Navalny, Awake and Alert, Plans to Return to Russia, German Official Says
Tuesday, 15 September, 2020, 13:30
Aleksei A. Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who is recovering from being poisoned, has spoken to a German prosecutor about the attempt on his life and says he plans to return to Russia as soon as he has recovered, a senior German security official said on Monday.
“He’s fully aware of his condition, he’s fully aware of what happened and he’s fully aware of where he is,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity to talk candidly about the case. The news came hours after the German government announced that laboratories in France and Sweden had confirmed that the substance used to poison Mr. Navalny was a form of the nerve agent Novichok, results that match Berlin’s own findings and provide additional confidence that the Russian state was involved. Mr. Navalny remains heavily guarded by German police in the hospital. In his conversation with the German prosecutor, he refused to cooperate with a Russian request to jointly investigate the case with Germany, the security official said, adding that once he recovers, Mr. Navalny plans to return to Russia. “He’s not planning to go into exile in Germany,” the official said. “He wants to go home to Russia and he wants to continue his mission.” Russian officials were not immediately informed of Mr. Navalny’s refusal to cooperate, and did not initially respond to news of the French and Swedish tests. They have insisted that there was no proof Mr. Navalny had been poisoned. They have suggested several alternative theories, including a drug overdose and low blood sugar. But German officials insist that the poisoning of Mr. Navalny is not a bilateral issue between Germany and Russia. Unlike Mr. Skripal, who held British citizenship and was attacked on British soil, Mr. Navalny is a Russian who was in Russia when he was poisoned. German officials are considering a variety of possible sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes against individuals, and are hoping for a response backed by all European Union member states.