German police investigate of strange illness of a Russian opposition activist and journalist

Police in Berlin confirmed on 21 May that they had opened an investigation into the sudden and mysterious illness of a Russian opposition activist and journalist who attended a conference in Berlin in April.

According to the previous report by the German newspaper Die Welt, the police confirmed to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the inquiry was started after allegations of health issues following the conclusion of the 29–30 April dissidents march.

The meeting was organized by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former exiled businessman and Kremlin critic. One of the participants, a journalist who had only recently left Russia, claimed to have started experiencing vague symptoms previously and to have experienced them during the event. She received care at the same Berlin hospital where Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny had treatment for poisoning in August 2020.

While travelling to Prague following the meeting in Berlin, another participant, Natalia Arno, Director of the Free Russia Foundation in the USA, experienced the symptoms. She also disclosed that her hotel room was unlocked. She left the following day for the US, where she has been residing for the previous ten years. After then Natalia Arno asked for assistance from the hospital and the police.

This week, Arno posted on Facebook to describe the signs, which included intense pain and numbness. She added that while she was feeling better, these symptoms had not entirely subsided and that the first symptoms started to develop before she arrived in Prague.

Several opponents of the Puitn’s regime have been poisoned abroad and in Russia in recent years. Moscow denies the responsibility of its secret services. Meanwhile, European laboratories have confirmed that Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-era Novichok poison.

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