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German prosecutors question Navalny at the request of the Russian authorities
On Thursday, December 17, Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny reported that he had spent the day being questioned by German prosecutors at the request of the Russian authorities. Navalny reported this on Twitter, without specifying what he was asked during the interrogation.
Earlier, the Russian Attorney General’s office had sent the German authorities several requests for legal assistance regarding Alexey Navalny’s “hospitalization” in Berlin this summer. According to the German authorities, Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok-type nerve agent. However, the Russian authorities continue to maintain that there are no grounds for launching a criminal investigation into the attack.
On December 14, Bellingcat, The Insider, CNN, and Der Spiegel published an investigation implicating a special FSB sub-unit in poisoning Alexey Navalny with a Novichok-type nerve agent, after following him for several years. Navalny himself concluded that such an operation couldn’t have been carried out without the approval of FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During his annual press conference on December 17, Putin called the journalistic investigation a “legalization of materials from the American intelligences services.” Putin then effectively acknowledged that Russian intelligence officers had been surveilling the opposition figure, saying they “ought to keep an eye” on Navalny. “But this in no way means that it’s necessary to poison him, who needs that?” Putin underscored. “You see, if they’d wanted to [poison him], they would have finished [the job].”
After the investigation’s publication, municipal deputies from St. Petersburg and regional deputies from Pskov demanded the launch of a criminal investigation into Navalny’s poisoning, under article 277 of Russia’s Criminal Code: “encroachment on the life of a statesman or public figure.”
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