Putin’s critic Navalny poisoned by Soviet-era nervous agent, Germany says

TOP LINE

Russian opposition leader and Putin critic Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, the German government said on Wednesday citing test results, The Associated Press reported, a week after the Kremlin rejected demands by Western leaders for an investigation into the alleged attack on Navalny.

HIGHLIGHTS

Tests carried out by a special German military laboratory had shown “unmistakable evidence of a nerve agent from the Novichok group,” Steffen Seibert, spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday, adding that the attack on Navalny was a “shocking event”. and that the German government condemned it “in the strongest terms”.

Seibert added that Berlin would inform its partners in the European Union and NATO of the results and consult them on an “appropriate joint response”.

Germany has demanded a response from the Russian government, but the Kremlin said on Wednesday it had not yet been informed of the test result.

Last month Navalny, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fell ill on a flight to Moscow, after which he was taken to a hospital in Omsk where he fell into a coma.

Supporters of Navalny, who was later airlifted to a Berlin hospital, insisted he was deliberately poisoned and several Western leaders have called on Russia to investigate the matter.

Russian doctors who first treated Navalny insisted they found no trace of poison in his system, stating: “If we had found some kind of poison … it would have been much easier for us. . It would have been a clear diagnosis, a clear condition, and a well-known treatment. “

Key background

Last month Navalny, 44, said he felt bad after boarding a flight to Moscow from Tomsk in Siberia the same day, after which the plane made an emergency landing in Omsk . Then he slipped into a coma after being admitted to a hospital in Omsk. His spokesperson Kira Yarmysh tweeted that his supporters suspected he had been “poisoned with something mixed with his tea.” Putin’s vocal critic has been jailed several times in recent years for organizing anti-Kremlin protests and he has also been physically assaulted on the streets by pro-government activists. Yarmysh, in his tweets, also reported a similar incident last year in which Navalny suffered an acute allergic reaction which a doctor said could have resulted from poisoning with an unknown chemical.

Tangent

British authorities had previously identified Novichok as a poison used against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, in 2018. Skripal is said to have shared secrets from his time in Russian military intelligence with British MI6. While the two survived the attack, a local woman died months later when she came into contact with the Novichok, which had apparently been inappropriately discarded. British police have identified two Russian military intelligence officers as the main suspects. But Russia has denied any role – allowing the two defendants to appear on Russian television where they said they traveled to Salisbury simply to see the spire of the city’s cathedral.

Further reading

Germany says Soviet-era nerve agent was used on Navalny in Russia (Associated press)

Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition politician and Putin spokesperson, in coma after suspected poisoning (Forbes)


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