What happened on the day Navalny fell ill?
On August 20, a Thursday, Alexey Navalny, Russia’s leading Kremlin critic, had finished up campaigning for opposition politicians in Siberia for local elections, which were taking place from September 11 to 13.
He left Xander Hotel and headed for the Tomsk Bogashevo airport. There, he drank a cup of tea. He was on the way to Moscow.
In the first half-hour of the flight, he fell ill and witnesses said he screamed in pain. He was later in a coma.
He was airlifted to Germany’s capital, a six-hour flight, to the Berlin Charite hospital.The plane made an emergency landing at Omsk. He received treatment in the Russian city, where doctors said he was too unwell to be moved, but two days later on August 22, a Saturday, they said his life was not in danger.
Was he poisoned?
Navalny’s team believes he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, a claim several European countries support.
A laboratory in Germany said it had confirmation on September 2, followed by laboratories in France and Sweden on September 14.
Samples from Navalny have also been sent to the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague for testing.
Russia says there is no evidence to prove Navalny was poisoned, while its ally Belarus has also doubted the claim. The doctors in Omsk said they had not detected poisonous substances in Navalny’s body.
US President Donald Trump has been criticised for towing Russia’s line, saying on September 4 – two days after Germany’s claim to have “unequivocal evidence” – that “we have not had any proof yet”.
How is Navalny’s condition now?
On September 7, more than two weeks after falling ill on the plane, Navalny’s doctors in Germany said he was out of a coma and that his condition was improving. His spokeswoman said, “Gradually, he will be switched off from a ventilator.”
On September 15, Navalny posted on Instagram that he was breathing alone. He has said he plans to return to Russia.
If he was poisoned, who may have poisoned him and where?
Navalny’s team believes he was poisoned at the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin – a claim the Kremlin has strongly denied.
Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh had initially said she believed Navalny’s tea at the airport was poisoned, but on September 17, his team said the nerve agent was detected on an empty water bottle from his hotel room in the Tomsk, suggesting he was poisoned there and not at the airport.
What effect has the alleged poisoning had?
The alleged attack has widened a rift between Europe and Russia, with Germany and France leading calls for a full investigation but stopping short of outrightly blaming the Russian government.
MEPs have called for sanctions against Russia, saying on September 17, “The poison used, belonging to the ‘Novichok group’, can only be developed in state-owned military laboratories and cannot be acquired by private individuals, which strongly implies that Russian authorities were behind the attack.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Germany’s ambassador to Moscow, while the United Kingdom has summoned the Russian envoy over the incident.
For its part, Moscow rejects what it called the politicisation of the issue.
Significantly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is under pressure to halt the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which transfers Russian gas to Germany. Once again, the Kremlin has warned not to involve the Navalny case in any discussion about the pipeline, with Dmitry Peskov saying on September 16, “It should stop being mentioned in the context of any politicisation.”
A timeline of events surrounding the alleged poisoning attack on Navalny:
August 20 – Navalny falls ill on flight; plane makes emergency landing in Omsk; his spokeswoman says he was poisoned, perhaps by the tea he drank at the airport
August 22 – Navalny airlifted to Berlin Charite hospital
September 2 – Germany says it has ‘unequivocal evidence’ Navalny was poisoned, Russia responds by saying the claim is not backed by evidence
September 4 – US President Donald Trump says ‘we do not have any proof yet’
September 6 – Heiko Maas, German foreign minister, threatens action over gas pipeline project, saying, ‘I hope the Russians don’t force us to change our position on Nord Stream 2’
September 7 – German doctors say Navalny is out of an artificial coma
September 11-13 – Russia holds local elections; Navalny’s allies make gains in Siberian cities
September 15 – Navalny posts on Instagram that he is breathing alone
September 16 – Kremlin spokesman warns against politicising Navalny issue in discussions over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project with Germany
September 17 – Navalny’s team now suspects he was poisoned in his hotel room, not the airport, citing traces of nerve agent on an empty water bottle
September 17 – MEPs call for sanctions against Russia
Daily E-Paper Friday Times
Saleh receives Indian envoy
KUWAIT: Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh receives Indian Ambassador to Kuwait Sibi George.KUWAIT: Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh received Indian Ambassador to Kuwait Sibi George on Wednesday in his office, according to a press release issued by the Indian Embassy. The ambassador thanked the minister for hosting…
KUWAIT: Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh receives Indian Ambassador to Kuwait Sibi George.KUWAIT: Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh received Indian Ambassador to Kuwait Sibi George on Wednesday in his office, according to a press release issued by the Indian Embassy. The ambassador thanked the minister for hosting the Indian community in Kuwait.
George and Saleh discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and means of further enhancing and strengthening them. They also reviewed various aspects of existing bilateral cooperation. Mutual matters of interest, including topics pertaining to the Indian diaspora, latest developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic and bilateral cooperation to fight the pandemic were also discussed during the meeting, the statement added.
Polish court allows stricter abortion law, sparking outcry
Chief justice says existing legislation that allowed abortion of malformed fetuses was ‘incompatible’ with the constitution.Poland’s constitutional court has struck down a provision of the country’s abortion law allowing Europe’s most strict legislation to be further tightened and provoking an outcry from rights groups. Chief justice Julia Przylebska said in a ruling on Thursday existing…
Chief justice says existing legislation that allowed abortion of malformed fetuses was ‘incompatible’ with the constitution.Poland’s constitutional court has struck down a provision of the country’s abortion law allowing Europe’s most strict legislation to be further tightened and provoking an outcry from rights groups.
Chief justice Julia Przylebska said in a ruling on Thursday existing legislation, which allows for the abortion of malformed fetuses, was “incompatible” with the constitution.
The verdict, which is final and cannot be appealed, drew immediate condemnation from the Council of Europe, whose Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic called it “a sad day for #WomensRights”.
Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in #Poland amounts to a ban & violates #HumanRights. Today’s ruling of the Constitutional Court means underground/abroad abortions for those who can afford & even greater ordeal for all others. A sad day for #WomensRights.
— Commissioner for Human Rights (@CommissionerHR) October 22, 2020
“Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in #Poland amounts to a ban & violates #HumanRights,” Mijatovic tweeted.
“Today’s ruling … means underground/abroad abortions for those who can afford & even greater ordeal for all others.”
Since 1993, Poland has only allowed abortions in case of rape or incest, a threat to the mother’s life or a deformed fetus.
Now the court ruling could pave the way for legislators from the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party to approve draft legislation that would ban pregnancy terminations in the case of fetuses with congenital birth defects.
Many Polish women bridled when PiS backed the bill originating as a popular petition earlier this year, prompting conservative legislators to refer the matter to the constitutional court.
The tribunal, whose main role is to ensure any law complies with the constitution, underwent government reforms in 2016 that led critics to contend it is stacked with PiS allies.
Police separate pro-choice activists, right, carrying a poster saying ‘We are not incubators’ from anti-abortion rights protesters, left, in front of Poland’s constitutional court in Warsaw [Wojtek Radwanski/AFP]‘Blood on your hands’
Former liberal Polish Prime Minister and PiS critic Donald Tusk called the timing of the abortion issue “political wickedness”.
“Throwing the topic of abortion and a ruling by a pseudo-court into the middle of a raging pandemic is more than cynical,” the head of the European People’s Party tweeted.
The NGO Action Democracy, which had gathered more than 210,000 signatures against the stricter law, issued a statement saying the court delivered “a shameful, political verdict dictated by right-wing fundamentalists”.
Leftist legislator Barbara Nowacka blamed the devoutly Catholic country’s bishops, telling them at a news conference in parliament: “You have blood on your hands.”
PiS-allied President Andrzej Duda has said if approved by the parliament he would sign the draft legislation into law.
On Thursday, his spokesman Blazej Spychalski said “the president’s views on this matter are well-known and haven’t changed. We’re satisfied that the constitutional court sided with life”, he was quoted by the Polish news agency PAP as saying.
The country of 38 million people sees fewer than 2,000 legal abortions a year, but women’s groups estimate up to 200,000 procedures are performed illegally or abroad.
An attempt by the PiS government to tighten the abortion law in 2016 was scrapped following nationwide protests by tens of thousands of women dressed in black.