Michelle Bachelet Calls for Probe into Poisoning of Alexei Navalny

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré (file photo)
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré (file photo)

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday (September 8) welcomed the news that Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has emerged from his coma in a Berlin hospital.

She urged the Government of the Russian Federation to carry out, or fully cooperate with, a thorough, transparent, independent, and impartial investigation, after German specialists said they have “unequivocal proof” that he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.

“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. “And the failure in many cases to hold perpetrators accountable and provide justice for the victims or their families, is also deeply regrettable and hard to explain or justify.”

The High Commissioner noted that nerve agents and radioactive isotopes such as Novichok and Polonium-210 are sophisticated substances that are extremely hard to source. “This raises numerous questions,” she said. “Why use substances like these? Who is using them? How did they acquire them?”

She also noted that prior to his reported poisoning, Alexei Navalny had been repeatedly harassed, arrested, and assaulted, either by the authorities or by unknown assailants.

“Navalny was clearly someone who needed state protection,” she said, adding that it is incumbent on the Russian authorities to fully investigate who was responsible for this crime – a very serious crime that was committed on Russian soil.

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Rakesh Raman