Russian Facebook accounts and Tsargrad link Navalny’s death to the Pfizer vaccine

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Shortly after Navalny’s death, an allegation circulated on social networks, blaming a Pfizer vaccine for Navalny’s sudden death. Georgian-speaking (1,2,3) and Russian-speaking Facebook users (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10) claimed that Navalny died from a blood clot caused by the Pfizer vaccine and that he was among those 20% who could die due to the vaccine’s side effects. According to some Facebook posts, Navalny had three dozes of the vaccine, while others claimed that he had been vaccinated four or five times, increasing the risk of death. To make the information look more credible, Russian Facebook posts emphasized that this version of Navalny’s death was spread from Western sources.

It is also worth noting that Russian-language Facebook accounts spread this information using the same screenshot and posting almost identical texts. Myth Detector identified more than 20 Russian-language accounts that linked Navalny’s death to the Pfizer vaccine in their posts published on February 17-18.

This information was also published by the Kremlin propaganda media outlet, Tsargrad.

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The official cause of Navalny’s death has not yet been announced, and therefore, there is no evidence to confirm that his death was caused by the vaccine against coronavirus. Moreover, it is not yet known whether Navalny received the Pfizer vaccine. The Western sources cited by the authors of the Facebook posts are not reliable media outlets or experts, but users of the X social network.

On February 16, jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny died in a special regime colony on the Yamal Peninsula. According to the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, Navalny felt ill after a walk and almost immediately lost consciousness.

On February 17, employees of the Polar Wolf special regime colony notified Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, that her son died of sudden death syndrome. However, there is no such cause of death defined in the version of the International Classification of Diseases (МКБ-10) that Russian doctors should be guided by. As for “sudden cardiac death” or “instant death,” as defined in МКБ-10, both of these causes can only be established after an autopsy. According to a statement from Russia’s Investigative Committee, “a set of investigative and operative measures” will be carried out to establish the cause of Navalny’s death, and the body will be handed over to the family for burial only after the investigation is completed. At the time Navalny’s mother, Luydmila Navalnaya, was notified about her son’s death, an autopsy on Navalny’s body had not been conducted.

In an interview with Meduza, doctor Alexei Polupan, who treated Navalny following his poisoning, questioned another probable cause of Navalny’s death, cited by the propaganda TV channel RT, that the politician allegedly suffered a blood clot. According to the doctor, this cannot be said without an autopsy, and thromboembolism can only be determined through an autopsy, as there is no other method to determine this cause of death. Consequently, an allegation that Navalny died of thromboembolism caused by the COVID-19 vaccine is unfounded.

According to Polupan, Navalny did not have any objective risks of thromboembolism – lower limb vein diseases, thrombophilia, thrombosis, and so on. Most often, blood clots get into the pulmonary arteries from the veins of the lower limbs and pelvis. Accordingly, risk factors are problems with the legs, such as prolonged immobilization after fractures, or oncological processes in the pelvic organs. Navalny had none of these. Nor were his back problems or pneumonia, which he had a while ago, life threatening. Navalny’s doctor also talked about Navalny’s declining health, as it would be in the case of any person placed in such severe prison conditions. It should also be noted that on February 15, SOTAvision published a video of a court session in which Navalny participated via video link. The video description says that Alexei looks energetic, healthy, and cheerful.

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Did Navalny receive the Pfizer vaccine?

It is unknown whether Navalny was vaccinated against COVID-19 at all. Information about this has not been disclosed by Navalny and his family members, nor by the Russian authorities. In addition, vaccination against the coronavirus has never been mandatory in Russia.

It is less likely that Navalny ever received the Pfizer vaccine, as at the time he was in Germany, the vaccine was not available to his age group, while Russia does not use Wester vaccines.

Which sources do Facebook accounts rely on?

The screenshot attached to the Facebook users’ posts shows posts by five users of the X social network who linked Navalny’s death to the Pfizer vaccine. The author of the first post is John Mappin, a QAnon follower, conspiracy theorist, and anti-vaxxer who hosted a reception for “vaccine sceptics” at the Carlton Club. This event was attended by Andres Bridgen, who compared the COVID-19 vaccination to the Holocaust, as well as anti-vaxxers Robert Malone and Ryan Cole. Of the remaining four accounts, three cannot be identified (@clandestine46, @g68_john, @mafisa444), which casts doubt on their reliability, and the fourth appears to be joking.

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Some of the Facebook accounts (1,2) posted a screenshot from the Daily Mail, a Western source, as proof that Navalny’s death was caused by the vaccine; however, the Daily Mail article does not say that the Pfizer vaccine caused Navalny’s death, but repeats what the investigative authorities told Navalny’s mother: that Navalny died from “sudden death syndrome.” 

Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most popular opposition politician, was arrested right at Moscow airport upon his return to Russia from Germany in 2021. In Germany, he was undergoing medical treatment after he had been poisoned with a Russian nerve agent, Novichok. A Russian court increased his sentence several times on new charges, and Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service moved him from prison to prison. Since 2023, Navalny was held in the maximum-security penal colony “Polar Wolf” on the Yamal Peninsula in the northern part of Western Siberia. On February 14, Navalny was placed in solitary confinement for, at least, the 27th time, where he was held in health- and life-threatening conditions.

About sources 

Lado Qartvelishvili is the administrator of the Antilab-Georgia Facebook group. The Antilab-Georgia group is associated with the organization Antilab. This organization opposes “American biolabs” and biological weapons and spreads various conspiracy theories and disinformation about this topic. Myth Detector has checked disinformation spread by Qartvelishvili in this group earlier too.

The Facebook user, Maia Tvaltvadze, regularly disseminates disinformation and conspiracy theories. Myth Detector has checked disinformation spread by Tvaltvadze earlier too.

The Facebook account, Oleg Dor, often publishes pro-Russian and anti-Western posts. He has spread disinformation in the past too (1, 2, 3).

Archive:

Царград

Georgian-language Facebook posts: 1, 2, 3

Russia-language Facebook posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


The article has been written in the framework of Facebook’s fact-checking program. You can read more about the restrictions that Facebook may impose based on this article via this link. You can find information about appealing or editing our assessment via this link.

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Violation: Disinformation
Country: Russia
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