Suspected poisoning of two Russian activists in Berlin

Suspected poisoning of two Russian activists in Berlin
Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

An investigation has been opened in Germany into the suspected poisoning of an exiled Russian journalist and an activist after a meeting of dissidents in Berlin, police told AFP on Sunday.

“An investigation has been opened. Investigations are underway,” a Berlin police spokesman told AFP, confirming reports in the daily Die Welt published on Saturday evening. He would not, however, give further details of the ongoing proceedings.

Russian investigative media Agentstvo published an investigation this week reporting health problems experienced by two participants in a meeting of Russian dissidents on 29 and 30 April organised by businessman-turned-opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

One participant, portrayed as a journalist who had recently left Russia, felt unspecified symptoms during the event and said they may have started before.

The media outlet adds that the journalist went to the Berlin Charité hospital where Russian opponent Alexei Navalny, who was poisoned in August 2020, had been treated.

The second affected participant is Natalia Arno, director of the NGO Free Russia Foundation in the United States, where she has been living for the past ten years after having to leave Russia.

Arno was in Berlin at the end of April, from where she travelled to Prague. It was there, Agentstvo reports, that she felt symptoms and also discovered that her hotel room had been opened.

Leaving for the US the next day, she contacted a hospital there as well as the authorities.

Arno also posted a message on Facebook this week in which she spoke of the problems she felt, “sharp pains” and “numbness”, saying the first “strange symptoms” appeared before she arrived in Prague.

She added that she still had symptoms but felt better.

In recent years, there have been several poison attacks on opponents of the Kremlin, both abroad and in Russia. Moscow denies any responsibility.

In the case of Alexei Navalny, European laboratories have confirmed the use of a Novitchok-type poison, developed by the USSR for military purposes.

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