The nerve agent used to poison Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was discovered on an empty water bottle from his hotel room in the Siberian city of Tomsk, suggesting he was poisoned there and not at the airport as first thought, his team said. Thursday.
Navalny became seriously ill on a domestic flight in Russia last month and was then flown to Berlin for treatment. Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden have determined that he was poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent, although Russia denies this, saying it has seen no evidence.
A video posted on Navalny’s Instagram account showed members of his team searching the room he had just left at the Xander Hotel in Tomsk on August 20, an hour after they were told he was become ill in suspicious circumstances.
It showed his team bagging several empty bottles of “Holy Spring” mineral water, among other things, while wearing protective gloves.
“Two weeks later, a German laboratory found traces of Novichok precisely on the bottle of water from the Tomsk hotel room,” the post said.
“And then several laboratories that took analyzes from Alexei confirmed that this was what poisoned Navalny. Now we understand: it was done before he left his hotel room to go to the airport.”
Vladimir Milov, a former deputy energy minister and an ally of Navalny, said his team had outwitted the FSB security police with their quick thinking: “They took the evidence under their noses and sent them out of the country.”
Navalny is the most prominent political opponent of President Vladimir Putin, although he has not been allowed to form his own party. His investigations into official corruption, published on YouTube and Instagram, have reached audiences of many millions across Russia.
Germany, France, the United Kingdom and other nations have demanded explanations from Russia on the matter, which has led to calls for new sanctions against Moscow.
The Global Chemical Weapons Agency, OPCW, said Thursday that Germany had asked for its help in investigating.
Russia has conducted preliminary investigations, but said more medical analysis is needed before it can open a formal criminal investigation.
Reuters news agency