Tests performed on samples taken from prominent Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny showed the presence of the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, the German government said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement on Wednesday testing by a special German military laboratory had shown “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group”.
“It is a dismaying event that Alexei Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia,” Seibert said. “The German government condemns this attack in the strongest terms. The Russian government is urgently requested to provide clarifications over the incident.”
Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia was not informed of the German findings and has no such data, the TASS news agency reported.
Novichok – a military grade nerve agent – was used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.
The Charite hospital in Berlin, where Navalny is being treated, has reported “some improvement” in his condition, but he remains in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator.
German hospital: Clinical findings point to Navalny’s poisoning
Navalny, 44, a politician and corruption investigator who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on August 20 and was taken to a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.
He was later transferred to Berlin’s Charite hospital, where doctors last week said there were indications he had been poisoned.
Seibert said the German government will inform its partners in the European Union and NATO about the test results. He said it will consult with its partenrs in light of the Russian response “on an appropriate joint response”.
Navalny’s allies in Russia have insisted he was deliberately poisoned by the country’s authorities, accusations the Kremlin rejected as “empty noise”.
“To poison Navalny with Novichok in 2020 would be exactly the same as leaving an autograph at a crime scene, like this one,” Navalny’s longtime ally and strategist Leonid Volkov said in a tweet that featured a photo of Putin’s name and a signature next to it.
The Russian doctors who treated Navalny in Siberia have repeatedly contested the German hospital’s conclusion, saying they had ruled out poisoning as a diagnosis and their tests for poisonous substances came back negative.
Novichok is a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and ’80s.
The Navalny case has drawn parallels with two suspected Kremlin-linked poisonings in Britain.
British authorities identified Novichok as the poison used in 2018 on former Russian spy Skripal and his daughter in England. The nerve agent is a cholinesterase inhibitor, part of the class of substances that doctors at the Charite initially identified in Navalny.
In 2006, Putin was blamed for the radiation poisoning death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in the British capital.
Al Jazeera and news agencies