Alexei Navalny: Aides say Novichok found on water bottle
Russian politician Alexei Navalny's team said Thursday they had found traces of Novichok on a water bottle in his hotel room in Siberia.
A video posted on the Kremlin critic's Instagram account showed members of his team searching the room in the Xander Hotel in Tomsk on August 20, an hour after they learned he had fallen sick on a flight to Moscow.
"It was decided to gather up everything that could even hypothetically be useful and hand it to the doctors in Germany. The fact that the case would not be investigated in Russia was quite obvious," the post said.
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The video showed members of Navalny's team collecting several empty bottles of "Holy Spring" mineral water, among other items.
"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 more laboratories that took analyses from Alexei confirmed that that was what poisoned Navalny. Now we understand: it was done before he left his hotel room to go to the airport."
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Russia said it carried out pre-investigation checks, adding that it needs more evidence before it can open a formal criminal probe into the case.
Navalny was airlifted to Berlin last month after falling ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow.
The Russian hospital that initially treated him said there was no evidence he was poisoned.
Chemical weapons watchdog anylzes samples
Meanwhile, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed Thursday that Germany had formally requested "technical assistance" over the alleged poisoning of Navalny.
The global chemical weapons watchdog said it had sent experts to Germany to collect "biomedical samples from Navalny for analysis." The OPCW said it would share the results with Germany
Berlin says it has proof that Navalny was poisoned on August 20 with the Soviet-era chemical agent Novichok.
"We are certain it was a poison from the Novichok group," Niels Annen, the minister of state at the German foreign ministry, told DW on Wednesday.
"It is quite obvious that this is a breach of international law. Russian credibility will be infringed by this," he added.
Labs in France and Sweden have confirmed that the banned weapons-grade substance was used in targeting Navalny, German authorities said on Monday, adding that they were awaiting the OPCW's evaluation.
The OPCW could be asked to use its recently-acquired powers to attribute blame for chemical attacks — a mandate that Moscow bitterly opposes.
Read more: 'Hi, this is Navalny': Poisoned Kremlin critic posts his own update on condition
shs/rt (Reuters, AFP)