Chemical weapons agency: Germany has asked for help in investigating alleged Navalny poisoning

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Germany has asked for the assistance of the global chemical agency in investigating the alleged poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny with a banned toxic chemical, the Hague-based organisation said in a statement on Thursday.

Germany has said it has proof that Navalny was poisoned on Aug. 20 with the Soviet-era chemical agent Novichok.

“The Technical Secretariat of the OPCW has received from the Federal Republic of Germany a request for technical assistance,” it said. Experts from the agency “collected biomedical samples from Mr Navalny for analysis by OPCW designated laboratories.”

Results from those tests will be shared with Germany, which had until now requested that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) keep its role in the case confidential.

Novichok was used in the 2018 poisoning in the English city of Salisbury of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. OPCW tests confirmed use of the highly toxic substance.

Members of the OPCW agreed in November 2019 to expand the agency’s list of banned “Schedule 1” chemicals for the first time to include the Novichok family of nerve agents. That ban went into effect on June 7, 2020.

The OPCW was established in 1997 as a technical body to enforce the Chemical Weapons Convention. It has played an active role in monitoring the use of banned chemical weapons in the Syrian war, which has made its work highly political.

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Hugh Lawson