As in most criminal cases, the objective soon emerges to betray motive and perpetrator. And as always the question of who gains is a reliable guide to an investigation.
This week, German authorities are dramatically accusing the Russian government over the alleged poisoning of dissident figure Alexei Navalny who is reportedly still in a coma in a Berlin hospital. Days after Navalny was airlifted to Berlin from Russia last weekend, a German military laboratory claims to have found traces of deadly nerve agent Novichok in his body.
Now on the back of unproven criminal allegations against Moscow, it emerges that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is under renewed pressure to abandon the Nord Stream-2 gas project with Russia.
Senior German lawmakers within Merkel’s governing party are calling for Berlin to ditch the ambitious energy project in retaliation for Navalny's "attempted murder". Significantly, these German lawmakers like Norbert Röttgen have been long-time opponents of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline.
The Trump administration and the US Congress have been intensifying political efforts to derail the $11-billion undersea gas pipeline which is more than 90 per cent completed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said recently that the US "will do everything" to stop the project being finished.
Alexei Navalny at the session of Russia's central election commission on 25 December 2017. Navalny had planned to take part in the 2018 presidential election, but the commission said he was ineligible because of a corruption conviction. © Sputnik / Valery Melnikov
Nord Stream-2 is set to double Russian gas supply to Germany. It is a huge strategic deal. Washington has made no secret of its desire to axe the project, having designs to sell its own more expensive gas to the continent of Europe.
Pro-Washington politicians in Germany, Poland and the Baltic states have been lobbying aggressively against energy trade with Russia, due in part to their congenital Russophobia as well as no doubt due to sinecures and sweeteners from Uncle Sam. The Navalny case comes at an opportune time. Last week, Chancellor Merkel was insisting that Navalny’s illness did not impinge on the economic matter of Nord Stream-2.
Then this week, German military intelligence announce they have "unequivocal proof" that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era chemical weapon. Now in a blizzard of accusations, the finger of blame is being jabbed at the Kremlin.