Russian activist claims she was poisoned ‘possibly by nerve agent’ while in Europe

Natalia Arno (.)
Natalia Arno (.)

The head of a Russian pro-democracy organisation has said she believes she was poisoned, possibly by a nerve agent.

Natalia Arno said she experienced “strange symptoms" while on a trip to Europe and woke up at 5am next day with “acute pains”.

The US-based Free Russia Foundation president said she decided to get the next fight back to the US, where she has been recovering.

In a post on Facebook, Ms Arno said: “There is a suspicion that during my recent trip to Europe I was poisoned, possibly by some nerve agent, investigated by one (or not even one) Western intelligence agency.

“I still have neuropathy symptoms, but overall I feel much better.”

Ms Arno said she found her hotel room door open after returning from meetings in the second city of her trip and that she encountered a “foreign and sharp" smell as she entered.

On the night of the incident in early May, she said she felt “strange" that morphed into “acute” pain.

Two weeks later, her symptoms have improved but have yet to fully disappear, she said.

“I wanted to warn our exiled anti-war anti-regime pro-democracy Russian community that we should not lose vigilance,” she said.

“They will not be able to intimidate and shut us up - that the enemy is dangerous, aggressive and criminal, we know it very well.”

In 2018, former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury in Wiltshire.

Police officer Nick Bailey along with two members of the public, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, were also poisoned. Ms Sturgess later died.

In August 2020, Russian opposition figure and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, which left him hospitalised in a serious condition.

The 46-year-old is currently serving concurrent sentences of 11.5 years for fraud and contempt of court in Russia – on charges which he said were trumped up to remove him from public life.