Foreign labs confirm Navalny poisoned with Novichok

BERLIN (AP) — Specialist labs in France and Sweden confirmed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, the German Government said yesterday.

A German military laboratory previously confirmed the substance in his samples.

German Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) also received samples and is taking steps to have those tested at its reference laboratories.

“Independently of the ongoing examinations by the OPCW, three laboratories now confirmed independently of one another the proof of a nerve agent of the Novichok group as the cause of Navalny’s poisoning,” Seibert said in a statement.

He said Germany asked France and Sweden for an “independent review” of the German findings using new samples from Navalny.

Navalny, the most visible opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was flown to Germany two days after falling ill on August 20 on a domestic flight in Russia. Berlin demanded that Russia investigate the case.

Seibert yesterday renewed Germany’s demand that “Russia explain itself” on the matter. He added that “we are in close consultation with our European partners on further steps”.

The Kremlin bristled at calls from Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders for Russia to answer questions in the case, denying any official involvement and accusing the West of trying to smear Moscow.