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Datum objave: 02.09.2020
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Alexei Navalny poisoned with Novichok, says German government

What is Novichok and what effects does the nerve agent have?

Alexei Navalny poisoned with Novichok, says German government



https://www.msn.com/en-xl/europe/top-stories/alexei-navalny-poisoned-with-novichok-says-german-government/ar-BB18DwsE?ocid=msedgdhp



The German government has said traces of the nerve agent Novichok have been found in tests on samples taken from the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is a patient in a hospital in Berlin.


Navalny, a strong critic of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on 20 August.


He was taken to a hospital in Omsk and later transferred to Berlin, where doctors said there were indications he had been poisoned.


Steffen Seibert, spokesman for the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said in a statement that testing by a special military laboratory had shown proof of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group.


Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent, was used to poison the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain. It is a cholinesterase inhibitor, part of the class of substances that doctors at the Berlin hospital the Charité initially identified in Navalny.


Seibert said the German government would inform its partners in the European Union and Nato about the test results. He said it would consult with its partners in light of the Russian response on an appropriate joint response.


Navalny’s allies in Russia have insisted he was deliberately poisoned by the country’s authorities, accusations that the Kremlin rejected as empty noise.


The Russian doctors who treated Navalny in Siberia have repeatedly contested the German hospital’s conclusion, saying they had ruled out poisoning as a diagnosis and that their tests for poisonous substances came back negative.




What is Novichok and what effects does the nerve agent have?



https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/newslondon/what-is-novichok-and-what-effects-does-the-nerve-agent-have/ar-BB15tpl9



Ewan Somerville


Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was the victim of an attack and poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, the German government has said.


Mr Navalny, a politician and corruption investigator who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on August 20 and was taken to hospital in the Siberian city Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.


He was transferred two days later to Berlin’s Charite hospital, where doctors last week said initial tests indicated Mr Navalny had been poisoned.


Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement on September 2 that testing by a special German military laboratory had now shown “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group”.


“It is a dismaying event that Alexei Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia,” Mr Seibert said.


The alleged poisining came two-and-a-half years after a separate high profile incident involving Novichok saw former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia left fighting for their lives after being poisoned in Salisbury two years ago.


Traces of the nerve agent were found littered across the Wiltshire cathedral city, a scandal which was brought back into the spotlight by a BBC drama earlier this year.


Two Russian agents Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga — believed to be aliases — were accused of smearing the poison on the front door handle of Mr Skripal's house, chilling relations between Russia and the West.


But what exactly is Novichok and what effects does it have when administered? Here's the answers.


What is Novichok?
Novichok is the name of a series of highly toxic nerve agents, believed to be some of the deadliest ever made.


They were developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, and its name is Russian for “newcomer”.


Novichok agents are believed to be five to 10 times more lethal than the more commonly known VX and sarin poison gases.


They are designed to be undetectable by any standard chemical security tests.


US chemical weapons expert Amy Smithson said Novichok was made with agrochemicals so that offensive weapons production could more readily be hidden within a legitimate commercial industry.


How does it work?
The chemical “causes a slowing of the heart and restriction of the airways, leading to death by asphyxiation,” said Professor Gary Stephens, a pharmacology expert at the University of Reading.


“One of the main reasons these agents are developed is because their component parts are not on the banned list.”
Is there an antidote?
Anyone exposed to Novichok must be immediately connected to a life support machine, while their clothes are taken off and their body washed.


Various potentially lifesaving antidotes do exist, including atropine, pralidoxime and diazepam.


However, even if an effective antidote is used, there is still a strong chance of life-changing damage to the body.
What happened in the attack on the Skripals?
On March 4, 2018, police raced to reports the Skripals were unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury, finding them in an “extremely serious condition”.


The deadly military-grade nerve agent had been smeared on the door-handle of Mr Skripal’s home in the city.


Russian men Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, who operated under the false names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, stand accused of carrying out the attack. Chepiga was a top colonel in the GRU, Russia’s military.


The Skripals and the first police officer on scene were rushed to hospital fighting for their lives but later recovered.


In June that year in Amesbury, eight miles from Salisbury, Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley fell critically ill after handling a perfume bottle believed to have been used to transport the chemical weapon.


Ms Sturgess, 44, never recovered and died a month later, while Mr Rowley, 45, has said he continues to suffer from the long-term effects of exposure to the nerve agent.


Theresa May, the then-Prime Minister, openly blamed the Russian state for the attack on ex-spy Skripal and his daughter Yulia.


"We will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder civilians on our soil,” she told MPs in the Commons.


Her words triggered an international spat in which both countries expelled the other’s diplomats from its shores, while the US and many of Britain’s other allies followed suit.


https://cdn.jwplayer.com/players/8Y4nt96h-hKY5LbS1.html
Theresa May confronts Vladimir Putin over Salisbury attack
How did they get rid of Novichok?
Group Captain Jason Davies, 48, of the Royal Air Force, was presented with an OBE by the Prince of Wales in December 2019 for his efforts to decontaminate Salisbury in the aftermath of the attack.


As the the commanding officer of the Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Task Force, Mr Davies, 48, was responsible ensuring the removal of the deadly nerve agent.


“It was like trying to find invisible ink. You can’t see it, you can’t smell it, you don’t know where it is," he said.
“You have to go on statistics and laboratory testing and sampling. You add all of that together and you can start to work it out.”


He added: “We knew there was one ground-zero – the home Sergei Skripal visited with Yulia at the time.


“When there was a fatality in Amesbury – Dawn Sturgess, this was really quite pivotal. It meant the contamination spread was far wider than we thought. This was a new ball game.


“It really hits home the risk to life for the guys who had been exposed on a daily basis. The risk to my personnel hit home.”
What has Russia said about Novichok?
Russia denies producing or researching nerve agents known as Novichok.


Russia was once believed to possess thousands of tonnes of weaponised Novichok varieties and their precursors, according to a 2014 report by the U.S.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-partisan group working to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction.


Along with the United States, Russia once ran one of the largest chemical weapons programmes in the world. It completed the destruction of a stockpile declared to the OPCW last year. The United States is in the final stages of destroying its own stockpile.


The weaponisation of any chemical is banned under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, of which Moscow is a signatory.


What happened to Alexei Navalny?
Mr Navalny, a politician and corruption investigator who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on August 20 and was taken to hospital in the Siberian city Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.


He was transferred two days later to Berlin’s Charite hospital, where doctors last week said initial tests indicated Mr Navalny had been poisoned.


Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement on September 2 that testing by a special German military laboratory had now shown “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group”.


“It is a dismaying event that Alexei Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia,” Mr Seibert said.


“The German government condemns this attack in the strongest terms.”


Germany also demanded a response from the Russian government.


But the Kremlin said it had not been informed yet of Mr Navalny being poisoned with a nerve agent.


“Such information hasn’t been relayed to us,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the state Tass news agency.


Mr Seibert meanwhile said the German government would inform its partners in the European Union and Nato about the test results.


He said that it will consult with its partners in light of the Russian response “on an appropriate joint response”.


Germany will also contact the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, he added.


Mr Navalny’s allies in Russia have insisted he was deliberately poisoned by the country’s authorities, accusations that the Kremlin rejected as “empty noise”.


“To poison Navalny with Novichok in 2020 would be exactly the same as leaving an autograph at a crime scene, like this one,” Mr Navalny’s longtime ally and strategist Leonid Volkov said in a tweet that featured a photo of Mr Putin’s name and a signature next to it.


The Russian doctors who treated Mr Navalny in Siberia repeatedly contested the German hospital’s poisoning conclusion, saying they had ruled out poisoning as a diagnosis and that their tests for cholinesterase inhibitors - of which Novichok is one - came back negative.


In Charite’s latest update, the hospital said Mr Navalny was still in an induced coma but in a stable condition

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