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Russia slams ‘unacceptable’ US claims over Navalny


High on the agenda of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s talks with the EU will be the Middle East peace process POOL/AFP/File

Russia condemned as unacceptable on Thursday a US statement that senior Russian officials may have been behind the poisoning of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The 44-year-old lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner fell ill last month after boarding a plane and was treated in Siberia before medical evacuation to Germany, where doctors said he was poisoned.

“We consider unacceptable any direct or indirect suggestions that Russian officials were involved in this,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

He was responding to claims made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that it was likely senior Russian officials ordered the poisoning of the top Kremlin critic with Novichok nerve agent.

“I think people all around the world see this kind of activity for what it is,” Pompeo said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

“And when they see the effort to poison a dissident, and they recognise that there is a substantial chance that this actually came from senior Russian officials, I think this is not good for the Russian people.”

Pompeo said the United States and its European allies wanted Russia to “hold those responsible for this accountable”.

His comments came despite US President Donald Trump saying last week that he had seen no proof that Navalny was poisoned.

Peskov on Thursday stressed that Russia had “an interest in finding the reasons for what happened” to Navalny.

He repeated complaints that Russia had not received information from Germany on the findings of medical tests that led it to conclude Navalny was poisoned.

Peskov said Russian officials were seeking cooperation with Germany but did not see their efforts being reciprocated.

Russia has not opened a criminal investigation into what happened to the high-profile politician because it said medical tests had found no poison.

Navalny became ill while leading a tactical voting campaign aimed at pushing out the ruling party’s candidates in local elections that run Friday to Sunday.

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