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‘Putin was behind poisoning’

Navalny accuses Russian leader of ordering nerve gas attack

BERLIN: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is recovering in Germany after being poisoned in Russia by a nerve gas , has accused Russian President Putin of being behind the attack in comments released.

Navalny’s supporters have frequently said such an attack could only be ordered at the highest levels, though the Kremlin has steadfastly denied any involvement in it.

Navalny, an official and corruption investigator who is Putin’s fiercest critic, was flown to Germany two days after falling ill on Aug 20 on a flight in Russia.

He spent 32 days within the hospital, 24 of them in medical care , before doctors deemed him stable enough to be discharged.

He has posted frequent comments online as his recovery progressed, but in his first interview since the attack, he told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine that in his mind, “Putin was behind the attack,” during a German translation of his comments.

“I don’t have the other versions of how the crime was committed,” he said during a brief excerpt of the interview conducted in Berlin on Wednesday and released fully online later yesterday.

Spiegel said Navalny was joking and alert within the interview with them, though his hands shook such a lot it had been difficult for him to drink from a bottle of water.

He also reiterated what his team has previously said – that he planned on returning to Russia when he was able.

Navalny has vowed to return to Russia as soon as he has fully recovered from his poisoning, saying he wouldn’t give Putin the pleasure of being in exile.

“Not returning would mean that Putin has achieved his aim.

“I won’t give Putin the gift of not returning to Russia,” he said, adding that his “task is to urge fit as soon as possible in order that I can go back”.

Yesterday, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, accused the “shameless” Navalny of working for Western security services and claimed that the opposition leader owed his life to Putin.

“Navalny may be a shameless and mean man,” Volodin said.

“Everyone – from pilots to doctors to the president – was sincerely saving him.”

“Only a dishonourable man can make such statements,” he said.

Not returning would mean Putin has achieved his aim. i will be able to not give Putin the gift of not returning to Russia. Alexei Navalny

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