Poisoning of Alexei Navalny
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 26 January 2022 (6th sitting) (see Doc. 15434, report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human
Rights, rapporteur: Mr Jacques Maire). Text
adopted by the Assembly on 26 January 2022 (6th sitting).
1. On 20 August 2020, Russian opposition
politician and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny suffered
a dramatic decline in health on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. His
plane made an emergency landing at Omsk, where he was taken to a
local hospital. Two days later a medical evacuation flight took
him to Berlin, where he remained in acute inpatient care at the
Charité hospital until 23 September 2020. Following his recovery,
he returned to Russia, where he was detained for having breached
the terms of a suspended sentence that the European Court of Human
Rights had found to be in violation of Article 7 (no punishment
without law) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5).
He is currently imprisoned in Russia.
2. The Parliamentary Assembly notes the ample and widely reported
medical evidence showing that Mr Navalny was poisoned with an organophosphorus
cholinesterase inhibitor while in Russia, prior to his dramatic
decline in health on 20 August 2020. It dismisses any suggestion
that he was poisoned at any time after being carried on board the
medical evacuation flight from Omsk to Berlin on 22 August 2020,
while noting the Russian authorities’ position that Mr Navalny’s
symptoms were due to a disrupted carbohydrate metabolism.
3. The Assembly notes that five separate tests have established
that Mr Navalny was poisoned with a substance that was structurally
related to a group of chemicals listed in the Annex on Chemicals
of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Convention
on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and
Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (the Chemical Weapons Convention),
although the specific substance concerned is not listed in the annex.
Substances belonging to this group of chemicals, originally developed
in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), are generally referred
to as “Novichok”.
4. The Assembly notes that Novichok is an extremely toxic nerve
agent, known to have been produced only in State laboratories in
the USSR and, reportedly, Russia. It requires very careful handling
by specialists. The Assembly further notes investigative reports
that point to the possible involvement of agents of the Federal Security
Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation in the poisoning of Mr Navalny.
This assertion is further reinforced by the Russian authorities’
admission that Mr Navalny was under surveillance by the FSB.
5. The Assembly recalls the numerous judgments of the European
Court of Human Rights which have found that earlier unlawful repressive
actions of the Russian authorities had had a chilling effect on Mr Navalny’s
political activities and were politically motivated, with one judgment
finding a violation of Article 18 of the European Convention on
6. The Assembly recalls that Russia is obliged under Article
VII of the Chemical Weapons Convention to criminalise, and consequently
to investigate and punish, any suspected use of chemical weapons
on its territory. It recalls that Russia is obliged under Article 2
(right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights to investigate
the attack on Mr Navalny’s life. It considers that Russia has yet
to conduct an effective investigation into either of these matters,
giving no reasonable explanation for these failures.
The Assembly regrets and expresses serious concerns over Russia’s
failure to co-operate with its rapporteur on the poisoning of Mr Navalny.
It also regrets Russia’s failure to co-operate fully on the same
issue with the United Nations special rapporteurs on extrajudicial,
summary or arbitrary executions and on the promotion and protection
of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, or with the Organisation
for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, where Russia has argued
that there are insufficient grounds to open an investigation into
Mr Navalny’s illness. The Assembly also regrets Russia’s failure
to co-operate with its former rapporteur concerning the report entitled
“Shedding light on the murder of Boris Nemtsov” (Resolution 2297 (2019)
8. The Assembly encourages the Russian Federation and the wider
international community to collaborate constructively in all relevant
international forums where Mr Navalny’s case may be under discussion.
The Assembly therefore calls on the Russian Federation to:
fulfil its obligations under
the European Convention on Human Rights by:
an independent and effective investigation into the poisoning of
Alexei Navalny, with a thorough, objective and impartial analysis
of all relevant elements. Those responsible for the investigation
and those carrying it out must be independent from the FSB. The investigation
should be expeditious, permit sufficient public scrutiny and be
accessible to Mr Navalny, whose procedural rights under Russian
law in relation to any form of investigative process must also be
respected in full; it would also ideally benefit from international
9.1.2 immediately releasing Mr Navalny under the interim measure
indicated by the European Court of Human Rights on 16 February 2021;
9.2 fulfil its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention,
including by investigating the alleged development, production,
stockpiling and use of a chemical weapon on Russian territory and
by providing as soon as possible substantive replies to questions
posed by other States Parties and, more generally, by fully co-operating
with the mechanisms foreseen by the convention;
9.3 reach agreement on a technical assistance visit by the
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on the standard
conditions that guarantee the independence of its technical secretariat;
this visit should take place at the very earliest opportunity;
9.4 stop using all forms of repressive measures against political
opposition and civil society activists.