Russian dissident Alexei Navalny has accused President Vladimir Putin for his near-fatal poisoning.
“Putin was behind the attack,” the 44-year-old opposition leader told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine in an excerpt of an interview published Thursday, his first since the Aug. 20 attack.
“I don’t have any other versions of how the crime was committed,” he said — while vowing to continue his fight against his nation’s leader.
“I would not give Putin the gift of not returning to Russia,” he told the magazine.
Navalny expressed his “tremendous gratitude to all Germans” after he was airlifted to the European nation for specialist treatment, saying Chancellor Angela Merkel visited him in his hospital last week.
Saying he is “getting better each day,” he called himself “a bit of a guinea pig” as to whether someone can completely recover from being poisoned by Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok on a plane from Siberia on Aug. 20.
“There aren’t many people you can observe who are still alive after being poisoned with a nerve agent,” he told the magazine.
Putin’s fiercest critic was flown to Germany two days after falling ill on Aug. 20 on a domestic flight in Russia. He spent 32 days in the hospital, 24 of them in intensive care, and remains in Germany recovering after being discharged from the hospital.
Putin has reportedly told other leaders that the dissident “could have taken the poison himself.”
Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, Russia’s lower parliament house, called Navalny “shameless” and “dishonorable” for blaming the Kremlin.
“Putin saved his life,” Volodin charged in a statement released by the Duma.
“Everyone, from pilots and doctors to the president, were genuinely saving him. Only a dishonorable person can make statements like this.”
Volodin charged that Navalny’s comments only make sense if “what happened to him had been orchestrated by security services of Western states.”
“It is perfectly obvious that Navalny is working with security services and authorities of Western countries. Works in their interest,” Volodin said.
With Post wires
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