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As U.S. and allies demand answers, Russia dismisses poisoning allegations as "hysteria"

Putin critic recovering from apparent poisoning
U.N. calls for investigation into apparent poisoning of Putin critic Alexei Navalny 08:29

Moscow said on Wednesday that a "disinformation campaign" over the alleged poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny was being used to promote new sanctions against Russia. Moscow spoke out after the Group of Seven foreign ministers demanded on Tuesday that Russia quickly find and prosecute those behind Navalny's suspected poisoning, which Germany says was carried out with a Novichok nerve agent.

The "ongoing massive disinformation campaign" aims at "mobilising sanctions sentiment" and has nothing to do with Navalny's health or "finding out the genuine reasons for his hospitalization," the Russian foreign ministry said.

In its statement in response to the G7, the foreign ministry also reiterated accusations that Germany, where Navalny was evacuated, has been refusing to share its findings on his case with Moscow.

"Unfounded attacks on Russia are continuing," the ministry said, with a "whipping up of hysteria" around the case.

Russian opposition leader was poisoned with military-grade nerve agent, Germany says 08:45

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement on Wednesday that testing by a German military laboratory had now shown "proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group."  

The top diplomats from the major industrial democracies said Germany had briefed them with confirmation that President Vladimir Putin's leading critic was poisoned. The statement was released by the United States and included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"My G7 counterparts and I strongly condemned the poisoning of Alexei Navalny with a chemical nerve agent," Pompeo said on Twitter, referring to the joint statement. "This attack contravenes the international norms prohibiting the use of such weapons. We call on Russia to bring those responsible for this abhorrent attack to justice."

The other G7 nations are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Russia was expelled from the then Group of Eight over its 2014 takeover of Crimea from Ukraine.

Navalny, a 44-year-old lawyer who has been Putin's leading critic, suddenly fell seriously ill last month on a flight from Siberia back to Moscow. The flight made an emergency landing and he was hospitalized for days in Russia, before being transferred to Berlin.

The Berlin hospital treating him said Monday that he was out of a medically induced coma and reacting to speech.

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