Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on December 16 dismissed a joint investigation between Bellingcat and several media outlets that revealed evidence they say shows that the recent poisoning of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny was carried out by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
"All this news is funny to read. But the manner in which this news is presented says only one thing: that our Western partners lack any ethical standards," Lavrov said during a visit to the Croatian capital, Zagreb, on December 16.
Several European laboratories in September concluded that Navalny, 44, was poisoned after he fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow in August. He was later airlifted to Berlin for treatment.
A joint investigation by Bellingcat, a British-based open-source research group, and several media outlets published on December 14 concluded that FSB chemical weapons experts had followed Navalny for years, including on the day he was poisoned.
Citing “voluminous evidence in the form of telecoms and travel data,” the investigation, which included The Insider, a Russian investigative website, and Der Spiegel and CNN, said the poisoning of the Kremlin critic in the Siberian city of Tomsk appeared to have been in the works since at least early 2017.
The investigation revealed the names and photos of the alleged men who tailed Navalny, saying they were specialists in nerve agents and toxins, including the Soviet-designed poison Novichok, which European countries said was used against Navalny.
The investigation does not present any evidence of direct contact between Navalny and the agents.
Moscow has denied any involvement in the Kremlin critic's illness.
Lavrov said the investigation by media outlets proved that Western countries "lack any skills for normal diplomatic work and an unwillingness to comply with international legal norms when it comes to establishing facts."
The European Union has slapped entry bans and bank account freezes on six people suspected of being responsible for Navalny’s poisoning, including FSB chief Aleksandr Bortnikov.
Navalny, who is currently in Germany where he is recovering, said his poisoning case was now solved, despite the absence of an official investigation in Russia.
Navalny, Russia's most prominent Kremlin critic, reiterated his accusation that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the poisoning attack on him.
The opposition leader has said he will return to Russia after making a full recovery in Germany.