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Russian opposition leader ‘poisoned in his hotel room’

Alexei Navalny’s colleagues claim a bottle of water tinged with Novichok was found at the venue in Tomsk.

Alexei Navalny with his wife Yulia (right) daughter Daria and son Zakhar at his hospital bed.
Alexei Navalny with his wife Yulia (right) daughter Daria and son Zakhar at his hospital bed.
Image: PA

RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER Alexei Navalny’s colleagues have claimed a bottle of water with a trace of the Novichok nerve agent was found in his hotel room after his poisoning.

Navalny fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow on 20 August and was flown to Germany.

He was kept in an induced coma in a Berlin hospital for more than two weeks as he was treated with an antidote.

Members of his team accused the Kremlin of involvement in the poisoning, charges Russian officials have vehemently denied.

On Tuesday, he posted a picture of himself from his hospital bed, hugged by his wife and children.

A video posted on Navalny’s Instagram today showed his team working around his hotel room in Tomsk before he left the city and collapsed on a flight back to Moscow.

Navalny’s Instagram said they returned to the room an hour after learning he had become ill and packed the bottles and other items for further inspection.

“Two weeks later, a German laboratory found a trace of Novichok on a bottle from the Tomsk hotel room,” they said.

“And then another three labs that took Alexei’s samples proved that he was poisoned with it.

“Now we understand – it was done before he left his room to go to the airport.”

A German military lab has determined Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, the same class of Soviet-era agent the UK said was used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in 2018.

On Monday, the German government said independent tests by labs in France and Sweden backed up its findings.

The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is also taking steps to have samples from Navalny tested at its designated labs, Germany has said.

The Kremlin has said Russian doctors who treated him in the Siberian city of Omsk, where he was brought after the plane’s emergency landing, found no sign Navalny was poisoned.

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Russia has repeatedly prodded Germany to share Navalny’s analyses and other medical data, and to compare notes with the Russian doctors.

German officials have responded to Moscow’s request for evidence by saying Russian authorities must have the samples already since Navalny spent two days in the Omsk hospital.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who cancelled a scheduled trip to Berlin on Tuesday, said in a TV interview earlier this week that Russian authorities have conducted a preliminary inquiry and documented the meetings Navalny had before falling ill.

He emphasised investigators need to see the evidence of his poisoning to launch a full criminal probe and accused the West of trying to smear Russia and use the incident as a pretext for new sanctions against Moscow.

Lavrov argued Navalny’s life was saved by the pilots of the plane who quickly landed in Omsk after he collapsed on board and by the rapid action of doctors there – something he said Western officials have failed to recognise.

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