Disinfo: Germany denies Russia consular access to Navalny despite four legal aid requests

Summary

Despite repeated requests for legal aid by Russian prosecutors, German authorities are denying the Russian Embassy consular access to activist Alexei Navalny.

Disproof

The story advances the recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

The report falsely suggests that Russian prosecutors' requests for legal aid would oblige Berlin to grant Russian Embassy officials consular access to Navalny. However, legal aid and consular access are governed by two separate international agreements.

In the context of the Navalny case, any requests for legal aid would fall under the 1959 European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov himself stated that the 1959 treaty only applies to the "transfer of the biomaterial, test results, clinical samples and medical documentation required for a thorough, full inquiry into Navalny's illness and hospitalization."

On the other hand, consular access falls within the scope of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said 28 September that "Mr. Navalny is free to receive the consular visit if he wants to" [emphasis added], in line with Article 36(a) of the Convention:

"[C]onsular officers shall be free to communicate with nationals of the sending State and to have access to them. Nationals of the sending State shall have the same freedom with respect to communication with and access to consular officers of the sending State" [emphasis added].

The provision in italics means that consular officers cannot pay their co-nationals unsolicited visits abroad. Even a citizen under arrest or pending prosecution can only be visited by a consular official abroad "if he so requests," per Article 36(b).

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 214
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 03/10/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Russia, Germany
  • Keywords: novichok, Diplomacy with Russia, Chemical weapons/attack, Alexei Navalny, Anti-Russian

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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Double standards in Western attitudes on status of Kosovo, Crimea

There are double standards in Western attitudes on the status of Kosovo and Crimea. Why is it acceptable to recognise Kosovo but not Crimea’s reunification with Russia?

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative drawing parallels between the Kosovo independence movement and Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

International recognition of Kosovar statehood came only after the region had been ravaged by a bloody civil war, which Western countries stopped. This was followed by a decade of international administration and status negotiations. In 2008, the EU Council stressed that, given the 1990s civil conflict and protracted international administration under Security Council Resolution 1244, Kosovo constituted a sui generis case. By contrast, there was no war in Ukraine until Russian military aggression (see ICC report here).

Navalny was not poisoned before the plane landed in Omsk according to a French journalist

The Navalny poisoning turned into an absurd farce, analysed a French journalist. There are three inconsistencies. First, if Alexei Navalny was poisoned by a nerve agent he would be dead or heavily disabled, he wouldn’t have recovered. Second, if Novichok was used, the collaborators who took the water bottle in the hotel would have been poisoned also. And third, if Novichok was used, the plane passengers or the crew who might have been in physical contact with Alexei Navalny would have been poisoned too. As a consequence, Alexei Navalny was not poisoned before the plane landed in Omsk.

Disproof

Part of a pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign on the poisoning of Navalny, which follows the same playbook as the one deployed after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in 2018. The case has been debunked also by The Insider (in Russian).

Cristelle Néant cannot be called a French Journalist nor does she work for a French media outlet. She is living on the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic since 2015 and has the citizenship of this non recognised state since 2016. She was not a journalist before she left for Donbas and has not been in Western Europe since 2015. The press agencies DONi and Donbass Insider cannot be called independent. The website Agoravox is not a French media outlet but a citizens platform to which anybody can register and publish their own material.

Navalny works with the CIA and receives instructions from this Agency

Navalny works with the CIA and receives instructions from this Agency.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory. No evidence is provided to support the article’s claims.

This message is part of the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign about the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. It seeks to discredit Navalny by suggesting that he is an asset of the CIA and is controlled by this Agency. Pro-Kremlin disinformation often targets Russian opposition figures accusing them of being agents of Western intelligence services.