1 February 202116:46

Press release on Russian-German contacts on the “Alexey Navalny case”

149-01-02-2021

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Since Alexey Navalny’s emergency hospitalisation in Omsk on August 20, 2020, the Western media space has been promoting a version of his deliberate poisoning with the aim of neutralising him as a leader of the Russian non-systemic opposition. Even before the Omsk doctors made public their conclusions about the reasons for his hospitalisation, his team and Western sources planted the idea that the alleged crime against him could have been ordered by official Russian government agencies.  The conclusions of Russian doctors, who had not found any traces of toxic agents in the samples collected from Navalny, were immediately denounced, without any substantiation, as false and biased. At the same time, the statements made by Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov to the effect that all the necessary aid would be provided to Navalny, including abroad, if necessary, were disregarded.

The German authorities and the Cinema for Peace Foundation registered in Germany immediately became actively involved. The Cinema for Peace NGO organised a charter flight for the transportation of Alexey Navalny from Omsk to the Charité hospital in Berlin on August 22, 2020.

At the same time, the Foreign Ministry did not receive any official requests from Germany necessary in such cases for the plane’s flight to Russia and for the entry of its crew and passengers into Russia. Nevertheless, the necessary permits were issued. The German doctors were given hotel accommodation and were allowed to visit Navalny in the Omsk hospital. They met with the Russian doctors, who at that time objected to transporting the patient to Germany due to his serious condition. However, an agreement for his transportation was issued in the evening on August 21, 2020. It took some time for medical formalities (the family’s refusal to receive medical aid in Russia) and legal matters (Alexey Navalny had agreed to travel restrictions in connection with his involvement in a number of criminal, administrative and civil proceedings)* and to prepare and deliver the patient to the airport in a specialised vehicle. Time was also needed for aircraft maintenance and the crew’s rest. As a result, the plane took off from Omsk at 8 am local time on August 22, 2020.

Meanwhile, Western media outlets claimed that the Russian authorities were uncooperative, did not allow the German doctors to approach Navalny and deliberately delayed his transportation to Germany so as to gain time for the traces of poison to disappear from the patient’s body.

In Germany the patient was granted the status of “guest of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel.” It was used as grounds for providing round-the-clock state protection to him and to the persons accompanying him. However, an explanation was later provided according to which Alexey Navalny was not a guest of the Federal Government because it had not officially invited him to the country.

On October 22, 2020, President Vladimir Putin said in his statement at the Valdai Discussion Club that he had personally instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office to see if it was possible to allow Navalny to travel abroad for medical treatment considering that he was under travel restrictions due to an investigation and a criminal case.

Based on the results of the patient’s examination at the Charité hospital on August 24, 2020, German doctors confirmed that there was clinical evidence pointing to the fact that Alexey Navalny was poisoned with a cholinesterase inhibitor. On the same day, Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Heiko Maas made statements urging the Russian authorities “to investigate this crime to the last detail and with full transparency,” to identify those responsible for it and to punish them. In turn, Chief Toxicologist of the Siberian Federal District and Omsk Region Alexander Sabayev issued a statement that said there were no signs of poisoning with cholinesterase inhibitors in Navalny.

From that moment on, speculations based on “insider information from anonymous sources” or on some similar cases in the past (the so-called Skripal case and the incident concerning Bulgarian businessman Emilian Gebrev) have been in and out of the Western media, claiming Navalny was attacked with a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents.

On August 27, 2020, the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation sent its first official request for international legal assistance to the Federal Office of Justice of the Federal Republic of Germany, asking, among other things, for the provision of the evidence that German doctors were referring to when asserting that the case involved a poisoning of the patient. However, the request was not even forwarded to the Berlin Justice Department in charge of his case until September 4, 2020. And it was only on September 6, 2020 that Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview with the German media that the German Foreign Ministry had agreed to grant the request. State Secretary at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany Miguel Berger twice confirmed to the Russian ambassador in Berlin that the Russian side’s request would certainly be satisfied. As of February 1, 2021, there was no substantive response from the German side.

There were calls in the media and from certain representatives of the German parliament deputy corps opposing the transfer of Navalny’s biological samples and test results to Russia, as this would enable the Russian special services to figure out German specialists’ secret methods of detecting the so-called Novichok group poisons in the human body. Thereby they actually admitted that the German military had advanced expertise in relation to this kind of warfare. According to the legend now being widely disseminated in the West, that warfare can only be produced in Russia.

On September 2, 2020, Berlin decided to “raise the stakes.” The planted information about Novichok was “confirmed” by German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert who said experts from the Bundeswehr Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology had found traces of the corresponding poison in Navalny’s body. Federal Chancellor Merkel and members of her cabinet publicly demanded explanations from Moscow. Berlin officially initiated consultations with the EU and NATO on new sanctions against our country. At the same time, the Germans turned to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in order to investigate and hold Russia accountable for violating the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The Russian ambassador in Berlin was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he was given a presentation.

After that, intense promotion of the idea that the German government needed to discontinue the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project began.

On September 3, 2020, Foreign Minister of Germany Heiko Maas announced that the results of toxicology tests conducted by German experts would be provided to the OPCW Technical Secretariat. The OPCW Technical Secretariat said it was waiting for a request from Germany and had already “adopted specific preparatory measures.” The EU published a statement condemning “the assassination attempt on Alexey Navalny” and threatening to take “restrictive measures” against Russia unless it conducted “an impartial international investigation” of the incident.

On September 4, 2020, Germany transported Alexey Navalny’s biological samples for analysis at specialised laboratories in Sweden and France. The foreign ministers of Germany and France issued a joint communique in which they claimed that a “new violation of international law took place” on the territory of Russia, alleging that “a military-grade nerve agent” had been used to poison Navalny. Following an emergency meeting of the NATO Council, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg demanded that Russia “provide complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the OPCW.” The German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the Bundeswehr Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology had found traces of the agent in blood and urine samples taken from Navalny as well as on a bottle that the persons accompanying him had allegedly brought to Berlin.

On September 5, 2020, the National Medical Chamber of Russia invited German colleagues to create a joint expert group to establish the reasons for the deterioration in Navalny’s health (On September 8, 2020, the state-owned media holding Deutsche Welle announced that the Federal Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer) had rejected the proposal saying that only the patient’s relatives could initiate further medical examinations)**.

On September 6, 2020, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in the interview with German media mentioned above that “there are many indications” that the Russian state is behind the poisoning of Alexey Navalny and  that the German Foreign Ministry was coordinating a response to the first request submitted by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office on August 27, 2020.

On September 8, 2020, the G7 foreign ministers issued a statement in which they claimed that international law had been violated in Russia because Navalny had been allegedly poisoned with a chemical nerve agent.

On September 9, 2020, German Ambassador to Russia Géza Andreas von Geyr was summoned to the Foreign Ministry where he was handed a tough note regarding the confrontational stand of the German Government in the context of the situation around Alexey Navalny.

On September 11, 2020, chairs of Parliamentary Friendship Groups Pavel Zavalny (Russian parliament) and Robby Schlund (Bundestag) published a joint statement in which they called for a constructive and unbiased investigation into the incident without a priori linking it to Russian-German cooperation in civil society, the economy and culture.

On September 14, 2020, the Federal Government issued a statement saying that specialist laboratories in France and Sweden had confirmed the conclusions by a specialist Bundeswehr laboratory that Navalny was poisoned with a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group. According to the statement, the OPCW had taken test samples from Navalny, although the OPCW Technical Secretariat had denied on several occasions that it had any official contacts with Germany in the Navalny case (representatives of the OPCW Technical Secretariat later admitted in a conversation with the Russian representative that they had to say this because of the confidentiality agreements they had with Germany).

The same day, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at a joint news conference with the Iraqi Foreign Minister held in Berlin that Russia should contact the OPCW, thereby indicating that Berlin did not intend to provide the test samples and the results of their analysis, which the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office requested on August 27, 2020.

On September 14, 2020, the Prosecutor General's Office sent a second letter of inquiry to the Federal Office of Justice of the Federal Republic of Germany with a request for the provision of information about the methods used by the Charité hospital doctors to treat Navalny, as well as for Russian Interior Ministry officials to have access to him in order to ask him questions as part of a pre-investigation probe into his alleged criminal poisoning. The German authorities said they would comply with the request if Navalny gave his consent. On September 15, 2020, citing a source in the German special services, The New York Times reported that Navalny was against contacts with the Russian police and against the Russian-German joint probe into the incident. According to the Federal Office of Justice of Germany, the second letter of inquiry was sent to the Office of Justice of Berlin only on September 25, 2020. No substantive response to the inquiry has been received as of February 1, 2021.

On September 15, 2020, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on behalf of President Vladimir Putin, had a telephone conversation with Germany’s Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who was informed that Moscow was still waiting for Berlin to respond to the above inquiries by the Russian Prosecutor General's Office. It was emphasised that Germany was obligated to do so under the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 1959. Heiko Maas reiterated the position expressed earlier whereby Russia, in the context of the situation involving Navalny, should contact the OPCW, not Berlin.

On September 16, 2020, the Russian Embassy in Germany sent a note to Germany’s Foreign Ministry asking for assistance in ensuring consular access to Navalny in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963. A response from the German Foreign Ministry was received on September 25, 2020. In it, the German authorities stated that they would not prevent Russian diplomats from establishing contacts with Navalny, but would not assist them in doing so, either. Navalny was notified of the above request by the Russian Embassy, and it was up to him to decide whether he wanted to see Russian diplomats.

Following the above statement by the German government on September 14, 2020 to the effect that Stockholm and Paris had confirmed traces of the Novichok class agent in biological samples taken from Navalny, on September 18, 2020, the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia sent requests for legal assistance to the competent authorities of Sweden and France asking for information about the toxicity tests on the biomaterials in question and for interviews with the experts involved. On November 4, 2020, the Swedish Foreign Ministry informed the Russian Embassy in Sweden that the Swedish authorities would not respond to Russia’s request, as it “runs counter to Sweden’s basic interests.”

On September 23, 2020, the Berlin Charité hospital issued a press release saying that Navalny had been discharged from hospital because his condition had improved. It was noted that German doctors believed he could make a “full recovery.”

On the same day, Russia’s Permanent Mission to the OPCW sent a note to Germany’s Permanent Mission to the OPCW demanding that Berlin comply with its commitments arising from the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CWC), in part related to providing Russia with Navalny-related materials held by Germany. At the same time, a letter was sent to OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias notifying him of the above note and requesting him to provide information about the nature of the technical assistance provided by Germany.

On September 25, 2020, members of the State Duma Commission on Investigating Foreign States’ Interference in Russia’s Domestic Affairs headed by Deputy Vasily Piskaryov sent a letter to German Bundestag President Wolfgang Schaeuble with a proposal to establish joint Russian-German parliamentary control over the course of the investigation into the case of Alexey Navalny***.

On September 27, 2020, citing its own sources, Spiegel reported that Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel secretly visited Navalny at the Charité hospital in Berlin. The information was presented as a sign of the chancellor’s solidarity with the “Russian opposition politician” and a signal that Berlin would not sweep the alleged poisoning under the rug. Later, the information about the visit was confirmed by German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert and Navalny himself on social media.

On September 26, 2020, the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia sent Germany’s Federal Office of Justice a third letter of inquiry, dated September 24, 2020, regarding the situation related to Navalny,  with a request that Russian investigators be allowed to conduct interviews with Navalny’s spouse Yuliya and with Maria Pevchikh who was on his team during the trip to Tomsk. The German authorities were asked whether the German experts ran a toxicity test on any items from the hotel where Navalny stayed. No substantial answer has been received as of February 1, 2021.

On September 28, 2020, the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia sent the fourth request for legal assistance to the Federal Office of Justice asking for help in establishing the identity of a person behind an email address located on a German server, from which, on the day Navalny was hospitalised, an email was sent about bombs planted in Omsk, as well as to confirm or refute information posted on open sources that Novichok class agent traces were discovered on a bottle brought to Germany from Tomsk by the above Maria Pevchikh. No substantial response has been received as of Feb 1, 2021.

Incidentally, the German authorities rejected the request of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to interview Maria Pevchikh, allegedly because they did not know her address in Germany. However, according to information from open sources, while in Germany she met with Alexey Navalny, who was guarded around the clock by German security services, and she was also among those who came to see Navalny off before his flight from Berlin to Moscow on January 17, 2021. No information has been provided about the results of the toxicological tests of the poison traces allegedly found on the water bottles which Maria Pevchikh had brought from the Tomsk hotel to Berlin. The German authorities also refused to provide any information about the experts who examined the water bottles or to allow Russia to interview them.

On October 1, 2020, the German magazine Der Spiegel published an interview with Alexey Navalny, in which he said the most likely version of what happened to him was an attempt on his life with a chemical warfare agent by the Russian special services on behalf of the country's top officials.

On October 2, 2020, the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the OPCW sent a note to Russia’s Permanent Mission to the OPCW that alleged that, according to Berlin, the bilateral Russian-German interaction on the Navalny situation, which the Russian side insisted on, had taken place during the Russian Ambassador's meeting with the State Secretary of the German Foreign Office on September 2, 2020, the German Ambassador’s meeting with the First Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia on September 9, 2020, and the telephone conversation between the Russian and German Foreign Ministers on September 15, 2020. This is not true. During all those contacts, two of which took place at Moscow’s insistence, the German side was asked to provide Navalny’s biological samples and the results of the tests on them, as requested by the Russian Prosecutor General's Office. The German side, on the other hand, deliberately avoided a substantive dialogue, using the above contacts solely to reiterate the same accusations, threats and ultimatums against Russia.

On October 3, 2020, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview with the German news website t-online.de that if the OPCW experts confirmed the conclusions of the special laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden about Navalny being poisoned with the so-called Novichok group of military-grade nerve agents, new EU sanctions against Russia would become “inevitable.”

On October 7, 2020, the foreign ministers of Germany and France published a joint statement in which they announced a German-French initiative in the EU to impose sanctions against certain Russian officials responsible for the poisoning of Alexey Navalny, as well as against institutions associated with the “Novichok programme.”

On October 8, 2020, Chairman of the State Duma Commission on Foreign Interference in Russia's Internal Affairs Vasily Piskarev discussed the so-called Navalny case during a videoconference with Chair of the German-Russian Parliamentary Friendship Group of the German Bundestag Robby Schlund. The German MP announced his intention to call on President of the Bundestag Wolfgang Schauble to give an official response to the request from the Commission led by Piskarev of September 25, 2020.

On October 15, 2020, in regard to the Navalny case, the EU imposed sanctions against six Russian officials (Director of the FSB, First Deputy Head of the Presidential Executive Office, Head of the Presidential Domestic Policy Directorate, Presidential Envoy to the Siberian Federal District and two Deputy Defence Ministers of Russia) as well as against the State Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology.

On October 16, 2020, the OPCW Technical Secretariat circulated among the OPCW country delegations a classified report of the OPCW's mission to provide technical assistance to the German side with regard to the poisoning. Any significant information about the substance that the OPCW experts, as well as the German military experts, had allegedly found in the Russian blogger's biomaterials was removed from the report at Berlin's insistence. That decision was explained by “proliferation risks” – lest the poison formula should leak into the hands of malefactors. On October 19, 2020, the Russian Embassy in Germany sent a note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany asking the German side to publish the full content of the OPCW's report. There was no reply to that note. On November 16, 2020, the Embassy sent a follow-up note on that matter. Only on December 7, 2020 did the German Foreign Office react with another note saying it denied Russia’s request due to the aforementioned “proliferation risks.” It also said that, according to the German side, the requested information about the specific substance was irrelevant to the investigation into Navalny’s poisoning.

On October 16, 2020, the Foreign Ministers of Germany, France and Poland issued a joint statement with yet another demand for Russia to investigate the “poisoning” of Alexey Navalny.

On October 30, 2020, the Prosecutor General's Office received a letter, dated October 28, 2020, from Germany’s Federal Office of Justice referring to Russia’s above-mentioned four inquiries concerning the Navalny case, dated August 27, September 14, 24 and 28, 2020. In its letter, without answering any of the questions posed by our law enforcement agencies with regard to the blogger-related situation, the German authorities posed a number of counter questions and reiterated that they would not make Navalny’s biological samples or test results available to Russia without his consent and without Russia opening a criminal case in connection with his poisoning as alleged by the Germans. In fact, the letter received by the Russian Prosecutor General's Office is a purely perfunctory reply. The corresponding public comments were made by the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia, the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry. On November 3, 2020, the Prosecutor General's Office replied to the Federal Office of Justice covering in detail the above questions posed by the German authorities.

The Alexey Navalny situation was discussed in detail in Moscow on November 2, 2020, during an in-person meeting between Head of the State Duma Commission on Investigating Foreign States’ Interference in Russia’s Internal Affairs Vasily Piskaryov and Chair of the Bundestag German-Russian Parliamentary Friendship Group Robby Schlund.

A telephone conversation initiated by Germany took place between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on November 5, 2020. The Russian minister once again let the German Foreign Minister know about Russia’s concerns regarding the German authorities’ conduct in the context of the “Navalny case.”

On November 6, 2020, during a government press briefing in Berlin, German Federal Foreign Office Deputy Spokesperson Maria Adebahr said that Russia opening a criminal case in connection with Navalny’s poisoning as alleged by the Germans was a prerequisite for Germany considering the transfer of Alexey Navalny’s personal data (apparently, including his biomaterials) to Russia. However, this did not guarantee a favourable decision on transferring the data in question.

On November 12, 2020, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Russian media that Moscow would provide a mirror response to the sanctions imposed on the country by the EU in the context of the situation related to Navalny. During a weekly news conference on November 13, 2020, German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said that Berlin had taken note of the Russian foreign minister’s remarks. According to him, the counter-sanctions announced by Moscow were “unjustified and inappropriate,” disregarded the international community’s interest in investigating the incident and made “Russia’s problem” part of ​​bilateral relations with Germany and France.

On November 18, 2020, the OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias sent a letter to Russia’s Permanent Mission to the OPCW in which, among other things, he confirmed the fact that the German government had not authorised the OPCW Technical Secretariat to provide Russia with the full version of its report on giving technical assistance to Berlin. Allegedly, the Germans suggested that, in its contacts with Russia, the OPCW Technical Secretariat refer to a truncated version of the document released on October 16, 2020.

On November 27, 2020, during the German government’s weekly news conference, Federal Ministry of Justice Spokesperson Maximillian Kall said that “a decision on (Russia’s) four requests for legal assistance has not yet been made and is still in the works.”

On November 30, 2020, in her video address to the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC) on the occasion of the expiration of Germany’s European Council chairmanship, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked the MPs for the EU’s unanimous response to Navalny’s “poisoning by Novichok” (literally, “it turned out very well”).

On January 13, 2021, the Federal Office of Justice sent a letter to the General Prosecutor's Office, which the German authorities pass off as an official response to Russia’s requests for legal assistance in the “Navalny case” dated August 27 and September 14, 24 and 28, 2020. The minutes, in the German language, of interviews with the blogger and his spouse Yuliya conducted by German law enforcement officers in accordance with the above requests of the General Prosecutor's Office were attached to the letter. The letters repeat the messages previously voiced by the Germans and reiterate the German authorities’ unwillingness to provide the Russian investigative authorities with any material evidence of the blogger’s poisoning by “Novichok” (including three mineral water bottles with alleged traces of poison on two of them), and including copies of the toxicology test findings, Navalny’s biological tests and test results. As before, the Germans were basing their decision on Navalny being unwilling to share his personal data and on references to the German law and the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 1959.

On January 17, 2021, Navalny was detained by law enforcement officers at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow.

On January 18, 2021, during a government news conference, Spokesperson Steffen Seibert said that the German government condemned Navalny’s arrest and called for his immediate release. Similar statements were made by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, Vice-Chancellor and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

On January 21, 2021, the Prosecutor General's Office, in response to a letter from the Federal Office of Justice dated January 13, 2021, sent another letter with a request that the German authorities act in full upon the 17 requested procedural actions and respond in substance to the questions posed by the Russian investigation in the context of the “Navalny case.”

 

Key facts and dates on situation around Alexey Navalny

2020

 

August 20

- Alexey Navalny's condition sharply deteriorates after departure from Tomsk to Moscow.

- Emergency landing at Omsk airport and transfer to the toxicology department of Omsk City Hospital No. 1.

- Comprehensive medical care provided to the patient.

- Navalny's “team” makes a list of, describes and packs items found at the hotel in Tomsk, including mineral water bottles.

August 21

- The patient is stabilised.

- He promptly receives permission to fly to Germany on a private jet.

August 22

- Navalny is flown to Germany and admitted to the Charité hospital in Berlin (accompanied, among others, by Maria Pevchikh who had the mineral water bottles from Navalny's hotel room, which were later transferred to the German authorities).

August 24

- The Charité clinic news release on Navalny's poisoning with a substance from the cholinesterase inhibitors group.

 - A joint statement by Angela Merkel and Heiko Maas calling on the Russian authorities to “to investigate this crime to the last detail and with full transparency,” to identify those responsible for it and to punish them.

- Statement by the chief toxicologist of the Omsk Region about the absence of signs of poisoning with cholinesterase inhibitors in Navalny’s body.

August 26

- The US Department of Commerce imposes sanctions against GosNIIOKhT State Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology, 33 central research and testing institutes of the Russian Defence Ministry and 48 central research institutes of the Russian Defence Ministry “for development of chemical and biological weapons.”

August 27

- The Russian Prosecutor General's Office asks the Federal Republic of Germany for legal assistance under the 1959 European Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. (The request was not forwarded to the Berlin Office of Justice responsible for Navalny’s case until September 4, 2020).

September 2

- The German government makes a statement that experts from the Bundeswehr had found traces of a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents in Navalny’s body and declares its intention to contact the OPCW.

- Angela Merkel makes a statement calling Navalny a victim of an assassination attempt with a nerve agent from the Novichok group, and a “victim of a crime.”

- Berlin officially initiates consultations with the EU and NATO on new sanctions against Russia. At the same time, the Germans turned to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in order to investigate and hold Russia accountable for violating the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

-The Russian ambassador to Germany is summoned to the Foreign Office.

September 3

- Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issues a statement calling for a “transparent” investigation into the poisoning describing the incident as a “nerve gas attack” and announces that the results of toxicological tests will be transferred to the OPCW.

- OPCW says in a news release that it will continue to monitor the situation and is ready to get involved and provide assistance to any state that may request it. The Technical Secretariat has been expecting a request from Germany since its first reports about the alleged poisoning of Navalny and has taken some preparatory action.

-The European Union makes a statement condemning the “attempt on Navalny’s life,” threatens sanctions, and calls for an unbiased international investigation, in which Moscow should cooperate with the OPCW.

September 4

- Germany transfers Navalny’s samples for analysis at specialised Swedish and French laboratories. (According to Dr Asa Scott, Head of the CBRN Protection and Security Division at the Swedish Defence Research Agency FOI, the results were ready on September 6, 2020)

- Germany requests the assistance of the OPCW Technical Secretariat in accordance with Clause 38 (е) of Article VIII of the CWC.

- The foreign ministers of Germany and France issue a joint communique in which they claim that a “new violation of international law took place” on the territory of Russia, alleging that “a military-grade nerve agent” had been used to poison Navalny.

- Following an emergency meeting of the  North Atlantic Council, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg demands that Russia fully cooperate with the OPCW on “an impartial, international investigation” and “provide complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the OPCW.”

- The NATO Council issues a statement condemning “in the strongest possible terms the attack on the Russian opposition figure with the use of a nerve agent from the banned Novichok group,” supporting “the important role of the OPCW” and urging Russia “to immediately disclose any information relevant for its work.”

- The German Government transfers the request it received from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to the Prosecutor’s Office of Berlin.

- The German magazine Der Spiegel reports that the Bundeswehr Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology found traces of the Novichok agent in the blood, urine and skin samples taken from Navalny as well as on the bottle Navalny allegedly had with him on the flight.

September 5

- The National Medical Chamber of Russia invites German colleagues to create a joint expert group to establish the reasons for the deterioration in Navalny’s health.

On September 8, 2020, the state-owned media holding Deutsche Welle announces that the Federal Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer) has rejected the proposal saying that only the patient’s relatives can initiate further medical examinations.

- OPCW experts arrive in Germany and are briefed by the German side.

September 6

- The OPCW experts visit the Charité hospital in Berlin to collect Navalny’s biological samples.

- German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says in an interview with German media that the German Foreign Ministry has coordinated a response to the first request submitted by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office.

September 7

- Leonid Roshal sends an open letter to the president of the Federal Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer) inviting German colleagues to create a joint multidisciplinary commission to analyse the situation and coordinate unbiased final conclusions regarding the alleged poisoning of Alexey Navalny.

- A Bundeswehr representative says in an interview with Novaya Gazeta that the transfer of any additional information about the results of the tests is impossible for reasons of security and the interests of Germany.

September 8

- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights runs a news release with a statement by Michelle Bachelet that “the number of cases of poisoning, or other forms of targeted assassination, of current or former Russian citizens, either within Russia itself or on foreign soil, over the past two decades is profoundly disturbing,” and also that “Navalny was clearly someone who needed state protection.”

September 9

- German Ambassador to Russia Geza Andreas von Geyr is summoned to the Foreign Ministry, which conveys its strong objections to him over Berlin’s unfounded accusations and ultimatums against Russia.

- A representative of the German Defence Ministry says in a briefing that Germany has handed over Navalny’s test results to OPCW experts.

- German government spokesperson Martina Fitz says Berlin sees no reason to transfer Navalny’s results directly to Moscow because Russia is a member of the OPCW, and urges Russia to provide information on the “Navalny case.”

- G7 releases a statement calling on Russia to investigate the case and identify and punish those responsible.

September 11

- The OPCW sends the biomedical samples taken from Navalny in Berlin to two designated laboratories.

- The Public Prosecutor's Office in Berlin announces it has received the request from the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia.

- Heads of the parliamentary friendship groups in the Russian State Duma and the German Bundestag, Pavel Zavalny and Robby Schlund, issue a joint statement calling for a constructive and unbiased investigation of the incident without a priori linking of it to Russian-German cooperation in public affairs, the economy and culture.

September 14

- The Prosecutor General's Office of Russia makes a second request to the Federal Office of Justice of the Federal Republic of Germany asking it to provide information about the methods used by the doctors at the Charité hospital to treat Navalny, as well as to allow Russian Interior Ministry employees to visit and question him as part of the pre-investigation verification of assumptions about him being a victim of poisoning (that request did not reach the Berlin Office of Justice until September 25) .

- German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert issues a statement about evidence of the presence of Novichok in the samples. Because this constitutes a serious violation of the CWC, the German government invites the OPCW to analyse the evidence on the Navalny incident under Clause 38 (e) of Article VIII of the Convention. Following the procedure, the OPCW takes biomaterial from Navalny and performs the necessary steps for its examination at two certified laboratories. As is noted, that means three laboratories have independently confirmed the presence of Novichok. They urge Russia to comment on the incident.

- Heiko Maas makes a statement at a joint news conference with the Iraqi Foreign Minister in Berlin that Russia should contact the OPCW in order to obtain documentary and medical materials on the Navalny case.

- The German government releases an official statement on the confirmation of the German military doctors’ conclusions about Navalny’s so-called Novichok nerve agent poisoning by OPCW-accredited laboratories in France and Sweden. The statement alleges OPCW specialists have taken new samples from the patient, although until that moment, the OPCW Technical Secretariat had repeatedly denied any official contacts with the Germans on the case.

 - Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron speak on the phone.

September 15

- Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with Heiko Maas.

September 16

- The Russian Embassy in Berlin sends a note to the German Foreign Ministry requesting assistance in providing consular access to Alexey Navalny in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 (on September 25, a response was received from the German Foreign Office, in which the German authorities announced that they had no plans to prevent Russian diplomats from establishing contact with Navalny, but would not help them do so, either).

September 17

- OPCW press release on medical samples collected by the Technical Secretariat for further analysis by the OPCW-certified laboratories.

- Resolution of the European Parliament in connection with the situation related to Alexey Navalny.

- A video emerges showing Navalny's hotel room, where his team identifies, describes and packs items found there, including bottles of mineral water that were handed over by the blogger’s curator Maria Pevchikh to German authorities, one of which was found to have traces of Novichok.

September 18

- The Prosecutor General's Office sends requests to the competent authorities of Sweden and France seeking legal assistance regarding the provision of information on the toxicology tests of Navalny's biomaterials, as well as interviewing their experts.

September 23

- Charité hospital press release saying that Navalny was discharged on September 22.

- Russia’s Permanent Mission to the OPCW sends a note to Germany’s Permanent Mission with a demand for information on the Navalny situation.

September 25

- The Prosecutor General's Office’s third request for legal assistance.

- Members of the State Duma Commission on Investigating Foreign States’ Interference in Russia’s Domestic Affairs headed by Deputy Vasily Piskaryov send a letter to German Bundestag President Wolfgang Schaeuble with a proposal to introduce joint Russian-German parliamentary control over the course of the investigation into the Navalny incident.

September 26

- Russia’s Interior Ministry sends a third inquiry on the Navalny situation (the document itself is dated September 24, 2020) to the Federal Office of Justice with a request that Russian investigators be allowed to conduct interviews with the blogger's spouse Yuliya and Maria Pevchikh who was on his team during the trip to Tomsk.

September 28

- The Prosecutor General's Office sends a fourth request for legal assistance to the Federal Office of Justice.

- Emmanuel Macron demands explanations from Russia regarding the Navalny case (during a news conference in Vilnius).

September 29

- Heiko Maas says at the UN General Assembly that Berlin sees a violation of the ban on the use of chemical weapons in the Navalny situation, and that the EU reserves the right to impose sanctions.

October 1

- Der Spiegel publishes an interview with Alexey Navalny.

- Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin delivers a letter to Director-General of the Technical Secretariat Fernando Arias with a request to consider dispatching experts to Russia to collaborate with Russian experts in reviewing Navalny’s test results to determine any signs of a possible crime committed against him on the territory of the Russian Federation.

October 2

- In a response note to our request under Clause 2 of Article IX of the CWC, Berlin confirms that it has sent a request to the OPCW Technical Secretariat under Clause 38 (e) of Article VIII of the CWC on September 4, and on September 5 ̵ 6, the OPCW experts ‘independently’ took biomaterials from Navalny (the Technical Secretariat itself confirmed this only on September 17).

- Fernando Arias sends a response assuring Russia that the Technical Secretariat is ready to provide the requested expertise and asking to clarify which clause of the CWC Russia is invoking to request assistance. The letter also said the Technical Secretariat was still waiting for Navalny’s test results with regard to Germany’s request.

October 3

- German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says in an interview with the German news website T-Online that if the OPCW experts confirm the conclusions of the specialised laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden about Navalny being poisoned with the so-called Novichok group of military-grade nerve agent, new EU sanctions against Russia will become “inevitable.”

October 5

- The director-general of the OPCW Technical Secretariat, without waiting for our formal consent to making public our contacts with regard to the possible dispatching of OPCW experts to Russia, posts a news release on this matter on the OPCW website.

October 6

- Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin states in a new letter to Director-General of the Technical Secretariat Fernando Arias that Russia considers it possible to hold a meeting of experts on the basis of Clause 38 (e) of Article VIII of the CWC and confirms Russia’s consent to publish the relevant correspondence in order to properly inform the states parties to the CWC.

- The OPCW Technical Secretariat publishes Note S/1906/2020, which is a summary of the report on activities carried out in support of a request for technical assistance by Germany stating that Navalny “was exposed to a toxic chemical acting as a cholinesterase inhibitor.” At the same time, the report says that the biomarkers of the cholinesterase inhibitor found in Navalny’s samples have similar structural characteristics to the toxic chemicals belonging to schedules 1.A.14 and 1.A.15 (the so-called Novichok) listed in the Annex on Chemicals to the CWC. However, the inhibitor itself is not included in these lists.

- In a joint statement made on the sidelines of the 95th Session of the OPCW Executive Council (The Hague, October 6 ̵ 9), 44 countries from the Western camp (including NATO, the EU, Australia, Georgia, Colombia, Peru, Ukraine, South Korea, Switzerland, Ecuador and Japan) urge Russia to conduct an investigation, as soon as possible, into the use of chemical warfare from the Novichok group against Navalny and present its results to the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties (The Hague, November 30  ̵  December 4).

October 7

- A joint statement by the Foreign Ministers of France and Germany refers to the situation around Navalny as an attempted murder using “a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok group developed by Russia”. Jean-Yves Le Drian and Heiko Maas emphasise that, in light of these circumstances, France and Germany consider that there is no other plausible explanation for Navalny’s poisoning than a Russian involvement and responsibility.

October 9

- A joint statement by the CSTO member states during the 95th session of the OPCW Executive Council (The Hague, October 6 ̵ 9) underscores the importance of strict observance of Clause 2 of Article VII of the CWC (legal assistance), and calls upon the states parties to abandon lofty politicised statements and to move towards real cooperation and consultations.

October 15

- The media reports that Alexey Navalny is staying in a German resort town of Ibach in the Southern Black Forest Nature Park.

October 26

- Director-General of the Technical Secretariat Fernando Arias sends a letter to Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin containing considerations regarding the modalities of the technical assistance requested by Russia. In particular, the letter states that Russia must guarantee the absence of the media coverage of the mission, must transfer the blogger's biomaterials to the OPCW for analysis at certified laboratories, provide all medical records regarding Navalny’s treatment in Russia as well as an opportunity of speaking with the Russian doctors who treated him, and obtain the consent from Navalny himself.

October 28

- The Federal Office of Justice of Germany sends a letter to the Russian Prosecutor General's Office regarding Russia’s requests for legal assistance dated August 27, September 14, September 24 and September 28, which is essentially a reply without any substance and does not answer any of the questions posed to the German authorities.

November 3

- The Russian Prosecutor General's Office sends the fifth request for legal assistance to the Federal Office of Justice.

November 11

- Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin delivers a letter to OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias, in which he expresses his astonishment with liberal interpretation of Russia’s proposals on modalities of technical assistance and notes that the technical assistance parameters are determined by the requesting party.

November 18

- OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias sends a letter to Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin, in which he states that the OPCW Technical Secretariat expects a reaction from Russia to the considerations listed in the Director-General’s letter dated October 26, 2020.

November 25

- Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin delivers a letter to OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias, in which he states that the OPCW TS is seeking to politicise the prerequisites for providing technical assistance to Russia on the basis of Clause 38 (e) of Article VIII of the CWC, and that the Technical Secretariat’s position betrays its plans to disrupt this mission. Also, Russia’s permanent representative pointed out that, in accordance with Article 144 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, the investigative body has the authority to carry out the necessary procedural actions, including in the absence of Alexey Navalny’s consent.

November27

- OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias sends a letter to Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin, in which he once again states that the OPCW TS expects a response from Russia to the considerations listed in the Director-General’s letters dated October 26 and November 18.

December 4

- Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin delivers a letter to OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias, in which he states that the OPCW top officials had not provided an intelligible answer on the modalities of the visit by the organisation's experts to Russia.

December 9

- OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias sends a letter to Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin, in which he once again states that for the visit of the organisation's experts to take place it is necessary to conclude a memorandum of understanding and obtain Navalny's consent to work with his medical records and biological samples. He also states that it was impossible to conduct a joint analysis of biological samples at an FMBA-operated lab.

December 16

- Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin delivers a letter to OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias, in which he comments on the OPCW Technical Secretariat’s demands.

December 21

- OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias sends a letter to Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin, in which he states that in preparation for a visit to Russia, the OPCW TS adheres to the same requirements and procedures that were used when organising similar visits at the request of other CWC member states, including Germany.

December 28

- The Federal Penitentiary Service accuses Navalny of evading the criminal executive inspection’s control, and issues a warning to the effect that failure to comply with the court rulings may lead to replacing his suspended sentence with a prison term.

December29

- Russia’s Investigative Committee opens a criminal case on large-scale fraud against Alexey Navalny and “other individuals.” According to the Investigative Committee, Navalny embezzled 356 million roubles from the Anti-Corruption Foundation.

 

2021

January 11

- The Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia files a motion at the Simonovsky District Court of Moscow requesting that Alexey Navalny’s suspended sentence in the case of fraud against Yves Rocher is replaced with a prison term.

 

 

______________________________________________

* On October 22, 2020, President Vladimir Putin said in his statement at the Valdai Discussion Club that he had personally instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office to see if it was possible to allow Navalny to travel abroad for medical treatment considering that he was under travel restrictions due to an investigation and a criminal case.

** At that time Navalny was presumably lying unconscious in hospital.

*** The Russian Embassy in Germany promptly passed the inquiry to the addressee. Bundestag deputy Hansjorg Mueller (Alternative for Germany/AfD) said in an interview with the Russian TV channel Zvezda on September 30, 2020 that he was not aware of the fact that the letter had arrived. It thus transpired that the Bundestag deputies knew nothing about it. AfD accused Wolfgang Schaeuble of deliberately hiding the letter and widely circulated its contents which they obtained from the Russian State Duma’s website. Only on October 9, 2020, in a note to the embassy, did the Bundestag protocol “retroactively" confirm receipt of the letter and its transmission to Schaeuble. On October 13, 2020, Chairman of the German-Russian Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag Robby Schlund (AfD) circulated the text of the open letter addressed to Wolfgang Schaeuble and urged the Bundestag to give an official response to that letter, to undertake efforts through the Bundestag in order to reduce tensions related to the Navalny case, to facilitate the consideration in substance of the Prosecutor General's Office’s requests for legal assistance and to keep the dialogue going. Saying that the letter is still being reviewed, Mr Schaeuble and the Presidium of the Bundestag refrain from making any statements. Official SPD and FDP spokespersons for foreign affairs Nils Schmid and Bijan Djir-Sarai, respectively, rejected the State Duma’s initiative citing the official position of Berlin.

 

 

 

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