Navalny’s team says Novichok was found in a water bottle in a hotel room
Navalny fell seriously ill on a domestic flight in Russia last month and was subsequently flown to Berlin for treatment. Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden have established that he was poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent, although Russia denies this and says it has seen no evidence.
A video posted on Navalny’s Instagram account showed members of his team searching the room he had just left at the Xander Hotel in Tomsk on August 20, an hour after they learned he had fallen ill under suspicious circumstances.
“It was decided to gather everything that could be useful, even hypothetically, and hand it over to doctors in Germany. The fact that the case would not be investigated in Russia was quite obvious,” the message said.
It showed his team pulling out several empty bottles of “Holy Spring” mineral water, among other items, while wearing protective gloves.
“Two weeks later, a German laboratory found traces of Novichok precisely on the water bottle in the Tomsk hotel room,” the email said.
“And then more labs that took analysis from Alexei confirmed that this is what poisoned Navalny. Now we understand: it was done before he left his hotel room to go to the airport.”
Vladimir Milov, a former deputy energy minister and Navalny ally, said his team had outdone the FSB security police with their quick thinking: “They took the evidence right under their noses and sent it out of the country.”
Navalny is the most prominent political opponent of President Vladimir Putin, although he has not been allowed to form his own party. His investigations into official corruption, posted on YouTube and Instagram, have reached audiences of many millions across Russia.
Germany, France, Britain and other nations have demanded explanations from Russia on the case, prompting calls for new sanctions against Moscow.
The world chemical weapons agency, the OPCW, said on Thursday that Germany had requested its help to investigate.
Russia has conducted pre-investigation checks, but said it needs to see more medical tests before it can open a formal criminal investigation.