Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny stated in a German magazine that he deemed Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for his supposed poisoning, and said that he was not frightened and would return to Russia to continue campaigning.
Navalny was hurried from Russia to Berlin in August after getting unwell on a domestic flight. He was treated in the Charite hospital for what Germany believes, was poisoning by a possibly lethal nerve agent, Novichok, before being cleared in September.
Navalny expressed his opinion
“I believe that Putin is behind the crime and I don’t have any other versions of what happened,” Navalny said to Der Spiegel, as per an excerpt from an interview which will be printed later on.
The West has asked for a clarification from the Kremlin, which has refuted any connexion in the incident and said it has yet to see proof of a crime.
“You don’t feel any pain but you know you’re dying,” Navalny said about the moment as the nerve agent started to take influence on him. He said he was on the path towards a sturdy recovery and was now relearning the way to balance on one leg.
No proof of the crime yet
Navalny was escorted on his visit to the magazine’s office by security guards, who asserted that they should indicate which bottle of water from the fridge he should drink. His allies have said hints of Novichok had been discovered on a bottle of water he gulped in his hotel room before boarding the flight.
Navalny told Der Spiegel he would return to Russia, saying: “My task is now to remain fearless. And I have no fear! If my hands are shaking, it’s because of the poison, not out of fear. I will not give Putin the gift of not returning.”
“I do not want to be the opposition leader in exile,” he added.
The politician, who was paid a visit at his hospital bedside by Chancellor Angela Merkel, said he felt a special bond to Germany and had been awestruck by Ms Merkel’s immense knowledge of Russia.
“My impression is that Merkel needs no advice from me,” he said. “But any Russia strategy must account for the depth of madness that Putin has now reached. Putin would not risk a conflict with Berlin.”