After the recent accusations that Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated the poison plot against opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the Russian government hit back claiming that Navalny was in fact working with the CIA.
Speaking about Navalny’s allegations Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made claims that US intelligence were working with Navalny and any claims made by Navalny were on the instructions of the American specialists and therefore “groundless and unacceptable”.
The comments made by Peskov backed up previous comments from the Russian parliament’s speaker who had previously dismissed Navalny as both ‘dishonorable’ and ‘shameless’ who continued to work with ‘security services of Western countries’.
Tensions increased in Russian politics after Navalny was interviewed by German magazine Der Spiegel and laid the full blame of his recent poisoning with Putin saying, “Putin is behind the crime and I don’t have any other versions of what happened.” Navalny also discussed how it felt when the poison he was given – Novichok, a form of nerve agent – started to work within his body. He explained that ‘you don’t feel any pain but you know you’re dying.’
The poisoning left Navalny needing treatment in a German hospital for just over a month however it is still unclear if the damage has caused him any long-term issues, both physically and mentally.
In further ‘proof’ that Navalny works with western countries, the West has spoken to the Russian ruling party asking for an explanation into the alleged attack. So far the Kremlin has denied that they had any connection to the poisoning and has demanded to see the proof, if any, that they were.
When pressed as to whether Navalny would be returning to his home country by the magazine, he answered, “Not returning would mean that Putin has achieved his aim. And my job now is to stay the guy who’s not afraid.”
In the meantime, Navalny has been rehabilitating in Germany and it is believed he would need at least a further month of recovery before he is fully fit and able to resume his political career in Russia. However doctors treating him have confirmed that they believe Navalny should make a full recovery.
Speaking to the German magazine, Navalny went into detail about the moment he realized he had been poisoned during a flight in Siberia. After explaining to the cabin crew what he believed had happened he collapsed onto the floor where people tried to treat him.
Navalny described the moment saying, “Then I heard voices that were getting softer, a woman calling: Don’t faint now! Then that was it. I knew I was dead. Only later did I realize that I was wrong.”
It was originally believed that Navalny had been poisoned at an airport in Siberia, just before his flight. However further investigation has proven that the poison had in fact been located on his drinks bottle in his hotel room.
Following Navalny’s collapse the airliner was forced to complete an emergency landing in Omsk where he was met from the plane and taken to hospital. A week later Navalny was moved to a hospital in Berlin where he was able to be kept in a medically induced coma while being treated with atropine, an antidote to the Novichok poison.
As well as speculation on how Navalny had been poisoned, thoughts soon turned to who carried out the attack. Moscow was automatically believed to be responsible but they have strenuously denied this.
Novichok was the same nerve agent that was used in 2018 to poison Sergei Skripal in the British city of Salisbury. The Russian government and Putin were accused of being responsible for that incident too however they also denied they had been involved.
So far the Russian transport police has spoken to around 200 people however a full investigation has not been opened.
Russian authorities have also dismissed a claim from a German military lab that they had found ‘unequivocal evidence’ of Novichok poisoning – a claim backed up by laboratories in both Sweden and France – claiming that they too carried out tests on Navalny and no poison was found.
German foreign minister Heiko Maas spoke to the UN General Assembly in a video address and raised the incident, confirming that the poisoning went against a ban on chemical weapons, stating the incident was an issue for “the entire international community”. He also called on Russia “to do more to clarify this matter”.
In response to Germany’s comments Russia’s foreign ministry claimed that they were using ‘provocative’ actions as they abused their position in the UN to make ‘groundless claims’, stating that the views were a clear “continuation of Berlin’s openly hostile line” when discussing the incident, saying “The West often says it’s no longer possible to deal with Russia”.
There have been calls for sanctions against Russia to be renewed, particularly those involving the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany, however the Russian government has refuted this due to the pipeline being “absolutely in line with the interests of both Russia and EU countries.”