BERLIN (Reuters) – A critic of President Vladimir Putin who fell into a coma in Russia and is being treated in Berlin was attacked with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent, a German government spokesman said on Wednesday.
Tests 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.
An agent of the same family was used two years ago to poison a Russian defector living in Britain.
“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.”
Russia is already under Western sanctions after its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine six years ago, and another stand-off with European nations or the United States may hurt its economy further.
Russian prosecutors said last Thursday they saw no need for a criminal investigation as they had found no sign that any crime had been committed.