- Print This Post Print This Post

by John Helmer, Moscow 

The German Defence Ministry in Berlin has confirmed as genuine a copy of its request to the Swedish Defence Research Agency to test Alexei Navalny’s blood, and a partially redacted report of what the Swedes found — and failed to find.

Blacked out in the Swedish report is the evidence of a Novichok chemical because the Swedes failed to identify it. Instead, they told the German Defence Ministry, which paid for the blood testing,  that “the presence [blank blank blank] was confirmed in the patient’s blood.”

The leak of two pages, the German Defence Ministry letter signed by Ernst-Christoph Meier and a page of the Swedish laboratory report, occurred on Twitter on Friday evening.  

Meier’s letter, dated September 4 and written in English, told the Swedes exactly what they were expected to report back to Berlin. Navalny was suffering from “symptoms of a poisoning due to a substance belonging to the group of cholinesterase inhibitors”, the document declared.  So that the Swedish laboratory understood what was requested from them, the Defence Ministry added that the German Army laboratory in Munich had reported that “a nerve agent from the so-called ‘Novichok group’ could be determined as the source of this poisoning.” The word “could”, a subjunctive not an indicative,  was the German expression. The Berlin ministry then “kindly requests scientific support from the Swedish Defence Research Agency in order to have another OPCW designed laboratory validating our findings”.

The word “designed” was a mistake; the German writer meant “designated”. But there was no mistaking what the defence ministry wanted. The Swedes were told to “validate” the Munich laboratory report of “Novichok”. Novichok was a German order.

On Monday, Meier’s superiors at the Defence Ministry in Berlin were asked to say if the published letter was genuine or a forgery; and what substance has been identified by the laboratory in Stockholm and reported back to Berlin. The Ministry was warned that if it refused to confirm or deny authentication,  that would be reported as indirect confirmation that the two documents are genuine.  The Ministry spokesman, who asked not to be named, referred to earlier press statements issued in Berlin, and declared: “The Department of Defense has nothing to add to that.”

The Twitter publication originated from Mats Nilsson late on October 9. Nilsson, who claims to be a prolific source on many subjects,  publishes here.

On the evening of October 9, he published the German Defence Ministry letter signed by Meier, and the undated excerpt of the Swedish laboratory report.

Source: https://twitter.com/

Source: https://twitter.com

Meier’s letter appears with the official Secret (Hemlig) stamp of the Swedish Embassy in Berlin, and other indications that the leak is coming from Stockholm, not Berlin. The date of the Embassy stamp and the date of the letter are September 4. Declassification marks indicate a date of September 21.  The text of Meier’s letter is riddled with spelling mistakes. The signature doesn’t quite match genuine samples of Meier’s handwriting.

Meier himself is a long-time German Defence Ministry official. His official title at present is “Head of the Policy II 5 Unit” at the ministry.  His previous job was director of the Bundeswehr  Institute of Social Sciences (SOWI) when he surveyed German public opinion towards the army.  He is a social scientist with US training, and his current policy responsibilities involve arms control. The technical science of chemical warfare is not one of Meier’s areas of official duty or academic expertise. Meier does not supervise – because he cannot – the German Army’s chemical warfare laboratory in Munich, Bundeswehr Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology (IPTB).

Meier addressed his letter to Jens Mattsson, the director-general of the Defence Research Agency (Swedish acronym FOI) in Stockholm. Mattsson has no expertise as a chemical warfare expert. He studied to be a veterinarian and his previous government job was director of the National Veterinary Institute.  At FOI Mattsson supervises a chemical, biological and radiological department run by Åsa Scott. She has not been a chemical warfare specialist in the past, nor an analyst of organophosphates and other cholorinesterase inhibitors. She did her a PhD thesis on  environmental planning for hazardous spills.  

Left: Ernst-Christoph Meier in Berlin; right, Jens Mattsson in Stockholm.

Mattsson’s agency, along with Scott’s department, are partially funded from the Swedish military budget. Mattsson, like his subordinates, is committed to war against Russia; their last big report, published in July, advocated moving nuclear-capable missiles to the eastern Polish border, plus electronic and information warfare for the purpose of improving the “political will to shoulder costs and risks” for the NATO military to intensify its operations against Russia.

Mattson and Scott also sell their services on commission to clients wanting “detection of chemical and biological substances. Where there is a risk of the spread of hazardous substances there is an urgent need for rapid and reliable alarm systems with low false alarm rates to ensure timely detection and warning. FOI works on both the development of detection instruments and the evaluation of commercial systems. The Swedish Armed Forces and the defence industry are the main customers in this area. FOI also participates in a number of Vinnova and EU-financed projects in this field.”  Vinnova is another Swedish government agency.

On September 15, six days before the leaked documents were declassified, Mattsson and Scott (right) issued a press release announcing  “FOI confirms German results on Novichok”. According to Scott, “I can confirm that we at FOI in Umeå have conducted an analysis on behalf of our German partners. Our analysis confirms the earlier German results. The blood sample from Mr. Navalnyj did unequivocally contain a nerve agent from the Novichok group.” Scott was repeating in public what Meier’s letter of September 4 had ordered in private.

A leading British chemist in the field of organophosphates, reviewing the FOI’s  September 15 press release, concluded: “The statement from Dr Asa Scott is pure fantasy. LC-MS/MS is a very common technique, but it cannot do the job that Dr.Scott claims. It can certainly be used to determine amino acids. However, knowing what amino acids or their ratios were measured in Navalny’s blood does not assist chemical identification. Blood concentration of amino acids is a common technique; for example, amino acids and four ratios — glutamate/citrulline, citrulline/phenylalanine, leucine plus isoleucine/phenylalanine, and arginine/phenylalanine — are an analysis performed for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. But these ratios and the individual concentrations cannot lead to the identification of a specific chemical which has caused the change in concentration. It’s just not possible.”

“There is no doubt that Navalny had depressed Acetylcholine Esterase levels. Dr Scott claims that by looking at amino acids, the presence of, the absence of, the ratios,  etc., ‘we can identify the compound that has caused this’. This also  means that these amino acids and the ratios are the only results which the Swedish laboratory obtained from Navalny. Scott for the Swedes, and no doubt the French and the Germans too, are revealing that they are basing their interpretation of the results on the idea that the biomarkers they found can tell us that the causative chemical was Novichok. This is nonsense.”

The British source, who declines to reveal his name or official title, has reviewed the excerpted report which has just been  published. “The page is all basic sample prep and getting the instrumentation ready for analysis. All routine stuff with a blood sample being prepared for a Liquid Chromatograph. However,  there is not enough space in that page to discuss or present results data.”  The source believes the Swedish laboratory got no further in its analysis than the “biomarkers” which the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported on October 6;  for details, read this.

Source: https://www.opcw.org/ 

“’Something is there —  we cannot identify it — and because we can’t identify it, it must be novel — as it is an OP [organophosphate], and we don’t know what it  is, then it must be a Novinovichok.’ This is the [Swedish] logic and it is flawed. It may be (or may not be) an OP. ACE [acetylcholinesterase] inhibition does not always mean OP.  In addition, just because the identification process, i.e mass spectrometry cannot identify it, does not mean that a conclusion [of the chemical source] can be made.”

Mattsson and Scott were asked by telephone and by email to “confirm if the documents are authentic. In the event that you do not respond, this will be reported as your indirect confirmation of authenticity.” They were also asked if “the assignment from the German Defence Ministry to take and analyse Mr Navalny’s blood sample [was] a commission for fee?    If so, how much was paid to FOI? … [and] if FOI obtained Mr Navalny’s medical records and history of prior ACE-inhibition episodes?”

Their spokesman at FOI, Maria Hugosson,  replied: “FOI does not authenticate documents published by other sources. The documents linked in the request bear resemblance to two public FOI documents, see attachments.” The attachments and the published documents are the same. Hugosson added that the German Defence Ministry was not charged for the analysis, and that “the aforementioned assignment only comprised of an analysis of a blood sample”.

In the meantime in Omsk, where two days of blood, urine and other biomarkers were recorded for Navalny,  Alexander Sabaev (right) issued a report on Navalny’s prior  medical conditions and his biomarkers after the alleged poisoning. Sabaev is  head of the acute poisoning department of the Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1, chief toxicologist of the Omsk region and of the Siberian Federal District.

According to Sabaev, Navalny’s blood levels were “six times higher than the norm for amylase, sugar and serum lactate; twice the normal level of  leukocytosis, and the maximum level of acetonuria.  In addition, alcohol (0.2 ppm) was found in the urine …These are the metabolites, the substances which have been produced. These substances in large quantities cause pathological changes.” According to Sabaev, “Navalny did not suffer from diabetes, so the tests showed that he had an acute metabolic disorder.  ‘An increase in the level of lactate and lactic acid, its excessive formation makes acidification of the blood. It should not be in such a quantity. There should be an indicator, let’s say of 2; but we had an indicator of 12, that is six times more,’ he said. According to the doctor, the level of internal acetone in Navalny’s body was at maximum…  Normally, acetone should be negative; that is, it should be excreted from the body, the specialist added. ‘In this case, the carbohydrate metabolism suffered and completely different scenarios of development occurred. The body began to destroy itself from the inside.”

Leave a Reply