Russian opponent Alexei Navalny accuses Vladimir Putin of ordering his poisoning, which Moscow continues to deny, and promises to return to his country to continue his fight.
“I claim that Putin is behind this act, I don’t see any other explanation,” he told the German weekly Der Spiegel, who published a lengthy interview with the opponent on Thursday morning, his first since leaving Berlin hospital where he spent two weeks in a coma.
This accusation is “baseless and unacceptable,” the Kremlin spokesman said in return, asserting that Western secret services, including the CIA, “are working” with the opponent.
“Navalny has no shame, he’s a villain. Putin saved his life “, the chairman of the Russian lower house, the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, had previously expressed anger.
” I do not understand anything. What did he save me from? Mr. Navalny retorted on Instagram.
“To believe Putin himself, the only things he was able to save me from are alcohol, diabetes or a simulation of poisoning”, noted the opponent, referring to the various theories conveyed by the Russian power to explain his discomfort on the plane.
These acrimonious exchanges come as the leaders of European countries meet at a summit on Thursday. The question of the EU’s response to Russia in this case could be raised.
Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, has threatened Moscow with sanctions. And Angela Merkel went personally to visit Alexeï Navalny at La Charité hospital where he was treated for a month.
Since his release a week ago, Alexeï Navalny, 44, has lived in Berlin under police protection with his wife Yulia and his son, he told the Spiegel. The recovery time is likely to be long.
But he signified his determination to return to his country as soon as he is recovered.
“I will not give Putin the gift of not returning to Russia,” he said. “My goal is to get back in shape as quickly as possible, so that I can go home.”
“My duty now is to remain as I am, someone who is not afraid. And I’m not afraid! », He warns.
A tireless anti-corruption activist and fierce critic of the Kremlin wreaked havoc on August 20 on a plane back from Siberia.
Three European laboratories have concluded that it was poisoned with a Novichok-type nerve agent, designed for military use in Soviet times.
According to Navalny’s backers, traces of Novichok were notably found on a water bottle picked up from his hotel room in Siberia, where he was campaigning to support candidates in local elections.
In a recent post, Navalny thanked the pilots of the plane that made an emergency landing in Omsk in Siberia after he found himself ill, saving his life.
“The killers’ plan was simple: that I feel bad 20 minutes after takeoff, after 15 minutes that I lose consciousness and […] an hour after I end up in a black plastic bag, ”he wrote there.
” Cold sweat “
In the Spiegel, he recounts his discomfort in the plane. “I have a cold sweat. I ask Kira for a handkerchief [sa conseillère] next to me. Then I said to him: “Talk to me. I need to hear a voice, something’s wrong with me. ” She looks at me like I’m crazy and starts talking. “
“I leave the bathroom, turn to the flight attendant – and instead of asking for help, I say to my own surprise, ‘I have been poisoned. I am dying”. And then I lie on the ground in front of him to die, ”he says again.
The Kremlin said he was “free” to return to Russia.
At the same time, however, Russian bailiffs froze accounts and Mr. Navalny’s share of his Moscow apartment when he was in a coma.
According to the spokesperson for the opponent, these new court decisions are linked to a dispute between a sulphurous businessman, reputed to be close to the Kremlin, Evgueni Prigojine, to Mr. Navalny and one of his allies, Lioubov Sobol .