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G7 Ministers Urge Russia To Find Those Behind 'Abhorrent' Navalny Poisoning, UN Commissioner Calls For Probe

By RFE/RL's Russian Service September 08, 2020

The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations have condemned the "confirmed poisoning" of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, and demanded that Russia quickly find and prosecute those behind the "abhorrent" attack.

"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 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 G7 statemeent came on the same day as the United Nations high commissioner for human rights called for for the Russian government to "fully investigate" the poisoning of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, calling the incident an "assassination attempt."

In her September 8 statement, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said that German specialists have "unequivocal proof" that Navalny was poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent while flying from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow on August 20.

Navalny, 44, is being treated at a hospital in Berlin. The Kremlin denies any involvement in the incident.

"Navalny was clearly someone who needed state protection even if he was a political thorn in the side of the government," Bachelet said, noting that Navalny had been repeatedly harassed and attacked for years before the August 20 poisoning.

"It is not good enough to simply deny he was poisoned…It is incumbent on the Russian authorities to fully investigate who was responsible for this crime -- a very serious crime that was committed on Russian soil," she said.

Bachelet added that numerous "current or former Russian citizens" had been targeted for assassination by poison or other means both within Russia and abroad, saying it was "profoundly disturbing."

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.

Germany's minister for Europe, Michael Roth, said on September 8 that Berlin was looking at "the entire set of instruments" in deciding how to respond to Navalny's poisoning.

Chancelor Angela Merkel has said "only Russia can and must answer" questions about the case.

Meanwhile, the German Embassy in Moscow told the Russian news agency TASS on September 8 that that the German ambassador would "take part in a discussion" at the Russian Foreign Ministry the next day.

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.

Aleksandr Sabayev called the German diagnosis "just a fanciful assumption…with no documented or clinical proof."

With reporting by TASS

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/30827754.html

Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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