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UN human rights chief calls for investigation into Navalny's suspected poisoning

UN human rights chief calls for investigation into Navalny's suspected poisoning
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Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations’s top human rights official, on Tuesday called for Russia to either cooperate or initiate an investigation into the suspected poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

“The number of cases of poisoning, or other forms of targeted assassination, of current or former Russian citizens, either within Russia itself or on foreign soil, over the past two decades is profoundly disturbing,” Bachelet said in a statement, Reuters reported.

Navalny became ill on a domestic flight in August and was rushed to a German hospital, where he was placed in a medically-induced coma. Germany has determined he was poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent, which was also named in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

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Rupert Colville, a spokesman for Bachelet, told reporters in Geneva that lack of investigation in previous cases has led to “close to total impunity” in Russia.

The German hospital where Navalny is being treated said yesterday that he has emerged from his coma and is responsive.

“The patient has been removed from his medically induced coma and is being weaned off mechanical ventilation,” Berlin’s Charite hospital said in a statement Monday. ”He is responding to verbal stimuli. It remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning.”

Germany has also called on Russia to conduct a full investigation and suggested a gas pipeline deal could be at stake if it does not.

“We have high expectations from the Russians to bring light into this severe crime,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, according to the AP. “If they have nothing to do with this attack, then it’s in their own interest to put the facts on the table.”

“[I]f there won’t be any contributions from the Russian side regarding the investigation in the coming days, we will have to consult with our partners,” he added.