UN experts: International investigation into Navalny poisoning needed

UN experts: International investigation into Navalny poisoning needed
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United Nations human rights experts on Monday called for an independent international investigation into the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBiden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Kaseya denies paying hackers for decryption key after ransomware attack MORE.

Agnès Callamard, the special U.N. rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Irene Khan, the special U.N. rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, suggested the probe after previously sending a letter to Russian officials in December. 

The experts released that letter on Monday along with their statement, The Associated Press reported.  

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The two experts said that the poisoning of Navalny last year aimed to “send a clear, sinister warning that this would be the fate of anyone who would criticize and oppose the government.”

“Given the inadequate response of the domestic authorities, the use of prohibited chemical weapons, and the apparent pattern of attempted targeted killings, we believe that an international investigation should be carried out as a matter of urgency in order to establish the facts and clarify all the circumstances concerning Mr. Navalny’s poisoning,” Callamard and Khan wrote, according to the AP.

In August, the Putin critic grew sick while on a flight, fell into a coma and was transferred to Berlin for treatment. Several labs in different countries and tests from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, concluded Navalny came in contact with Novichok, a Soviet-era chemical. 

Callamard and Khan wrote that “the availability of Novichok and the expertise required in handling it and in developing a novel form such as that found in Mr. Navalny’s samples could only be found within and amongst state actors," according to the AP.

In their December letter to Russian officials, the experts said Navalny “was under intensive government surveillance at the time of the attempted killing, making it unlikely that any third party could have administered such a banned chemical without the knowledge of the Russian authorities.”

After his return to Russia, authorities arrested Navalny in January, leading to demonstrations across the country that Russian officials responded strongly against. Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for allegedly breaching probation for a 2014 charge he claims was concocted by authorities.  

The U.S. and European Union have called on Russia to release the Putin critic, but Russia has rejected the requests.