Novichok survivor speaks out on poisoning of Alexei Navalny

Novichok survivor Charlie Rowley says poisoning of Alexei Navalny has given Putin ‘the strength to carry on with his business and get away with it’

  • Charlie, who spent weeks in hospital, says he’s devastated it’s happened again 
  • The 47-year-old lost his then partner after they were exposed to poison in 2018 
  • Mr Rowley has spoken out after it was confirmed Putin’s political rival Alexei Navalny, who remains in a coma in hospital, was poisoned with Novichok

Novichok survivor Charlie Rowley says the latest poisoning has given ‘Russia strength to carry on and get away with it’.

Charlie, 47, spent weeks in hospital and still suffers with the effects of his contact with the deadly substance.

His partner Dawn Sturgess died after being exposed to the nerve agent in July 2018 following an attack in Salisbury, Wilts. 

He has now spoken to ITV after it emerged that Novichok had been used to poison Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Navalny, 44, remains in a coma in a German hospital nearly two weeks after collapsing on a plane in Siberia, which made an emergency landing when he suddenly fell ill.

Earlier this week, Germany said it has ‘unequivocal proof’ Russian dissident Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok.

Novichok survivor Charlie Rowley (left), whose girlfriend Dawn Sturgess (right) was fatally poisoned, says the latest poisoning has given ‘Russia strength to carry on and get away with it’

Mr Rowley has said he thinks the latest poisoning of Putin’s most fierce rival gives him and the Russians some strength that they can carry on with their business and get away with it

Mr Rowley told ITV: ‘I felt devastated the fact that it happened again, I thought it was over but it clearly isn’t.

‘I think it gives the Russians some strength that they can carry on with their business and get away with it.’

Mr Rowley and Ms Sturgess, 44, were poisoned after he gave her a contaminated perfume bottle he had found – mistakenly thinking it was a designer brand.

She fell ill after spraying the substance on her wrists and died in hospital several days later.

It was later determined that the pair were exposed to Novichok, the same nerve agent used to attack Sergei and Yulia Skripal almost four months previously.

In March 2018, Wiltshire was rocked when Kremlin spies allegedly attempted to murder former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, 68, in Salisbury.

Both he and his then 33-year-old daughter Yulia were rushed to hospital in critical condition after coming into contact with Novichok – a deadly nerve agent concocted by Soviet scientists during the Cold War.

They survived the suspected attempted murder, but four months later, in the same county, Ms Sturgess was killed.

Wiltshire was rocked in 2018 when Kremlin spies allegedly attempted to assassinated former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal (right with daughter Yulia), 68, in Salisbury

She and Mr Rowley fell ill after handling the perfume bottle used by the Moscow hitmen in their initial botched assassination of the Skripals.

Mr Rowley, who has battled psychological scars as well as fading eyesight, found the perfume bottle in a charity shop bin before giving it to his then girlfriend as a gift.

He met Ms Sturgess at the start of 2018 when both were living in hostels for homeless people in Salisbury.

Wiltshire Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey also almost died after he was exposed to the substance while responding to the 2018 attack.

Det Sgt Bailey was the first person to enter the home of Sergei Skripal after the Russian former double agent and his daughter were found poisoned.

He recovered after a two-week stay in intensive care, during which his wife and two daughters feared he would die.

He made a third attempt to return to work in June this year, describing how he ‘couldn’t deal with being in a police environment’ after efforts to return in September 2018 and in January 2019.

It has now been two years since Mr Rowley and Ms Sturgess were poisoned – but he said he feels as though those responsible still haven’t been held to account.

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny speaking to a crowd during a protest in Moscow

He said: ‘I feel justice hasn’t been served and I hope this new incident will bring on more news and we will get some truth.

‘I think Russia will carry on denying it to the end. When I heard about the other attack, I was in shock.

‘The fact that it happened again made me feel that it could happen again any time and I believe that they feel they can get away with almost anything.’

Mr Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, was taken ill on a flight on August 20.

Doctors in Germany revealed after tests that he had been poisoned with Novichok.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it is ‘outrageous that a chemical weapon was used’.

He added: ‘We have seen first-hand the deadly consequences of Novichok in the UK.

‘The Russian government must now explain what happened to Mr Navalny – we will work with international partners to ensure justice is done.’

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