As German officials discuss possible sanctions against Russia, doctors treating Navalny seek help from ‘Novichok’ researchers
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Berlin would be ready to introduce diplomatic sanctions against Russia if it turns out that the Russian authorities were behind the poisoning of opposition politician Alexey Navalny, Reuters reports.
Maas underscored that the German authorities would act as they did in response to the murder of former Chechen field commander Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, who was shot dead in Berlin in August 2019. After a Russian national was charged over the assassination, Germany expelled two of Russia’s diplomats, who were allegedly working as foreign intelligence agents for the Russian Defense Ministry (Moscow responded in kind, expelling two of Germany’s people).
According to the German weekly Der Spiegel, the doctors treating Navalny at the Charité Hospital in Berlin have secretly sought help from Germany’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr, which has its own toxicology lab in Munich. The doctors also reached out to specialists at Britain’s Porton Down laboratory, who were responsible for investigating the attempted murder of Sergey and Yulia Skripal after they were poisoned with a Novichok-class substance in Salisbury in 2018.
Previously, Der Spiegel and the investigative outlet Bellingcat reported that the German doctors had also reached out to doctors in Bulgaria due to possible similarities between Navalny’s poisoning and the attempted murder of Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev, who was allegedly poisoned with Novichok in 2015.
According to Der Spiegel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is receiving daily updates on the state of Alexey Navalny’s health. Bloomberg previously reported, citing to its sources, that Merkel was frustrated that Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t show any flexibility when it came to Navalny’s case. After Berlin’s Charité Hospital released a statement on August 24, confirming that Navalny had been poisoned, Merkel called for a full and open investigation into what happened to the opposition politician. On August 28, Merkel said that the German authorities plan to initiate an all-European response to the incident, when there is more clarity surrounding the reasons behind Navalny’s sudden illness.
The Charité Hospital issued another press release on August 28, stating that Navalny is still in a medically-induced coma and is on a ventilator. However, there has been some improvement in his symptoms caused by cholinesterase inhibitor poisoning. According to the German doctors, there is no immediate danger to Navalny’s life — he’s stable, but remains in serious condition.
Translation by Eilish Hart