14:24 GMT30 September 2020
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    The German government said in early September that doctors at the hospital where Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny is being treated had found traces of a nerve agent from the Novichok group in his system. Moscow responded by pointing to the lack of evidence in Berlin's claims and noting that Russian doctors had found no toxic substances.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry has called German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’ statement that Moscow should contact the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) about the situation with politician Alexei Navalny "evasion".

    "We saw a statement today by Mr Maas regarding, I quote, 'for all the data that Russia expects, it should contact the OPCW'. Sorry, this is just some real evasion, to put it mildly. But given the resonance and the sensitivity of the issue that we are all observing now, to be honest, I would like to pick up a stronger expression, because this is impossible", Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on air on the Rossiya 1 broadcaster.

    Earlier today, Steffen Seibert, the German government’s spokesman, stated that Germany and the OPCW had made advances in joint work on the alleged poisoning case and "received the undeniable results of the special laboratory of the Bundeswehr [Germany’s military]". The German Foreign Ministry said that the OPCW had taken samples from Alexei Navalny for an investigation on its own, in accordance with Paragraph VIII 38 (e) of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which envisions technical assistance to OPCW member states.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin told French leader Emmanuel Macron during a phone conversation that groundless accusations against Russia regarding the situation around Navalny were unacceptable. Putin also told Macron that Germany needed to share its case materials with Russia so that the situation could be clarified.

    Last week, the German government said traces of a nerve agent from the Novichok group were detected in Navalny's system. Moscow has commented on the matter, saying that Russian doctors found no toxic substances before he was transported to Germany and that Berlin has provided no evidence to support its claims. Moscow also stressed that Russian prosecutors have asked for information on Navalny's condition and on 27 August sent a legal assistance request to Berlin, but received no response. The Kremlin said that Russia needs access to the information before it can open an investigation. Russia has also said that it has not produced any Novichok group substances since the OPCW verified the destruction of its chemical weapons stocks in the early 1990s.

    Navalny fell ill during a domestic Russian flight on 20 August. He was initially treated in the Siberian city of Omsk, where the plane made an emergency landing. Two days later, once the doctors established that he was fit for cross-border aerial transportation, the man was flown to the Berlin-based Charite hospital for further treatment.

    German doctors claimed they found traces of a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors in his body, which Russian doctors denied, citing the patient's test results. They said that no traces of poison had been found and suggested that his condition was caused by an abrupt drop of glucose in his blood due to a metabolic imbalance.

    Tags:
    Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Alexei Navalny, Germany, Russia
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