The Technical Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) turned collection of samples from Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny into a "covert operation," the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, calling the watchdog a "dirty tool" for implementing the West's goals.
"Throughout the past week, in response to all our inquiries to the OPCW Technical Secretariat, its officials just shrugged their shoulders – as if there is no question of any involvement of the OPCW in this story with Navalny. Meanwhile, the Franco-Anglo-Saxon team that dominates the technical secretariat’s leadership conducted a whole secret ‘operation’ to collect additional biomaterial from Navalny, which was transferred to another two designated OPCW laboratories for analysis," the ministry said.
The Russian diplomats noted that they would not be surprised if the laboratories in question are those in the Swiss town of Spiez and the United Kingdom’s Porton Down, which had been involved in analysis of a chemical agent allegedly used in the city of Salisbury.
"With regret, we must say that Western countries have gone beyond all limits, turning the once-authoritative OPCW into a dirty tool for implementing their destructive plans," the ministry added.
Navalny fell ill during a domestic Russian flight on August 20. He was initially treated in the city of Omsk, where the plane had to urgently land. Two days later, once the doctors established he was fit for cross-border aerial transportation, the 44-year-old was flown to the Charite hospital in Berlin for further treatment.
Later, the German government said doctors had found traces of a nerve agent from the Novichok group in his system. According to Berlin, these conclusions were confirmed by labs in France and Sweden. Tests in Russia did not show traces of poison. Moscow has asked Germany to provide evidence, but so far has not received a response.
Navalny's condition has since improved. He is no longer on a ventilator and can get out of bed.