“We absolutely cannot agree with the ultimatum statement that the Russian government has anything to do with this case. We cannot accept ultimatums and threats with sanctions. I regret the anti-Russian hysteria artificially incited in this context," the ambassador said in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, adding that Moscow expects "actual cooperation with our German colleagues."
Commenting on Berlin's demands to investigate what happened to Navalny, Nechaev suggested that in order to start a criminal trial in Russia, samples of his medical tests are needed.
“Germany says that the Russian authorities should conduct an investigation in Russia, there allegedly was the use of a chemical warfare agent. We need samples so that a criminal investigation could be started at all. In accordance with the law, we cannot start an investigation of a crime without evidence," Nechaev told the newspaper.
The German side is currently delaying response to requests for legal assistance, and shows no desire to cooperate with Russia on the Navalny case, Nechaev said. He noted that Moscow expects to receive from Germany samples of the medical tests carried out on Navalny in Berlin, in line with international agreements.
“Germany, meanwhile, sent samples [of Navalny's medical tests] to laboratories in France, Sweden, and the OPCW. So we also expect to receive samples. This is in line with all international agreements. We are surprised that we faced such resistance," Nechaev said.
Navalny fell gravely ill during a domestic Russian air flight on 20 August. The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, where he fell into a coma in a local hospital. Two days later, authorities approved a request from his family, allowing for Navalny to be transferred to the Charite hospital in Berlin, for treatment.
Later, Berlin claimed that doctors had found traces of a nerve agent from the Novichok group in his system and that the tests had been confirmed by labs in Sweden and France. Moscow stressed that the Russian doctors had found no toxic substances in Navalny's samples and asked Germany to provide data - which Berlin has refused, saying it is classified.
Political, cultural, and economic ties between Germany and Russia remain strong even amid the situation with Navalny, and parties must assure that they do not collapse, Nechaev said.
“Good relations with Germany have always been a priority for Russia. We achieved a lot in the post-war period. Just imagine it: 27 million people from the Soviet Union sacrificed their lives to defeat National Socialism. Despite this, there was reconciliation between our peoples after the World War II. It was not easy, because a lot of people died in Russia, a lot of cities and villages were destroyed," Nechaev told the newspaper.
The countries nevertheless have made a step toward rapprochement, he noted. On 3 October, Nechaev observed, the 30th anniversary of the reunification of Germany will be celebrated. In September, he added, the 30th anniversary of the "Two-plus-four" treaty, which settled the post-war status of Germany, was celebrated.
“The Soviet Union was ready to accept German unity and made a decisive contribution to this. Political, economic and cultural ties between Germany and Russia are still strong enough today, and we must do everything so that they do not collapse," the diplomat stated.
Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline
The German government has been supporting the Nord Stream 2 project, and Russia hopes that this support will continue, said Nechaev.
“As for Nord Stream 2, this is an international economic project. It meets European standards and has received all necessary permits. It meets the interests of Germany and helps to make its products more competitive at the international level and to cover its energy needs amid the abandonment of nuclear energy and coal," Nechayev said in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, adding that 'the federal government is still supporting the project and we hope that it will be so."
"Of course, Germany and the EU can determine their own energy security, but US senators should not be allowed to send letters with threats to European companies and authorities," he noted.
The Russian diplomat also said that Poland is against Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, as it wants to become an energy center for Europe.
“Eastern Europe, as critics of Russia in Germany and the United States say, does not welcome rapprochement [between Moscow and Berlin]. Solid economic interests play an important role here: Poland itself wants to become an energy center of Europe and therefore opposes Nord Stream 2," Nechayev told the newspaper. “I do not want to go into details of Russian-Polish relations. But we naturally regret the anti-Russian policy that the government in Warsaw is currently pursuing. Unfortunately, anti-Russian reflection is very common among the Polish elite," he said.
Nord Stream 2 envisions the construction of two legs of a gas pipeline with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually from the Russian coast through the Baltic Sea to Germany. The project is actively opposed by the administration of US President Donald Trump, which is promoting US liquefied natural gas in the EU, as well as to Ukraine and a number of European countries.
The White House imposed sanctions on the project in December 2019, demanding the companies involved in manufacturing the pipeline immediately stop construction. The Swiss firm Allseas almost immediately announced a suspension of gas pipeline manufacture.
The Nord Stream 2 project is being implemented by Nord Stream 2 AG with sole shareholder Russian energy giant Gazprom. European partners - Royal Dutch Shell, OMV, Engie, Uniper, and Wintershall - are financing 50 percent of the project, up to 950 million euros ($1.1 billion), each.
Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the issue of the Nord Stream 2 and the incident with Navalny should be considered separately. Nevertheless, a number of politicians in Germany have voiced calls to suspend or even end the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, although other balanced positions can also be heard.
The Kremlin has called to stop mentioning Nord Stream 2 in the context of politics, since the gas pipeline is a commercial project that is beneficial to both Russia and the European Union, and primarily Germany.