Chemical weapons watchdog ready to assist Russia in Navalny case. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was asked by Russia to assist with the alleged murder attempt of Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition figure. According to Reuters, Alexei Navalny was said to have been poisoned by a “Soviet-era nerve.” On his flight from Siberia in September, he became unwell and was taken to a hospital in Germany. According to Reuters, Navalny’s doctors claimed that they found evidence of the Soviet-era nerve agent, Novichok, in his blood tests. At which point, Germany requested that OPCW confirm these tests. OPCW was later asked by Russia to assist in the Navalny case.
Reuters reports that Russia has denied any involvement in the attack against the Kremlin critic, Navalny, and they also claimed to have no evidence that Navalny was, in fact, poisoned. Additionally, it has also “disputed findings from labs in Germany, France and Sweden that said that Navalny was poisoned by Novichok,” as was stated in the Wall Street Journal. Russia has also said that they have not found any traces of Novichok in Navalny’s system. In past years, Russia has criticized OPCW, accusing them of pro-western bias. However, after Germany’s concern over the attempted murder of Navalny, someone who is notoriously known for his opposition to the Kremlin, Russia has decided to work with OPCW.
Pertaining to Russia’s request for assistance from OPCW, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, “We are counting on cooperation to produce results…in order to clear up the circumstances of this ambiguous event.”
It is important to note, Russia’s request for assistance from OPCW only came after Germany, France, and Sweden claimed that Navalny’s tests did show Novichok in his system as well as after Berlin threatened to impose sanctions on Russia, “If Moscow doesn’t transparently investigate the circumstances of his illness,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Navalny’s team and supporters believe that the “Kremlin was behind Mr. Navalny’s poisoning and accuse the doctors who treated him in Russia of complicity in trying to cover it up.” Skeptical of the Kremlin, Navalny’s team has worked independently to solve the case.
While it is a positive step for Russia to request the assistance of OPCW in uncovering the truth behind the attempted murder of Alexei Navalny, the timing is concerning. Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in tthis and has disputed Germany, France, and Sweden’s findings showing that there was in fact Novichok found in Navalny’s tests. They have also produced their own tests and claimed to have not found anything poisonous in Navalny’s system. It is crucial that as OPCW works with Russia, they remain as transparent as possible and do not allow for any meddling from the Kremlin. Until OPCW does their own tests on Navalny and determines the results, the facts pointing to Russia’s involvement in the attempted murder cannot be ignored.
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