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‘Anti-Russian hysteria’: Moscow hits back after EU Parliament calls for sanctions over alleged poisoning of activist Navalny

The European Parliament resolution urges an international probe into the Navalny incident. Its approval followed comments by the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, who floated the idea of naming a new anti-Russian sanctions package after the anti-corruption campaigner, in a similar move to the US Magnitsky act.

That was named after a Russian tax auditor who died in a Moscow prison in 2009. Magnitsky was an associate of billionaire Bill Browder, who has been convicted in Russia of tax evasion, in absentia.

A fresh round of threats before any actual investigation concludes clearly shows that Brussels is not seeking ways to establish the truth but only to hound Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“We perceive all the talk about naming these sanctions after Navalny only as a blatant attempt to add an openly anti-Russian flavor to the new EU restrictions,” Zakharova said.

A similar response came from by Russia’s permanent representative to the bloc, Aleksey Chizhov, who said the resolution appeared to be extremely rushed and contained even factual mistakes. Squarely calling the Navalny affair a “poisoning” shows the EU is trying to blame Russia for the incident instead of finding out what exactly happened, the diplomat said.

“Russia will find a way to retaliate if the EU decides to implement sanctions,” Chizhov warned.

Among other things, the non-binding resolution urged a halt to construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and even the creation of a brand-new strategy for the “democratization” of Russia.

“This is not about protecting human rights or democracy, the only goal of this is to maintain a high degree of anti-Russian hysteria, including with respect to the Nord Stream 2 project,” head of the state Duma’s foreign affairs committee Leonid Slutsky said, branding the ongoing scandal as “anti-Russian theatrics.”

The Navalny saga began on August 20, when he fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. The aircraft had to make an emergency stop in Omsk, another Siberian city 2,000 km east of the Russian capital, where the activist was taken to a local hospital in an unresponsive condition.

Navalny was flown to Berlin’s Charité clinic two days later, and German doctors later claimed he was poisoned with a variant of a nerve agent from the notorious ‘Novichok’ group. Still, Omsk medics insisted they had not found any traces of toxic substances in Navalny’s samples, while the creators of the nerve agent said his symptoms did not correspond with exposure to it.

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