Berlin: Specialist labs in France and Sweden have confirmed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned. Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent ‘Novichok’, the German government said Monday.
A German military laboratory previously confirmed the substance in his samples. German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as also received samples. It is taking steps to have those tested at its reference laboratories.
“OPCW is independently conducting ongoing examinations. However, three other laboratories have confirmed independently of one another the proof of a nerve agent of the ‘Novichok group’. It is the cause of Mr Navalny’s poisoning,” Seibert said in a statement. He said Germany had asked France and Sweden for an ‘independent review’ of the German findings. Samples have also been sent to France and Sweden.
Navalny is the most visible opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was flown to Germany two days after falling ill August 20 on a domestic flight in Russia. Berlin has demanded that Russia investigate the case.
Seibert renewed Germany’s demand that ‘Russia explain itself’ on the matter. He added that ‘we are in close consultation with our European partners on further steps’.
The Kremlin has bristled at calls from Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders for Russia to answer questions in the case. The Kremlin has denied any official involvement. It has accused the West of trying to smear Moscow.
Russian authorities have prodded Germany to share the evidence that led it to conclude ‘without doubt’ that Navalny was poisoned.
Incidentally the military nerve agent from the ‘Novichok’ group, was used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, in 2018. England have confirmed that development.
Berlin has rejected suggestions from Moscow that it is dragging its heels.
Navalny was kept in an induced coma for more than a week as he was treated with an antidote. Hospital officials said a week ago that his condition had improved enough for him to be brought out of it. It isn’t clear when Berlin’s Charite hospital will next issue an update on his condition.