The Investigative Department of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has refused to open a criminal case over opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s poisoning, as requested by lawyers from his non-profit, the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK).
The FBK’s legal department reported the refusal on Wednesday, November 18, citing an official response from the FSB.
The FBK’s lawyers had asked the FSB to launch a criminal investigation on charges of developing and producing chemical weapons, due to the fact that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok-type nerve agent. Under article 335 of Russia’s Criminal Code, this is punishable with between five and ten years in prison.
However, the FSB stated in its response that there is no basis for opening a criminal case:
We are informing you that at present there are no grounds for Federal Security Service bodies to make procedural decisions according to the facts you indicated in connection with their verification by another law enforcement agency.
The FBK’s lawyers called the response a “run-around” and filed a complaint with Moscow’s Lefortovo Court over the FSB’s inaction.
On October 15, the European Union, and subsequently the United Kingdom, announced personal sanctions against six high-level Russian officials, as well as Russia’s State Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology (GosNIIOKhT), where it is believed that Novichok-type nerve agents were developed during Soviet period. EU countries are demanding that Russia conduct an investigation into Navalny’s poisoning, but the country’s Investigative Committee, Attorney General’s Office, and police officials have refused to do so.