Like Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Ministry has previously commented on these populist and racist accusations.
EU sanctions on Russian individuals and entities
Over the past day, the European Union has produced a series of sanctions decisions against Russian individuals and entities. In addition to the previously announced steps related to the attempted poisoning of Alexey Navalny, the EU announced sanctions over the alleged involvement in destabilising the situation in Libya, including violating the UN arms embargo on Libya.
The European Union’s reasoning behind these decisions does not stand up to scrutiny and is bordering on the absurd. Of course there is no mention of any real evidence. We consider the EU’s attempts to use the authority of the UN to cover up its unseemly political goals as absolutely unacceptable.
We have warned our colleagues in Brussels and other European capitals more than once that the EU’s stubborn intention to hold Russia responsible for Mr Navalny’s alleged poisoning will be the litmus test of our further relations with the EU. Regrettably, our words went unheeded. These steps will not remain unanswered.
Once again, we are calling the European Union to return to the international legal framework, stop dividing countries into worthy and unworthy of the status of geopolitical partner, and choose stable, progressive cooperation instead of escalating confrontation for political purposes.
German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas’s interview with RIA Novosti
In an interview with RIA Novosti Russian Information Agency on October 13, 2020, German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas described the situation with the poisoning of Alexei Navalny as “not being a subject of relations between Russia and Germany.” We regard statements like this as a tactical ploy that serves as a cover for a policy of undermining bilateral relations, which is being pursued by Germany. Let me remind you that it was Berlin that, while blatantly disregarding its obligations under international law to render Russia practical assistance in investigating an incident involving a Russian national, has exploited it to come up with well-known unwarranted accusations against our country, as well as ultimatums and threats, assuming yet again, on its own initiative, the role of a motivator to push through new anti-Russia sanctions in the EU and other multilateral formats.
We unequivocally deny the statements that Heiko Maas has made publicly on more than one occasion about representatives of Russian executive authorities alleging that Navalny poisoned himself. This is a pure lie. Nobody has ever made such a statement. We unambiguously perceive these words by the German Foreign Minister as a provocative move that oversteps the boundaries of propriety.
We cannot regard the German Foreign Minister’s assurances that Berlin is interested in maintaining good or, at least, sound relations between Russia and Germany as sincere. We would like to note that the essence and importance of these relations is linked in public consciousness not solely to geography, as Maas said in his interview, but, to a significant extent, to our common history, which has as crucial chapters as those written in the 20th century alone, including the liberation by the Soviet Union of Germany and the rest of Europe from Nazism, the unprecedented reconciliation of the peoples of our two countries that followed, and Moscow’s decisive role in restoring German unity. The German government is eroding the framework of trust-based relations that took decades to build and the foundation for which was laid by the friendship between the USSR and the GDR, as well as Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik. Today, Berlin is backtracking on both the GDR and Willy Brandt’s political legacy.
Mutual trust has been undermined – and not by Russia’s actions but by the policy that the West has been pursuing in recent years, including moves like NATO’s fast-track expansion, despite pledges to the contrary; providing support for militants in Russia’s Caucasus; providing political cover for Georgia’s revenge-seeking military aggression led by Mikheil Saakashvili in 2008; and the de facto sponsorship of the anti-Russia coup in Ukraine in 2014, to name but a few.
As for Maas’s comments on the current situation in Belarus, we call on the German Foreign Minister to abstain from interference in word and in action in the internal affairs of a country that is our ally. We believe the Belarusians do not need instructions either from Berlin or the capital of any other foreign country, for that matter, to reach a consensus on issues of real public concern. Aggressive intervention by the collective West in the internal processes of third countries invariably leads to the emergence of new hotspots in the world.
Discussion of Navalny’s case at the OPCW Executive Council session
The 95th OPCW Executive Council session, held in The Hague on October 9, unleashed a US-prompted politicised discussion of the incident with Russian blogger Alexey Navalny. A group of Euro-Atlantic “community” countries and their satellites attempted to accuse Russia of a crude violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
All this is being done against the backdrop of the OPCW’s non-transparent cooperation with Germany on selecting and analysing bio samples on a Russian citizen. Information on Berlin’s contact with the OPCW was published only ten days after its written inquiry was sent to this organisation when it became clear that the results obtained by German military physicians were confirmed by similar military laboratories in France and Sweden.
Let me remind you that this matter deals with an incident involving a Russian citizen on Russian territory. Russia did all it could to save his life: the plane’s urgent landing in Omsk, the medical aid rendered to him quickly and professionally by Russian doctors, which made it possible to stabilise his condition in two days, and the prompt permit to transfer him for treatment in a German hospital despite a court order to remain in the country in connection with a court trial.
In this context, all insinuations of the Russian authorities’ interest in poisoning Navalny using a chemical nerve agent are inconsistent, to say the least. There is no logic in the allegation, that having ostensibly poisoned the blogger in such a dangerous and specific way, the Russian authorities sent him for the care by chemical experts at the Bundeswehr. This is absurd.
How could German experts find this so-called Novichok agent in the samples? This is a separate issue. German experts claim they have never synthesised substances of this class. Yet, they detected it without fail as we were told. The OPCW laboratories in France and Sweden could be asked the same question.
Berlin’s position is beneath criticism. It prefers a propaganda campaign with loud statements at top level to a civilised dialogue of competent agencies. If they claim to have “the evidence of a poisoning” why don’t they present it to Russia? Moreover, they are not even sharing it with their own allies. Germany’s allies even say this. They admit that they just believe what Berlin tells them. Apparently, this is political block discipline: they were told to believe and they believe. But they have not been shown any evidence or fact-based materials. This is not even mentioned.
Instead, when Russian law-enforcement agencies again and again requested assistance from their German partners, German officials maintained a knowing silence saying: “You poisoned Alexey Navalny, but we won’t give you any evidence and won’t talk to you about it.”
These actions contradict the current legal foundation and practice of Russian-German cooperation. Inquiries by the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office (there were four of them, plus one to France and one to Sweden) have been sent in line with the 1959 European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. In 2019-2020, Germany promptly replied to 83 Russian requests for legal aid in all. But this time something went wrong.
Russia has never given any reason to doubt its compliance with the CWC. We eliminated fully, and ahead of schedule, all reserves of chemical weapons as well as the relevant technical equipment. Russia supports verification at chemical facilities and maintains international cooperation in the interests of non-proliferation.
In accordance with the procedures at the OPCW where our German partners decided to transfer this issue, they are obliged to cooperate with Russia on implementing the convention. We have sent them an inquiry about this but have received just a formal note instead of a reply.
We are also waiting for replies from Sweden and France to the inquiries we sent to them as regards any facts on Navalny’s poisoning, which they claim to have. We would like to recall that according to the national criminal laws of many countries, the suppression of evidence from law-enforcement bodies that are conducting a pre-investigation check or investigating a crime, qualifies as complicity and holds criminal liability.
The OPCW Technical Secretariat is also required to perform its functions and react to the request of a state-party, Russia in this case, for specific explanations. Considering the situation around Navalny’s poisoning, which is alleged by a number of countries, we sent our proposal to the OPCW Technical Secretariat on October 1 of this year. We asked it to consider the possibility of sending its experts to Russia for cooperation with their Russian colleagues on this issue. This is required to determine the components of a potential crime on the territory of the Russian Federation. We are working to prepare for their visit.
For now, we do not see any willingness on the part of the Western countries to cooperate with Russia. Everything is reduced to the rhetoric that we hear, which is often simply unacceptable. The goal is obvious – to try to accuse Russia of everything without any grounds and create an excuse for introducing new restrictions against us.