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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Poisoned Russian Opposition Leader Posts Photo from Hospital Bed

By VOA News September 15, 2020

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny published a photo of himself in a Berlin hospital bed Tuesday as he recovers from a nerve agent poisoning last month in Siberia.

Navalny, surrounded by his family as he sat up in bed, said he was pleased to be able to breathe independently.

"I miss you all," Navalny wrote in the post on Instagram. "I can still hardly do anything, but yesterday I could breath all day on my own."

It is the first publicly shared image of Navalny since he was airlifted to Berlin's Charite Hospital two days after becoming sick during a flight in Russia on August 20.

Navalny's spokeswoman confirmed shortly after the photo's posting that the 44-year-old planned to return to Russia.

Germany, France and Sweden have concluded that Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, a Soviet-era agent that Britain said was used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England two years ago.

Western countries have requested an explanation from Moscow, which says the accusations that it was involved in the poisoning are unfounded. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Moscow needs Germany to provide information about the case to clear up what happened.

Peskov said Russian authorities cannot understand why French and Swedish laboratories were allowed to test Navalny's medical samples and Russia was not.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the West of using Navalny's poisoning as an excuse to impose new sanctions on Moscow.

Navalny's illness has further strained ties between Russia and the West. Relations deteriorated to a post-Cold War low after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and Skripal and his daughter were poisoned.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been pressured to punish Moscow by postponing work on a nearly completed natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

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