West pressures Russia to provide answers about Navalny poisoning

A group of 45 countries, including Britain, Germany and Canada, within the framework of the global poisonous arms watchdog, demanded on Tuesday that Russia provide answers about the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Delegates said Russia had 10 days to respond to questions posed by countries under the rules of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in The Hague.

Western countries say opposition leader Navalny was poisoned in Russia with the Soviet-era drug Novichok in August 2020. He was then treated in Germany before returning to Russia, where he is now in prison.

"Today, 45 State Parties, including Britain, informed the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that they will formally ask Russia questions regarding Navalny's poisoning under Article 9 of the Convention," British delegates said in a tweet on Twitter.

They added that "Russia has 10 days to respond."

Canada and Germany tweeted that they also signed the 45 nations' statement.

"It is necessary for Russia to specify in detail the steps taken to investigate and shed light on the use of a chemical weapon on its territory," said an excerpt of the statement posted on Twitter by the British delegation.

The 41-member Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council is meeting this week to discuss progress made in eliminating chemical weapons, including taking measures when states parties do not comply.

Western countries have also called on Russia's ally Syria to allow in weapons inspectors and said Damascus continues to violate its obligations to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Several countries issued statements calling on Russia to clarify the course of Navalny's poisoning.

But Moscow denies any role in this, while Navalny accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to poison him.

Navalny was arrested upon his return from Germany in January and imprisoned on previous charges of fraud.

Meanwhile, Britain said it would keep up pressure on Russia over the use of Novichok in 2018 to poison former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. At that time, a police officer investigating the case was also seriously injured, and a woman who later touched the nerve agent died.

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