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OPCW: Novichok found on Alexei Navalny samples

October 6, 2020

Germany said the findings from the world's chemical weapons agency proved that Navalny was poisoned. Blood and urine samples from Navalny contained a "cholinesterase inhibitor" similar to two Novichok chemicals.

Berlin Charite Alexei Navalny Instagram Post
Image: Alexey Navalny/Instagram

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Tuesday that samples from Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny confirmed "the presence of a nerve agent" in the Novichok family. 

Sources from the world's chemical weapons agency said the tests showed that blood and urine samples contained a "cholinesterase inhibitor" similar to two Novichok chemicals that were banned by the Hague-based body in 2019. 

Read more: Germany is mulling economic sanctions against Russia. Do they actually work?

In a statement, OPCW chief Fernando Arias said he "considered that these results constitute a matter of grave concern." 

He added that "the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is reprehensible and wholly contrary to the legal norms established by the international community."

Germany: Poisoning 'unequivocally' confirmed 

Germany had formally requested "technical assistance" from the OPCW, which member states can do if they believe there has been a chemical weapons incident.

Berlin said the OPCW findings confirmed what it and other countries had found in their medical investigations of Navalny’s case. 

"This once again confirms unequivocally that Alexei Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group,'' German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement. 

Seibert renewed Germany's call on Russia to fully investigate and explain what happened to Navalny. He noted that Berlin will discuss its next steps in the Executive Council of the OPCW and with EU partners. 

"Any use of chemical weapons is a serious matter and cannot remain without consequences," Seibert added.

In August, Navalny fell ill on a plane and after spending several days in a Siberian hospital, he was medically evacuated to Berlin's Charite Hospital.

A German military laboratory concluded that his illness was caused by poisoning from a Soviet-designed nerve agent Novichok.

Russia has denied that Navalny had been poisoned and insisted that its own medical tests did not find traces of a nerve agent in his system. 

jcg/aw (AP, Reuters)