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India Takes Note of 'Poisoning' of Russian Oppn Leader Navalny, Says Incident Events Remain 'Unclear'

File photo of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

File photo of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Navalny fell ill on August 20 while on a flight back to Moscow from Serbia. He was taken to a hospital in Siberian city of Omsk and later shifted to Germany for treatment where he recovered.

India has taken note of the alleged poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, while underlining that the circumstances regarding the incident and subsequent events remain unclear, according to an official statement issued here on Thursday. Navalny fell ill on August 20 while on a flight back to Moscow from Serbia. He was taken to a hospital in Siberian city of Omsk and later shifted to Germany for treatment where he recovered.

According to media reports, the doctors treating him had said that there were indications that Navalny had been poisoned by a Soviet-era nerve agent. In a statement made on Tuesday at the 95th session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), India's ambassador Venu Rajamony said, my delegation has taken note of the alleged poisoning of Mr Alexei Navalny, while underlining that circumstances regarding the incident and subsequent events remain unclear.

He said that India's position on chemical weapons has been clear and consistent. India has been firmly opposed to any use of chemical weapons anywhere, at any time, by anybody, under any circumstances, he was quoted as saying in the statement issued by the Indian embassy here.

Germany, where Navalny underwent treatment, says he was poisoned by a Nvichok nerve agent. Its findings were confirmed by labs in France and Sweden. The Kremlin denies any involvement. With regard to any allegations of use and investigations conducted in this connection, India urges that the provisions and procedures laid down in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) be strictly adhered to by the OPCW and the concerns be addressed on the basis of cooperation among all parties concerned, the statement said.

Rajamony reiterated that India attaches high importance to the convention which is a unique, non-discriminatory disarmament instrument and serves as a model for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction, it said. Destruction of chemical weapons is the most important undertaking made by every state party to the convention. All chemical weapons must be destroyed to achieve the objective of full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation of the convention," he said.

It is important that the process of destruction of the remaining chemical weapons stockpiles is completed before the scheduled timeline, Rajamony said. He said that the world is close to achieving the objective of universal adherence to the CWC and urged the remaining states that are not parties to the convention to consider acceding to the convention at the earliest.

Rajamony also mentioned the candidature of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India as external auditor of the OPCW. The council is to consider the matter of appointment of the external auditor of the OPCW for the period beginning from the 2021 financial period, and to forward it to the conference at its twenty-fifth session. We believe that an objective, transparent and fair process should be conducted for the selection of the external auditor.

Comptroller and Auditor General of India is a candidate for this post, which has strong credentials and valuable experience at the OPCW and other UN organisations. India stands ready for further consultations and deliberations on the matter, Rajamony said. The 95th session of the council is being held from October 6-9 here.


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