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Russia: Germany spread misinformation on Navalny

November 30, 2020

Russia said Germany used "megaphone diplomacy" and a "mass disinformation campaign" regarding Alexei Navalny's poisoning. The comments came at a meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Alexei Navalny
Image: Shamil Zhumatov/REUTERS

Germany criticized Russia over the apparent poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny at a meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Monday, while Russia accused Germany of a "mass disinformation campaign" concerning Navalny during the meeting.

The Russian delegation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said during the two-day conference that "Germany and its allies resorted to megaphone diplomacy, unleashed a mass disinformation campaign against Russia and started to demand some 'independent international investigation' under the auspices of the OPCW."

Navalny fell ill on August 20 during a flight in Russia, and was taken to Berlin's Charite Hospital two days later.  The OPCW said Navalny was exposed to the Novichok nerve agent. Navalny was placed in a medically induced coma before eventually  recovering.

Appeals for an independent investigation followed from much of Europe and the US, with Dutch and OPCW labs also finding evidence of Novichok poisoning in line with German findings. Russia had responded by questioning whether the staunch critic of Vladimir Putin had in fact been poisoned in Germany, days after he had fallen seriously ill in Siberia, requesting that Germany send it samples. 

'Use of a chemical weapon'

In a separate statement, Germany's delegation to the OPCW said, "any use of a chemical weapon is a matter of international concern."

Further in the statement, the delegation added the use of the nerve agent against Navalny "threatens the integrity of the CWC and our common security" and called for "the Russian Federation to fully cooperate with the OPCW and to disclose the circumstances of the chemical weapons attack against a Russian citizen on Russian territory."

OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias said during Monday's meeting that according to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), "the poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is a use of a chemical weapon."

In a joint statement, more than 50 countries in the OPCW, including the United States, Japan, and many European nations, said they  condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the attack on Navalny.

The countries said Russia should disclose "in a swift and transparent manner the circumstances of this chemical weapons attack" on Russian territory.

Syria also facing the pressure

Syria, which is supported by Russia, is also facing intense pressure from the OPCW. Syria was given 90 days in July to declare the weapons used in strikes on the village of Lataminah in 2017, and to reveal its remaining chemical weapons stock.

"The Syrian Arab Republic has not completed any of the measures," said Arias.

 He added that there were "gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies" in Syria's account of its progress on the 2013 agreement to give up all chemical weapons after a suspected sarin attack killed 1,400 people in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.

Read more: How Germany could indict Syria's Assad for war crimes

The OPCW has 193 member states and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its work on destroying the world's chemical weapons stock.

kbd/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)