"Secret documents"

Schallenberg statements on Navalny cause criticism

18.02.2024 12:25

Many hold the Moscow government directly responsible for the death of Alexei Navalny. Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP), however, avoided direct blame. Green Party MP Nina Tomaselli is now accusing him of taking economic interests more seriously, quoting from ministry documents.

"Economic relations with Russia must not be disrupted because of Navalny," Tomaselli criticized Sunday morning on Platform X, referring to internal discussion documents from the Foreign Ministry.

"Keeping a cool head despite Navalny"
In September 2020 - just one month after the poison attack on Kremlin critic Navalny - a meeting took place between Schallenberg and the then OMV CEO Rainer Seele. According to the Member of the National Council, the Foreign Minister saw no reason to reconsider his pro-Kremlin stance. "Must keep a cool head despite Navalny. Mixing politics and business is not good!", according to the secret documents available to krone.at.

Elsewhere, there are fears that Russia could impose sanctions on Austrian companies: "Must be careful," is the wording. The USA's insistence on an end to dependence on Russian natural gas was apparently not taken seriously in the conversation. According to the documents, such sanctions would serve the economic and geopolitical interests of the United States more than the energy security of Europe.

"History needs to be told these days"
This 2020 story needs to be told these days, according to the leading Green politician. Although Schallenberg praised Navalny posthumously in an initial statement, like other international politicians he avoided explicitly blaming the Kremlin," the MEP emphasized on X. The Foreign Minister had also emphasized "how undemocratic and illiberal" Russia had become and called for a full and independent investigation into the circumstances of the death. However, Tomaselli insisted that it was the Foreign Ministry's duty "to name the Russian system for what it is: criminal".

98 percent of our gas comes from Russia
She called for an end to Russian gas imports. "Support payments in the form of our gas bills must come to an end," she wrote. Austria is very far from being independent of natural gas supplies. Tomaselli's party colleague, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler, recently pointed out that the Russian import share had even risen to 98 percent in December 2023. She wants to have the early termination of the supply agreement examined. Currently, OMV's contracts with Gazprom for a fixed purchase run until 2040.

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