NATO member states believe that Russia should participate in an OPCW investigation into the poisoning of the Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny with the neurotoxin Novichok.
“NATO allies agree that Russia needs to answer some important questions,” said Secretary General Stoltenberg after consultation with NATO member states. “The Russian government must cooperate fully in an independent international investigation of the OPCW.”
The OPCW is an organisation of countries, based in The Hague, which prohibits the use of chemical weapons. Russia is also a member of it.
OPCW top man Arias announced yesterday that poisoning an individual with a nerve poison is also considered to be the use of a chemical weapon. He also said the OPCW is closely following developments in the Navalny case and will take action if a member state requests it.
Stoltenberg spoke of a “very disturbing assassination attempt” and said that the persons responsible should be brought to justice. “Time and again we see opposition leaders and critics of the Russian regime being attacked and threatened with death. “Some were even murdered.”
Prime Minister Rutte is also of the opinion that Russia should give an opening on “the attack” on Navalny. “This is a man of great authority in Russia, who has been in opposition with great personal danger for ten years,” says Rutte. “It’s a man who’s trying to promote democracy in Russia. It’s not an easy task.”
He went on to say that the poisoning and use of a banned chemical weapon “goes beyond all limits.”
Foreign Minister Blok said that a coalition of countries as large as possible is being formed to give the signal that they find this unacceptable. “The Kremlin has some explaining to do.”
Navalny was rushed to a hospital in the Russian city of Omsk two weeks ago when he became unwell in an airplane. His spokesman immediately said that he had been poisoned by the Russian authorities, although they disagree. The hospital in Omsk then stated that there was no question of poisoning.
After a few days, at the insistence of his family, 44-year-old Navalny was transferred to a hospital in Berlin. There traces of Novichok were found in his body: a nerve poison that was developed as a chemical weapon in the 1970s and 1980s in the then Soviet Union