Russia says West trying to victimize Moscow over Navalny
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s top diplomat on Thursday accused the West of leveling accusations of poisoning top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny without providing evidence, staunchly denying any official involvement.
Navalny, the most visible opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was flown to Germany two days after falling ill on Aug. 20 on a domestic flight in Russia. German chemical weapons experts have determined that the 44-year-old was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent, prompting Berlin to demand that Russia investigate the case.
The German hospital treating him said Monday that Navalny’s condition has improved, allowing doctors to take him out of an induced coma.
Russian authorities have prodded Germany to share the evidence that led them to conclude “without doubt” that Navalny was poisoned with a military nerve agent from the Novichok group, the same class of Soviet-era agent that British authorities said was used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, in 2018. Russian doctors said they had found no trace of poison in Navalny's system.
Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov charged that Germany, the United States and other Western allies who urge Russia to conduct a probe into Navalny's poisoning squarely expect Russia to accept blame for something it hasn't done.
“We’re accustomed to unfounded accusations," Lavrov said. “When the official representative of the German government says that the request from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has been directed to independent judiciary agencies and so the German government can do nothing about it while demanding that we conduct an investigation, it resembles the precedent created by our Western colleagues following the Salisbury poisoning incident.”