Putin on Navalny: Preliminary Checks Ongoing, But Criminal Probe Requires Substantiation

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that there are preliminary verification procedures on the poisoning of opposition figure Alexey Navalny, but a criminal investigation would require substantive materials, Sputnik reported.

“As for the high-profile cases, the poisoning of a well-known figure. The checks are ongoing. We just cannot launch a criminal case because there are no materials. Russian prosecutors have repeatedly asked their colleagues to send at least official written conclusions on their probe,” Putin said at a meeting with the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights.

Putin said he had asked for Russian specialists to be allowed to join the investigation into the matter, but nobody had invited Russia to join.

Navalny Case

Russian opposition figure and vlogger Alexey Navalny fell ill during a domestic flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow on 20 August. Navalny was first treated in the Siberian city of Omsk, where the plane made an emergency landing.

Local doctors managed to save his life and stabilise his condition, but could only draw a preliminary conclusion as to the cause of it. They said he had suffered from a sudden drop in sugar levels, as analyses of his samples showed no traces of poisonous substances.

After Navalny’s condition was stabilised, his family requested that he be transferred to Germany’s Charite hospital. Once the Russian doctors established that he was fit for cross-border aerial transportation, the man was flown to the Berlin-based hospital for further treatment.

The opposition figure came out of his coma in September, but not before the German government had claimed that military laboratories had found traces of a Novichok-group nerve agent in his blood. Berlin demanded that Moscow provide an “explanation”, but Germany has so far refused to hand over the data that it based its accusations on.

The Kremlin noted that Berlin had not informed Moscow of its findings and the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that Russia was waiting for a response from Germany to an official request regarding the situation. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said that during one month, Russia had sent Germany no less than three requests for legal assistance regarding the situation with Navalny, and no answers had been received.

The Berlin-based hospital Charite announced on 23 September that Navalny had been discharged from inpatient care after his condition had “improved sufficiently”.