Mirzayanov was immediately fired. He was then arrested on October 22, 1992, on charges of treason, brought by the Russian military industrial complex authorities - he was not allowed to know the exact charges, as they were also declared a state secret. Held in Lefortovo prison, during the resultant court case, the existence of Novichok agents was openly admitted by Russian authorities. According to expert witness testimonies prepared for the KGB by three scientists, Novichok and other related chemical agents had indeed been produced and therefore the disclosure by Mirzayanov represented high treason.
However, the trial collapsed. Mirzayanov was released because "not one of the formulas or names of poisonous substances in the Moscow News article was new to the Soviet press, nor were locations ... of testing sites revealed." According to Yevgenia Albats, "the real state secret revealed by Fyodorov and Mirzayanov was that generals had lied — and were still lying — to both the international community and their fellow citizens."
These days, I found myself thinking, the trial would not have collapsed, if there had been a trial at all.
I have no nostalgia for the USSR, but that's precisely why Putin is so appalling. He wasn't inevitable, there was a possibility for Russia to go another way and he - with the usual vested interests - chose otherwise. Only 9 years after these events he would be president.
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