The world’s top chemical weapons watchdog said Tuesday that it traced hints of nerve agents in blood and urine samples taken from Alexei Navalny, the outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin who fell ill on a flight in August.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement that the samples were marked by “similar structural characteristics” to the toxic Novichok family of agents, and that the finding amounted to “a matter of grave concern.”
The global organization’s report added weight to the diagnosis of Berlin’s Charité hospital, which treated the Russian opposition leader and said he was poisoned.
In the face of a growing mountain of evidence, Russia has attempted to raise doubts that Navalny, 44, was poisoned.
After Navalny grew sick on an Aug. 20 flight and slipped into a coma, suspicions promptly flared that the Kremlin played a part in his illness. (Russia has called the accusations hot air.)
Navalny emerged from his coma a month ago.
The British delegation to the OPCW tweeted on Tuesday: “No doubt novichok nerve agent used to poison” Navalny.
And 44 member states of the OPCW, including the U.K. and the U.S., signed a statement calling on Russia to probe the poisoning and to “disclose in a swift and transparent manner the circumstances of this chemical weapons attack.”
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