Hromadske Radio journalist meets a man on whom «Novichok» was tested in USSR
Hromadske Radio’s journalist, Yaroslava Volvach, succeeded in finding a person on whom «Novichok» was tested in 1980s. According to British law enforcers, former Russian Federation’s GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate) agent Sergeo Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a substance with this name.
Yaroslava Volvach: True, I managed to talk to a person on whom the stuff now called «Novichok» was tested. For safety reasons I won’t tell the name or surname, as well as the place where this person lives. This person was not the only one on whom what is now called «Novichok» was tested. This could be up to 20 people, according to different data. The person who I talked to knows of 4 people who were part of this experiment.
Iryna Romaliyska: This means that they had been experimented upon?
Yaroslava Volvach: Yes. I want to tell about the substance in more detail. My first conclusions are: in reality, there is no such a substance, a chemical element or compound
as «Novichok». What we were talking about with the person who was directly involved in this case was rather about an entire «Foliant» operation. This was an operation by the USSR Ministry of Defence launched, probably, in early 1980s. Within the framework of this operation, they conducted tests on the person whom I talked to. The logic has been like this: the USSR Ministry of Defence sends a request for some substances development to the Ministry of Industry, and accordingly, the latter readdressed this request to a specific laboratory. In this case, we talk about a laboratory in Saratov Region, the town of Shikhany. This is a secret military laboratory where they were developing a number of poisonous substances, and they were tested on people. So I talked to a person who says that people on whom these substances were tested don’t know what they were taking. This person had specifically told me about the testing of a substance that had to be inhaled.
Iryna Romaliyska: Did he know that he was a subject of testing?
Yaroslava Volvach: He volunteered for this. This person was a military serviceman at the time. One of my key questions was: «»What for, what was the motive?» He explained to me that he was assured that this experiment would not bring about any negative impact on his health. He undertook this as an absolutely safe thing. So he agreed.
At that time a person was told to do something, and this person would do this. His family or his friends had known nothing about this. Each of the participants in the experiment would probably get different substances developed within Operation Foliant. Based on his words, I can tell about what the impact on health was. The visible results: impact on skin, change of its color, rather noticeable. I saw this person, I won’t probably be specific but there is a visible impact on skin.
Iryna Romaliyska: So you noticed? After all these years…
Yaroslava Volvach: Yes, the impact on skin is absolutely evident. As for the invisible, there is an impact on lungs, on breathing tunnels, rather serious consequences for health. The experiment was conducted as a one-off, in a sterile chamber. The process was entirely controlled by the laboratory staff. He inhaled certain vapors, and laboratory workers were measuring his health indicators before and after this, compared them, and after all this they kept himin the lab for several days, assured him that was healthy and could leave. Later, he began to feel an impact on his health.
In 1986, when the universally known Chornobyl NPP disaster happened, he was sent there. When he returned to Russia, He was dismissed from service without any compensation or pension, according to him. He is the only person from among those on whom chemical substances were maybe tested who in 1990s went to court with the aim of receiving a compensation, payment of a pension, anything. According to him, he was ordered a compensation, however it was in no way linked to the experiment, it was for something entirely different: for the 1986 events.
Iryna Romaliyska: What had he written in his claim?
Yaroslava Volvach: His claim was related to his signing of a document which had not corresponded to reality. The document says that there won’t be a negative impact on health. He linked deterioration of his health to the 1982 events, not to those of 1986.
Vasyl Shandro: Had he told you about his treatment by the press? How public is this information about him?
Yaroslava Volvach: This is not for nothing that I don’t name the names and details. In reality, he said, the information is available but it is important to say here that this relates to an earlier period, when court hearings continued, when he wanted to draw attention. Now, there is little information even of this sort. It is hard to find.
Vastly Shandro: Had he talked in any way about the case relating to Great Britain?
Yaroslava Volvach: I asked about theories and about how this person links the Salisbury situation in March and the situation in Amesbury which resulted in a woman’s death. This person’s theory suggests that in the Skripal case this substance has the form of a spray , and it was sprayed on a handle, and people touched it, and this was why the impact was not fatal. In the other case, a person found a flask, and it was in direct contact with this person’s skin.
Vastly Shandro: Where does this person take conviction that this is one of the substances to be found in the composition of «Novichok»?
Yaroslava Voivach: I don’t think that we can say that it is in the composition of «Novichok». I think that rather it is one of the substances developed during Operation Foliant. According to him, «Novichok» is a general word to denote all these substances. We can’t at the moment talk about a specific substance called «Novichok», according to my information.