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6 Oct, 2020 12:16

After request from Kremlin, OPCW agrees ‘team of experts’ to determine facts around Alexey Navalny’s alleged ‘Novichok’ poisoning

After request from Kremlin, OPCW agrees ‘team of experts’ to determine facts around Alexey Navalny’s alleged ‘Novichok’ poisoning

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has accepted an invitation from Moscow to send experts to Russia. They will cooperate with their Russian counterparts in investigating the Alexey Navalny case.

Last month, the OPCW offered technical assistance to the German government, after Berlin announced that the Russian opposition figure, and well-known anti-corruption activist, had been attacked with a nerve agent from the so-called “Novichok group.” The Germans cited an analysis of samples conducted by their military specialists.

In the OPCW’s press release, the organization explained that it is “ready to provide the requested expertise” to Moscow, thanking Russia for “its trust in the Technical Secretariat's independence and expertise."

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Founded in 1997, the OPCW is an intergovernmental organization tasked with implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention, signed by 165 countries, including Russia. The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms-control treaty that makes the production and use of chemical weapons completely illegal.

On Monday, Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations accused the OPCW of being politically motivated. “Let us say frankly: the Technical Secretariat is becoming a tool that the West uses to exert informational and political pressure on ‘unwanted’ countries,” Vasily Nebenzya said. “Involvement of the Technical Secretariat in anti-Russian campaigns also supports this conclusion.”

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Last month, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov complained that Moscow was not getting the desired level of cooperation from the OPCW. Russia also claims to have requested information from Berlin about Navalny's condition, such as toxicology reports, but officials say that, thus far, they have received nothing.

On August 20, Navalny fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. After an emergency landing in Omsk, another Siberian city, Navalny was taken to a local hospital, where he fell into a coma. Two days later, the opposition figure was flown to the Charité clinic in Berlin at the request of his family and associates.

After testing, German toxicologists discovered that the anti-corruption activist was poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents. This claim has been denied by Russian doctors, who say that they did not find any trace of poison in his body. On September 23, Navalny was discharged from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. Rehabilitation will take several weeks, after which he plans to return to Russia.

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