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Russia Rejects Navalny Was Poisoned, But Sanctions Appear To Be Just Around The Corner

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Russia Rejects Navalny Was Poisoned, But Sanctions Appear To Be Just Around The Corner

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On August 25th, Russia dismissed a statement by the Charité hospital in Berlin which said that Russian opposition political Alexei Navalny had been poisoned.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there are no grounds to launch a criminal investigation. He called allegations that Russian President Vladimir Putin bears responsibility for Navalny’s fate “empty noise.”

“We don’t understand why our German colleagues have jumped to conclusions and are using the word ‘poisoning,’” Peskov said. “That was one of the first theories considered by our doctors, but a substance has yet to be identified.”

“We cannot take such accusations seriously. These accusations cannot be true at all and are more likely empty noise,” Peskov said, adding “we don’t understand why our German colleagues are in such a hurry. The substance hasn’t yet been established.”

The medical staff in Omsk, Russia, where Navalny was hospitalized for two days, has repeatedly said that there was no evidence Navalny was poisoned.

“When Navalny was admitted for treatment, tests for an extensive range of narcotic and synthetic substances, psychedelics and medicinal substances, including cholinesterase inhibitors, were conducted, and the result was negative,” Alexander Sabayev, the chief of the toxicology department of Omsk Emergency Care Hospital No. 1 said.

On August 24th, the EU issued a statement that said it condemned Russia’s alleged actions, and called for a thorough investigation into the matter.

“The European Union strongly condemns what seems to be an attempt on Mr Navalny’s life. It is imperative that the Russian authorities initiate an independent and transparent investigation on the poisoning of Mr Navalny without delay. The Russian people, as well as the international community, are demanding the facts behind Mr Navalny’s poisoning. Those responsible must be held to account.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that if Navalny was poisoned.

“The United States is deeply concerned by reported preliminary conclusions from German medical experts that Russian opposition activist Aleksei Navalny was poisoned,” Pompeo said.

Navalny’s associates said they formally petitioned for a criminal investigation to be opened on August 20th, when he fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow.

Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh said that both Russia’s Investigative Committee and authorities in the Siberian city of Tomsk had been contacted.

Just before Berlin’s Charité hospital, Yarmush said that both law enforcement agencies had responded.

“A decision to open a criminal case is made within three days in line with the law,” Yarmysh tweeted. “The deadline ended at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday [August 23rd]. A criminal inquiry has not yet been launched.”

Charité said in a statement that it ordered a second round of testing to determine the exact substance that afflicted Navalny, which could provide more forensic evidence as to who might have been behind the poisoning.

It is also the US and its allies’ hope that if it really was poisoning this would spoil relations between Russia and Germany so much that Nord Stream 2 is officially canceled, despite Berlin’s claims that economic issues shouldn’t be related to any political ones.

“Germany tries to not link different issues,” said Marcel Dirsus, a nonresident fellow at the Institute for Security Policy at Germany’s Kiel University. “But it is impossible to see each in isolation. Everything is part of a bigger picture.”

On matters regarding Russia, it is “unusual for the German government to have a unified position on Russia and make concrete demands,” he noted.

“There are significant domestic German political constraints when it comes to Russia,” Dirsus said. “Some people believe the only way to change Russia is by engaging it.”

This “puzzling” German behaviour was obvious during the visit of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to Moscow.

In statements there, Maas criticized the threat by Republican U.S. senators to impose sanctions on the German port helping finish the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

He also denounced another attack, blamed on Russia without evidence, against a Chechen man with Georgian citizenship, who is a ‘former’ terrorist, who was shot to death in public last year in the German capital.

So the time for sanctions may have come, and the US and EU have expressed readiness for that, similarly to what transpired with Sergey and Yulia Skripal and the lack of evidence that Russia played any part. None of that mattered, evidently.

The line is obvious – German outlet Deutsche Welle even asked the ‘obvious question’ – was Navalny poisoned with Novichok.

Which begs another question, do any of the experts and investigators even know what Novichok is, if it appears to have a different effect on each respective individual?

“The medical staff treating Navalny, who reported on Thursday that he might have been poisoned with a nerve agent, suspect an as-yet-unidentified cholinesterase inhibitor. Navalny’s suspected poisoning is in many ways similar to the attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England two years ago,” DW reported.

“Skripal is believed to have been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, which blocks the body’s production of cholinesterase, an enzyme that is essential to the functioning of the nervous system. If untreated, such poisoning can be lethal,” the report added.

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