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17 Sep, 2020 12:00

Navalny's team say 'bottle with Novichok' was found in opposition figure's Siberian hotel room after he fell ill on Moscow flight

Navalny's team say 'bottle with Novichok' was found in opposition figure's Siberian hotel room after he fell ill on Moscow flight

Traces of the poison Novichok were allegedly found on a water bottle in Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny's hotel room in Tomsk, where he stayed the night before falling ill on a flight to Moscow last month.

That's according to a Thursday morning post on Navalny's official Instagram, detailing how his associates checked the room for evidence.

On August 20, after learning that the anti-corruption activist's plane was forced to make an emergency landing after he fell ill, members of his team in Tomsk went to his hotel room, which had not yet been cleaned. The video shows Navalny's supporters “recording, describing, and packing” everything found in the room.

“A decision was made to take everything that could hypothetically be useful for the investigation, and pass it to the doctors in Germany," the post reads. “The fact that the case would not be investigated in Russia was also quite obvious.”

According to the text, scientists from a laboratory in Germany later tested the bottle and found traces of Novichok, a Soviet chemical weapon. They concluded, therefore, that Navalny was poisoned before leaving for Tomsk's airport. Early theories had suggested he ingested poison through a cup of tea in the airport cafe.

Russian media outlet Proekt also conducted an investigation, reaching the same conclusion. They revealed that the allegedly poisoned bottle was brought to Germany by Navalny associate Maria Pevchikh, a British resident who Russian police claim fled the country after refusing to answer their questions. She also refused to respond to requests from the Russian publication. 

Also on rt.com Does he want to end his political ambitions? Top Eurocrat Borrell calls for Navalny’s name to be attached to EU ‘Magnitsky List’

Contrary to the claims of Navalny's supporters, the video doesn't prove that he was poisoned via a water bottle, according to Novichok creator Leonid Rink. Speaking to Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Rink claimed that “it is impossible to prove that this is the right bottle,” as all of the brand's bottles look exactly the same. He also alleged that if Navalny had indeed been poisoned from a bottle, he and everyone who touched it would have died.

Navalny, a well-known anti-corruption campaigner and protest leader, fell ill on August 20 on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. Following an emergency landing, he was immediately hospitalized in the Siberian city of Omsk. Two days later, after a request from his family and associates, the activist was flown to Germany for treatment at Berlin's Charité clinic. Earlier this month, German authorities announced that the opposition figure was poisoned with a nerve agent from the ‘Novichok’ group, a finding later apparently confirmed by laboratories in both Sweden and France. The medical team in Omsk denies that any poison was found in Navalny's body.

Also on rt.com Navalny posts FIRST picture from Berlin hospital: Spokeswoman insists he'll return to Russia, Kremlin 'happy' to see his recovery

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