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Navalny was poisoned with a new type of Novichok nerve agent, German journalists report
Source: Meduza

Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny was poisoned with a new type of Novichok nerve agent, which is more dangerous than previously known variations, reports the German weekly Die Zeit, citing an anonymous source.

According to Die Zeit, Navalny was supposed to die on the airplane. The opposition figure is alive thanks to the pilot, who decided to make an emergency landing immediately, and the doctors who quickly treated him with atropine — an antidote used to treat some types of nerve agent and pesticide poisoning.

Die Zeit says that only the Russian intelligence services could have carried out an operation using such a new type of poison — ordinary criminals simply couldn’t synthesize this kind of substances, and the idea of any foreign intelligence body carrying out such a serious operation on Russian soil seems “unthinkable” given that Navalny is under constant surveillance. “This leaves only one plausible conclusion: it was precisely the Kremlin that gave the order to remove an unwanted politician from [its] path,” the report concludes.

Doctors in Germany found toxic residue on the neck of the water bottle Navalny drank from, as well as on his hands. According to Die Zeit, the German authorities believe that one of the agents tailing Navalny could have planted the poison on the surface of the cup that he drank tea from at the airport in Tomsk, or slipped it into the brewed tea itself.

Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny was on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow when he fell violently ill on August 20. The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, where he was hospitalized in a coma; two days later he was transferred to Germany for treatment. 

On September 2, the German officials confirmed that Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents. The confirmation came from tests conducted at a toxicology lab run by the German military, at the request of doctors at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, where Navalny remains in intensive care. On September 7, the German doctors announced that Navalny’s condition was improving and that he had been brought out of his induced coma.

The Russian authorities maintain that the tests conducted on Navalny in Omsk didn’t reveal any traces of poison in his system. However, Meduza’s sources confirmed that he was immediately treated with atropine while still in the ambulance in Omsk, because he showed “a clear picture of poisoning.” The German authorities are demanding an explanation from Moscow in connection with the situation.