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Russia Protests Germany's 'Unfounded Accusations' In Navalny Poisoning Case

Updated

Aleksei Navalny (file photo)

Russia says it has protested strongly to Berlin's envoy to Moscow over "unfounded accusations and ultimatums" purportedly made by Germany over the illness of poisoned Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny.

During a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry on September 9, the German ambassador was warned that a refusal by Berlin to provide Moscow information in the case would be seen as a "hostile provocation" that would be "fraught with consequences," a ministry statement said.

The ministry also protested what it called Berlin's "obvious use of the situation as a means to discredit our country on the international stage."

In Berlin, the government said the test results showing that Navalny was the victim of a nerve-agent attack had been handed over to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The government sees no reason to hand the evidence directly to Russia, deputy spokeswoman Martina Fietz told reporters, adding, "We continue to appeal to the Russian side to deliver information."

Navalny suddenly fell ill on a Russian domestic flight on August 20 and was medically evacuated to Germany on a request by his wife several days later.

German experts say the 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner and Russian opposition leader was poisoned with a Soviet-style military nerve agent from the Novichok group, prompting international calls on Russia to swiftly investigate the case.

Russian authorities have refused to open a criminal investigation, saying that no hard evidence of poisoning has been found.

The Kremlin has also vehemently denied allegations by Navalny’s team, his relatives, and others who believe that Russian authorities are behind the poisoning.

Before the German ambassador was summoned by Russian officials, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized Germany's "completely inappropriate attitude toward official requests we send to Berlin."

He called Germany's tone "absolutely unacceptable."

Earlier in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the Group of Seven (G7) countries of an "unfolding massive disinformation campaign" to whip up support for sanctions over the Navalny case.

"The whipping up of hysteria around this case is only growing" and "the main task is not in caring for A. Navalny's health or discovering the true reasons for his hospitalization but in mobilizing sanctions sentiments," the ministry said in a statement.

The statement came after G7 foreign ministers late on September 8 condemned Navalny's "confirmed poisoning" and demanded that Russia quickly find and prosecute those behind the "abhorrent" attack.

The G7 statement came on the same day as the United Nations high commissioner for human rights called on the Russian government to "fully investigate" the poisoning, calling the incident an "assassination attempt."

The top diplomats from the major industrial democracies also called on Russia "to urgently and fully establish transparency on who is responsible for this abhorrent poisoning attack and...to bring the perpetrators to justice."

The Berlin hospital where Navalny is being treated said on September 7 he had awaken from a medically induced coma and was responding to verbal stimuli. However, it said it was unclear what long-term effects he will suffer.

The chief toxicologist of the Omsk region, where Navalny was treated after his flight to Moscow made an emergency landing in the city of Omsk, said on September 8 that "there wasn't a single indication of poisoning" in the Navalny case.

The Kremlin has also vehemently denied allegations by Navalny’s team, his relatives, and others who believe that Russian authorities are behind the poisoning.

Navalny has led nationwide protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has been attacked with a dangerous chemical and fallen ill in Russian custody in the past.

G7 Protest

"We, the G7 foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union, are united in condemning, in the strongest possible terms, the confirmed poisoning" of Navalny, they said in a joint statement released by the U.S. State Department on September 8.

The G7 ministers said that they will “continue to monitor closely how Russia responds to international calls for an explanation of the hideous poisoning."

"Any use of chemical weapons, anywhere, anytime, by anybody, under any circumstances whatsoever, is unacceptable and contravenes the international norms prohibiting the use of such weapons," the group's statement added.

The White House last week described Navalny’s poisoning as “completely reprehensible” and said Washington was working with the international community to "hold those in Russia accountable."

Among the Kremlin opponents who have been killed or targeted in recent years are investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, former Russian security officer Aleksandr Litvinenko, former Russian Deputy Prime Minister and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, and former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, among others.

Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned by Novichok in the British city of Salisbury in 2018, and British investigators have implicated Russian security agencies.

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