Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has demanded that Moscow return his clothes, claiming that Western laboratories had found traces of a Novichok nerve agent in and on his body.
Navalny, who is recovering in Berlin’s Charite clinic, fell violently ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20. He spent two days in hospital in Russia before being airlifted to Germany.
“Before they allowed for me to be taken to Germany, they took off all my clothes and sent me completely naked,” Navalny wrote on his website in his first blog post since emerging from a coma.
“Considering Novichok was found on my body, and that infection through contact is very likely, my clothes are a very important piece of evidence,” he said.
“I demand that my clothes be carefully packed in a plastic bag and returned to me.”
Navalny’s clothes were taken by investigators and are no longer in the hospital in Siberia’s Omsk, where he was initially hospitalised, the RIA news agency cited the local health ministry as saying.
Russia has said it needs to see more evidence before a formal criminal investigation is opened and has asked Germany to hand over Navalny’s medical data so that it can be reviewed.
“The 30 days of ‘pre-investigation probe’ were used to hide this important evidence,” Navalny said.
Ivan Zhdanov, a member of Navalny’s team, said Russian transport police had summoned Navalny’s spokeswoman and other team members for questioning as part of the pre-investigation probe.
Zhdanov said they would not attend, as a 30-day deadline for police to decide whether to open a criminal case had passed.
The transport police said the probe was still under way and that they had questioned 200 people and planned to carry out further checks. They have also sent requests for legal assistance to Germany, France and Sweden.
“Two independent laboratories in France and Sweden and the Bundeswehr specialised laboratory confirmed the presence of Novichok in and on my body,” Navalny wrote, referring to a German military lab.
He noted that Russian talk shows had suggested that Western intelligence officials or his own allies carried out the attack.