The ministers have demanded Moscow “urgently” investigate the what they call “confirmed poisoning” of Alexey Navalny in a damning statement while stopping short of blaming it all on Kremlin again.
The statement has been released by the top diplomats of the US, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Japan and the UK. Germany, where Navalny is under treatment at the moment, has briefed other nations that experts from its specialized military laboratory determined that the Russian blogger fell victim of an attack involving a nerve agent “from the ‘Novichok’ group,” according to statement published by the US State Department.
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“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 stated, while noting that the substance used to poison Navalny was “developed by Russia,” without providing any evidence for the claim. The G7 then demanded Moscow “urgently and fully establish transparency on who is responsible for this abhorrent poisoning attack,” which they rushed to declare a “grave blow against democracy and political plurality in Russia.”
The group also warned it would “monitor closely how Russia responds to international calls for an explanation of the hideous poisoning,” while stopping short of openly linking the incident to Moscow.
Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine was the first to report that Navalny was poisoned with ‘Novichok’ – a notorious nerve agent used in another high-profile poisoning of a former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK. At that time, the attack was also blamed on Russia and sparked a major diplomatic scandal. Moscow has maintained that Russia was far from being the only nation in possession of the dreaded nerve agent.
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This time, it was said that military specialist from the Munich Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology found traces of the nerve agent in Navalny’s bodily fluids. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas then claimed that Berlin had “a lot of evidence” that the Russian state was behind the attack. The top diplomat also threatened Moscow with new sanctions demanding the Russian authorities investigate this incident. London also summoned the Russian ambassador to the UK to express its concerns over the incident. Moscow has so far brushed off all the accusations calling them “baseless” and the case itself politicized. It also called the idea of sanctions “absurd” and “unacceptable.”
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Russian Foreign Ministry also repeatedly said that Moscow is ready to cooperate with the German authorities on this case at any time, while accusing Berlin of dragging the feet on the probe. Maas responded by saying all the necessary approvals for the Russian legal cooperation request were issued but admitted that the data could not be passed on to the Russian side as the investigation was “still ongoing.”
Navalny was initially treated by doctors in a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk after feeling unwell onboard of a flight to Moscow. The medics stabilized him and placed him in a medically induced coma. The Russian specialists did not find any traces of a nerve agent at that time. Two days later, he was flown to Germany to be treated in Berlin’s Charite hospital on relatives’ instances, where he emerged from coma on Monday.