A deadly nerve agent used to poison a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin has been detected on an empty water bottle from his hotel room, according to his team.
Aides of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who fell violently ill on a plane flight last month, had rushed to the hotel room where he had been staying at the Xander Hotel in Tomsk to collect what could prove to be evidence of his poisoning, according to ABC News.
This included a water bottle that tests showed was tainted with a highly toxic nerve agent, known as a Novichok – a poison that was developed by the Russian military – according to new details released by Navalny’s team in an Instagram post.
Russia has denied that Navalny was poisoned by a Novichok, despite Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden establishing he was poisoned by the nerve agent, and says it has seen no evidence.
Aides to Navalny earlier suspected he was poisoned with a cup of tea he drank at Tomsk Bogashevo Airport, before he began “choking and screaming on a flight to Moscow” on 20 August.
View this post on Instagram
Привет, это Навальный. Скучаю по вам 😍. Я все ещё почти ничего не умею, но вот вчера смог целый день дышать сам. Вообще сам. Никакой посторонней помощи, даже простейший вентиль в горле не использовал. Очень понравилось. Удивительный, недооценённый многими процесс. Рекомендую
That plane flight was forced to make an emergency landing, and Navalny was taken to a Siberian hospital. Immediately after this, his aides spoke with members of the team who had stayed in Tomsk to tell them what had happened, according to Navalny’s Instagram post.
“At that moment, they did the one thing that was possible,” the post said, as reported by The New York Times.
“They called a lawyer, went to the hotel room, which Navalny had just left, and began to identify, record and pack up everything that they found, including bottles of water from the hotel.”
Two days later on 22 August, Navalny was flown from Siberia to Berlin, and the evidence went with him out of the country.
Novichok has been used before to poison former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England in 2018.
The pair survived, but a member of the public, Dawn Sturgess, died in hospital after picking up a contaminated bottle.
Travel Weekly has reached out to Xander Hotel for comment.
Featured image source: xanderhotel.ru