UN rights chief pushes for independent investigation of Navalny case

The poisoning of a Russian opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, must be thoroughly investigated in an independent manner, UN Human Rights Chief, Michelle Bachelet, demanded on Tuesday in Geneva.

High Commissioner Bachelet urged Russia to carry out or should cooperate with such a probe, in light of the German Government’s assertion of “unequivocal” proof that a Novichok nerve agent was involved.

“It is not good enough to simply deny he was poisoned, and deny the need for a thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into this assassination attempt,’’ Bachelet said.

When asked whether Bachelet demands an international probe, UN Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing that, “in theory”, it was the job of Russian authorities to investigate.

The UN Human Rights Office was not equipped to carry out criminal investigations, he added.

At the same time, he and Bachelet pointed out that Russia had failed to clear up previous high-profile killings and assassination attempts involving Novichok or radioactive materials.

“This is deeply regrettable and hard to explain or justify,’’ Bachelet said.

Similar calls for an investigation have come from the EU Commission, the Western military alliance NATO and several Western powers.

Navalny, 44, was flown to Berlin for treatment on Aug. 22 after he fell ill on a domestic flight in Russia.

He had been in Siberia to support opposition candidates in local elections.

The Berlin Charite Hospital said on Monday that Navalny has been woken from his medically induced coma and that he was responding to verbal stimuli.

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