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Sergei Lavrov (Photo Credit: Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS)

Toxic substances from the Novichok group were developed in no less than 20 Western countries and they currently have 140 substance options, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a commentary on Saturday.

“As for the chemical warfare agent called Novichok in the West, its structure and mass-spectrum were presented for the first time in 1998 in the spectral database of the American Standards Institute,” the commentary says.

“Subsequently, a whole family of toxic chemicals uncovered by the Convention [the Chemical Weapons Convention] emerged on the basis of the afore-mentioned compound. Along with Americans, no less than 20 Western countries worked with them. Therefore, Novichok is a purely Western brand. It was synthesized and is available in those countries in 140 options. We do not have it,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’ pronouncement on Moscow’s ‘absurd reproaches’ addressed to Germany and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) around the situation with blogger Alexey Navalny causes indignation and does not stand up to scrutiny, Russia’s Foreign Ministry also said.

“Such pronouncements are outrageous and do not stand up to scrutiny. All that we want is to get legal, technical and organizational assistance both in the bilateral Russian-German format and at the OPCW venue in the interests of carrying out a comprehensive, unbiased and impartial probe into all the circumstances of what happened,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry noted.

“We want very much to know who is behind the anti-Russian provocation orchestrated from the very beginning. In response, we get aggressive rhetoric and outright manipulation of the facts,” it said.

The four unanswered requests for legal assistance sent by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office relate not only to the Navalny ‘personal data’ as was claimed by Maas, the ministry said.

“It is no less important to clarify quite specific details of this case. These are the circumstances of the emergence and the exportation of a bottle from Russia, on which the traces of a chemical warfare agent were allegedly found, the possibility of questioning female citizen Pevchikh who accompanied Navalny and lives in Great Britain, and other very important applied aspects, including explanations for a message that the Omsk airport received from Germany about a bomb threat at the time when the airliner landed there with Navalny on its board,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

“We insist that Germany should honor its commitments under the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and the protocols to it. The German side must give explanations, despite its stubborn reluctance to do so,” the statement says.

Alexey Navalny was rushed to a local hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk on August 20 after collapsing on a Moscow-bound flight from Tomsk. He fell into a coma and was put on a ventilator in an intensive care unit. On August 22, he was airlifted to Berlin and admitted to the Charite hospital.

On September 2, Berlin claimed that having examined Navalny’s test samples, German government toxicologists had come to the conclusion that the blogger had been affected by a toxic agent belonging to the Novichok family. Berlin also said these conclusions had been confirmed by the laboratories in France and Sweden.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia was ready for comprehensive cooperation with Germany. He pointed out that no poisonous substances had been detected in Navalny’s system prior to his transfer to Berlin.

On October 6, the OPCW confirmed that biomarkers of the cholinesterase inhibitor found in Navalny’s blood and urine samples have similar structural characteristics as the toxic chemicals added to the Chemical Weapons Convention’s Annex on Chemicals in November 2019. At the same time, this cholinesterase inhibitor is not listed in the Annex on Chemicals to the Convention.