Person of the Week: Aleksei Navalny

Week-ending 4 September 2020

On Wednesday, 2 September 2020, the German authorities said Aleksei Navalny had been poisoned with a substance from the novichok family, The Guardian reported. Angela Merkel has demanded answers from the Kremlin over the “attempted murder” of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, after toxicological exams at Berlin’s Charité hospital indicated “unequivocally” that Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent from the novichok family. “This poison could be identified unequivocally in tests,” Merkel said, referring to tests carried out at a military laboratory. She said the findings raised “very difficult questions that only the Russian government can answer, and has to answer.” Navalny, whose foundation publishes investigations into corruption among high-level officials in Russia, has been physically attacked and jailed on multiple occasions in the past, in cases that have been widely seen as politically motivated.

On Thursday, 3 September 2020, Amnesty International issued a statement saying the Russian authorities’ failure to investigate the poisoning of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny would be a blatant violation of his right to life, reacting to the finding by German authorities that Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok family.

On Thursday, 3 September 2020, The Moscow Times reported that the head of the world chemical arms watchdog expressed “grave concern” on Thursday after Germany said Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny had been poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director-General Fernando Arias added that the Hague-based body was ready to help any member country that asked for its assistance. “Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, any poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is considered a use of chemical weapons. Such an allegation is a matter of grave concern,” Arias said in a statement. The OPCW chief added that the “use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances” was “reprehensible and wholly contrary to the legal norms established by the international community.”

On Monday, 31 August 2020, RFE/RL reported that Aleksei Navalny’s team has published its investigative report about corruption in Siberia, where the Russian opposition politician was apparently poisoned earlier this month while conducting research. The report, published on Navalny’s website on August 31, claims 18 out of 50 lawmakers in Novosibirsk, Russia’s third-largest city, are owners or represent owners of construction companies. The report also gives detailed information about properties and assets of the lawmakers and their relatives and calls on people in Novosibirsk to vote for opposition candidates supported by Navalny’s Smart Voting project.

On Monday, 31 August 2020, RFE/RL reported that a member of Aleksei Navalny’s team said his vehicle was pursued by individuals on quadricycles in Tatarstan after filming an investigation in the region. Georgi Alburov said in a post on Twitter that after filming a residence outside the regional capital of Kazan with the use of drones, guards protecting the property chased them on quadricycles. The guards on the quadricycles blocked the road and damaged the vehicle he and his filming group were traveling in, Alburov said. The guards contacted the police, who proceeded to seize the filming group’s equipment, including camera, filter, and laptop, he said in a Twitter post.

On Friday, 4 September 2020, RAPSI reported that Basmanny District Court in Moscow found no act of omission of Russia’s Investigative Committee failing to open a criminal case over an incident involving Alexey Navalny, RAPSI reported from the courtroom on Friday. A judge dismissed the foundation’s complaint. Lawyers for Navalny’s foundation believe it’s been a while since they had notified investigators of the incident. Lawyer Vyacheslav Gimadi has filed an application over attempted murder of the blogger. The application was forwarded to the Siberian Federal District’ transport police.

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