International Position

Germany’s position

On August 22, 2020, Alexei Navalny was admitted to the German clinic Charité for treatment. Specialists from this clinic conducted research and on August 24 stated that Navalny had been poisoned with a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors. The clinic handed over his samples to toxicologists in the Bundeswehr. On September 2, Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel made an official statement, saying that “a special laboratory of the Bundeswehr presented an unambiguous result: Alexei Navalny was the victim of an assassination attempt with a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group,” and adding: “Now extremely serious questions arise that only the Russian government can and must answer ”.

Germany turned to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which confirmed the findings of experts from the Bundeswehr. In addition, independent laboratories in France and Sweden came to the same conclusions.

For many months Germany has been demanding that Russia conduct an independent investigation into the poisoning. However, Russia not only refuses to initiate it (see the “Criminal case” section), but also puts forward claims against Germany, claiming that its authorities are obliged to provide Russia with some kind of evidence. Why these claims are absolutely untenable is explained in the “Russia's Position” section. Germany, however, is still making reciprocal steps: for example, the Berlin prosecutor's office interrogated Alexei Navalny at the request of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office. But Russia is not satisfied with these steps.

On August 20, 2021, on the anniversary of the poisoning, Angela Merkel held talks with Vladimir Putin. During the meeting, she, in particular, demanded the release of Navalny, who is now serving time on a fabricated case.

Position of other countries

Many leading countries of the world share Germany's unequivocal opinion about Navalny's poisoning. On September 3, Josep Borrell, head of EU diplomacy, issued a declaration on behalf of all 27 EU member states, as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Georgia and Ukraine. The declaration said: “The European Union condemns in the strongest possible terms the assassination attempt on Alexei Navalny, who was poisoned by a military chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group, similar to the one used in the assassination attempt on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on 4 March 2018”. The European Union said the Russian government should do everything possible to investigate the poisoning of Navalny and called on Russia to fully cooperate with the OPCW to ensure an impartial international investigation.

On September 2, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanded an explanation from Russia about what happened to Navalny. On September 3, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Leuven called on the Russian authorities to investigate Navalny's poisoning and find those responsible. In addition, French President Emmanuel Macron called on the same things during a telephone conversation with Putin on September 14: he said that they share Germany's position on the poisoning (especially since the conclusions of the German side were confirmed by the French laboratory). US President Donald Trump said on September 4 that while Washington has no evidence of the poisoning, he has no reason to doubt Germany's findings. Joe Biden, then a US presidential candidate, was more specific and blamed the Russian government for the poisoning. On December 23, the US State Department accused the FSB of poisoning Navalny.

OPCW conclusions

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the main body mandated to conduct investigations into crimes related to chemical weapons. The OPCW is an independent international organization that does not act in the interests of any particular country; a State can only ask it for an investigation.

In September 2020, the OPCW Technical Secretariat carried out such an investigation in accordance with the established procedure at the request of Germany. The organization's specialists independently took biological samples from Navalny and transferred them to two certified laboratories appointed by the Director General of the OPCW. On October 6, the OPCW confirmed the conclusions of German, French and Swedish experts that a substance similar to Novichok was found in Navalny's samples. The full version of the investigation report, as stipulated by the OPCW rules, was handed over to Germany; an abbreviated report was provided to all members of the organization. On the same day, 44 countries that make up the OPCW issued a statement in which they demanded Russia to investigate the poisoning of Navalny. At the moment, 56 countries have already joined the demand.

Russia questioned the OPCW's findings, but refused to follow the same path as Germany and order an independent investigation from the Technical Secretariat. Steps were taken towards this even before the report was made public, but Russia refused to follow the procedure and insisted on a joint investigation in a St. Petersburg laboratory. Read more about this in the “Russia's Position” section. The question of Navalny's poisoning is still raised at every session of the OPCW, but Russia still hasn’t provided a substantial answer to it.

On October 5, 2021, the UK and 44 other OPCW member states approached Russia with official inquiries:

1. What steps has Russia taken in connection with the use of chemical weapons on its territory?

2. What were the results of these steps and how can the conclusions reached earlier by the OPCW experts be explained?

3. What else is Russia going to do in relation to the incident?

4. Why do the Russian authorities refuse to follow the standard procedure for cooperation with the OPCW?

On October 7, Russia sent a counter request to Germany, France, Sweden and the Technical Secretariat. Russia's Permanent Representative to the OPCW, Alexander Shulgin, commented on it this way: “On the record and in the presence of all members of the OPCW Executive Council, we once again handed over to Germany, France and Sweden a whole list of questions regarding this murky story and their role in the performance they themselves directed.”

The formulated questions fit into the mainstream of propaganda rhetoric, which was discussed in detail in the “Russia's Position” section. The topic of the bottle with traces of poison is raised again, the special role in the incident of Maria Pevchikh, allegedly connected with British intelligence, is emphasized, and Western countries and the OPCW are accused of not providing Russia with the formula for the chemical found in Navalny's body. But the strangest question concerns some person who allegedly flew with Alexei on the plane, although he was accompanied only by doctors, two pilots, his wife and Maria Pevchikh.

Who was the person who accompanied A. Navalny on board a charter medical flight from Omsk to Berlin? What was his departmental affiliation? (We’re expecting an answer from the FRG.)


Germany responded by saying that it had provided all the necessary assistance to the Russian law enforcement agencies, and reminded that the Russian side has Navalny's biomaterials at its disposal. It reasonably replied to the question “why traces of some chemicals were found on the bottle” that the reason should be sought in Russia. Great Britain expressed solidarity with the position of Germany and noted that Russia did not provide answers to previously asked questions. The British response explicitly states: “The Russian Federation was unable to investigate the poisoning of its citizen with chemical weapons and now unreasonably claims that in order to investigate it needs to first obtain information from other countries.” France said it had received a request from Russia for assistance, but did not respond to it, as it expects "plausible explanations for the assassination attempt.” Sweden said that questions about the formula of the substance should be directed to Germany, as Sweden carried out its research at its request.


Russia recognized these answers as unsatisfactory and accused the mentioned countries of adopting an “openly provocative position.” According to the Russian side, their actions “are aimed at bringing to a standstill efforts to publicly clarify all the circumstances of the incident involving the blogger.”

Having received no intelligible answers from Russia, on November 5, 45 OPCW member states once again sent a list of questions to it, in particular about what actions it had taken since August 20, 2020 in the light of its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. At the 26th session of the OPCW, Alexander Shulgin, commenting on these questions, said: “The Russian Federation has given exhaustive answers. We were asked — what steps did you take, what did you do? 230 witnesses were questioned, those who had contact with Navalny, those who accompanied him, 64 biochemical examinations were carried out, a lot of items were seized, including for conducting an investigative analysis.” Western countries were once again accused of not responding to requests for legal assistance.

On November 29, the OPCW issued a statement, signed by 55 countries, and demanded that Russia provide clarifications and bring the poisoners to justice. “Those who use chemical weapons must not go unpunished,” the statement said.

Documents related to the Navalny investigation can be found on the OPCW website.

UN report

In the fall of 2020, Alexei Navalny turned to the UN with a request to investigate his poisoning. UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard and UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion Irene Khan agreed to investigate. On March 1, they published a report that said: “We have come to the conclusion that Russia is responsible for the attempted poisoning of Navalny. Given the inadequate response of the Russian authorities, the use of banned chemical weapons and the obvious series of targeted assassinations, we believe that an urgent international investigation is needed to establish the facts and clarify all the circumstances of Navalny's poisoning.”

As early as December 30, 2020, the special rapporteurs sent a letter to the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Sergei Lavrov, containing evidence that the Russian state was involved in the poisoning. The Russian side was given 60 days to respond, but they never did, and after the deadline, UN representatives published the letter along with the results of the report.

PACE report

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was going to prepare a report on the poisoning of Navalny. It was to be done by the Special Rapporteur Jacques Maire. On January 19, 2021, the PACE Human Rights Committee allowed him to travel to Russia to study the circumstances of the crime. However, on April 30, Jacques Maire was barred entry to Russia by the Foreign Ministry, and at the moment there is no information about the stance of the report. This was a response to the EU sanctions introduced in March against a number of Russian citizens, the reasons for which included the persecution of Alexei Navalny and the suppression of peaceful protests.

In addition to Jacques Maire, seven more EU citizens were banned from entering Russia, including Berlin prosecutor Jörg Raupach (probably because Russia was not satisfied with the responses of the German prosecutor's office to its inquiries) and military chemist Ose Scott, head of the Swedish Laboratory of Chemical, Biological , Radiation and Nuclear Safety of the Research Institute of Total Defense — the very laboratory where the conclusions about the presence of Novichok in Navalny's samples were confirmed.

Jacques Maire, however, managed to prepare a report, on the basis of which PACE adopted a draft resolution in December 2021. PACE stated “the ample and widely reported medical evidence showing that Mr Navalny was poisoned with an organophosphorus cholinesterase inhibitor whilst in Russia” and called on Russia to conduct an independent investigation without the involvement of the FSB.

ECHR decision

On June 6, 2023, the European Court of Human Rights declared that Russia had violated Navalny's rights by refusing to investigate his poisoning. The court obliged Russia to pay Navalny 40 thousand euros as compensation. According to the ECHR, Article 2 of the Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to life, was violated.

The inquiry conducted by the domestic authorities fell short of being public and made no allowance for the victim’s right to participate in the proceedings. Furthermore, the inquiry failed to explore the allegations of a possible political motive for the attempted murder, as well as possible involvement or collusion by State agents and did not follow up on the reported use of a substance identified as a chemical weapon prohibited by international and domestic law.


Sanctions against Russia

In connection with the poisoning of Navalny, several countries have imposed sanctions against Russian organizations and officials.

On October 15, 2020, the European Union and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions against six Russian officials:

— Alexander Bortnikov, director of the FSB;

— Sergei Kiriyenko, First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration;

— Andrey Yarin, head of the Presidential Domestic Policy Department;

— Alexei Krivoruchko and Pavel Popov, Deputy Defense Ministers of Russia;

— Sergei Menyailo, Plenipotentiary of the President of Russia in the Siberian Federal District.

The research institute that was developing Novichok, State Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology (GosNIIOKhT), also fell under the sanctions (read more about the institute in the section “Chemical weapons of the FSB”).

On March 2, the United States, in coordination with the EU, imposed sanctions against seven Russians in connection with the poisoning and prosecution of Alexei Navalny. The list includes:

— Alexander Bortnikov, director of the FSB;

— Sergei Kiriyenko, First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration;

— Igor Krasnov, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation;

— Alexei Krivoruchko and Pavel Popov, Deputy Defense Ministers of Russia;

— Andrey Yarin, head of the Presidential Domestic Policy Department.

In addition, sanctions were imposed against three organizations: the 33rd Central Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense, the 27th Scientific Center of the Ministry of Defense, and GosNIIOKhT.

On March 24, Canada imposed sanctions against nine Russian officials in connection with the poisoning of Navalny and the persecution of himself and his supporters. The sanctions list includes:

— Alexander Bortnikov, director of the FSB;

— Alexander Kalashnikov, director of the Federal Penitentiary Service;

— Sergei Kiriyenko, First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration;

— Igor Krasnov, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation;

— Alexei Krivoruchko and Pavel Popov, Deputy Defense Ministers of Russia;

— Sergey Menyailo, Plenipotentiary of the President of Russia in the Siberian Federal District;

— Andrey Yarin, head of the Presidential Domestic Policy Department;

— Viktor Zolotov, director of the National Guard.

On August 20, on the anniversary of Navalny's poisoning, the UK imposed sanctions against seven FSB officers involved in the assassination attempt on him. The list included:

— Alexei Sedov, head of the Service for Defense of Constitutional Order and Fight against Terrorism of the FSB;

— Kirill Vasiliev, Director of the FSB Institute of Criminalistics;

— Vladimir Bogdanov, deputy director of the Scientific and Technical Department of the FSB;

— Alexei Alexandrov, FSB officer;

— Stanislav Makshakov, FSB officer;

— Ivan Spiridonov, FSB officer;

— Vladimir Panyaev, FSB officer.

On August 17, 2023, in advance of the third anniversary of the poisoning, the U.S. expanded sanctions against the four FSS (FSB) officers involved. U.S. Treasury Under Secretary Brian Nelson commented: “Today we remind Vladimir Putin and his regime that there are consequences not only for waging a brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine but also for violating the human rights of the Russian people. The attempt to assassinate Alexei Navalny in 2020 represents the Kremlin's disrespect for human rights, and we will continue to use the power at our disposal to bring potential Kremlin executioners to justice.”

The list included:

— Alexei Alexandrov;

— Konstantin Kudryavtsev;

— Ivan Osipov;

— Vladimir Panyaev.

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