Germany's Merkel: Don't link Navalny case to pipeline plan
BERLIN (AP) — Germany has a duty to do what it can to help get to the bottom of the apparent poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday, but she argued that the issue shouldn't be linked to the fate of a German-Russian gas pipeline project whose completion the U.S. wants to prevent.
Navalny, an opposition politician and corruption investigator who is a longtime foe of President Vladimir Putin, has been at Berlin's Charite hospital for nearly a week after falling ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on Aug. 20. The hospital said earlier this week that tests on Navalny indicate he was poisoned.
Navalny’s allies insist he was deliberately poisoned and say the Kremlin was behind it, accusations that Russian officials have rejected as “empty noise.” On Thursday, the Russian prosecutor general's office said a preliminary inquiry hasn't found any indication of “deliberate criminal acts” committed against him.
Germany has pushed for Russia to investigate the case in “full transparency.”
“We have an obligation to do everything so that this can be cleared up,” Merkel told reporters at her annual summer news conference. “It was right and good that Germany said we were prepared ... to take in Mr. Navalny. And now we will try to get this cleared up with the possibilities we have, which are indeed limited.”
When there is more clarity about what happened, Germany will try to ensure a “European reaction” to the case, Merkel said. She cited the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain two years ago, which prompted many European countries to expel Russian diplomats.
But Merkel rejected the idea that the Navalny case should be linked to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline...