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Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW A.V.Shulgin at the 95th Session of the OPCW Executive Council on the situation with A.Navalny

Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW A.V.Shulgin at the 95th Session of the OPCW Executive Council on the situation with A.Navalny

 

The Russian delegation would like to convey to the members of the Executive Council and all other States Parties to the CWC our position on the situation with Alexey Navalny.

We are gravely concerned with the way the incident which happened with Russian citizen Alexei Navalny in the territory of the Russian Federation and led to his hospitalization is interpreted and presented in some States Parties to the CWC.

A number of capitals, above all Berlin, attempt to show it as if Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a toxic agent that can be classified as a newest top-class chemical weapon. However, it does not even cross their minds that they are painting a grotesque picture that can only be treated as fiction. Rather, it is nonsense in its absolute form shaped as assumptions and questionable versions.

Politicians, all kinds of propagandists, and biased mass media engaged in this anti-Russian campaign hint at and sometimes even directly accuse Russian authorities of poisoning Alexei Navalny in a bizzare manner with a toxic chemical of the group known in the West as Novichok. At the same time, they forget to mention that it was in Russia where every effort was made to save this citizen’s life: pilots of the aircraft he was in when he felt sick made an emergency landing in Omsk; for two days, he received the necessary emergency medical treatment from Russian doctors; lastly, Russian authorities quickly responded to his relatives' requests and did everything possible to transfer Alexei Navalny to the German Charité hospital as soon as his condition was more or less stable. This would be an odd behavior, to put it lightly, for people whom those who take advantage of this story regard as poisoners.

This version of events essentially implies that Russian authorities only transferred Alexei Navalny to Germany to allow Bundeswehr chemists to detect traces of the infamous Novichok in his samples. How they managed to do so is a separate question, because as far as we recall, Germany has always maintained that it had never produced Novichok agents, but somehow it almost immediately found out the exact substance the Berlin patient had been poisoned with, and without mentioning the specific chemicals announced it to the whole world.

The German side is trying to prove that those «scheming Russians» first tried to kill their citizen with a virulent poison, and then for whatever reason saved his life and sent him to Germany to complete his treatment just to let heroic German military chemists to become so famous.

This ridiculous story was immediately picked up in many other countries. Hype was raised about Russians allegedly using prohibited chemical weapons.

The official German position is surprising. Instead of entering into a dialogue with us, as long as it claims to have proof that Alexei Navalny has been poisoned, it starts loud large-scale propaganda with bold statements made at the highest level. At the same time, when Russian law enforcement authorities ask German partners for assistance, and repeat their legitimate requests time and again, the German side mysteriously goes silent and continues to push its agenda – you poisoned Navalny, but we will not share anything we've found with you and will not talk to you. This contradicts with the current legal framework and Russian-German interaction practice. The inquiry from the Russian Prosecutor General’s office has been sent on the basis of the European convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters of 1959. It does not contain the need for individual’s consent to provide information relating to him/her. There is no such ground for denial of legal assistance. In 2019-2020 Germany without let or hindrance handled 83 Russian requests for legal assistance that contained personal data inquiries. There were no denials from the German side.

 In addition to that the German side enlists French and Swedish laboratories to back up their groundless accusations, and they, lo and behold, find traces of Novichok too, although both countries, as far as we understand, deny having experience in the production of Novichok agents, but at the same time immediately become experienced in identifying them in their laboratories. In such a situation, it is probably best to first acknowledge that they have actually produced Novichok agents before.

Finally, some sort of a detective story is starting to unfold concerning behind-the-scenes cooperation between the German side and the OPCW's Technical Secretariat. Information in this regard has been appearing from time to time on official websites of the German Government, but leadership of the Technical Secretariat was hiding its cooperation with Germany for almost a week, essentially misleading both us and all States Parties regarding what was really going on.

We would like to stress that Russia is fully implementing all its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention: it has eliminated all stocks of chemical weapons completely and ahead of time, destroyed respective technical equipment, is promoting the implementation of the verification regime at chemical facilities, and engaged in international cooperation towards non‑proliferation.

In spite of all the questionable demands we are receiving – including those that have been made today, in particular, in a joint statement read out by the representative of Germany on behalf of a group of countries – to conduct a national investigation, cooperate with the OPCW, etc., we stress that Russia does not owe anything to anybody: neither to Germany nor to other countries that categorically and groundlessly accuse Russia of poisoning Alexei Navalny. We do not need to explain ourselves to them and we are not going to.

On the contrary, it is Germany who needs to be the first to act and finally respond to four consecutive requests for legal assistance submitted by the Office of the Prosecutor General. It is obliged to provide us with all materials that proves, according to the German side, that a crime has been committed against the Russian citizen.

Finally, as the German partners have moved this issue to the Hague platform and decided to use OPCW capacities, they are obliged to cooperate with us in the framework of the Convention. We have sent them the corresponding request and are waiting for the substantive answer, not a formal snide response.

It is Sweden and France who must respond to our requests concerning the alleged evidence they have of the poisoning of the Russian citizen. By the way, we would like to remind you that, under national criminal legislation of many countries, withholding any evidence from law enforcement authorities that conduct a preliminary investigation is treated as complicity in the crime and a criminal offense.

The Technical Secretariat is also obliged to perform its functions and respond to a request by a State Party, for instance, Russia, asking for specific clarifications. In view of the situation regarding the alleged "poisoning" of Alexei Navalny proclaimed by several countries, on October 1, 2020, we provided our proposal to leadership of the OPCW Technical Secretariat to consider sending experts of the Secretariat to Russia to cooperate with Russian experts on the matter. We need such cooperation in order to define potential corpus delicti on the territory of the Russian Federation. We understand the reply from Director-General of the OPCW Technical Secretariat with the proposal to clarify under which provisions the assistance is required to be delivered. Taking into account the precedents already established by Great Britain and Germany we believe that the requested meeting can be conducted under Article VIII, paragraph 38(e) of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

In conclusion, I would like to highlight that as far we have not seen any willingness to cooperate with us, everything comes down to “megaphone diplomacy”. Until we receive documents, materials, samples, physical evidence that – as alleged by those accusing us – prove that a toxic agent was found in Alexei Navalny's tests, until they sit down at the negotiating table with us for an engaged expert-level dialogue, we will treat everything that is going on in the context of this incident as a vociferous propaganda campaign of lies, or, simply, a low-grade provocation.

Its aim is clear – to attempt to discredit Russia for geopolitical reasons with a series of groundless accusations and thus create a far-fetched excuse to introduce a new «tranche» of sanctions against our country.

But talking to Russia with the language of ultimatums and threats is useless. If you want to cooperate with us – please do, but only on an equitable and mutually respectful basis.