Navalny Team Says Nervous Agent Found on Water Bottle in Russian Hotel Room | World news
By Anton Zverev and Maria Tsvetkova
MOSCOW (Reuters) – The nerve agent used to poison Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been detected on an empty water bottle in 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 fell violently ill on a flight to Russia last month and was flown to Berlin for treatment. Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden have established that he was poisoned by a nerve agent Novichok, a poison developed by the Soviet military, although Russia denies it and claims it has seen no evidence.
A video posted to 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 learning he had fallen ill in suspicious circumstances.
“It was decided to collect everything that could even hypothetically be useful and hand it over to doctors in Germany. The fact that the case would not be investigated in Russia was pretty obvious,” said the job.
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Video from the abandoned hotel room shows two water bottles on a desk and one on a nightstand. Navalny’s team, wearing protective gloves, are seen placing items in blue plastic bags.
“Two weeks later, a German lab found traces of Novichok precisely on the water bottle in the Tomsk hotel room,” the post said.
“And then other labs that took tests from Alexei confirmed that this was what poisoned Navalny. Now we understand: it was done before he left his hotel room to go. at the airport.”
Previously, Navalny’s aides said they suspected he was poisoned with a cup of tea he drank at Tomsk airport.
Vladimir Milov, a former deputy energy minister and Navalny ally, said his team outsmarted the FSB’s security service with their quick wit.
“They took the evidence right under their noses and shipped it out of the country,” he said.
Navalny’s ally Georgy Alburov told Reuters that “the bottles flew with Alexei” when he was flown to Germany on August 22.
Navalny is President Vladimir Putin’s main political opponent, but has not been allowed to form his own party. His official corruption investigations, posted on YouTube and Instagram, have reached millions of people.
He is being treated in a Berlin hospital. Another supporter, Lyubov Sobol, said his recovery would take time.
Speaking on Navalny’s YouTube channel, Alburov said: “We continue to demand a serious and real investigation and we know where the results will lead. They will allow us to find out that behind Alexei’s poisoning lies the Kremlin. , Putin, the FSB, who organized it all. “
The Kremlin called the accusation baseless, saying it would make no sense to poison Navalny and then allow him to travel for medical treatment to another country where the poison is detected. He said he needed more evidence before a formal criminal investigation was opened.
Germany, France, Britain and other countries have demanded an explanation from Russia, and there have been calls for further sanctions against Moscow.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Thursday that Germany had requested technical assistance.
The head of the Navalny anti-corruption foundation in Moscow, Ivan Zhdanov, told Reuters that an investigator from Tomsk visited his offices on Wednesday and wanted to speak to two of his employees who were with the politician during his visit. visit to Siberia.
(Additional reporting by Alexander Marrow and Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber; written by Mark Trevelyan, edited by Kevin Liffey, Jon Boyle and Timothy Heritage)
Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.