Human rights experts: Russia responsible for attempted killing of Navalny, international investigation needed
The findings of an investigation by two independent human rights experts into the poisoning of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny found the Russian state to be responsible for the attempted killing and called for the international community to carry out further investigations.
“It is our conclusion that Russia is responsible for the attempted arbitrary killing of Mr. Navalny,” Agnès Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, told reporters at the United Nations in Geneva today.
Together with Irene Khan, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Ms. Callamard conducted five month investigation into the case. Mr. Navalny was found to have been poisoned with a nerve agent called Novichok in August of last year, and was later flown to Germany to be hospitalized. He has recently returned to Russia, where he was arrested, and he has now been imprisoned in a penal colony outside Moscow.
In detailing the findings, Ms. Callamard said that “thepoisoning and attempted killing of Mr Navalny, along with the lack of investigation and the denying narratives, are part of a larger trend ongoing over several decades of arbitrary killings and attempted killings including two poisonings by the Russian authorities of journalists critics and dissidents.”
Among the experts’ findings was the conclusion that it would be extremely unlikely for anyone other than Russia’s state entities to have access to a prohibited chemical weapon such as Novitchok, ruling out the involvement of so-called “non-state actors.” Ms. Callamard could not name any specific individual or entity responsible for the attempted killing, however.
“Given the inadequate response of the domestic authorities, given the use of a prohibited chemical weapon , given the apparent pattern of attempted or actual killings, we believe that in international investigation should be carried out as a matter of urgency in order to establish the facts and clarify all the circumstances concerning Mr. Navalny’s poisoning,” Ms. Callamard said.
For Irene Khan, the Russian opposition figure’s campaign alleging widespread corruption in the country’s ruling party clearly made him a target. “The attempt on Mr Navalny’s life did not happen in a vacuum, it happened because of who he is and what he has been doing. He’s a politician an anti-corruption activist, ” Ms. Khan said.
During the press conference, a journalist mentioned that the human rights organization Amnesty International has stripped the Russian opposition politician of his "prisoner of conscience" status following xenophobic comments that he has made in the past and never renounced. He asked if such behaviour warranted the support Mr. Navalny was receiving from the authors of the report.
“ The support that we are giving him is because his right to life was being violated, because his right not to be tortured was being violated, because his right to carry out political and public affairs was being violated, because his freedom of expression was being violated, ” Ms. Khan responded, saying that what he may have said in the past was not relevant to their determination.