Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to set up a committee of inquiry into the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday.
Conte’s claims, however, were disputed by the Kremlin.
“It is necessary to shed full light on what happened and to go after those responsible for such a grave attack against a member of the opposition,” Conte told Italian daily Il Foglio.
“I said it in a recent conversation with President Putin,” the Italian leader said.
“President Putin assured me that Russia intends to clarify the matter, told me in advance that he would set up a committee of inquiry and said he was ready to cooperate with German authorities,” Conte added.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave a different account.
“I don’t rule out that there could have been a misunderstanding,” Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian state news agency TASS.
Conte was told that a “pre-investigation probe has been under way for quite a while,” but no criminal case was opened because Russian authorities have found no hard evidence of a crime, Peskov said.
“Tests conducted by Russian experts did not detect any toxic substances,” the spokesman said.
Nevertheless Russian authorities are determined to “figure out the cause of the incident,” he added.
Navalny, a Russian opposition leader, is being treated in a Berlin hospital where he recently emerged from a coma. |
German authorities say they found unequivocal evidence that he was poisoned.
In Russia, the hospital in the city of Omsk where Navalny was initially treated said it appeared that he had fallen ill due to a metabolism problem.