BERLIN — (Reuters) A critic of Russian President Vladmir Putin now in a coma and being treated in a Berlin hospital was poisoned with a nerve agent of the Novichok family, a German government spokesman said on Wednesday.
Toxicology tests of blood samples conducted at a German military laboratory produced “unequivocal evidence” that Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, had been poisoned with Novichok, Steffen Seibert said in an emailed statement.
“The federal government will inform its partners in the EU and NATO of the results of the investigation,” Seibert added. “It will discuss an appropriate joint response with the partners in the light of the Russian response.”
A Kremlin spokesman said Germany had not informed it that it believed Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok, according to the RIA news agency.
Novichok is a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s.
Britain says Russia used Novichok to poison former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury two years ago. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack, which the Skripals survived. One member of the public was killed.
“It is a shocking event that Alexei Navalny has become the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia,” Seibert said. “The federal government condemns this attack in the strongest terms.”
Reporting by Michael Nienaber Writing by Joseph Nasr and Paul Carrel Editing by Kevin Liffey