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France’s Foreign Ministry investigating alleged leak of Macron–Putin conversation on Navalny to the press

France’s Foreign Affairs Ministry is conducting an investigation over the details of a phone conversation between French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin that were recently published in the French press.

The French Foreign Ministry made the following comment about the investigation during a press briefing on Thursday, September 24:

“Any leak of confidential internal documents is unacceptable. That is why we refrain from commenting on them. An investigation is underway.

The dialogue that the French President wished to establish with Russia is intended to deal with all issues – and specifically those affecting our security – both candidly and rigorously, and it will carry on in that spirit.”

On September 22, the French newspaper Le Monde reported that in conversation with France’s President Macron, Russian President Putin suggested that opposition figure Alexey Navalny — who was recently discharged from a German hospital where he was being treated for severe poisoning — could have poisoned himself with a Novichok-type paralytic nerve agent.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that “the newspaper wasn’t at all accurate in the wording it conveyed.” He also added that the Kremlin, “can’t believe that the Élysée Palace deliberately leaked a recording of the conversation between the two presidents to the press.” That said, neither Moscow, nor Paris has refuted Le Monde’s retelling of the conversation entirely.

Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny was on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow when he fell violently ill on August 20. The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, where he was hospitalized in a coma; two days later he was transferred to Germany for treatment. On September 2, the German officials confirmed that Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents. On September 7, Navalny’s doctors brought him out of his coma. He was discharged from the hospital on September 23, but is still undergoing rehabilitation. 

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