Tomsk lawmakers call for investigation into Navalny poisoning

TOMSK, Russia — Seven local lawmakers in the Siberian city of Tomsk have asked Russia’s Investigative Committee to launch an investigation into the August nerve agent poisoning of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.

City lawmakers said in a formal letter to the investigating committee that they were concerned about the possible use of a “chemical poison in our city…with state involvement.”

The letter was made public on December 17 in a Posting on Twitter by Ksenia Fadeyeva, member of the Tomsk Duma.

The letter says the data collected by independent investigative journalists, along with the findings of experts from European labs who tested medical samples from Navalny, provide enough evidence to launch an investigation.

Local lawmakers have stressed that since the names of those allegedly involved in Navalny’s poisoning have been made public, the investigation must be launched immediately.

The letter appeared on Twitter hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Navalny “is backed by the US secret service”.

Putin said that’s why the Russian secret service “needs to keep an eye on him, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to poison him.”

“Who needs him? If they wanted to, they would have finished the job,” Putin said.

Navalny, 44, was airlifted to Germany in August after falling ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow.

Laboratory tests in three European countries, confirmed by the world chemical weapons watchdog, established that Navalny had been poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent.

Some earlier investigative reports have concluded that Navalny was most likely poisoned before boarding the plane in Tomsk.

Russia has rejected previous calls for an investigation into the poisoning and denies the involvement of state agents in the case, saying no evidence has yet been presented.

A December 14 report by British investigative group Bellingcat published the names and photos of FSB agents accused of taking part in a state-sponsored poisoning operation.

The report, which includes a timeline of events around Navalny’s attack, was jointly prepared by Bellingcat, The Insider, Der Spiegel, CNN and a Russian investigative website.

Navalny said such an operation could not have been implemented without direct orders from Putin and Aleksandr Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the reports of possible FSB involvement in the poisoning “funny”.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov canceled his daily briefings on December 15 and 16 after the release of the Bellingcat report, citing preparations for Putin’s annual press conference.

Earlier in the week, three lawmakers from St. Petersburg and two lawmakers from the northwestern Russian city of Pskov also formally demanded that the head of the investigative committee, Aleksandr Bastrykin, open an investigation. on the poisoning of Navalny.