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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.

U.S: Nord Stream 2 "will not move forward" if Russia invades Ukraine

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will make sure the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany won't go ahead if Russian troops invade Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told NPR on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Germany's ambassador to the U.S. appeared to support Price's strong rhetoric on the strategically significant pipeline that would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion, per Axios' Zachary Basu.

Scoop: Stephanie Ruhle to replace Brian Williams on MSNBC

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC will soon announce plans to move morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle to the 11 pm ET hour that Brian Williams turned into an elite destination, two sources familiar with the move tell Axios.

Details: The 9 am ET hour, currently hosted by Ruhle, will become part of MSNBC's flagship morning show, "Morning Joe," which currently runs from 6 am to 9 am ET.