Russia’s Investigative Committee denied reports on Monday that it had launched a probe into comments made by opposition leader Alexei Navalny in an interview in April.
The denial comes after the state-run news agency TASS quoted anonymous sources saying officials in Moscow would investigate Navalny over comments he made in April during an interview with Ekho Moskvy that they claim were inciting an overthrow of the government.
“Due to the statements (in the interview), a probe was launched on November 30 to check if there were elements of calls to conduct extremist activities,” TASS quoted the source as saying.
The committee rejected the report and demanded media outlets stop distributing unverified reports based on anonymous sources.
During the April interview, Navalny slammed the Kremlin for its failure to provide additional assistance to families and small businesses at the height of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, adding that the Putin regime “must be overthrown now … most likely by force” for failing to help its citizens.
Navalny is believed to have suffered a chemical attack. After falling gravely ill on a flight to Moscow in August, he was flown to Germany where doctors identified the Russian chemical weapon known as Novichok in his system. He has since made a full recovery.
Given the Kremlin’s history of presiding over unexplained deaths and attacks against high-profile political opponents, the Putin regime is widely suspected to be responsible. Officials have strenuously denied these allegations and made a variety of bizarre claims as to what actually happened.
Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the improbable claim that Germany poisoned Navalny, even though he fell ill as he was traveling on a domestic Russian flight. According to investigators, the poisoning occurred in a hotel in Siberia after they found traces of the agent on a water bottle in his room. Navalny has personally accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of coordinating the attack.
“We have all grounds to believe that everything which had happened to him [Navalny] from the point of view of warfare agents entering into his body, could have happened in Germany or on the plane where he was loaded and sent to the Charite clinic,” Lavrov said in a news conference. “There is too much absurdity about this whole situation to take anyone’s word on trust, so we are not going to take anyone’s word.”