The toxic nerve agent called “Novichok” was not developed in the USSR or in Russia, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, as cited by Interfax.
“I want to say with all possible certainty that there were no programs to develop toxic substances by the name of ‘Novichok’ in the USSR or in Russia,” he said. According to Ryabkov, “the claims that such a program allegedly existed are spread by people who were transferred to the west – not without the involvement of the governments of western countries – and essentially emigrated”.
He emphasized that Moscow has stopped being involved in the development of new kinds of chemical weapons, in complete compliance with international agreements. “We terminated all development in the area of new toxic substances immediately after joining the relevant convention, and last year, as you know, all reserves of all toxic substances were destroyed,” he said. He drew special attention to the fact that the UK refused to give Russia samples of the substance which the British investigators claim was used to poison Skripal.
At a session of the UN Security Council, Russia’s Permanent Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya also denied the existence of any kind of substance development program called “Novichok” in Russia. “In the Russian Federation no scientific research or research and development was carried out under the code name ‘Novichok’,” he told the UN Security Council. He suggested that the poison may have originated from “countries where, from the end of the 1990s up to the present, intensive research has been done into said substances, including Great Britain”. Nebenzya did not state that “Novichok” had not been developed in the USSR.
In 1992, Former Soviet chemist Vil Mirzayanov published an article titled “Poison Policy” in the Moscow News which stated that new kinds of chemical weapons were developed in the USSR and Russia. Mirzayanov spent more than 20 years working in the State Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology, which was involved in the issue of chemical weaponry. The name ‘Novichok’ was not mentioned in his article. Mirzayanov was arrested and tried for disclosing state secrets. However, his case was terminated in 1994 due to the absence of offenses. In 1996, Miryazanov emigrated to the US, where he lives to this day.