Foreign Ministry statement regarding OPCW response to Russia’s request for technical assistance to clarify the situation around Alexey Navalny

On October 1, we sent a request to Fernando Arias, Director-General of the OPCW and head of its Technical Secretariat, for technical assistance under Clause 38 (е) of Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Two and a half months later, we are still waiting for a meaningful response. Their explanation is the absence of the German authorities’ permission for full-scale cooperation between the agency’s experts and competent Russian organisations to clarify the circumstances of what Berlin describes as the poisoning of the blogger. Russia’s suggestions regarding the main modalities of a planned visit of OPCW Technical Secretariat’s representatives to Russia have been rejected as well.

We planned to make use of the OPCW expertise in the pre-investigation probe conducted by Russian law enforcement agencies to clarify the main questions, namely, the place, mode and circumstances under which chemical substances appeared in the blogger’s biomaterials outside Russia, which the authorities of Germany, France and Sweden, as well as the OPCW Technical Secretariat “unmistakably” established to be from the group of chemical compounds denoted as Novichok in the West for political reasons. It is notable that these compounds are not on the list of chemical weapons controlled by the CWC. Nevertheless, experts from the above countries managed to reach firm conclusions even though prior to that, their countries’ officials denied the very fact of conducting their own research into the infamous Novichok class agents.

Russia requested OPCW’s technical assistance after its numerous calls for due cooperation had been rejected by Germany as well as France and Sweden, which Berlin involved in analysing Navalny’s samples. Therefore, these three countries actually failed to implement their obligation to provide legal assistance to Russia’s law enforcement and other specialised agencies, as set out in Article VII of the CWC and the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry of Russia have sent about a dozen such requests, and received several negative replies that are inarticulate when it comes to the essence of the matter. In essence they said that Alexey Navalny himself and the German Government did not allow disclosing to Russia the formulas of the chemical substances found in the blogger’s samples.

We hoped for a different kind of response when we requested OPCW assistance (we will make public the related correspondence between Russia’s Permanent Representative and the OPCW). We have not received it. The OPCW has again been made hostage to those who are stubbornly trying to use it in their geopolitical interests. As a result, our trust in the OPCW is rapidly declining.

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