U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday there was a strong chance Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s poisoning was ordered by senior officials in Moscow.
“I think people all around the world see this kind of activity for what it is,” Mr. Pompeo said in a radio interview.
“And when they see the effort to poison a dissident, and they recognise that there is a substantial chance that this actually came from senior Russian officials, I think this is not good for the Russian people,” he told conservative host Ben Shapiro.
Mr. Navalny, the most visible critic of President Vladimir Putin within Russia, fell violently ill last month as he took a flight in Siberia.
He was flown for treatment to Germany, where doctors said he was poisoned.
Mr. Pompeo reiterated that the U.S. and its European allies all wanted Russia to “hold those responsible for this accountable” and said Washington would also try to identify the perpetrators. “It’s something that we’ll take a look at, we’ll evaluate, and we’ll make sure we do our part to do whatever we can to reduce the risk that things like this happen again.”
Russia denies link
Russia condemned as unacceptable the statement by Mr. Pompeo.
“We consider unacceptable any direct or indirect suggestions that Russian officials were involved in this,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Mr. Pompeo’s remarks come despite President Donald Trump’s comment last week that he had seen no proof that Mr. Navalny was poisoned.