Prague, Aug 24 (CTK) – The Novichok agent which poisoned former Russian agent Sergei Skripal in Britain in March could not be manufactured in the Czech Republic, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes today, quoting Alexei Venediktov, the editor-in-chief of the Russian Echo of Moscow radio station.
The poison killed not only Skripal, but also his daughter in the British town Salisbury.
In early May, President Milos Zeman said, referring to the Czech Military Intelligence Service (VZ), that Novichok was produced in the Czech Republic last year. According to the civilian counter-intelligence service (BIS), no Novichok was produced in the country, Zeman continued, but added that he prefers sharing the VZ’s opinion.
Moscow used Zeman’s statements to challenge London’s assertion that the Novichok substance came from Russia.
Zeman’s words about the Czech production of Novichok were subsequently dismissed by Prime Minister Andrej Babis, the lower house foreign committee and the upper house security and foreign committee. They said the VZ and BIS do not differ on the issue and both wrote in their reports that Novichok has been neither produced nor stored in the Czech Republic.
Both Zeman and Russian Ambassador to the Czech Republic Alexandr Zmeyevsky ought to have known and may have known this even before they had produced the hypothesis about the Czech origin of the Novichok in public, Venediktov said in a broadcast on Echo of Moscow on Tuesday night.
Venediktov has contacts with Russian top officials and from time to time, he has access to Russian President Vladimir Putin, LN writes.
Zeman and Zmeyevsky could have provoked the impression that Russia was not behind the attack.
“In the Czech Republic, there was quite a different Novichok,” Venediktov said.
He admitted that the information could have been “deliberately distorted” and then released.
Venediktov used as an example what Zeman said about the case on the commercial television station Barrandov, when admitting that this poison was developed and tested in the Czech Republic.
“Was the Novichok produced in Prague, too? This one certainly not!” Venediktov said.
He spoke about the case in the Odin (“One”) programme, answering listeners’ questions.
Venediktov explained that the Novichok was only a part of a chain as this is a denotation of a number of substances.
“However, each of them has quite a specific numerical code. In the Czech Republic, it was quite a different Novichok, not the one…,” Venediktov said.
“It was produced in the laboratories where antidotes and the substances weakening the effect of poisons were developed. However, it differed from the one uncovered in the agent that poisoned the Skripals,” Venediktov said.
He asked the rhetorical question: “Why did the Czech president and the Russian ambassador and then our media need to speak about this? You see, it is a Czech Novichok. So why do you claim it is from Russia? It is Czech,” he added sarcastically.
Venediktov said it had been clear it was quite a different substance.
“It was 2-3-4-0 in one case and 2-3-4-2 in another. Perhaps it was so because I do not know this exactly by heart,” he added.
Venediktov said in the programme there was most likely a deliberate distortion, not misinterpretation.
“This is no misinterpretation arising from ignorance. We should exactly understand when there is deliberate disinformation,” he added.