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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.

8 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

8 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."