Tomsk hotel managers say they assisted Navalny’s associates after his illness, and Navalny demands return of evidence now that inquiry deadline has passed
Last week, associates of Alexey Navalny revealed that they’d retrieved an apparently poison-laced water bottle from his hotel room in Tomsk. On September 21, a source at the hotel informed the news agency RIA Novosti that managers at the facility agreed to admit Navalny’s aides after learning that he’d fallen ill aboard his flight home to Moscow.
“We figured we’d help and decided to show them. Maybe it would turn out to be food poisoning from something in the mini-bar. I’d never seen it before, but anything can happen. I was present while we showed them the room,” a woman at the hotel told RIA Novosti.
The hotel manager said the establishment contacted Russia’s Consumer Protection Agency after Navalny’s associates reported that they’d recovered a Novichok-laced water bottle from his hotel room. State officials reportedly collected samples from the room but found no evidence of poison. The bottled water in question was apparently from a popular manufacturer (footage released by Navalny’s associates suggests that the water was from the “Saint Spring” company) and delivered by a “trusted supplier.” “I don’t know why there were so many bottles in the room. [Navalny] was the only occupant,” said RIA Novosti’s source.
Also on September 21, in a blog post on his website, Navalny announced that he is demanding the return of the clothes taken from him when he was hospitalized in Omsk. Navalny’s request comes exactly a month since he was poisoned, timed to coincide with the expiration date of the Russian authorities’ preliminary inquiry into his sudden illness. “Given that Novichok was found on my body and that a contact method of exposure is very likely, my clothes are vital evidence,” Navalny explained.
On August 20, Alexey Navalny collapsed aboard a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, forcing an emergency landing in Omsk. Two days later, the opposition figure was moved to Berlin aboard an air ambulance for expert treatment.
On September 2, the German government announced that Navalny was exposed to a Novichok-class nerve agent. Without revealing its sources, the newspaper Der Spiegel reported that poison traces were found on one of Navalny’s water bottles.