Alexei Navalny, march, Boris Nemtsov
Alexei Navalny was poisoned by Novichok in Russia in August of 2020. Photo credit: Michał Siergiejevicz / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
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Authorities in Germany and possibly the United States are investigating the potential poisoning of two Russian women who attended a conference in Berlin last month.

One of them is Natalia Arno, who heads the non-profit Free Russia Foundation, which is headquartered in the US. She took to Facebook last week to detail what had happened and also suggested that “intelligence agencies” are looking into the matter.

“There is a suspicion that during my recent trip to Europe I was poisoned, possibly by some nerve agent,” the activist wrote.

Arno explained that, on a trip to Berlin and Prague in late April and early May, she experienced “strange symptoms” and added that these appeared after she found her hotel room door ajar.

At 5:00 a.m. the next morning, Arno wrote, she woke up in pain and took the next plane home.

“During the flight, the symptoms became very strange, walking all over the body and with vivid numbness,” she wrote, adding that she made it to an emergency room in the US where tests were conducted.

A Russian news outlet last week reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is looking into what happened and German media this weekend confirmed that the Berlin police are also on the case.

Arno had attended a conference in the German capital that was organized by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

It would not be the first time that critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin were poisoned on European soil.

In recent years, there have been multiple such attacks.

The most prominent were the attempted murder of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England. In 2018, both were poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent.

More than a decade earlier, the former spy Alexander Litvinenko succumbed to radiation poisoning in London.

In August of 2020, Alexei Navalny, perhaps the most prominent Russian opposition politician, was poisoned with Novichok in Russia and then treated in Berlin.

In her Facebook post, Arno said that any regime critic is a potential target. She added that it is important for people like her to always be on guard and to observe “safety protocols” as part of their everyday routine.

“Russians who had to leave Putin’s Russia, but who abroad continue to fight firmly and decisively against the war, against Putin’s regime and for a free and democratic Russia, need to understand that the enemy has long legs, there is the possibility to expose us to danger outside Russia, so we must always be vigilant,” she wrote. “But do not be afraid and do not give up, be wiser, more coordinated and more resilient.


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