A German military laboratory has found traces of the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok in prominent Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny. The attempted murder of Alexey Navalny has been compared to the poisoning of former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter in the United Kingdom.
Navalny is a 44-year-old politician and corruption investigator who is one of the most outspoken against the Putin regime. He fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on 20 August, after which the plane made an emergency landing in order to take him to an emergency hospital in Omsk, Siberia. He was later transferred to Charite hospital in Berlin, where doctors indicated that he had been poisoned. Steffen Seibert, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson has now confirmed that a military laboratory has “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group,” according to Al Jazeera.
“It is a dismaying event that Alexey Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia,” Seibert said. “The German government condemns this attack in the strongest terms. The Russian government is urgently requested to provide clarifications over the incident.”
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that the Kremlin was not informed about the findings, as reported by the TASS news agency. Merkel confirmed her spokesperson’s statement, without any caveats.
“This is disturbing information about the attempted murder through poisoning against a leading Russian opposition figure,” Merkel told a news conference. “Alexey Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has called upon Moscow to conduct an investigation.
“This makes it all the more urgent that those responsible in Russia be identified and held accountable,” he told reporters. “We condemn this attack in the strongest terms.”
Charite hospital has reported that there has been some improvement” in Navalny’s condition.
Novichok agent is a series of binary chemical weapons developed by the Soviet Union and Russia between 1971 and 1993, which Russian scientists claim are the deadliest ever made and is claimed to be five to eight times more potent than VX, which was used by Saddam Hussein in 1988.