Alexei Navalny: Doctors say ‘poisoned’ Putin critic can’t be moved to Germany

Alexei Navalny: Doctors say 'poisoned' Putin critic can't be moved to Germany

A rally expressed support for Mr Navalny who is unconscious

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A rally expressed support for Mr Navalny who is unconscious

Russian doctors have said they will not allow leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny to be transferred from a hospital in Siberia to one in Germany following his suspected poisoning.

The head doctor treating Mr Navalny said he was not well enough to be moved. But a spokeswoman called the decision “a direct threat to his life”.

Activists in Germany have sent a plane to bring him to Berlin for treatment.

Mr Navalny is a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He fell ill during a flight on Thursday. His team suspects something was put in his tea at an airport cafe.

The head doctor at the Siberian hospital, Alexander Murakhovsky, told reporters on Friday that Mr Navalny’s condition had improved a little, but that he was still unstable. He said legal questions would need to be resolved before Mr Navalny could be moved.

But Mr Navalny’s team said it was “deadly” for him to remain in the Siberian hospital.

“The ban on the transportation of Navalny is an attempt on his life, which is being made right now by doctors and the deceitful authorities who sanctioned it,” Mr Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on Twitter.

What is happening with the air ambulance?

The Berlin-based Cinema for Peace Foundation said it had organised a plane to pick up Mr Navalny and bring him back to Berlin, where the Charite hospital was ready to treat him.

It said the aircraft had medical equipment and a team specialised in treating coma patients on board.

  • Russia’s vociferous Putin critic

The Cinema for Peace Foundation was founded by activist and filmmaker Jaka Bizilj. In 2018, it arranged for the treatment of Pyotr Verzilov – an activist with Russian protest group Pussy Riot – who had symptoms of poisoning.

The air ambulance arrived in the Siberian city of Omsk on Friday morning, according to flight tracking data.

Both Germany and France have previously said they were happy to help with treatment. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “he can receive from us all the help and medical support needed”.

A spokesperson for Mr Putin said on Thursday that the Kremlin would help move Mr Navalny abroad if necessary and wished him a “speedy recovery”.

What happened to Alexei Navalny?

Mr Navalny fell ill during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow and his plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, Siberia.

“Alexei has toxic poisoning,” spokeswoman Ms Yarmysh tweeted.

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A man in Moscow watches social media footage of Mr Navalny being stretchered to an ambulance

Video footage on social media shows Mr Navalny being taken on a stretcher to an ambulance on the airport runway.

Other disturbing video appears to show a stricken Mr Navalny in pain on the flight. Passenger Pavel Lebedev said he heard the activist “screaming in pain”.

Another photograph on social media purports to show Mr Navalny drinking from a cup at a Tomsk airport cafe.

He was taken to hospital where Ms Yarmysh said he was on a ventilator and in a coma. Police officers filled the hospital and his belongings were being confiscated, she added.

Mr Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, was initially denied access to her husband because authorities said the patient had not agreed to the visit, Ms Yarmysh said, although she was later allowed on to the ward.

His doctor Anastasia Vasilyeva said earlier that hospital doctors were refusing to provide records of his condition.

What’s the latest on his condition?

Mr Nalvany’s family want to transport him to another clinic for safety reasons, Ms Yarmysh said.

Speaking on Friday, Dr Murakhovsky declined to answer questions about whether the opposition figure had been poisoned, saying only that there were five possible diagnoses and that test results would be available in two days.

Interfax news agency reported that doctors have made a preliminary diagnosis of poisoning with an unidentified psychodyslepti, although the BBC has not been able to independently verify this.

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Mr Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, is at the hospital but was initially denied access to her husband

Ms Yarmysh told the Echo of Moscow radio station that she was “sure it was intentional poisoning”.

State news agency TASS cited a police officer saying, “we can’t rule out that he drank or took something himself yesterday.”

Ms Yasmysh dismissed this as “complete rubbish” and said he had been swimming in a river the night before and was sober.

Who is Alexei Navalny?

He made a name for himself by exposing official corruption, labelling Mr Putin’s United Russia as “the party of crooks and thieves”, and has served several jail terms.

In June, he described a vote on reforms allowing Mr Putin to serve another two terms in office – after the four terms he has already had – as a “coup” and a “violation of the constitution”.

In 2011 he was arrested and imprisoned for 15 days following protests over vote-rigging by Mr Putin’s United Russia party in parliamentary elections.

Mr Navalny was briefly jailed in July 2013 on embezzlement charges but denounced the sentence as political.

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Media captionPower tools are used to raid Navalny’s foundation in December 2019

He attempted to stand in the 2018 presidential race but was barred because of previous fraud convictions in a case he again said was politically motivated.

Mr Navalny was also given a 30-day jail term in July 2019 after calling for unauthorised protests.

He was taken ill during that jail sentence. Doctors diagnosed him with “contact dermatitis” but he said he had never had any acute allergic reactions and his own doctor suggested he might have been exposed to “some toxic agent”. Mr Navalny also said he thought he may have been poisoned.

Mr Navalny also suffered a serious chemical burn to his right eye in 2017 when he was assaulted with green, antiseptic dye.

Last year his Anti-Corruption Foundation was officially declared a “foreign agent”, enabling the authorities to subject it to more checks.

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