BERLIN (AP) – Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is recovering in Germany after being poisoned in Russia by a nerve agent, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being behind the attack in comments released on Thursday.
Navalny’s supporters often said that such an attack could only be ordered at the top levels, although the Kremlin has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Politician and corruption investigator Navalny, who is an ardent critic of Putin, flew to Germany two days after falling ill on August 20 on a domestic flight to Russia. She spent 32 days in the hospital, 24 of them in intensive care, before doctors improved her condition enough to improve her condition.
He has posted frequent comments advancing his comments, but in his first interview since the poisoning, he told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine that “Putin was behind the attack,” in the German translation of his remarks.
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“I don’t have any other version of how the crime was committed,” he said in a brief excerpt of an interview conducted in Berlin on Wednesday and released in full online on Thursday.
The Kremlin said on Thursday that “such allegations against the Russian president are absolutely baseless and unacceptable.”
“We refer to some of these statements as derogatory,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Peskov alleged that there was information that CIA “experts” were working with Navalny these days and instructing him.
“There is information that these trainers are working with him these days,” Peskov said. “The direction the patient is receiving is clear. We have seen such lines of behavior more than once. “
Earlier on Thursday, Speaker Vyacheslav Volodyn of the State Duma, Russia’s lower parliament building, called Navalny “shameless” and “dishonest” and accused the politician of working with “the security services of Western countries”.
“Putin saved his life,” Volodyne said in a statement released by the Duma. “Everyone, from the pilots and the doctors to the president, was really protecting him. Only a dishonest person can make such a statement. ”
Navalny spent two days in a coma in a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk, where Russian doctors said he did not find any trace of any poison before being taken to Berlin for treatment. German chemical weapons experts determined that he had been poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent – confirmed by laboratories in France and Sweden.
The nerve agent used in the attack was the same class of poison that Britain used in 2018 in Salisbury, England, on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the poison an assassination attempt, and she and other world leaders demanded that Russia investigate the matter thoroughly.
Russia has insisted on seeking an investigation, stating that Germany needs to share medical data in the case or compare notes with Russian doctors. Germany has mentioned that Russian doctors have their own samples of Navalny because he was under his care for 48 hours.
The Hague-based organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons has collected independent samples from the Navalni for testing, but the results have not yet been announced.
German doctors have said that the 44-year-old naval can be fully recovered, although the possibility of long-term harm from the nerve agent has not been ruled out.
Spiegel said Navalny was joking and cautious in the interview, though his hands were so shaken that it became difficult for him to drink from a water bottle. He also reiterated what his team has said before – that he planned to return to Russia when he was able to do so.
“My job now is to remain the man who is not scared,” he said. “And I’m not afraid.”