A familiar poison
Once again, Bellingcat’s work gives crucial context to current events

Alexey Navalny, the prominent Russian opposition politician, has woken up from a coma at Berlin’s Charité hospital. On August 20, Navalny was taken ill after drinking a cup of tea at a Siberian airport and flown to Berlin two days later. Then on September 2, German Chancellor Angela Merkel revealed that Navalny had “unequivocally” been poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok group.

The name of this Soviet-era chemical weapon has become notorious after its use in an attempt by the Russian security services to settle old scores with Sergey Skripal in Salisbury in 2018. As Novichok is once again making headlines, Bellingcat’s in-depth reporting on its prior use offers important context to understanding the fast-paced news agenda.

What can a botched murder attempt in Bulgaria teach us about this poison? What is a nerve agent or cholinesterase inhibitor and what are its gruesome effects on the human nervous system?

Find out below.

Recent Open Source Investigations & Other Publications

Post-Mortem of a Triple Poisoning: New Details Emerge in GRU’s Failed Murder Attempts in Bulgaria

We shed more light on the GRU’s botched murder attempts in Bulgaria and whom was targeted for assassination, with the help of revelations from state investigators in Sofia.

“These new findings may be particularly relevant in the context of the disclosure that the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was also caused by exposure to a substance from the Novichok family.”

A Guide to Cholinesterase Inhibitors in Wake of Suspected Alexei Navalny Poisoning

German medics state that Alexey Navalny has been poisoned by a “cholinesterase inhibitor.” This category of chemicals is often known as “never agents”, though they have many other applications. Dan Kaszeta explains their effect on the human nervous system, to better understand what Alexey Navalny has narrowly recovered from.

Suspected Accomplice in Berlin Tiergarten Murder Identified as FSB/Vympel Officer

Exactly one year ago, a 40-year-old Georgian citizen and Chechen rebel commander was shot dead in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten. Bellingcat and partners were able to identify the assassin as a former Russian security officer. We can now reveal that his accomplice is an undercover FSB asset.