Week-ending 9 October 2020
“States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention have declared the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances as reprehensible and wholly contrary to the legal norms established by the international community.”
– Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, 6 October 2020.
“The results of the analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team and shared with the Federal Republic of Germany confirm that the biomarkers of the cholinesterase inhibitor found in Mr Navalny’s blood and urine samples have similar structural characteristics as the toxic chemicals belonging to schedules 1.A.14 and 1.A.15 that were added to the Annex on Chemicals to the Convention during the Twenty-Fourth Session of the Conference of the States Parties in November 2019. This cholinesterase inhibitor is not listed in the Annex on Chemicals to the Convention. […] The Director-General, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, [ …] further considered that these results constitute a matter of grave concern. States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention have declared the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances as reprehensible and wholly contrary to the legal norms established by the international community.”
– ‘OPCW Issues Report on Technical Assistance Requested by Germany,’ Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, 6 October 2020
See also as background this week:
RFE/RL, Monday, 5 October 2020: A global chemical-weapons watchdog says samples taken from Russian opposition figure Aleksei Navalny have confirmed the presence of a chemical agent from the banned Novichok group, triggering renewed international calls for Russian authorities to investigate the matter. Biomarkers in Navalny’s blood and urine had “similar structural characteristics as the toxic chemicals belonging” to the Novichok group, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement on October 6. “These results constitute a matter of grave concern,” said OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias, who called on members to uphold the international treaty banning the use of chemical weapons. The findings confirm results released by Germany, where Navalny was treated after falling seriously ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20.
The Moscow Times, Wednesday, 7 October 2020: Russia rejects the global chemical weapons watchdog’s findings of a Novichok-type nerve agent in Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s samples, Moscow’s envoy in the Hague-based organization said Tuesday. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said earlier Tuesday that Navalny’s blood and urine samples taken by its experts in Germany contained traces of a type of nerve agent with “similar characteristics” as Novichok. Its findings confirm similar results by laboratories in Germany, where Navalny was treated, as well as France and Sweden. Russia’s representative to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin demanded “physical evidence” of the chemical warfare agent in Navalny’s samples and expert-level dialogue, according to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency. “Until the documents are provided… we will consider everything that’s happening around this incident an unbridled propaganda campaign of lies or, simply put, a low-grade provocation,” Shulgin said at an OPCW session in The Hague.
RFE/RL, Tuesday, 6 October 2020: Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has again blamed President Vladimir Putin for the poisoning incident in August that nearly took his life and confirmed his plans to return to Russia after he fully recovers in Germany. It was the first video interview given by Navalny since he fell ill after ingesting what international experts say was a chemical agent from the Novichok group while he was in Siberia, Navalny told Russian journalist Yury Dud on Dud’s popular YouTube channel on October 5 that he believes he was poisoned on Putin’s order and that most likely Russia’s Federal Security Service or the Foreign Intelligence Service were involved. “They understood that there were big, big problems threatening them ahead of elections for the State Duma,” Navalny, who was accompanied by his wife Yulia, said during the interview. Russia will hold national parliamentary elections next year.
The Moscow Times, Wednesday, 7 October 2020: Germany and France on Wednesday directly accused Russia of “involvement and responsibility” in the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, announcing that they will seek EU sanctions over the case. The European powers have repeatedly asked Moscow to shed light on the poisoning which took place on Russian soil, but “no credible explanation has been provided by Russia so far,” according to a joint statement issued by the German and French foreign ministers. “In this context, we consider that there is no other plausible explanation for Mr Navalny’s poisoning than Russian involvement and responsibility,” they said. Germany has until now only urged Moscow to investigate the case, but stopped short of making a direct accusation against President Vladimir Putin’s government.
Meduza, Friday, 9 October 2020: The Transit Police Department for Russia’s Siberian Federal District have published a new report on the inquiry in connection with opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s hospitalization in Omsk on August 20. In the report, police officials recount details of a “mine scare” at the Omsk Airport that same day, accuse employees from Navalny’s non-profit organization — the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) — of refusing to give testimony, and express doubts that a water bottle from Navalny’s hotel room was actually taken to Germany. “Meduza” breaks down the key points from the police report and recalls what Navalny and his associates have said on these topics.