The German government said Wednesday, September 2, that it had “unequivocal proof” that Alexei Navalny, a leading member of Russia’s opposition and an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, was poisoned with a Novichok-class nerve agent.
In a press statement, Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a strong condemnation, describing the alleged attack as “shocking.”
“This means that Alexei Navalny is a victim of a crime,” Merkel said. “It was an attempt to silence him. I condemn this in the strongest possible terms on behalf of the entire German government.”
Merkel called on Russia to make an urgent statement on the incident.
The Berlin hospital to which Navalny was transferred on August 22 said in a statement on Wednesday that Navalny’s “symptoms were the result of cholinesterase inhibition following a confirmed poisoning event.” The hospital said Navalny’s condition had improved, but added that he remained in intensive care unit and on a ventilator.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: “I was informed by Chancellor Merkel that Russian opposition leader Navalny was attacked with a nerve agent, in his own country. This is a despicable and cowardly act – once again. Perpetrators need to be brought to justice.”
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said he condemned “the use of a military-grade nerve agent, which makes it even more urgent that Russia conducts full and transparent investigation.”
Doctors at the hospital in Omsk, Russia, where Navalny was examined before his transfer to Berlin, had rejected claims he had been poisoned. Credit: German Federal Government via Storyful