Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader, and activist was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent, Novichok, the German government says on Wednesday, as per an Associated Press report.

The German government condemns the attack against Navalny, said Steffen Seibert, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson.

It is “dismaying” that Navalny was a victim of a nerve agent poisoning in Russia, the spokesperson said. 

Charité, a hospital in Berlin where Navalny is staying, requested a test for Navalny from a German military laboratory.

Charité’s initial test showed Navalny was poisoned. 

The test from the laboratory shows proof of a “chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group,” said Seibert in a statement. 

However, the hospital in Siberia where Navalny was first treated denies he was poisoned. 

Navalny is still in a coma, however, he is stable now, says Charité.

Last month, news broke out about Navalny going into a coma after the Russian government allegedly poisoned him.

Navalny, a staunch critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was arrested various times by Russian authorities. 

In the past, Navalny accused Russian authorities of trying to poison him while he was in detention. 

What Is Novichok?

The Soviet Union developed the nerve agent, Novichok during the Cold War. 

Novichok or newcomer is a “group of related molecules” designed “to kill,” said William Atchinson, a toxicology expert, in a Conversation report. 

However, there is not much information about this agent, said Atchinson. 

In the past, two Russian scientists defected from Russia and gave limited information about Novichok. 

There is still not very much information about this agent. 

According to Atchinson, Novichok disrupts “communications between nerves and muscles or nerves in the brain.” 

Also, it will act within minutes. 

First, it paralyzes the muscle for breathing, and then it stops the heart, Atchinson explains. 

Seizures will also occur, however, if the dosage is not enough it can delay the victim’s death. 

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