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German government confirms Russian opposition leader was poisoned

It has been confirmed by the German government that Alexei Navalny, the leader of the opposition to the Russian government, was poisoned in what Angela Merkel has called an “attempted murder”.

Military laboratory testing in Munich has affirmed the use of the Soviet era nerve agent novichok, which has also been used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in 2018. The use of this substance was banned last year following its addition to the chemical weapons convention’s list of controlled substances.

Alexei Navalny was taken ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow in August before being moved to Berlin three days later for care and testing. Doctors based in Siberia who helped to treat Navalny have heavily opposed the findings in Germany after earlier rulings supposedly returned a negative result for traces of poisonous substances.  

Leaders and politicians across Europe and the world are calling for answers from the Russian government in light of the findings presented by Germany. Following the news of the poisoning and the findings of the German research, many have commented publicly on the incident. Merkel asserted their confidence in the findings by stating they had been found “unequivocally”, and further stated this reveal created “very difficult questions that only the Russian government can answer and has to answer”.

Boris Johnson referred to the findings as “outrageous” and also called for Russian answers, saying they “must now explain what happened”. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also highlighted that “It’s completely unacceptable that a banned chemical weapon has been used and Russia must hold a full, transparent investigation”.

US Democratic Candidate Joe Biden also described the attack as an “outrageous and brazen attempt on Mr Navalny’s life”. Although the White House has commented on the incident, Donald Trump is yet to offer comments personally.

The Russian government has denied all involvement, with Putin’s spokesperson Peskov claiming that “attempts to somehow associate Russia with what happened are unacceptable to us, they are absurd”.

Navalny has emerged from his coma but is still very early on the road to recovery.

22/09/2020

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Sam Hewitson

Sam Hewitson

Travel Editor - 2019/20

Editor-In-Chief - 2020/21