According to the scientist who invented the nerve agent Novichok, Russian dissident Alexei Navalny could have sprinkled poison into his underwear.
Navalny remains in a coma in a Berlin hospital almost two weeks after the collapse on a plane in Siberia, which, according to German doctors, was poisoning.
Friends of the Putin critic have suggested that his tea was moved in an airport cafe, but former Soviet scientist Vladimir Uglev said assassins could have sprinkled deadly poison on his socks or underwear.
73-year-old Uglev said Russian intelligence officials could have broken into Navalny's hotel in Tomsk to leave a tiny drop of poison in his luggage.
The Kremlin has rejected proposals behind the poisoning and tried to question the results of German doctors.
The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny – pictured in the center, shortly before he fell ill on August 20 – is in a coma in a German hospital after alleged poisoning
Navalny is taken to an ambulance in Omsk (left) after falling ill on a plane after a trip to an airport cafe (right) where his friends suspect he may have been poisoned
Uglev said a dose of toxin less than one-thirtieth the size of a drop of water could have been enough to poison Navalny.
But the West will never find out which of "dozen" possible poisons have been used, he predicted.
"They put this substance on his underwear, pants, socks or undershirt and that was it," said the retired scientist.
In the morning, Alexei woke up, showered, dressed and went to the airport.
"And since the substance acts more slowly through the skin than through the digestive system, for example, time passed (before it had an effect)."
Uglev previously spoke of his role in the creation of Novichok, the nerve agent believed to have been used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury.
Russia also denies involvement in the Skripal conspiracy, but the suspects in the 2018 attack have been linked to GRU intelligence.
Uglev "categorically" denied Novichok was used to hit Navalny, saying that if it had been, more people would have been poisoned.
Navalny fell ill on August 20, shortly after posing for a photo with admirers on a scheduled flight from Tomsk to Moscow.
The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk and was first taken to a hospital in the Siberian city.
The following weekend he was transferred to Berlin, where doctors treated him with the antidote atropine.
The Berlin Charite Hospital said last week that clinical tests "indicate poisoning with a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors," which are used in drugs and insecticides, but also in nerve agents.
"The specific substance is unknown and another series of comprehensive tests has been initiated," the hospital said.
Navalny arrives at Berlin Tegel Airport last Saturday after being flown out of Russia. He remains in a medically induced coma in the German hospital
Alexei Navalny, pictured with his wife Yulia, has been a thorn in the side of the Kremlin for years
German medics have sought assistance from the UK and Bulgarian authorities, both with previous experience of poisoning.
But Uglev believes the poison will never be identified and that the Russians will have destroyed the clothes he was wearing.
"Talking about the amount of poison needed – it's one to two milligrams, or about 1/30 of a drop of water," he told Ekho Moscow radio.
& # 39; This is enough to poison a healthy man to death.
“I think that specialists who work in the Charite Clinic were unable to determine how the substance got into his system, even two days after they entered.
“If it was put on his underwear and therefore the substance got through his skin… he was definitely washed and the clothes he was wearing will never be seen again.
"Nobody will ever tell where these clothes are, most likely they were burned a long time ago."
Uglev said, “It must have been washed and disinfected. Also, remember that it has been claimed that he was a danger to those around him.
“That was said in a hospital where he was taken…. It didn't have to be a novichok to pose a threat to those around him.
“Any poisonous substance that is found on the skin or on clothing can pose a threat to others.
"There are dozens of such substances … so the possibility that they would recognize the substance and how it got into him was a long time ago."
Emergency vehicles in front of the Charite hospital in Berlin, where Alexei Navalny is being treated and remains in a coma
Navalny's allies pointed a finger at Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured) after the opposition leader fell ill, but the Kremlin rejected the claims
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov yesterday denied claims that Russia had not investigated how Navalny fell into a coma.
“We are accused of not investigating this situation. That's not true, ”he said.
"From the day this happened, our Home Office opened preliminary investigations."
A full investigation would begin once it was established what happened, he said, adding that German medics were also unsure of how Navalny got sick.
Meanwhile, Russian prosecutors have asked Germany to provide Navalny's biomaterial for investigations.
Navalny has been a thorn in the side of the Kremlin for more than a decade. He exposes high-level corruption and mobilizes protests.
He has been repeatedly jailed for organizing public gatherings, sued for corruption investigations and banned from participating in the 2018 presidential election.
The 44-year-old has served several prison terms in the past few years for organizing protests against the Kremlin.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the arrests and detentions of Navalny by Russia in 2012 and 2014 were politically motivated.
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