one of his commercial entities,  Hedonism Drinks Ltd.  The Companies House filing reveals that this entity has next to no assets and only one employee.  

Tershkina has revealed that the real projects she is working on are political protests and regime- change operations.  Russian press reports and sources in London suspect that Pevchikh and Tereshkina are agents of influence for  the British secret services.


Source:  https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/

The communiqué issued yesterday by the Kremlin,  after Macron had telephoned Putin,  implies that they have now agreed not “to make unsubstantiated and ungrounded accusations against Russia”, and to discuss with Merkel a way around the anti-Russian lobbying in Berlin led by Foreign Minister Maas. For the time being, however, Seibert is speaking for Maas, not for Merkel.

Source: http://en.kremlin.ru/
In the version of the telephone call issued by Macron's staff,    the French president said "France shared, on the basis of its own analyses, the conclusions of several of its European partners on the facts of poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent in contravention of international standards on the use of chemical weapons. He expressed his full solidarity with Germany on the steps to be taken and the consequences to draw from the situation. Clarification is needed from Russia in the framework of a credible and transparent investigation."

After the telephone call, Lavrov reacted angrily on television: “they demand we own up to our guilt. We are asked: Don’t you believe the Bundeswehr’s German specialists? How is it possible? Their conclusions have been confirmed by the French and Swedes. Don’t you believe them, either?”

“This is a mysterious story, considering we sent a request from our Prosecutor General’s Office for legal help on August 27 and haven’t yet received a reply. This request was God knows where for more than a week. We were told it is at the German Foreign Ministry. The German Foreign Ministry did not send it to the Ministry of Justice, to which it was addressed by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office. Then we were told that it was transferred to the Prosecutor’s Office of Berlin, but that we would not receive any information without the consent of the family. They urge us to start a criminal investigation.”

“We have our own laws, and according to them, we cannot open a criminal case just by taking someone’s word for it. Certain procedures must be observed. In this context, an ongoing pre-investigation review began immediately after the incident, during which all the circumstances of the case have been and are being studied. Some of our Western colleagues wrote that Navalny ‘survived by a miracle’. Allegedly, the notorious Novichok agent was used, but the Russian citizen escaped by a ‘lucky coincidence’. So, what is this ‘lucky coincidence’ all about? First, the pilot immediately landed the aircraft; second, an ambulance was waiting by the runway; and third, doctors immediately started doing their professional duty. The absolutely impeccable conduct of the pilots, doctors and ambulance crew is being presented as a ‘lucky coincidence’. In other words, they don’t even believe that we acted as we were supposed to. This is deeply ingrained in the minds of those who invent such things.”  

For an hour-long discussion of the breaking news in the Navalny story, plus the British plotting to deceive the Germans, listen to the Gorilla Radio broadcast as Chris Cook asks the questions. The interview broadcast will be posted shortly:

Gorilla Radio is broadcast every Thursday on CFUV 101.9 FM from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  The radio station can be heard here.   The Gorilla Radio transcripts are also published by the Pacific Free Press and on the blog.   For Chris Cook’s broadcast archive, click to open

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