French, Swedish labs confirm reports that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok

French and Swedish specialist labs confirmed that the poisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, the German government said on Monday.

Berlin previously confirmed that the opposition leader — who is currently recovering in the German capital — had been targeted with Novichok after a toxicology test in Germany.

“We renew our call for Russia to explain these events,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday.”We are in close consultation with our European partners on further steps.”

Berlin Nawalny in Charite | Spezialtrage
Alexei Navalny was flown to Berlin, where he is recovering at the Charite Hospital

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had said Navalny was “the victim of a crime intended to silence him.”

Moscow has insisted that it has seen no evidence that Navalny was poisoned and angrily dismissed Berlin’s findings.

Seibert said samples taken from the Russian dissident had also been sent to the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague for testing.

“Independently of the OPCW’s investigations, three laboratories have now independently identified a military nerve agent as the cause of Mr Navalny’s poisoning,” said Seibert, who called Navalny’s poisoning, “a serious violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).”

Russia has asked Germany to share the evidence that led it to conclude “without doubt” that Navalny was poisoned with a military nerve agent from the Novichok group.

The 44-year-old Kremlin critic and protest leader fell ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20, after which his plane made an emergency landing in the Siberian city of Omsk. He was hospitalized before being flown to Berlin for treatment at the city’s Charite Hospital. 

Germany has not ruled out sanctions if the Kremlin is found to be behind the alleged chemical attack. A gas pipeline between Berlin and Moscow — Nord Stream 2 — is being reconsidered amid spiraling tensions. 

Kevin Ifedayo

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