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Pompeo: behind Navalny’s poisoning there were Russian officials of “substantial possibility”

“People all over the world see this type of business for what it is,” he said. “And when they see the effort to poison a dissident, and they recognize that there is a substantial possibility that this is actually coming from Russian senior officials, I think this is not good for the Russian people. I think it’s not good for Russia. “

He added: “I think people see it and say that this is not the way countries that want to be powers, that want to be important and play on the global stage, this is not the way they should engage in business. Instead they should promote freedom and democracy “.

The Trump administration hesitated to blame the 44-year-old anti-corruption activist for the attack. President Donald Trump called the episode “tragic”

; but said there was not enough evidence to know exactly what happened.

Navalny was hospitalized after falling ill on a domestic flight to Russia in late August, and was subsequently taken to Berlin for treatment. The German government later claimed he was poisoned with a Novichok chemical nerve agent.

Pompeo condemned the poisoning in an August 25 statement, but did not directly address the Russian government.

“If the reports prove accurate, the US supports the EU’s call for a full investigation and is ready to assist in that effort,” the statement read.

Pompeo also signed up for a joint declaration by the foreign ministers of the G-7 member states demanding that Russia be transparent about who is responsible for the attack. The G-7 statement said its signatories focused their attention on Russia’s handling of the incident and evoked the country’s commitments to combat the use of chemical weapons.

“This attack on the opposition leader Navalny is another serious blow against democracy and political plurality in Russia,” the statement said. “It constitutes a serious threat to those men and women committed to defending the political and civil liberties that Russia itself is committed to guarantee”.

Nahal Toosi contributed to this report.

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