The German government has reported that three independent laboratories confirmed that the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group.
The sample was taken by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The German government also asked France and Sweden for an independent review. All three studies have shown the presence of a Novichok-class chemical warfare agent in the samples.
“We again call on Russia to explain what happened. We are in close contact with our European partners on the next steps,” the German government said in a statement.
Alexei Navalny suddenly collapsed on August 20 on the plane when he was returning to Moscow from Siberia. After an emergency landing, the politician was hospitalized in the Omsk emergency hospital. According to local doctors, the politician became sick due to metabolic disorders.
Doctors from the German clinic Charité, where Navalny was transported a few days later, said that the politician had been poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group.
The Russian authorities said they consider the version of the Novichok poisoning to be unsubstantiated. On August 27, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs began an inspection in connection with the hospitalization of the opposition activist. The department said that no potent and narcotic substances were found in Navalny’s body. A criminal case on the attempted murder of the politician was never opened.
On August 28, Germany announced that it would be ready to impose sanctions on Russia if it finds out that the authorities were involved in the poisoning. German Chancellor Angela Merkel previously stated her desire to preserve the existing relationship with Russia. But she also stressed the Germany’s readiness to cause a pan-European reaction to what happened to the opposition activist.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he is interested in a thorough and objective investigation of all the circumstances of the incident with Alexei Navalny. According to the Kremlin press service, the head of state said this in a telephone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.