Tests of a Novichok poisoning victim disappeared without a trace in a European laboratory

Samples of tests of businessman Emelyan Gebrev, who was a victim of nerve agent poisoning in Bulgaria in 2015, disappeared without a trace from the Finnish laboratory VERIFIN. This is stated in the material of the Insider and Bellingcat.

As a result of the analysis, organophosphates and some substances that could not be identified were found in the samples. After poisoning in March 2018 with the Novichok nerve agent, according to London, former GRU employee Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, the Bulgarian authorities and Gebrev himself asked the Finnish laboratory to provide samples for analysis to find out whether all three victims were poisoned with Novichok.

Since February 2019, the entrepreneur has written several letters to the European laboratory with a request to provide analyses to law enforcement agencies in Bulgaria and extend their storage period. However, he did not receive any responses to his emails. In April 2020, he asked the office of the Prosecutor General of Finland for help, but they indicated that they were authorized to communicate only with the “competent judicial authorities” of Bulgaria. The entrepreneur again sent a letter to the Prosecutor General of Finland on his own behalf, but received no response.

Despite the fact that the laboratory was required to store samples for five years, that is, until June 18, 2020, they said that they do not have any samples. At the same time, VERIFIN refused to explain the disappearance of the samples. As a result, on August 25, the Bulgarian authorities were forced to suspend the investigation.

VERIFIN is one of five laboratories in Europe accredited by the Organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons (OPCW) to work with biomaterials.

According to the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s office, in 2015, Gebrev, his son Hristo and one of the top managers of the businessman’s arms company tried to poison in Sofia with an unidentified substance, which, according to the conclusions of the Helsinki University laboratory, could be a Novichok class nerve agent, News wrote.bg and the BBC Russian service. The businessman, in turn, claimed that they may have wanted to poison him in order to break up the Bulgarian military industry. In February 2020, the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s office suspected GRU employee Yegor Gordienko of attempting to assassinate Gebrev.