BERLIN, September 19. /TASS/. Minister-President of the Free State of Saxony Michael Kretschmer has bashed the German government over its policy towards Russia in regard to the incident with blogger Alexey Navalny and announced plans to visit Russia in December, the politician said at a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) convention in Erfurt, Thuringia, cited by Bild newspaper on Saturday.
"I am not interested in the further escalation with Russia, in the further deterioration of tonality. I would prefer us to cooperate with that country," Kretschmer said. "To my mind, the fact that the current foreign minister [of Germany Heiko Maas], who you usually hear nothing from, is losing his mind in this issue [the Navalny case] is not a good sign for Germany," Saxony’s head added.
Kretschmer said that he had plans to visit Russia in spite of the crisis between Berlin and Moscow.
"In December, I am going to Russia," he said noting that "it goes without saying" that he would raise human rights issues during his visit.
Earlier, Maas said in an interview with Bild am Sonntag that if Russia does not take steps to investigate the incident with Navalny, Germany and its allies will respond in kind. He also alleged that "there are lots of proofs" of Moscow’s involvement in the incident.
Navalny was rushed to a local hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk on August 20 after collapsing on the Tomsk-Moscow flight. He fell into a coma and was put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. On August 22, he was airlifted to Berlin and admitted to the Charite hospital.
On September 2, the German government claimed that having examined Navalny’s test samples the Bundeswehr’s toxicologists had come to a conclusion that the blogger had been affected by a toxic agent of the Novichok family.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia stayed ready for comprehensive cooperation with Germany. He pointed out that no poisonous substances had been detected in Navalny’s system prior to his transfer to Berlin. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said that the German Foreign Office had not provided the Russian ambassador with any proof of its version of the incident.