Berlin's Justice Ministry has approved a request from Moscow for legal assistance in the investigation of the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and has tasked state prosecutors with working with Russian authorities, officials say.
Berlin state prosecutors said in a tweet that their office had been commissioned to provide legal assistance to Russia and information on Navalny's state of health, "subject to his consent".
The office said it would provide no further information on the request at this time.
Navalny, the most visible opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was flown to Germany two days after falling ill on August 20 on a domestic flight in Russia.
German chemical weapons experts have determined that the 44-year-old was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent, prompting German officials to demand that Russia investigate the case.
He was kept in an induced coma for more than a week as he was treated with an antidote before hospital officials said on Monday his condition had improved enough for him to be brought out of it.
The hospital had no comment on Friday on his condition but doctors have not ruled out long-term effects of the poisoning.
Russian authorities have prodded Germany to share the evidence that led them to conclude "without doubt" that Navalny was poisoned with a military nerve agent from the Novichok group, the same class of Soviet-era agent that UK authorities said was used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, in 2018.
"It's in the best interests of our German colleagues to protect their reputations after all and to provide all necessary information that could shed at least some light on their accusations, which have been absolutely unsubstantiated so far," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian investigators have launched a preliminary inquest into the Navalny case but insisted that it's essential for Russia to see the proof of Navalny's poisoning to launch a full-fledged criminal inquiry.
"From the viewpoint of law, we can't describe those checks as a criminal case on the basis of analyses of a German laboratory, particularly a military one," Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.
"Just as it's impossible for Germany to open a criminal case on the basis of analyses taken in our military hospital. It's legal nonsense."
Germany's Defense Ministry has said the data about Navalny has already been provided to the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, of which Russia is a member.
Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said on Friday the agency was best equipped to handle an issue that was "not a bilateral German-Russian problem".
"This is about a crime that took place in Russia with a chemical nerve agent that is internationally prohibited - the OPCW is the logical point of contact," he told reporters.
Australian Associated Press