Russia: Kremlin must explain the use of nerve agent to poison Aleksei Navalny

The Russian authorities’ failure to investigate the poisoning of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny will be a blatant violation of his right to life, said Amnesty International, reacting to the finding by German authorities that Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok family. Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“The Russian authorities must immediately open an investigation into the apparent use of a banned chemical weapon to poison an opposition leader. Failure to do so will heighten suspicions that top-level Russian officials were involved in this crime or its cover-up.

“The Russian authorities deny involvement in the attempted murder of Navalny, a prominent government critic, but have so far failed to address the implications of the finding that he was poisoned with a chemical weapon. In 2017, Russian authorities stated that they had destroyed their entire chemical weapons stockpile. If this is true, one must question whether the Russian government has lost control to the extent that chemical weapons can be freely produced and distributed on its own soil.

In 2017, Russian authorities stated that they had destroyed their entire chemical weapons stockpile. If this is true, one must question whether the Russian government has lost control to the extent that chemical weapons can be freely produced and distributed on its own soil
Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“The only other conclusion to be drawn is that Russian authorities have misled the international community and do in fact still possess chemical weapons – and use them to eliminate political rivals. Both of these prospects are appalling, and the Kremlin must provide answers. The world must know the truth about this brazen attempt on the life of a Russian opposition leader.”

Background

On 2 September, the German government announced that tests carried out by a German military laboratory showed that Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has been poisoned with a Novichok-class nerve agent. On 22 August he was transported to the Charité Hospital in Berlin, at the insistence of his family.

Aleksei Navalny collapsed while flying from Tomsk (Siberia) to Moscow on 20 August. He has been in a coma and unconscious since that date. When he was treated in Russia doctors claimed that there were no traces of poison in his body, a claim that Russian authorities continue to endorse.