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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.

4 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.