“The Brussels Diary with Yana Toom”: Navalny and Nord Stream 2


The Brussels Diaries are back on the air. The EU is experiencing tough times: coronavirus, threat on the economy, Brexit, conflict between Greece and Turkey, as well as refugees, Belarus, elections in the US. And, of course, the poisoning of Navalny.

A response is needed – but how? The European Parliament is preparing a resolution; however, I know for sure that I will vote for it only if it does not call Germany to close Nord Stream 2. I will explain why.

I do not know who poisoned Navalny. For now, no one knows. The journalistic code of ethics has a clause stating that no one can be said to be guilty until a court decision. Usually, politicians forget about this principle, but I was a journalist for too long.

Then there is also the very good question: “Who benefits from it?” The problem is that there are many. Maybe someone decided that Navalny had become a threat to the Kremlin because of the protests in Belarus. Perhaps an oligarch whom Navalny had exposed settled the score with him. It could also be that a certain intelligence agency decided to turn Russia and the EU against each other. Still, these are only speculations.

I do understand Angela Merkel very well, who, because of this poisoning, has to go around in circles. It is easy to give a harsh response: shutting down the gas pipeline would not be a problem as there are half a dozen lawful ways to do it. However, is it necessary?

You know, I am sorry, but I will now share a not so popular idea. Every country has intelligence agencies and no one will declassify their classified operations. It is difficult to uncover their crimes – just remember how many versions exist about who killed Olof Palme, Aldo Moro and John F. Kennedy. In fact, we should not allow such theories – mind you, still theories – influence other subjects.

Hence, if Merkel lets this slide, I do understand her. The reason is that by closing Nord Stream 2 she would side with those who also benefit from Navalny’s poisoning – the Americans. I remind you that a week before the poisoning the USA threatened Europe with sanctions if the construction of Nord Stream 2 was continued.

This is not a conspiracy theory – God forbid. I still do not know who poisoned Navalny. Whoever they were they played into the hands of the Kremlin by attacking the opposition leader and of the White House by giving them a bargaining chip against the gas pipeline. For some reason, the economy of Germany, i.e., the European Union, i.e., we, must be punished.

Therefore, my position is simple: the poisoning of Navalny should not lead to closure of the gas pipeline. In fact, I believe that nothing threatens Nord Stream 2. Billions have been invested in it, its construction is almost finished and it has been designed to work with Putin, after Putin, and without Putin. In such issues, Germany is pragmatic. Let us take China as an example: from time to time Berlin states that they are concerned about Hong Kong, Tibet, camps for the Uighurs, Chinese dissidents. Beijing pretends to be offended but this exchange of pleasantries does not interfere with cooperation between German and Chinese businessmen so long as it is profitable. Тhis is how capitalism works. Which is not a bad thing – otherwise we would have a crisis after every political crime.

It is apples and oranges. I hope that those who poisoned Navalny will be found. And tried with the full force of the law.