Russia says West trying to victimise Moscow over Navalny
Russia’s top diplomat on Thursday accused the West of levelling accusations of poisoning top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny without providing evidence, staunchly denying any official involvement.
Navalny, the most visible opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was flown to Germany two days after falling ill on August 20 on a domestic flight in Russia.
German chemical weapons experts have determined that the 44-year-old was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent, prompting Berlin to demand that Russia investigate the case.
The German hospital treating him said Monday that Navalny’s condition had improved, allowing doctors to take him out of an induced coma.
Russian authorities have prodded Germany to share the evidence that led them to conclude “without doubt” that Navalny was poisoned with a military nerve agent from the Novichok group, the same class of Soviet-era agent that British authorities said was used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in 2018. Russian doctors said they had found no trace of poison in Navalny’s system.
Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov charged that Germany, the United States and other Western allies who urge Russia to conduct a probe into Navalny’s poisoning squarely expect Russia to accept blame for something it hasn’t done.
“If such logic prevails, that would only mean that they put themselves above the law, above everyone else,” he said.
Germany’s Defense Ministry has said the data about Navalny had been provided to the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Thursday that Russia was still unaware whether Germany had handed over any information to the OPCW. He underlined that it would like to receive the information first hand to help investigate the case.
“We don’t know what they have given to the OPCW,” he said during a conference call with reporters. “We naturally prefer that they hand over those analyses directly to us.”
Peskov noted that Russian authorities had launched a preliminary check into what happened to Navalny, but emphasized that they need proof of his poisoning to conduct a full-fledged criminal inquiry.