By Ignacio Ortega
Moscow, Aug 25 (efe-epa).- The Kremlin on Tuesday said accusations that president Vladimir Putin was behind the alleged poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny as hot air and rejected calls for a criminal investigation.
German medics treating Navalny at the Charite hospital in Berlin on Monday said that initial tests indicated the Putin critic had been poisoned with “a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors.”
Supporters of the fierce anti-corruption campaigner believe the politician fell ill after drinking tea laced with poison before a flight from Siberia to Moscow and have pointed the finger of blame at Putin.
Navalny was transferred for specialist treatment in Germany on Friday. He remains in an artificial coma in ICU.
The Kremlin’s spokesman Dimitry Peskov on Tuesday denied the accusations leveled against the president in a statement.
“We have no intention of taking them seriously,” he said.
Western powers and Russian opposition supporters have pointed to a track record of alleged Kremlin-backed poisonings, including former secret service agents Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 and Sergei Skripal in 2018, both of whom were targeted in the United Kingdom.
Navalny’s rise to public renown as a skilled orator has been a thorn in the side of the Russian government and he was widely credited with organizing the largest anti-government protests since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Doctors consulted by the independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, said that Novichok, the nerve agent used in the attack on the Skripals, worked similarly to cholinesterase inhibitors.
Peskov also denied that Putin had tried to block Navalny’s transfer from Omsk, the Siberian city where he was hospitalized, to Berlin.
“What orders should have been given? For the medics to cure him? For the medics to authorize his transfer? They possibly saved his life,” he said.
He insisted that Navalny had not been tailed by agents from the FSB, formerly known as the KGB, as several press reports have said.
Peskov said it was too early to launch an investigation until it can be confirmed that Navalny was poisoned.
German chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called for those responsible for the alleged poisoning to be identified and called on Russia to launch a transparent probe.
The initial diagnosis from the Charite hospital was rejected by the medics who first received Navalny in Omsk.
Navalny supporters and other Russian opposition figures are unequivocal in their beliefs.
“I’m sure he was poisoned. I also have no doubt that it was something planned at a high level,” Dmitri Gudkov, a prominent opposition campaigner, told Efe.
Navalny was banned from running against Putin in the 2018 election after charges of embezzlement, which his team insisted were purely political, were brought against him.
He has been jailed on several occasions for calling unauthorized protests in Russia. During one of his stints in custody he suffered an allergic reaction allegedly linked to a poison.EFE-EPA