A near-fatal attack on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was the work of Russia’s internal security service, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday.
Navalny was poisoned by the nerve agent Novichok, a State Department spokesperson told The Hill. The Russian politician currently is recuperating in Germany.
“The United States believes that officers from the Russian Federal Security Service used a Novichok nerve agent to poison Mr. Navalny,” the spokesperson said. “There is no plausible explanation for Mr. Navalny’s poisoning other than Russian government involvement and responsibility.
“Of course, President [Vladimir] Putin and the Russian government would have us believe otherwise. Russia has suggested numerous, often contradictory, conspiracy theories. Let’s be clear: These types of conspiracy theories are nothing more than a means to deflect attention from the serious questions before the Russian government which it has yet to answer.”
Putin has denied FSB involvement in the attack on Navalny. The Russian president did say, however, if the FSB were involved it “most likely carried it through.”
In October, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said toxic chemicals taken from Navalny’s blood and urine were related to the Novichok group. The State Department has “full confidence” on the OPCW’s finding.
“[The findings] confirmed earlier results from German, French and Swedish labs, that Mr. Navalny was exposed to an unscheduled Novichok nerve agent,” the spokesperson said.
A joint investigation between Navalny, the online media outlet Bellingcat and CNN revealed the FSB placed poison in Navalny’s underpants after trailing him for nearly three years.
Navalny became well-known for his investigations into corruption by Russian government officials.
Navalny was transferred to Germany in August from a Russian hospital in Omsk, where he was taken for treatment after he became ill on a plane leaving the city of Tomsk.
Russia also is believed to have been behind a recent cyberattack on the U.S. government and international corporations.
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