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Merkel queries Russia after poison found in Putin’s critic

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Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded “full transparency” from Vladimir Putin’s government after a German medical team determined that Alexei Navalny, the Russian leader’s most prominent critic, was likely poisoned last week.

“Considering the prominent roll Navalny has in Russia’s political opposition, authorities there are urgently called upon to clarify this matter to the last detail — and in full transparency,” Merkel said in a joint statement with her foreign minister, Heiko Maas. “Those responsible must be investigated and brought to justice.”

The demand marks a sharp escalation in tensions between the West, led in this case by Merkel’s government, and the Kremlin. A U.S. official warned earlier Yesterday that confirmation he was poisoned would turn the case into a major issue.

Two days after Navalny was transferred to the German capital for medical help, Berlin’s Charite hospital said that the anti-corruption activist is in serious condition but there is no acute threat to his life. However, he may suffer long-term damage to his nervous system, according to the statement.

Navalny has been in a medically-induced coma since Thursday after falling ill on a plane returning to Moscow from Tomsk, and was evacuated from Russia on Saturday.

His allies blamed Russia’s security services for the poisoning. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the Charite statement.

In Berlin, doctors found evidence of poisoning through a substance related to cholinesterase inhibitors, Charite said.

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