Berlin says French, Swedish toxicology tests back up its Navalny findings
Peer review looks to counter Moscow’s effort to downplay accusations it was behind Russian opposition leader’s poisoning.by Joshua Posaner
BERLIN — Toxicology tests in France and Sweden support a German study that showed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with an illegal nerve agent, Chancellor Angela Merkel's team said Monday.
On September 2, Merkel announced that military laboratory tests in Berlin, where Navalny is recuperating in hospital, proved "without any doubt" that he had been poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group of chemical nerve agents.
Novichok was developed by Soviet scientists and used in the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, allegedly carried out by Russian security services, in the U.K. in 2018. Russian officials have denied the Kremlin was behind Navalny's hospitalization and sought to downplay the poisoning accusation.
"The results of the review by special laboratories in France and Sweden are now available and confirm the German evidence," said Steffen Seibert, the German government's chief spokesman, in an emailed statement.
Seibert added that The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has taken its own samples from Navalny and is carrying out a review.
Despite threats of action, European governments have so far failed to agree any new sanctions on Russia over the poisoning. "We renew the call on Russia to explain what happened," Seibert said. "We are in close contact with our European partners on further steps."
On Monday, the Charité hospital in Berlin, where Navalny is being treated, said his condition was improving. Navalny was taken off mechanical ventilation and is able leave his bed for short periods, the hospital said in a statement.
This article has been updated.