Chemical weapons watchdog ready to assist Russia in Navalny case

Reuters , Monday 5 Oct 2020


The global chemical weapons watchdog, which has been asked by Germany to test samples of what Berlin says was a banned nerve agent used to poison a Russian opposition figure, said on Monday its experts would be prepared to assist Russia in the case.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it had received a request from Moscow on Oct. 1 for help in the case of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, and was seeking clarification on what type of assistance Russia wanted.

Navalny fell ill on a flight in Siberia on Aug. 20 and was flown to Germany for treatment. German doctors say blood tests show he was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. The OPCW has collected its own samples to test at Germany's request.

Russia has said it has seen no evidence Navalny was poisoned, and denies any role in any attack.

The OPCW said in a statement on Monday its "Technical Secretariat is ready to provide the requested expertise and that a team of experts could be deployed on short notice."

The Navalny case is expected to be discussed on the sidelines of a conference of member states at the OPCW starting on Tuesday.

Russia has in the past threatened to quit the agency, which was established to enforce the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention. Moscow has accused it of pro-Western bias over its work in Syria, where Russia provides military backing to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

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