A Berlin police spokesperson told the news agency AFP on Sunday (May 21) that they have launched an investigation into the possible poisoning of two Russians in exile who had health issues after attending a dissident meeting in Berlin. “The investigation is in progress,” the spokesperson said.

Agentstvo, a Russian investigative media outlet, reported earlier this week that two people who went to a Berlin meeting of Russian dissidents from April 29-30 had health troubles.

A journalist who had recently fled Russia had some symptoms during the meeting and said they might have begun before. The journalist was taken to the Charite University Hospital in Berlin, where poisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny was treated in 2020.

Natalia Arno, another Russian exile, was the second person.

According to Agentstvo, Arno, who runs the US-based NGO Free Russian Foundation, went to Prague after the Berlin meeting. There, she found her hotel room open and had symptoms. She flew to the US the next day and sought medical and official help.

On Facebook, Arno wrote about her “sharp pain” and “numbness” and said the first “strange symptoms” started before she got to Prague. She said she was feeling better but still had symptoms.

More details are expected.

Russia has denied that its secret services poisoned Kremlin critics in Russia and abroad.

Alexei Navalny, a jailed opposition figure, was poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent made in the Soviet Union. On May 10, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture urged “urgent and comprehensive” medical care for Navalny amid reports of his worsening health.

Alice Edwards, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, said in a statement: “I am distressed by the deteriorating state of Mr Navalny’s health and the apparent lack of satisfactory diagnosis and medical treatment.”

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