The poisoning of Alexei Navalny was falsified by the West to dissuade Russia from intervening in the protest-stricken Belarus, the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko alleged on Thursday.
The allegation comes after German chancellor Angela Merkel announced Wednesday that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, hospitalised in Berlin in a coma after collapsing on a plane in Siberia, had been poisoned by a “Novitchok-type” nerve agent.
The West urged Russia to explain, while the Kremlin said it saw “no reason” to accuse the Russian state and advised not to draw “hasty conclusions” about the poisoning of its main political opponent.
Receiving the Russian Prime Minister in Minsk on Thursday, Lukashenko assured that his intelligence services had “intercepted” a telephone call between Poland and Germany, which would prove that the case of Alexei Navalny is a “falsification.”
“There has been no poisoning of Navalny,” the Belarusian president told his counterpart Mikhail Mishustin. “They did it, and I quote, to dissuade Putin from sticking his nose into Belarusian affairs,” Lukashenko added.
Without giving further details, he said he would forward the transcript of this appeal to the Russian security services.
Lukashenko is facing an unprecedented protest movement contesting his re-election on 9 August, which the Belarusian opposition denounced as “fraudulent” as official results give him 80% of the vote.