The New York Times (NYT) has quoted an unnamed security source as saying that Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who remains at a Berlin hospital after the alleged poisoning, seemed mentally sharp when he recently talked to a German prosecutor, signalling, in particular, his reluctance to cooperate with Russia on the case.
“He’s fully aware of his condition, he’s fully aware of what happened and he’s fully aware of where he is,” the senior German security official said.
The source also claimed that Navalny had refused to comply with Russia’s request to jointly investigate the case with Germany, and that the opposition activist plans to return to Russia after recovering.
“He’s not planning to go into exile in Germany. He wants to go home to Russia and he wants to continue his mission,” according to the official. The Kremlin has not commented on the NYT report yet.
The official’s reported remarks come after the Charite clinic in Berlin said on Monday that Navalny’s health condition had continued to improve and that he had been removed from mechanical ventilation.
Earlier on Monday, Berlin announced that three independent tests by German, French, and Swedish laboratories had confirmed that the 44-year-old had traces of the chemical agent in his system, a few weeks after Germany asserted that Navalny's condition was the result of poisoning by a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok group, refusing, however, to share the information with Russia.
Groundless Accusations Against Russia Over Situation With Navalny Unacceptable, Putin Says
Russian President Vladimir Putin has, meanwhile, told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron during a phone conversation that groundless accusations against Moscow regarding the situation around Navalny were unacceptable, and that Germany needed to share its case materials with Russia so that the situation could be clarified.
The Kremlin also stressed that Russian prosecutors had asked for information on Navalny's condition and on 27 August sent a legal assistance request to Berlin, but received no response. According to the Kremlin, Russia needs access to the information before it can open an investigation.
Additionally, Russia underscored that it had not produced any Novichok group substances since the the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) verified the destruction of the country’s chemical weapons stocks in the early 1990s.
Navalny fell gravely ill while on a flight from Siberia to Moscow on 20 August. He was then placed in a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk, where the plane made an emergency landing. Two days later, Navalny was transported to the Berlin-based Charite clinic for further treatment.