Evidence of a Soviet-era nerve agent allegedly used to poison Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was discovered on a water bottle from inside his hotel room, his team has alleged.
Navalny’s supporters initially suggested the opposition leader drank spiked tea on Aug. 20 aboard a domestic flight into Moscow. But a subsequent search of his room in the Siberian city of Tomsk, where the 44-year-old had been staying before he became critically ill, may suggest otherwise.
In an Instagram post shared on Thursday, Navalny’s aides said they immediately began to record inside his hotel room and take note of anything that may be useful for an investigation. Video shared alongside the post shows them sporting rubber gloves and sifting through objects at the Xander Hotel.
“It was decided to gather up everything that could even hypothetically be useful and hand it to the doctors in Germany. The fact that the case would not be investigated in Russia was quite obvious,” the post said.
Navalny was initially treated at a Siberian hospital, where doctors said they found no evidence he was poisoned. From there, he was transported to a medical facility in Germany while he remained in a medically induced coma.
Berlin doctors, on the other hand, said they uncovered evidence Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military.
A German lab found traces of the same nerve agent on a water bottle from the hotel room two weeks after the incident, his team said. Another three labs that have taken samples from Navalny also confirmed it was the same substance he was poisoned with.
“Now we understand: this was done before he left his room to go to the airport,” his team added.
Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in Navalny’s illness and has questioned whether he was poisoned at all. His colleagues have said the attack was due to his standing against Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The anti-corruption politician regained consciousness from the induced coma earlier this month and recently shared a photo from his Berlin hospital room, where he continues to receive treatment.
His spokeswoman confirmed Navalny plans to return to Russia as soon as he is able.
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