Germany hands Navalny test results to international watchdog

The results of tests that Germany says prove Russian dissident Alexei Navalny was the victim of a nerve agent attack have been handed over to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), government officials in Berlin said on Wednesday.

The German government sees no reason to hand the evidence directly to Russia, deputy spokeswoman Martina Fietz told reporters. "We continue to appeal to the Russian side to deliver information," Fietz added. She described the poisoning of Navalny as a violation of international laws against chemical weapons, rather than a mere spat between Berlin and Moscow.

A spokesman for the German Defence Ministry confirmed that the test samples had been handed over to the OPCW, of which Russia is a member, dpa reported.

Navalny was taken to Berlin's Charite hospital two days after falling ill on a domestic Russian flight on 20 August. The facility said on Monday that Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critics, had been woken from his medically induced coma and that he was responding to verbal stimuli.

The Russian government denies any involvement and has so far refused to conduct a criminal investigation into the claim that Navalny was poisoned. Germany's ambassador to Russia, Geza Andreas von Geyr, went to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday for talks on the dispute, the German embassy in Moscow told dpa.

According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow was expecting Germany to present sufficient evidence to substantiate the claim that Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-developed nerve agent Novichok. However, the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin had said earlier that the ambassador's appointment at the ministry had been scheduled long in advance.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday saying that Germany had been thwarting Russian doctors' attempts to establish close dialogue with their German colleagues on assessing the matter. "The unconstructive approach by the German authorities is accompanied by groundless accusations against Russia," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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