MOSCOW

Russia’s opposition leader Alexey Navalny confirmed on Monday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited him in hospital in Berlin.

“The meeting did take place, but it shouldn’t be referred as ‘secret,’ rather a private meeting and conversation with the family. I am very grateful to Chancellor Merkel for visiting me in the hospital,” Navalny said on Twitter.

Navalny, 44, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, felt sick on Aug. 20 on a flight to Moscow. After an emergency landing in the Siberian city of Omsk, he spent two days in a Russian hospital before being sent to Berlin for treatment.

After running tests in several laboratories, the German officials announced that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok nerve agent, which was also used, according to the UK government, in a 2018 attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British town of Salisbury.

Russian authorities deny any involvement in the case, saying chemical weapons are neither developed nor produced in the country since the last chemical round was destroyed in 2017, as verified and certified by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Currently, Novichok is known to be produced in the US and Georgia, according to Yury Shvytkin, a member of the Russian lower chamber of parliament – the State Duma.

Russia has repeatedly sought an evidence of poisoning, saying the traces of the nerve agent were not found during Navalny’s stay in Omsk and that it is necessary to open a criminal investigation of what happened.

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