01:41 GMT02 December 2020
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    Following Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny's alleged poisoning, the European Union imposed sanctions on six Russian officials it suspected of involvement in the incident. Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the alleged poisoning of the opposition activist.

    Russia has already introduced sanctions against German and French officials in response to EU steps over the case of Alexei Navalny, and will soon notify its EU partners, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference.

    "Since EU sanctions over Navalny directly concern senior officials at the presidential administration, we will respond with similar sanctions. They have been adopted, we will soon inform our French and German colleagues about that", Lavrov told reporters.

    According to the minister, Russia's sanctions will concern senior officials in Germany and France.

    The minister also said that Germany has played a key role in the recent conflict between Russia and Europe on Navalny's case.

    "I have told [German Foreign Minister Heiko] Maas - and I can be open about this as it is not a secret - we have seen that Germany has taken the lead in souring the [EU's] relations with the Russian Federation. This is a cause of concern for us, considering the leading role Germany has in Europe", Lavrov said.

    The statement comes amid the ongoing investigation of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the alleged poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny. 

    After Navalny was hospitalised in August, relations between Europe and Russia soured, as the European Union slapped sanctions on several Russian officials it believes are involved in the alleged poisoning. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident.

    Navalny's Alleged Poisoning Details

    Navalny was hospitalised on 20 August in the city of Omsk where he was diagnosed with metabolic malfunction, which led to a sudden change in blood sugar levels. It is unclear what caused that, but Omsk doctors found no trace of poison in his blood or urine.

    Navalny was later transported to Germany. Shortly after his arrival in a clinic in Berlin, the German government claimed, citing military doctors, that he had been poisoned with a Novichok-type nerve agent. Berlin then said that its findings were backed by laboratories in Sweden and France. The OPCW has opened its own investigation at the request of Berlin. The Kremlin has said that Berlin did not inform Moscow about its conclusions. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Russia was still waiting for a reply from Germany on this issue.

    Russian prosecutors and police began a pre-trial investigation the day Navalny was taken to hospital. The Kremlin has said that the probes were opened de facto and if the poisonous substance was confirmed, they would be launched de jure as well. The Kremlin said Russia is ready to co-operate with Europe in this matter but will need some information first.

    Tags:
    conflict, Sergei Lavrov, Alexei Navalny, Europe, Russia, Germany
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