Kremlin Accuses Navalny Aides of Removing Potential Evidence

The Kremlin on Friday said Russia’s ability to probe opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s suspected poisoning was “limited” and accused his aides of taking potential evidence out of the country.

Members of Navalny’s team said Thursday that German experts found Novichok, a Soviet-designed nerve agent, on a water bottle taken from the Siberian hotel room where the Kremlin foe stayed before falling ill last month.

The bottle appears to have been key evidence for Germany’s conclusion that the 44-year-old outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin was poisoned with the banned chemical weapon.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday reiterated complaints that Moscow’s hands were tied because Germany has not yet shared its findings with Russia and accused Navalny’s aides of removing potential evidence.

“Unfortunately, our abilities to genuinely conduct an investigation are rather limited,” Peskov told reporters.

“The bottle — if it existed — has been taken somewhere, to Germany or some other place,” he said. “What could have become a piece of evidence proving poisoning has unfortunately been taken out. Another question is why.”

But he also cast doubt on Germany’s findings, saying it would not be possible to take a bottle with traces of a nerve agent out of the country because that person would simply “have no time” to do that due to the toxicity of the substance.

Navalny’s team Aug. the bottle and other items from his room straight after hearing he had been taken ill on August 20.

The team said it was obvious that the Russian leadership would not be interested in conducting a proper probe.

Russia has dismissed “unsubstantiated claims” over the incident and said its doctors found no trace of toxins.

Navalny is being treated in a hospital in Berlin and on Tuesday said he was breathing for the first time without medical support.

Kremlin Critic Navalny Moved to Notorious Prison Colony

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been moved to the IK-2 penal colony in the Vladimir region to serve his two-and-a-half year sentence, he confirmed Monday.

Navalny’s whereabouts had been unknown since Friday, when his team said he was moved from a pre-trial detention center outside Moscow where he was being quarantined. Reports citing prison and law enforcement sources said he was transferred to IK-2, a prison camp in the town of Pokrov notorious for psychological isolation and harsh conditions.

In an Instagram post, Navalny confirmed that he had been moved to IK-2, calling it “a real concentration camp 100 kilometers from Moscow.”

“I think someone upstairs read Orwell’s ‘1984’ and said, ‘Yeah, cool. Let’s do this. Education through dehumanization.’ But if you treat everything with humor, then you can live. So, overall, I’m doing well,” he wrote alongside an old photo of himself with a close-cropped haircut.

Earlier, the state-run TASS news agency reported that a military garrison court notified the head of IK-2 that it will consider Tuesday a complaint from Navalny’s lawyers regarding Russian investigators’ inaction toward his August poisoning in Siberia.

The notification, dated March 1, asks the colony’s administration to ensure Navalny’s participation in the court session via video link.

European scientists and the global chemical weapons watchdog determined that Navalny was poisoned with a new variant of Novichok when he fell ill on a domestic flight in August 2020. Navalny spent months recovering in Germany and was jailed upon his return to Russia in January for violating his probation while abroad.

Russia has refused to open a criminal probe into Navalny’s poisoning despite pressure from the West.

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