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Alexei Navalny Novichok Finding Sparks Outrage among Western Leaders

September 3, 2020, 04.05 PM

BERLIN, –  Germany's announcement on the detection of a Novichok nerve agent to poison Putin critic Alexei Navalny on Wednesday sparked outrage among western leaders.

They have since demanded an explanation from Moscow on its attempt to “silence” the Russian opposition leader.

Forty-four-year old Alexei Navalny is the latest Russian defector and Putin critic to be poisoned in suspicious circumstances. He is now receiving medical treatment at a Berlin hospital.

Medical tests from the German military's chemical weapons laboratory had given "unequivocal evidence" that Navalny had been afflicted by military-grade Novichok, a poison first developed by the Soviet Union towards the end of the Cold War.

Read also: Germany Urges Moscow to Ramp Up Poisoning Investigation of Alexei Navalny

The findings had prompted "some very serious questions that only Russia can and must answer", German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

"It is certain that Alexei Navalny is the victim of a crime," she added. "He was meant to be silenced and I condemn this in the strongest possible terms."

The news prompted a fresh round of condemnation from European leaders in an affair that has already sent tensions spiraling between Russia and the West.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Navalny's poisoning was "outrageous", while French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denounced the attack "shocking and irresponsible".

European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen criticized a "despicable and cowardly act — once again".

"The Russian people have a right to express their views peacefully without fear of retribution of any kind, and certainly not with chemical agents," wrote US National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg condemned the "shocking" use of a military-grade nerve agent which, he said, made "a full and transparent" investigation by Russia even more urgent.

Italy's foreign ministry and Canadian foreign minister Francois-Philippe Champagne also condemned Navalny's poisoning.

Improving condition

The nerve agent, whose name means "newbie" or "newcomer" in Russian, can be deployed in an ultra-fine powder, liquid, or vapor.


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