Excerpt from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI TV channel, Moscow, September 14, 2020
Question: You have been the Foreign Minister of Russia for 16 years now and had to deal with the most serious challenges of this century. Sanctions were imposed. We began to adapt to them and survived them. Germany announced that it has received the results of Alexey Navalny’s tests. France and Sweden confirmed the presence of the Novichok agent in them. Do you think Navalny’s case may become the driver of new anti-Russia sanctions?
Sergey Lavrov: I agree with our political scientists who are convinced that had it not been for Navalny, these countries would have invented something else as a pretext for additional sanctions.
As for this situation, I think our Western partners have simply gone beyond the pale, beyond any sense. In effect, they demand that we “confess.” We are asked: Don’t you believe the Bundeswehr’s German specialists? How is it possible? Their conclusions have been confirmed by the French and Swedes. Don’t you believe them, either?
This is a mysterious story, considering we sent a request from our Prosecutor General’s Office for legal help on August 27 and haven’t yet received a reply. This request was God knows where for more than a week. We were told it is at the German Foreign Ministry. The German Foreign Ministry did not send it to the Ministry of Justice, to which it was addressed by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office. Then we were told that it was transferred to the Prosecutor’s Office of Berlin, but that we would not receive any information without the consent of the family. They urge us to start a criminal investigation.
We have our own laws, and according to them, we cannot open a criminal case just by taking someone’s word for it. Certain procedures must be observed. In this context, an ongoing pre-investigation review began immediately after the incident, during which all the circumstances of the case have been and are being studied. Some of our Western colleagues wrote that Navalny “survived by a miracle.” Allegedly, the notorious Novichok agent was used, but the Russian citizen escaped by a “lucky coincidence.” So, what is this “lucky coincidence” all about? First, the pilot immediately landed the aircraft; second, an ambulance was waiting by the runway; and third, doctors immediately started doing their professional duty. The absolutely impeccable conduct of the pilots, doctors and ambulance crew is being presented as a “lucky coincidence.” In other words, they don’t even believe that we acted as we were supposed to. This is deeply ingrained in the minds of those who invent such things.
Let’s return to our pre-investigation review. Everyone is stuck on the criminal case. If we had started a criminal case today (but we don’t yet have legal grounds for this and this is exactly why our Prosecutor General’s Office requested legal aid from Germany on August 27), what would have been done in the very beginning when this happened? We would have interviewed the pilot, passengers and doctors. We would have learned what the doctors found out at the stage when Navalny was brought to the Omsk hospital and what medications were given to him. We would have spoken to those who were in contact with him. All this was done: we questioned those five people who accompanied him to the plane, and took part in the events of the days before Navalny boarded the plane. We posed questions to those who waited for the departure from Tomsk to Moscow and went to a bar with him. We found out what they ordered and what he drank. As you know, the sixth lady that accompanied him just fled. They say it was she who gave the bottle to the German laboratory. All this was done. Even if all this were called a “criminal case,” we cannot do anything else.
Our Western partners look at us with an arrogant attitude against this backdrop: We have NO right to doubt their rectitude and professionalism. If this is the case, they believe they have the right to doubt the professionalism of our doctors and investigators. This is a position that, regrettably, brings different times to mind. Arrogance and a feeling of one’s own infallibility have already been observed in Europe and led to very sad consequences.