‘Grave concern’: Navalny case alarms chemical weapons agency

In a statement regarding the case of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, the global chemical weapons agency has said the poisoning of any individual with a toxic nerve agent would be considered use of a banned chemical weapon.

“Any poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is considered a use of chemical weapons. Such an allegation is a matter of grave concern,” the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Thursday.

Novichok was banned this year by the OPCW.

Meanwhile, Russia rejected accusations that Moscow was to blame for the poisoning of opposition leader Navalny, saying it saw no grounds for sanctions to be imposed against it over the case.

The Kremlin’s denial came on Thursday, a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Navalny had been poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent in an attempt to murder him.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow rejected any suggestion that Russia was responsible and warned other countries against jumping to hasty conclusions.

He said there was no reason to discuss measures against Moscow after Merkel said Germany would consult its NATO allies about how to respond to the poisoning.

The Charite hospital in Berlin, where Navalny is lying in intensive care, has reported “some improvement” in his condition, but he remains in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator.

In a statement on Wednesday, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said testing by a special German military laboratory had shown “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group”, as he described Navalny as the “victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia”.

Merkel later told a news conference: “This is disturbing information about the attempted murder through poisoning against a leading Russian opposition figure.”


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