Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian MFA on statements made by Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Heiko Maas in the Bundestag on 7 October 2020

Submitted on Mon, 10/12/2020 - 18:11

The anti-Russia propaganda attack over the Navalny case is gathering momentum in Germany. The latest portion of accusations, threats and insinuations against our country was made by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in the Q&A session in the Bundestag on 7 October 2020.

In addition to traditional ultimatums, Mr Maas has decided to ask the German MPs a few questions about the Navalny case which he does not consider to have been answered yet. Since the Minister deemed it possible to voice his concerns not through diplomatic channels but in parliament, we will answer his concerns publicly as well, so as to avoid a possible distortion of our statement by the German side.

First of all, we would like to officially reaffirm that all of Russia’s chemical weapons have been destroyed under strict international supervision. That complicated process ended on 27 September 2017. On 11 October 2017 the Director-General of the OPCW Technical Secretariat certified the final destruction of chemical arsenals in Russia. As for the chemical warfare agent which has been designated as Novichok in the West, information on its structure and mass spectrum was first found in the mass spectral database of the American Institute of Standards in 1998 (NIST 98). It is indicative that data on the agent had been provided by the US Army Edgewood Research, Development and Engineering Centre. Later on, a class of toxic agents that do not fall within the CWC scope was formed based on the said compound. In addition to the United States, about 20 Western states have been conducting research on this toxic agent. Therefore, Novichok is a purely Western brand. About 140 variants have been synthesized and are available in these countries. It does not exist in Russia.

Second, the tests of biological samples collected from Alexey Navalny in Omsk have not revealed any proof of his alleged poisoning by a chemical warfare agent. Doctors at the Charité hospital have not found it either, but experts at a German military laboratory did – nearly a week later.

Third, we would like to point out once again that a criminal investigation into the case of Alexey Navalny can only be initiated on the basis of established facts of a crime committed. To launch this procedural process, we must have access to the results of the patient’s tests proving his alleged poisoning, which the German side has refused to provide. We cannot launch an investigation merely on the basis of statements about the alleged crime submitted by the injured party or his legal representative. They can only be used for a pre-investigation review.

In this connection, we have to correct the statement made by the German Foreign Minister. The four requests for legal assistance forwarded by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to the German side, which have not been answered despite Mr Maas’ assurances, concern not only the results of tests and access to the injured party for an interview, contrary to what the minister told the Bundestag. It is equally important to clarify the practical circumstances of this case, in particular, the circumstances under which the water bottle, which allegedly contained traces of the toxic agent, was taken out of Russia, an interview of Maria Pevchikh, a resident of the United Kingdom who was accompanying Alexey Navalny, and other vital related elements, such as explanations of the false bomb alert call made from Germany when the plane carrying Navalny made an emergency landing at the Omsk airport. We insist that Germany honour its obligations under the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and protocols to it. The German side must explain itself despite its stubborn reluctance to do this. Its previous excuses are unacceptable and unconvincing.

As for Mr Maas’ premise that Russia’s complaints against Germany and the OPCW are nothing more than “absurd allegations,” this rhetoric is outrageous and wide open to criticism. We merely expect to receive legal, technical and organisational assistance in the bilateral Russian-German format and at the OPCW platform in the interests of a comprehensive, objective and unbiased investigation into all circumstances of the incident involving Alexey Navalny. We would like to find out who stands behind this carefully orchestrated anti-Russia provocation. But what we receive in response to our requests is aggressive rhetoric and unashamed juggling of the facts.

We once again call on Germany to start close, open and honest cooperation with Russia on the Navalny incident.