Alexei Navalny novichok finding prompts calls for answers from Moscow
Angela Merkel says poisoning was attempted murder and White House calls it ‘reprehensible’
Angela Merkel: ‘unequivocal proof’ Alexei Navalny was poisoned with novichok – video
World leaders are demanding answers from the Kremlin after toxicological examinations indicated that the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent from the novichok family.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, revealed that tests carried out at a military laboratory had “identified unequivocally” the Soviet era nerve agent. She referred to the case as an “attempted murder” and said the findings raised “very difficult questions that only the Russian government can answer, and has to answer.”
The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, called the findings “outrageous” and said: “The Russian government must now explain what happened to Mr Navalny.”
The White House called the attack “completely reprehensible”.
Navalny, whose foundation publishes investigations into corruption among high-level officials in Russia, fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on 20 August and was transferred to Berlin two days later.
Doctors who treated him in the Siberian city of Omsk, where his flight made an emergency landing, insisted there was no proof of poisoning and were initially reluctant to allow him to leave the country on a specially equipped plane.
The discovery that novichok was used on Navalny will lead many to conclude that the attack was meant as a brazen message to critics of the Kremlin, and Navalny’s associates quickly pointed the finger at Putin.
“Choosing novichok to poison Navalny in 2020 is basically the same thing as leaving an autograph at the scene of the crime,” wrote Navalny’s associate Leonid Volkov on Twitter, appending an image of Putin’s autograph to the tweet.
Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation, wrote that it was “beyond any reasonable doubt” that only Russian security services would be able to use novichok.
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