Navalny Says Putin Was Behind Poisoning Because Of Election Fears
By RFE/RL October 06, 2020
Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has again blamed President Vladimir Putin for the poisoning incident in August that nearly took his life and confirmed his plans to return to Russia after he fully recovers in Germany.
It was the first video interview given by Navalny since he fell ill after ingesting what international experts say was a chemical agent from the Novichok group while he was in Siberia, Navalny told Russian journalist Yury Dud on Dud's popular YouTube channel on October 5 that he believes he was poisoned on Putin's order and that most likely Russia's Federal Security Service or the Foreign Intelligence Service were involved.
"They understood that there were big, big problems threatening them ahead of elections for the State Duma," Navalny, who was accompanied by his wife Yulia, said during the interview.
Russia will hold national parliamentary elections next year.
Navalny collapsed aboard a flight from Siberia, where he had been working on his latest corruption investigation, to Moscow on August 20 and spent nearly three weeks in an induced coma.
After 48 hours in a hospital in Omsk, where Russian doctors said they found no trace of any poisoning, Navalny was transferred to the Charite hospital in Berlin.
Doctors there found traces of a Novichok-like nerve agent in his body. Their findings were independently confirmed by labs in France and Sweden, sparking international condemnation.
The Kremlin has firmly denied allegations of involvement and accused Western leaders of launching a disinformation campaign over Navalny's illness.
Navalny, 44, told Dud that his health continues to improve since being released from a Berlin hospital on September 22.
Navalny said that it is unclear at the moment how exactly he was poisoned, but stressed that it's clear that he was poisoned in a hotel in the Siberian city of Tomsk, adding that it is most likely that he touched an item on which the poison was placed, but it is still not clear which item it was.
According to Navalny, many factors, including the act that Novichok can be available only to secret services, indicate that Putin was involved in his poisoning.
Navalny also emphasized that no probe has been launched in Russia into his poisoning.
Navalny's initial claim in an interview with the German media outlet Der Speigel that Putin had ordered his poisoning has been vehemently rejected by Russian authorities.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed on October 5 that Russia had requested the global watchdog dispatch experts to the country amid the accusations that the Kremlin was behind Navalny's poisoning.
Yulia Navalnaya said in the October 6 interview that she decided to take her husband out of Russia for treatment because of what she called "administrative pressure" imposed by the Russian authorities on her and her family and because, according to her, it would be impossible to find the real cause of Navalny's illness if he remained in Russia.
Navalny said that if he stayed in a Russian clinic he would not have survived the poisoning or would have never fully recovered.
Navalny added that he is confident that Russian authorities were reluctant to allow his transfer to a German clinic because they expected him to die or waited hoping that the poison would fully disappear from his body.
He rejected one of the Kremlin's statements saying that he might have been poisoned by homemade vodka, known as samogon.
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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