A scientist involved in the secret Soviet program to create the nerve agent Novichok has apologized to Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny, who is recovering from poisoning in Berlin.
Vil Mirzayanov, a chemist who first disclosed the development of Novichok, in an interview with Russian television Rain on Saturday evening, said he wanted to apologize to Navalny after Germany found ” unequivocal evidence “that he had been poisoned with Novichok.
Navalny described his severe symptoms after falling ill on a plane on August 20, including the inability to form words, saying he still had trouble pouring a glass of water or using a phone.
“I offer my sincere apologies to Navalny for the fact that I participated in this criminal case, developing this substance with which he was poisoned,” said Mirzayanov, who now lives in the United States and wrote the first articles. on the development of Novichok in the early 90s.
Germany said laboratory tests in three countries determined he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, and Western governments have demanded an explanation from Russia.
Mirzayanov’s apology comes as another scientist who worked on the program denied that Navalny could have been poisoned with Novichok.
Mirzayanov predicted that Navalny would eventually recover.
“Navalny will just have to be patient, but in the end he should be in good health,” Mirzayanov said, predicting that recovery would take “almost a year”.
He suggested Navalny probably ingested the poison orally, as it didn’t appear to have contaminated others.
This contradicts a suggestion by another scientist who worked on Novichok, Vladimir Uglev, who told the Proyekt investigation site that Navalny’s survival suggested he only had skin contact.
Navalny’s aides gathered items left in his hotel room in the Siberian town of Tomsk and sent them to German experts who found Novichok on a water bottle.
Russian scientist Leonid Rink, who state media reports worked on the Novichok development program, scorned Mirzayanov’s comments on Sunday.
Speaking to RIA Novosti news agency, Rink said that Mirzayanov, while working at the same research center, was an “ordinary” chemist who was not directly involved in the creation of Novichok.
“It has nothing to do with the creation of Novichok,” Rink insisted, adding that Mirzayanov could not know its “biological effects”.
Rink argued that if Novichok had been used on Navalny, the opposition leader would have died.
“He wouldn’t have survived if it was Novichok,” he said.