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22 Oct, 2020 21:16

Putin says he personally asked Russian prosecutors to allow opposition figure Navalny to travel to Germany for medical treatment

Putin says he personally asked Russian prosecutors to allow opposition figure Navalny to travel to Germany for medical treatment

Vladimir Putin has denied Russia’s involvement in the alleged poisoning of Alexey Navalny, saying he asked prosecutors to allow the anti-corruption activist, who had been under travel restrictions, to fly to Germany for treatment.

“If somebody here wanted to poison him, he would’ve been unlikely to have been sent for treatment to Germany, right?” Putin told the members of the Valdai Discussion Club think tank via a video link on Thursday.

“We could’ve easily prevented him from leaving. He was under travel restrictions,” Putin reminded them, referring to the strictures put in place as part of a libel case launched against Navalny this summer.

According to the president, when Navalny’s wife asked him to allow her husband to be flown to Germany, he immediately asked the Prosecutor-General’s Office to look into such a possibilty.

On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov offered a further explanation. The president said he had contacted the Prosecutor General’s Office on the issue, because at that moment there existed certain restrictions on Navalny’s right to leave the country, he explained, when asked if the Kremlin in reality took greater care of Navalny’s fate than it had been mentioned before. In that sense, yes, that could be done only by the president.

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Putin has been critical of the German authorities – who insist Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents – for refusing to cooperate with Russia or share the proof of their claims.

Moscow repeatedly asked Berlin to provide it with samples and official test results, insisting it needed the evidence to launch a criminal case into the alleged poisoning of the activist. “But they gave us nothing. How can you explain that?” Putin wondered.

“Let’s investigate together if there really are events of a criminal nature,” he said of his expectations of the German leadership.

Navalny’s sudden medical incident aboard a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow on August 20 forced the plane to perform an emergency landing. He was put into an induced coma at a hospital in Omsk and, two days later, transferred to Berlin’s Charité clinic.

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The Siberian hospital Navalny was taken to said it found no trace of poison, but the medics who treated the 44-year-old in the German capital claimed their tests showed he’d been poisoned with Novichok – a Soviet-designed nerve agent that made headlines after the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the British city of Salisbury in 2018.

Navalny, who has since emerged from the coma and been discharged from hospital, said he had no doubts about the conclusion arrived at by his German doctors, and blamed Putin personally for making an attempt on his life. The EU has imposed sanctions on several Russian officials it deemed to have been behind the alleged plot.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the case, and even the very fact of Navalny’s poisoning. It pointed to the alleged evidence of his Russian medics, who insisted they had discovered no traces of any nerve agent in the activist’s system at the time of his admission to hospital in Omsk.

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