Navalny poisoned by nerve agent, chemical weapons watchdog confirms

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny | Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images

Findings back up lab tests already carried out in Germany, Sweden and France.

BERLIN — The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has concluded that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, the watchdog said Tuesday.

The German government had requested the analysis after Berlin’s own toxicology assessment found Novichok had been used in the Navalny case. Navalny had been treated at a hospital in the German capital after falling severely ill in August.

That assessment was also confirmed by lab tests in Sweden and France, offering what the German government called “unequivocal evidence” that Navalny was poisoned during a trip to Siberia.

The OPCW is an international organization based in The Hague with 193 member countries, including Russia. It’s tasked with working toward the elimination of chemical weapons and said in its statement that the substance used had “similar structural characteristics” to Novichok, which was also used in the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in the U.K. in 2018.

The OPCW said the “results constitute a matter of grave concern” in a statement issued Tuesday.

“The German government renews its call on Russia to explain what has happened,” said Steffen Seibert, the chief spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Any use of chemical weapons is a serious matter and cannot come without consequences.”

The Russian government has said it was not responsible for the poisoning of Navalny and has sought to deflect accusations of foul play. On Monday, the OPCW said it had received a separate request for assistance from Russia in relation to the case, but asked for additional information before it would dispatch a technical team to Moscow.

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