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Switzerland joins calls for Navalny inquiry

Switzerland’s foreign ministry has urged Russia to conduct or cooperate with an investigation into the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The foreign ministry said on Wednesday it wanted to see a “full and fast inquiry” which could, if needs be, involve the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Condemning the attack, the ministry statement said Navalny was a “known figure in Russian politics, who notably fought for independence in the justice system and against corruption”.

It called the use of the Novichok nerve agent in the poisoning “highly worrying”.

Germany recently said it had “unequivocally” found that Navalny had been poisoned with the nerve agent, which was also behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in the UK in March 2018.

Navalny was airlifted to hospital in Berlin after falling ill on a domestic flight in Russia last month. Earlier this week, he was removed from a medically induced coma and is now responding to speech.

On Tuesday in Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also said Russia should either conduct or cooperate with an independent investigation into the affair.

“The number of cases of poisoning, or other forms of targeted assassination, of current or former Russian citizens, either within Russia itself or on foreign soil, over the past two decades is profoundly disturbing”, Bachelet said in a statement.

Calls for sanctions against Russia have been heard in several countries. Germany has given Moscow several days to provide clarifications; on Wednesday, Russia lashed back against the “unfounded accusations and ultimatums of Berlin”.