Novichok was used to poison outspoken critic of Vladimir Putinby Joe Roberts
Vladimir Putin’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent, laboratories in France and Sweden have confirmed.
Navalny, 44, who is one of Putin’s fiercest critics, was airlifted to Germany after collapsing during a flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said they have now asked France and Sweden for an ‘independent review’ of its findings.
A German military laboratory previously confirmed the substance was present in Navalny’s samples.
Navalny was kept in an induced coma at Berlin’s Charite hospital for more than a week, before his condition improved enough to be brought out of it.
Mr Seibert renewed Germany’s demand that ‘Russia explain itself’ on the matter.
He added: ‘We are in close consultation with our European partners on further steps.’
The Kremlin has rejected calls from Germany and other countries to answer questions on the case, denying any official involvement and accusing the West of trying to smear Moscow.
Russian authorities have also asked Germany to share its evidence that Navalny was poisoned with a military nerve agent from the Novichok group.
Novichok is the same nerve agent used to poison former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in 2018.
Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack, which the Skripals survived, but a mother-of-three, Dawn Sturgess, 44, who lived in the area, died from contacting the poison.
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