The alleged poisoning of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is a “planned action” against Moscow aimed to impose new sanctions and, as a result, to restrain its development, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said.
“The European Union (EU) and the NATO states obviously do not like the fact that the Russian economy is strengthening every year, that its influence on world processes is growing and that Russia has its own position and is ready to defend it,” Volodin said in a statement published on the Duma or lower House of Parliament’s website on Thursday.
“They do not want our country to be strong,” he added.
On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Navalny, who is in intensive care in a Berlin hospital, was poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent, the same type that was used in 2018 to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to Volodin, when Russia was charged with poisoning the Skripals, it was an “obvious provocation” aimed at extending the sanctions imposed by Western countries on Moscow after its incorporation of the former Ukrainian republic of Crimea in 2014.
“The parallel of what is happening with the situation of 2018 is obvious,” the Speaker said.
He added that the situation around Navalny is taking place at the peak of tension around Belarus, in the internal affairs of which a number of European countries he said have tried to interfere.
Volodin recalled that when Navalny became ill, the Russian authorities did everything to save his life, regardless of his views and political preferences.
And when Navalny’s family turned to President Vladimir Putin for help to transport him to Germany, everything was formalized as soon as possible, Volodin added.
But in Germany, Navalny was immediately called Merkel’s guest and various officials began to make statements, insisting that he was allegedly poisoned with a nerve agent, he said.
Volodin called on the German Bundestag parliament to ask Merkel why she is making steps that hinder the development of friendly relations between the two countries.
“It is clear that Germany is a hostage of NATO and is forced to play the role imposed on it. However, the task of sound political forces is to sort out this situation and prevent Germany from being drawn into an anti-Russian campaign,” Volodin concluded.
Navalny, the 44-year-old staunch critic of Putin, made a name for himself by exposing official corruption, labelling the President’s United Russia as “the party of crooks and thieves”, and has served several jail terms.