US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that there is a strong possibility that the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was ordered by senior officials in Moscow.
“I think people all over the world see this kind of activity and when they see an attempt to poison an opponent, and they realize that there is a high probability that it actually came from senior Russian officials, I think that is not good for the Russian people,” Pompeo said in a radio interview. .
Pompeo reiterated his assertion that the United States and its European allies all want Russia “to hold those responsible to account,” and said that Washington would also try to identify the perpetrators.
He added, “It’s something that we’ll look at, evaluate, and make sure we do our part to do everything we can to reduce the risk of similar things happening again.”
Pompeo’s comments contrasted with comments by President Donald Trump last week in which he said he had seen no evidence of Navalny’s poisoning.
Trump has sought to tighten ties with Putin, though his administration is still pressing for Ukraine sanctions and other concerns.
Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic in Russia, fell seriously ill last month on a flight in Siberia.
He was taken for treatment to Germany, where doctors said he was poisoned.
- After his poisoning, Putin’s staunchest opponent is “emerging from a coma.”
- Trump rejects Russia’s condemnation of Navalny’s “poisoning” incident
Doctors overseeing Navalny’s treatment said Tuesday that he was released from an artificial coma and that his condition had improved.
The medical team treating Navalny explained that he was “hearing voices”.
The Charité Hospital in Berlin said in a statement that Navalny had ventilators removed.
- The poisoning of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny is a test for Western countries
Navalny’s supporters allege that he was poisoned on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who denies any involvement.
They suspect the poison was placed in a teacup at Tomsk airport.
“Alexei started moaning and screaming. He was clearly in pain. He was lying on the ground in the part of the plane designated for the flight crew,” a passenger sitting near Navalny on the plane told the BBC.
The plane was diverted to Omsk, where the opposition politician was admitted to the emergency hospital.
Russian officials initially refused to allow Navalny to be taken abroad for medical treatment, but three days later he was flown to Berlin.
And last week, doctors in Germany said that results of toxicology tests conducted in a military laboratory gave “unquestionable evidence” that Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok.
Since the incident, the European Union has demanded the Russian government to conduct a “transparent” investigation. The US National Security Council pledged to “work with allies and the international community to hold those involved in Russia accountable.”
NATO also called on Russia to disclose its Novichok toxin production program to international observers.