Kremlin Accuses German Doctors of Secrecy in Navalny Case

Russia is still waiting for information from German officials on the exact poison detected in comatose opposition leader Alexey Navalny, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, brushing off calls from Berlin for a full explanation of a case that has further strained relations.

“Our doctors have been much more transparent with journalists and all other interested parties than their colleagues in Berlin,” Peskov told a conference call. “We are counting on dialog with our German colleagues and expect in that process to get information on what the substance is.”

His comments came a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Russia to explain what she said was an attack on Navalny aimed at silencing him.

He fell violently ill on a flight in Siberia in August and was later transferred to Charite hospital in Berlin. Doctors there said they found evidence he’d be poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok group, nerve agents first developed by the Soviet Union and used most recently in the 2018 attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England.

The Navalny case threatens to worsen tensions between Russia and the European Union. Merkel and other European leaders have called for a coordinated response and North Atlantic Treaty Organization ambassadors are meeting on the issue Friday. Navalny, 44, remains in serious condition in an induced coma.

Peskov reiterated Friday that Russian doctors found no sign of poisoning in Navalny before he left for Germany but would open a formal investigation if presented with evidence that he’d been exposed to a toxin.

“We prefer to be consistent and cautious about highlighting theories of what happened to the Berlin patient,” Peskov said, avoiding the public use of Navalny’s name in line with Kremlin practice.

The Omsk hospital where Navalny was first treated diagnosed him with an unidentified metabolic disorder. The chief toxicologist in the Siberian region said Friday that his condition may have been due to “alcohol excesses” or stresses such as exhaustion or overexposure to the sun, state-run RIA Novosti reported. His allies have denied he was drinking at the time.

Senior Russian officials said Thursday the case may have been a set-up by western spy agencies to discredit Russia.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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