Alexei Navalny: UN seeks independent probe into ‘profoundly disturbing’ novichok poisoning

‘It is not good enough to simply deny he was poisoned,’ says UN high commissioner for human rights

Associated Press reporter
Tuesday 08 September 2020 11:55
Merkel: Russian poisoning of Navalny is attempted murder

The office of the UN human rights chief is calling on the Russian government to carry out or cooperate with an independent investigation of the reported poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, welcomed the emergence of Mr Navalny from a coma in a Berlin hospital, said office spokesman Rupert Colville.

"There was a very serious crime committed on Russian soil," he told reporters in Geneva. "There appears to to be no doubt this exotic and highly deadly substance — Novichok — was used, and clearly there must be a proper investigation.'

"Who does it, how they do it, as long as it's independent, impartial and thorough, and preferably quick, it's less important in a sense to say who does it," he added. "In theory at least, it's incumbent on the Russian authorities to investigate a crime of this severity that took place on their own territory."

Mr Navalny, a fierce, high-profile critic of Vladimir Putin, was flown to Germany last month after falling ill on 20 August on a domestic flight in Russia. German chemical weapons experts say tests show the politician was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent, prompting the German government last week to demand that Russia investigate the case.

Ms Bachelet, in a statement, decried a "profoundly disturbing" number of cases of poisoning or targeted assassination in Russia over the past two decades, and noted that Mr Navalny had been harassed, arrested and assaulted repeatedly in the past.

"Navalny was clearly someone who needed state protection ... even if he was a political thorn in the side of the government," Ms Bachelet said. "It is not good enough to simply deny he was poisoned, and deny the need for a thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into this assassination attempt."


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