Berlin hands transcripts to Moscow for probe into Navalny poisoning

FILE PHOTO: An activist holds a portrait of opposition politician Alexei Navalny during a picket in his support in Saint Petersburg, Russia December 22, 2020. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov/

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany has given transcripts of interviews with Alexei Navalny to Russia as part of Moscow's probe into the poisoning of the Kremlin critic, a Justice Ministry spokesman said, demanding a thorough investigation into the crime.

The ministry said Russia now had all the information needed to carry out a criminal investigation into Navalny's poisoning in August last year, including blood and tissue samples.

"The German government assumes that the Russian government will now immediately take all necessary steps to clarify the crime against Mr. Navalny," the spokesman said.

"This crime must be solved in Russia. This requires investigations commensurate with the seriousness of this crime," the spokesman added.

Navalny, who has been receiving treatment in Germany, plans to fly back to Russia on Sunday for the first time since he was poisoned, despite the risk of being jailed on his return.

He accuses Putin of ordering his poisoning with the deadly nerve agent Novichok, and some supporters have urged him to stay abroad for his own safety.

Putin has denied the authorities tried to poison Navalny and said Russian agents would have finished the job if they had wanted him dead.

The German Justice Ministry said Navalny was interviewed by Berlin prosecutors and provided "extensive answers" to questions submitted by Russia's general prosecutor's office.

These transcripts have now been made available to Russia as allowed by the European Mutual Legal Assistance Convention, the spokesman said.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Helen Popper)

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