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Navalny in 2019. Photo: Dmitry Serebryakov/TASS via Getty Images

Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist, was attacked with the nerve agent Novichok — a calling card of the Russian security services — Germany's government announced on Wednesday.

The state of play: Navalny remains in a coma in a Berlin hospital two weeks after falling ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow. He is the latest in a string of Kremlin critics to have been poisoned, though Russia denies that any crime took place.

Flashback: Novichok is the same agent used in the attempted assassination in 2018 of Sergei Skripal, a Russian former double agent who had relocated to the U.K.

What they're saying: The German government said in a statement that a military laboratory found "unequivoical evidence" that a nerve agent from the Novichok family had been used on Navalny, and urged the Russian government to explain itself.

  • Germany added that it would inform its partners in the EU and NATO — as well as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — about the results of the investigation and discuss "an appropriate joint reaction."

The latest: Chancellor Angela Merkel made a televised statement denouncing the attempt to "silence" Navalny as "a crime against the basic values and basic rights we stand for." She said the Russian government had been informed of the findings.

"We expect the Russian government to make a declaration vis-a-vis the incident. Of course it raises severe questions that only the Russian government can answer and will have to answer."
— Angela Merkel

Go deeper

Oct 28, 2020 - World

Germany goes back into lockdown

Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will enact one of Europe's strictest coronavirus lockdowns since spring, closing bars and restaurants nationwide for most of November, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Germany is the latest European country to reimpose some form of lockdown measures amid a surge in cases across the continent.

McConnell circulates revised GOP coronavirus stimulus plan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talks with reporters in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell circulated a new framework for coronavirus stimulus legislation to Republican members on Tuesday that would establish a fresh round of funding for the small business Paycheck Protection Program and implement widespread liability protections, according to a copy of the plan obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The revised GOP relief draft comes after McConnell's meeting with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, during which they went over in detail what provisions would get backing from President Trump.

Barr appoints special counsel to continue investigating origins of Russia probe

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr told the AP on Tuesday he appointed veteran prosecutor John Durham as a special counsel on Oct. 19 to continue investigating the origins of the FBI's 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Why it matters: It's an extra layer of protection for Durham to continue investigating possible misconduct by Obama-era intelligence officials past Joe Biden's inauguration as president.