Russia's Alexei Navalny blames Putin for Novichok poisoning

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he believes President Vladimir Putin was responsible for his poisoning.

Speaking to German newspaper Der Spiegel in an interview published on Thursday, Navalny said: "I believe that Putin is behind the crime, and I see no other version of the crime. I am not saying this to flatter myself, but on the basis of fact."

Germany says he was poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent. Its findings were confirmed by labs in France and Sweden.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied the accusations, describing them as “baseless and unacceptable.” He also claimed that specialists from the CIA were now working with Navalny.

Mr Navalny collapsed on a flight in Russia's Siberia region on 20 August. He was transferred to the Charité hospital in the German capital Berlin two days later.

The Russian government and doctors treating him at first denied there was any evidence of poisoning. Navalny spent weeks in an induced coma before recovering.

His supporters initially believed his tea had been spiked at Tomsk airport but traces of the nerve agent were later found on water bottles at the hotel where he stayed the previous night.

Navalny thanked German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as the staff at the University Hospital of Berlin for saving his life, and says he is now able to exercise and carry out limited work on the computer.However, he faces a long road to recovery and admits that "nobody really knows" what the long term effects of the poisoning on his health will be.

A nerve agent from the Novichok group was also used to poison Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England in 2018. They both survived, but a local woman, Dawn Sturgess, died after coming into contact with the poison.

Several countries in the EU are now reportedly weighing up new sanctions on Russia in the aftermath of the attack.