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German police say probing suspected poisoning of Russian exiles

51 poisoned by ammonia after train derails in Serbia
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An inquiry has been opened into the possible poisoning of exiled Russians after a journalist and an activist reported health problems following a Berlin meeting of dissidents, German police said Sunday.

“An investigation has been opened. The probe is ongoing,” a Berlin police spokesman told AFP, confirming a report in Die Welt newspaper.

Russian investigative media outlet Agentstvo this week said two participants who attended a April 29-30 meeting of Russian dissidents in Berlin experienced health problems.

The meeting was organised by exiled former oligarch turned Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

One participant, identified as a journalist who had recently left Russia, experienced unspecified symptoms during the event and said they may have started earlier.

The report added that the journalist went to the Charite University Hospital in Berlin — where opposition figure Alexei Navalny was treated after being poisoned in August 2020.

The second participant mentioned was Natalia Arno, director of the NGO Free Russia Foundation in the United States where she has lived for 10 years after having had to leave Russia.

Arno had attended the Berlin meeting of dissidents before travelling to Prague, where she experienced symptoms and discovered that her hotel room had been opened, Agentstvo reported.

Leaving the next day for the United States, she contacted a hospital there as well as the authorities.

Arno discussed her problems — “sharp pain” and “numbness” — on Facebook this week, saying the first “strange symptoms” appeared before she arrived in Prague. She said that she still had symptoms but felt better.

In recent years, several poison attacks have been carried out abroad and in Russia against Kremlin opponents.

Moscow denies its secret services were responsible.

European laboratories confirmed Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-made nerve agent.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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