Kremlin denies Navalny was poisoned

Kremlin denies Navalny was poisoned

Spokesman says Putin has not watched video made by Russian opposition leader’s widow

Portraits of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are pictured at the Russian embassy in Kappara, Malta on Monday night. (Photo: Reuters)
Portraits of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are pictured at the Russian embassy in Kappara, Malta on Monday night. (Photo: Reuters)

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin has not watched a video statement by Yulia Navalnaya in which she vowed to continue Alexei Navalny’s work, but her assertion that the opposition leader was poisoned with a nerve agent is unfounded, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

Navalnaya said in the video released on Monday three days after her husband’s death and less than a month before Russia’s next presidential election that she would fight for a “free Russia” and called on supporters to oppose Putin with greater fury than ever.

The 47-year-old mother-of-two alternated between rage and grief as she signalled she would try to help lead a shell-shocked opposition and accused Putin of having Navalny murdered, something the Kremlin has denied.

She alleged that the reason the authorities had still not handed over Navalny’s body to his elderly mother was because they were waiting for traces of a Novichok nerve agent to leave his corpse.

Navalny’s allies have cited a Russian investigator as saying that the authorities need at least 14 days to conduct various chemical tests on his body and can not therefore hand his corpse over yet.

Asked on Tuesday about Navalnaya’s allegation that Putin had killed her husband, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he could not comment given the circumstances.

“We leave it without comment. Of course, these are absolutely unsubstantiated, obnoxious accusations against the head of the Russian state,” he said. “But given that Yulia Navalnaya was widowed just days earlier, I will leave it without comment”.

But he said Navalnaya’s talk of a nerve agent being used against her husband was unfounded.

“I am not familiar with this statement. But if it contained such words, it is nothing but unsubstantiated accusations, because they are not supported by anything, not confirmed,” he said.

Navalny, 47, fell unconscious and died suddenly on Friday after a walk at the “Polar Wolf” penal colony above the Arctic Circle where he was serving a three-decade sentence, the prison service said.

The West and Navalny’s supporters say Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death. The Kremlin has denied involvement and said that Western claims that Putin was responsible were unacceptable.

Putin has made no public comment on Navalny’s death but it has further deepened a gaping schism in relations between Moscow and the West caused by the nearly two-year Ukraine war.

Asked about police detaining dozens of people who laid flowers at monuments in Moscow and other cities after Navalny’s death, Peskov said the police had been acting in strict accordance with the law.

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