The ambassadors of the member states of Nato will meet at the organisation’s headquarters in Brussels today to discuss the issue of the attack on Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition leaders, allegedly by the Russian government.
Navalny was airlifted out of Russia last week to a hospital in Germany, while in a coma and hooked up to a respirator.
According to German doctors, he is suffering from poisoning with Novichok. The term covers a group of chemical substances developed by Soviet and later Russian scientists as weapons.
The chemicals have surfaced several times before, used in attacks on targets of the Russian security services. They include banker Ivan Kivelidi in 1995, Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in England in 2018, and Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess in Wiltshire, also in 2019. The Skripals and Rowley survived the poisoning.
Navalny became ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow on 20 August, and was placed in a medical coma before being flown to hospital in Berlin next day. He remains in a coma, but his condition is described as stable.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has stated she wants Nato and the EU to come together to formulate a response to the alleged attack on Navalny – which Moscow strenuously denies.
According to a report on the Nato meeting by the Tass news agency, “The NATO statement does not specify the topic of the meeting; however, it informs that the event will be translated into Russian”.
Navalny has been a persistent and prominent critic of the Russian government and president Vladimir Putin, using YouTube to publicise Putin’s links to organised crime, which he uses to enrich himself.
He has been arrested 13 times for his dissident activities, and told the Financial Times in an interview last year that he and his family were under constant surveillance by the security services. Last month the paper reported the surveillance even continued as Navalny lay unconscious in a hospital in Omsk as a result of the poisoning.
Meanwhile Tass reports that Kremlin spokesperson said “Russia is undoubtedly interested in determining the cause of the incident, adding that the information from Germany’s authorities would help the investigation understand what happened to Navalny. Peskov mentioned that the Ministry of the Interior is carrying out a pre-investigation inspection and all the necessary investigative procedures.”