Putin critic Navalny was poisoned with a chemical nerve agent, Germany says

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands near law enforcement agents in a hallway of a business centre, which houses the office of his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), in Moscow on De
(Image credit: DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)

A chemical nerve agent was used to poison Alexei Navalny, prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Germany says.

The Russian opposition leader was hospitalized last month after falling ill on a flight to Moscow, and after he was transferred to a hospital in Germany, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday said tests conducted at a German military lab found "proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group," The Associated Press reports. The press secretary for Navalny's anti-corruption organization previously said that "we suspect that Alexei was poisoned by something mixed into [his] tea."

Russian doctors had claimed that Navalny wasn't poisoned, but a German hospital later said he was, and that he was suffering from "intoxication by a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors." Novichok was used in 2018 to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, AP notes.

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The German spokesperson on Wednesday described it as "startling" that Navalny was "the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia," reports CNN, also saying the "federal government condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms" and that "we hope for a full recovery."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.