Navalny, who fell ill on a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow last month, is being treated at a Berlin hospital.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said toxicological tests on samples taken from Navalny had been carried out at a German military laboratory, providing “unequivocal evidence of a chemical nerve agent” from the Novichok group — Soviet-era chemical weapons.
In a statement, Seibert said it was “startling” that “Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia.”
“The federal government condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms,” the statement said, adding: “The Russian government is urged to explain itself regarding the incident.”
In a press conference Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the test results proved that Navalny had been the victim of a crime.
“Alexey Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group,” Merkel said. “This poison can be detected without a doubt in the samples.”
“This means that Alexey Navalny is definitely the victim of a crime,” she added.”They wanted to silence him and I condemn this in the strongest possible terms, also on behalf of the entire Federal Government.”
“There are very serious questions now which only the Russian government can and must answer,” Merkel said. “The fate of Alexey Navalny has received a lot of attention worldwide. The world will wait for an answer.”
Novichok was used in a March 2018 attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the English cathedral city of Salisbury.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that the Kremlin had not received any information from Germany that Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it was waiting for a German response to a request from the Russian Prosecutor General regarding Navalny’s treatment and diagnosis, TASS reported.
Attack ‘outrageous,’ says Johnson
On Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “the Russian government must now explain what happened” to Navalny.
“It’s outrageous that a chemical weapon was used against Alexey Navalny. We have seen first-hand the deadly consequences of Novichok in the UK,” Johnson said in a tweet. “We will work with international partners to ensure justice is done.”
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that Novichok had again been deployed against a leading Russian opposition figure.
“The Russian government has a clear case to answer,” Raab said. “It must tell the truth about what happened to Mr Navalny. We will work closely with Germany, our allies and international partners to demonstrate that there are consequences for using banned chemical weapons anywhere in the world.”
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, also condemned the attack.
“This is a despicable and cowardly act — once again,” she posted on Twitter. “Perpetrators need to be brought to justice,” she added.
In addition to the EU, Seibert said Merkel would also inform NATO and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons about the results of the investigation.
Navalny in intensive care unit
Navalny, 44, a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, became ill en route from Siberia to Moscow on August 20. Dramatic video footage from the plane showed a man groaning in apparent agony.
The flight made an emergency landing in Omsk, and Navalny was transferred to a hospital there, before his wife and supporters pleaded for him to be taken to Germany for treatment.
The anti-corruption blogger was flown to Berlin two days later, and taken to the city’s Charité Hospital.
A hospital spokesperson said Wednesday that Navalny remains in a “serious” condition and that doctors treating him were in close contact with the Kremlin critic’s wife.
“Alexey Navalny is still being treated in an intensive care unit and mechanically ventilated. A longer course of the illness is to be expected,” the statement read. “Long-term consequences of severe poisoning cannot be ruled out.”
The statement added that the critic’s condition was improving and that his symptoms from being poisoned were declining.
Critics point finger of blame at Putin
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