MP Brands Navalny ‘Shameless,’Claims Putin Saved Opposition Leader’s Life

This combination of pictures created on October 1, 2020 shows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (L, on January 16, 2018 in Moscow) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (on July 4, 2019 in Rome). Tiziana FABI, Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

 

The head of Russia’s lower house of parliament on Thursday accused “shameless” opposition leader Alexei Navalny of working for Western security services and said President Vladimir Putin had saved his life.

Duma chairman Vyacheslav Volodin’s remarks came after 44-year-old Navalny accused Putin of orchestrating his poisoning in the anti-corruption campaigner’s first published interview since he left the German hospital where he was treated.

“I assert that Putin is behind this act, I don’t see any other explanation,” he told the German weekly Der Spiegel.

Volodin said Putin had “saved” Navalny’s life after the opposition figure was poisoned with what Germany says was a Soviet-designed nerve agent, Novichok, and accused the Kremlin critic of working for Western security services.

“Navalny is a shameless and mean man,” Volodin said in a statement released by the lower house of parliament.

“Everyone — from pilots to doctors to the President — were sincerely saving him,” Volodin added.

“Only a dishonourable man can make such statements,” he said in an apparent reference to Navalny’s claim that Putin was behind the poisoning.

“It is absolutely obvious that Navalny is working with the security services and authorities of Western countries.”

Navalny was evacuated to Berlin for treatment after he collapsed in August on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow after a campaign trip to support opposition candidates in local elections.

The Kremlin critic was discharged just over a week ago.

Navalny also vowed to return to Russia as soon as he has fully recovered, saying he would not give Putin the pleasure of being in exile.

-AFP

Navalny Says Merkel Visited Him In Berlin Hospital

Alexei Navalny
This handout picture posted on September 23, 2020 on the Instagram account of @navalny shows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny sitting on a bench in Berlin. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who the West believes was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent, has been discharged from hospital after a month, his doctors in Berlin said on September 23, 2020.
Handout / Instagram account @navalny / AFP

 

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said on Monday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited him at a Berlin hospital where he was treated after being poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent.

“I am very grateful to Chancellor Merkel for visiting me at the hospital,” the anti-corruption campaigner wrote on Twitter following reports of the meeting in German media.

The 44-year-old Kremlin critic was discharged from Charite hospital in Berlin last week after receiving treatment over several weeks for exposure to Novichok.

He fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow in August in what his allies say was a state-sanctioned attack — labs in France, Germany and Sweden confirmed he had been poisoned.

German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Sunday that Merkel had visited Navalny in what it described as a “secret” meeting at Charite hospital that underscored the Chancellor’s personal commitment to Navalny’s case.

Navalny confirmed the meeting but argued the label “secret” was not accurate, saying: “Rather, a private meeting and conversation with the family.”

The Kremlin has denied allegations of involvement in the poisoning and accused Western leaders of launching a disinformation campaign over the opposition leader’s illness.

Russia insists medical tests carried out by doctors in Omsk found no poison in Navalny’s body. It says it lacks grounds for a criminal investigation, despite international calls for a transparent probe.

Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh has said the Kremlin critic plans to return to Russia but will remain in Germany until he has recovered.

AFP

Navalny Discharged From Hospital After Suspected Poisoning

Alexei Navalny
This handout picture posted on September 23, 2020 on the Instagram account of @navalny shows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny sitting on a bench in Berlin. 
Handout / Instagram account @navalny / AFP

 

Leading Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who the West believes was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent, has been discharged from hospital after a month and can make a full recovery, his doctors in Berlin said Wednesday.

European leaders have demanded explanations from Moscow since Germany said toxicology tests showed the 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner was poisoned with Novichok.

But the Kremlin has rubbished allegations it was behind the poisoning, and it said on Wednesday that with his recovery, Navalny “is free” to return to Russia anytime, “like any other Russian citizen”.

The outspoken opposition activist fell ill after boarding a plane in Siberia in August. Russian doctors who first treated him said their tests did not find any toxic substances.

German lab tests however pointed to “unequivocal proof” of Novichok, which was also used to poison ex-double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England, in 2018. He survived.

France and Sweden have since said tests they ran independently corroborate Germany’s conclusions.

Navalny spent 32 days in Charite hospital in the German capital, including 24 days in intensive care, before his release on Tuesday, the hospital said.

“Based on the patient’s progress and current condition, the treating physicians believe that complete recovery is possible,” Charite said in a statement, adding however that it remained too early to assess any long-term effects of his severe poisoning.

For now, Navalny will remain in Germany as he embarks on rehabilitation, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter.

– ‘No other option’ –

Navalny collapsed last month while on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow after a campaign trip to support opposition candidates in local elections.

He was evacuated to Berlin on August 22 in a coma and on mechanical ventilation.

Posting a photograph of himself sitting on a Berlin bench, Navalny said on Instagram Wednesday he was far from fully recovered and would require rehabilitation.

“The plans are always simple: a physiotherapist every day. Possibly a rehabilitation centre. Stand on one leg. Take back control of my fingers completely. Maintain balance,” he wrote.

The Kremlin critic has been active on social media since being brought out of the coma.

In his first blog posted on Monday since regaining consciousness, Navalny said that the three European labs had found Novichok “in and on my body”.

He noted that Russia had still not opened an investigation but that he “did not expect anything else.”

With his condition improving, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh has said the opposition leader planned to return to Russia.

“No other option has ever been considered,” she told AFP.

Navalny aides said Thursday that German experts found Novichok on a water bottle taken from the hotel room where he stayed before being taken ill.

The bottle appears to have been key evidence for Germany’s conclusion that the lawyer and outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin was poisoned with the deadly nerve agent.

– ‘Cunning plan’ –

Navalny’s poisoning has heightened tensions between Russia and the West, in particular aggravating the relationship with Germany.

Merkel had always insisted on keeping channels of dialogue open with Moscow but she has sharpened her tone lately, with Navalny’s case coming a year after a murder in a central Berlin park that German prosecutors say was ordered by Russia.

On Tuesday, the French daily Le Monde reported that in a phone call when France’s President Emmanuel Macron demanded that Putin shed light on the incident, the Russian leader had suggested that Navalny may have taken the poison himself “for a non-specified reason”.

Reacting to the report, Navalny said in a sarcastic post on Instagram that “that’s a good lead”.

“I cooked Novichok in the kitchen. Swallowed some from my hip flask on the plane. Went into a coma…

“My cunning plan was to die in a hospital in Omsk, where at the morgue the autopsy would have concluded ’cause of death: lived long enough’. But Putin saw right through me.

“And as a result, I, like an idiot, was in a coma for 18 days and didn’t get what I wanted. The provocation failed,” he wrote.

AFP

Navalny Aides Say Novichok Found On Hotel Water Bottle

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends a hearing at a court in Moscow on June 24, 2019/ AFP

 

Aides of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny said Thursday that German experts found Novichok nerve agent on a water bottle taken from the hotel room where he stayed before being taken ill.

The bottle appears to have been key evidence for Germany’s conclusion that the 44-year-old lawyer and outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin was poisoned with the military-grade nerve agent.

Specialists from a German military laboratory found traces of Novichok on a bottle of “Holy Spring” water Navalny left in his hotel room in the Siberian city of Tomsk, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said in a video statement.

The discovery “means that Navalny was poisoned before he left the hotel and not in the airport or on the plane,” Yarmysh said.

Navalny collapsed last month on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow after a campaign trip to support opposition candidates in local elections.

Previously aides had suggested he had been poisoned by a cup of tea he drank at an airport cafe.

Navalny is being treated in a hospital in Berlin and on Tuesday said he was breathing for the first time without medical support.

Germany has said it has “unequivocal evidence” that he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent and this week reported that labs in France and Sweden had confirmed the findings.

His ally Lyubov Sobol tweeted Thursday that even though the toxin was found on the container, “that doesn’t mean Navalny was poisoned specifically by the bottle of water”.

He stayed for three nights at Tomsk’s Xander hotel, a modern four-star hotel, and also visited its restaurant, according to transport police.

Navalny’s team, some of whom were staying at the same hotel, collected the bottle and other items from his room straight after hearing he had been taken ill on August 20.

Yarmysh posted video on Twitter of aides in gloves packing up items left in the hotel room in plastic bags.

“It was decided to take everything that could be hypothetically useful and hand it over to doctors in Germany,” Navalny’s aides said in a statement.

“It was obvious from the start that the Russian leadership would deny poisoning and the law enforcement authorities would not open a criminal probe and carry out an investigation,” Yarmysh said.

The video shows a hotel employee telling the aides not to remove items without police permission, while they refuse to comply.

– Security cameras –

Russia’s Proyekt news site published a detailed investigation on Thursday, citing Navalny’s aides.

It wrote that the water bottle was important evidence for German experts because Novichok would have remained intact while it was broken down in Navalny’s body.

One of Novichok’s creators, Vladimir Uglev, told the site that Navalny’s survival meant it was likely he only had skin contact with the poison, suggesting it was not in the water.

Proyekt found that the door to Navalny’s room was in view of security cameras and transport police, who are carrying out a pre-investigation check into the circumstances have the footage.

Despite this, a month later, “a criminal probe has still not been opened,” Yarmysh complained.

The anti-corruption campaigner’s suspected poisoning has sparked condemnation from Western leaders, who have called for a thorough investigation.

– Ambitious sanctions –

The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a non-binding resolution urging the EU to impose “ambitious” sanctions and accusing Russia of systematically targeting the opposition with “political assassinations and poisonings”.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday that EU proposals to impose sanctions in Navalny’s name were “manifestly anti-Russian”.

Russia has dismissed “unsubstantiated claims” over the incident and said its doctors found no trace of toxins.

Germany has not released details of the evidence for Navalny’s poisoning with nerve agent.

The global chemical weapons watchdog said Thursday that it had sent experts to Germany to collect samples from Navalny and test results were “forthcoming”.

The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said designated laboratories would assess biomedical samples and pass the results to Germany.

AFP

Russian Police Seek To Interview Navalny In Germany

(L-R) Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Vasily MAXIMOV /POOL / AFP

 

Russian police said Friday they were seeking to question opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Berlin after Moscow rubbished Germany’s declaration that he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.

The 44-year-old Kremlin critic and anti-corruption campaigner fell ill after boarding a plane in Siberia and was hospitalised there before being flown to Berlin.

Germany said there was “unequivocal evidence” that he was poisoned with the nerve agent but Russia says its doctors found no trace of poison.

The Siberian transport police, who have been retracing Navalny’s movements, said in a statement Russia would be preparing a request for its officers and an “expert” to shadow German investigators.

Navalny is now out of a medically induced coma and reacting to speech, according to the Berlin Charite hospital.

Russia said it wanted its officers to be present as “German colleagues carry out investigative activities with Navalny, medics and experts” and ask “clarifying and additional questions.”

The Kremlin has denounced attempts to blame the Russian state for the poisoning as “absurd” and said it wants to know what happened.

Western politicians have said the incident appears likely to have been state-ordered and urged Moscow to prove its lack of involvement.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday there was a “substantial chance” the order to poison the dissident “came from senior Russian officials”, a claim the Kremlin slammed as “unacceptable”.

On Friday, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun voiced outrage Russia had not acted quickly over the use of a chemical weapon against a Russian citizen.

In this file photo taken on July 20, 2019 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks with journalists during a rally to support opposition and independent candidates after authorities refused to register them for September elections to the Moscow City Duma, Moscow. Maxim ZMEYEV / AFP
In this file photo taken on July 20, 2019 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks with journalists during a rally to support opposition and independent candidates after authorities refused to register them for September elections to the Moscow City Duma, Moscow. Maxim ZMEYEV / AFP

 

“It is unbelievable to us that this would happen on the territory of any country and the government would not react with urgency to investigate and hold accountable those who committed the crime,” he told reporters.

Navalny’s associates believe the use of Novichok shows only the Russian state could be responsible.

The case has prompted international calls for Russia to carry out a transparent investigation or risk sanctions, but the country has not opened a criminal investigation.

“We don’t like it when other countries dictate to us what legal procedures we should start and when,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.

He insisted Russia “de facto” is probing the incident, but cannot open a criminal case “on the basis of tests by the German side, especially when carried out in German military labs.”

Siberian transport police have been conducting a “check” into what happened and on Friday published some findings on Navalny’s activities in the city of Tomsk, the last place he visited before falling ill.

Wine and cocktail

They identified the hotel where Navalny stayed and a restaurant where he drank “wine and an alcoholic cocktail”.

They confirmed that he visited the “Vienna Coffeehouse” at Tomsk airport, where supporters suspect he might have been poisoned with a cup of tea.

The police also said they had questioned all those accompanying Navalny except for one woman who “lives permanently in Britain”. Police referred to Maria Pevchikh, an employee of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, but incorrectly gave her name as Marina.

Transport police would not normally handle major crimes and one of those they questioned, Navalny’s ally Georgy Alburov, tweeted that police asked him only: “Did you see anything unusual?”

Police said they were working to trace passengers on the flight from Tomsk to Moscow where Navalny fell ill on August 20.

Navalny had been visiting Siberia to help activists prepare for a tactical voting campaign during nationwide regional elections that began Friday and end Sunday.

 

‘Hiding’ data

Russia has repeatedly complained that Germany has not answered a request by its prosecutors to see the medical data that led to the declaration that Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov questioned why Germany “hides (the data) so carefully”, accusing it of failing to provide detailed information to the OPCW global chemical weapons watchdog.

The Berlin prosecutor’s office said it had received instructions from the justice department to respond to Moscow’s request for legal assistance and provide information on Navalny’s health — “provided he consents.”

 

 

AFP

Navalny ‘Disinformation’ Being Used For New Sanctions, Says Russia

In this file photo taken on January 16, 2018 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny smiles during an interview with AFP at the office of his Anti-corruption Foundation (FBK) in Moscow. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP
In this file photo taken on January 16, 2018 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny smiles during an interview with AFP at the office of his Anti-corruption Foundation (FBK) in Moscow. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

 

 

Moscow said on Wednesday a “disinformation campaign” over the alleged poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny was being used to promote new sanctions against Russia.

Moscow released a statement after the Group of Seven foreign ministers demanded on Tuesday that Russia quickly find and prosecute those behind Navalny’s suspected poisoning, which Germany says was carried out with a Novichok nerve agent.

The “ongoing massive disinformation campaign” aims at “mobilising sanctions sentiment” and has nothing to do with Navalny’s health or “finding out the genuine reasons for his hospitalisation”, the Russian foreign ministry said.

In its statement in response to the G7, the foreign ministry also reiterated accusations that Germany, where Navalny was evacuated, has been refusing to share its findings on his case with Moscow.

“Unfounded attacks on Russia are continuing,” the ministry said, with a “whipping up of hysteria” around the case.

The top diplomats from the major industrial democracies said that Germany briefed them with confirmation that President Vladimir Putin’s leading critic was poisoned.

The statement was released by the United States and included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 9, 2018 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference with Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe during the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department in Washington, DC. - The United States said July 9, 2020 it would refuse visas for three top Chinese officials and their families over the "horrific and systematic abuses" against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the officials who would be refused entry include Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party secretary for the Xinjiang region who is considered an architect of Beijing's hardline policies on minorities. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
In this file photo taken on November 9, 2018 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference with Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe during the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department in Washington, DC.  (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

 

The other G7 nations are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Russia was expelled from the then Group of Eight over its 2014 takeover of Crimea from Ukraine.

Navalny, a 44-year-old lawyer who has been Putin’s leading critic, suddenly fell seriously ill last month as he took a flight in Siberia.

The Berlin hospital treating him said Monday that he was out of a medically induced coma and reacting to speech.

AFP

UN Urges ‘Independent’ Russian Probe Of Navalny Poisoning

 

In this file photo taken on July 20, 2019 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks with journalists during a rally to support opposition and independent candidates after authorities refused to register them for September elections to the Moscow City Duma, Moscow. Maxim ZMEYEV / AFP
In this file photo taken on July 20, 2019 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks with journalists during a rally to support opposition and independent candidates after authorities refused to register them for September elections to the Moscow City Duma, Moscow. Maxim ZMEYEV / AFP.

 

The UN rights chief called Tuesday on Moscow to conduct or cooperate with a “thorough, transparent, independent and impartial investigation” into the alleged nerve agent attack on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Michelle Bachelet stressed the need to get to the bottom of the poisoning, after German specialists said they had “unequivocal proof” that the weapons-grade nerve agent Novichok was used in the attack.

“It is incumbent on the Russian authorities to fully investigate who was responsible for this crime, a very serious crime that was committed on Russian soil,” she said in a statement.

The 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner and one of President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a domestic flight last month and was treated in a Siberian hospital before being evacuated to Berlin.

The attack marked the latest in a long line of assassination attempts against Putin’s critics.

Bachelet stressed Tuesday that “the number of cases of poisoning, or other forms of targeted assassination, of current or former Russian citizens, either within Russia itself or on foreign soil, over the past two decades is profoundly disturbing.”

“And the failure in many cases to hold perpetrators accountable and provide justice for the victims or their families, is also deeply regrettable and hard to explain or justify,” she said.

– ‘Numerous questions’ –

Germany said last week that toxicology tests conducted by its armed forces found “unequivocal evidence” that Navalny had been poisoned with the weapons-grade nerve agent Novichok, the substance used in the 2018 attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.

Navalny’s associates say the use of Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, shows that only the Russian state could be responsible, but the Kremlin fiercely denies any involvement.

Russia had likewise rejected any link to the Skripal case, as well as the death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with highly radioactive polonium-210 at a hotel in the British capital.

While UN rights office said that they were not in a position to make direct accusations against Moscow in the case, Bachelet noted that nerve agents and radioactive isotopes such as Novichok and Polonium-210 were sophisticated substances that are very hard to get hold of.

“This raises numerous questions,” she said. “Why use substances like these? Who is using them? How did they acquire them?”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also pointed out that prior to Navalny’s alleged poisoning, he had repeatedly been harassed, arrested and assaulted either by authorities or by unknown assailants.

“Navalny was clearly someone who needed state protection, even if he was a political thorn in the side of the government,” she said.

“It is not good enough to simply deny he was poisoned, and deny the need for a thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into this assassination attempt,” she said.

AFP

Navalny Out Of Medically Induced Coma – Berlin Hospital

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends a hearing at a court in Moscow on June 24, 2019/ AFP.

 

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who Germany says was poisoned by a weapons-grade Novichok nerve agent, is now out of a medically induced coma and is being weaned off mechanical ventilation, the Berlin hospital treating him said Monday.

“He is responding to verbal stimuli,” Charite hospital said in a statement, reporting that the 44-year-old’s condition “has improved”.

However, the hospital said it was too early to determine the long-term impact of the poisoning.

Navalny fell ill after boarding a plane in Siberia last month. He was initially treated in a local hospital before being flown to Berlin for treatment.

The German government said last week that toxicology tests have found “unequivocal evidence” that Novichok was used on Navalny, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Western counterparts to demand answers from Russia.

Earlier Monday, Merkel’s spokesman underlined that she would not rule out consequences on the multi-billion-euro Nord Stream 2 pipeline project if Moscow failed to thoroughly investigate the case.

The Kremlin has however denounced attempts to blame the poisoning on Russia as “absurd”.

Novichok is a military-grade poison that was developed by the Soviet government towards the end of the Cold War and can be deployed in an ultra-fine powder, liquid or vapour.

It was used against ex-double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain in 2018, a poisoning that the West believes was ordered by the Kremlin.

AFP

Russia Accuses Germany Of Stalling Navalny Probe

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 14, 2018 A police cordon surrounds the area near a bench covered in a protective tent at The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, southern England, on March 14, 2018, where a man and woman were found critically ill on March 4, after being apparently poisoned with what was later identified as a nerve agent sparking a major incident.  (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

 

Russia on Sunday accused Germany of stalling efforts to probe opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s case after Berlin demanded Moscow provide an explanation over his poisoning or face sanctions.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused German authorities of failing to respond to a request by Russian prosecutors sent on August 27.

She spoke after German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Russia must soon provide an explanation over Navalny’s poisoning with Novichok, a banned nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union.

“Dear Mr Maas, if the German government is sincere in its statements then it should be interested in preparing a response to a request of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office as soon as possible,” Zakharova said.

“So far we are not certain that Germany is not playing a double game,” she added. “Where is the ‘urgency’ you are insisting upon?

“By not sending its answer, Berlin is stalling the process of investigation for which it’s calling. On purpose?”

Germany, the current head of the European Union, will discuss possible sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top foe if the Kremlin does not provide an explanation soon, Maas said Sunday.

READ ALSO: German Foreign Minister Threatens Sanctions Over Navalny Poisoning

Navalny fell ill on a flight last month and was treated in a Siberian hospital before being evacuated to Berlin.

Germany said last week there was “unequivocal evidence” that the Russian opposition leader had been poisoned using Novichok.

“If in the coming days Russia does not help clarify what happened, we will be compelled to discuss a response with our allies,” Maas told German daily Bild.

Any sanctions decided should be “targeted”, he added.

Western leaders and many Russians have expressed horror at what Navalny’s allies say is the first known use of chemical weapons against a high-profile opposition leader on Russian soil.

Earlier this week Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia had “nothing to hide” and the Kremlin said Russian doctors had found no proof Navalny was poisoned.

AFP

Russian Medics Agree To Navalny Evacuation – Hospital

Anatoly Kalinichenko, deputy head doctor at Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1 where Alexei Navalny was admitted after he fell ill in what his spokeswoman said was a suspected poisoning, speaks to the media in Omsk on August 21, 2020. Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP
Anatoly Kalinichenko, deputy head doctor at Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1 where Alexei Navalny was admitted after he fell ill in what his spokeswoman said was a suspected poisoning, speaks to the media in Omsk on August 21, 2020. Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP

 

Russian medics have agreed to allow the medical evacuation of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny from a Siberian hospital at his relatives’ request, the hospital’s deputy chief doctor said on Friday.

“We… took the decision that we do not oppose his transfer to another hospital, the one that his relatives indicate to us,” the deputy chief doctor of the Omsk hospital, Anatoly Kalinichenko, told journalists.

Earlier on Friday, Navalny’s wife had appealed to President Vladimir Putin to allow a medical evacuation as German doctors rebutted claims he was too sick to be moved.

Navalny, a 44-year-old lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner who is among Putin’s fiercest critics, was in a coma in intensive care in the Siberian city of Omsk after he lost consciousness while on a flight and his plane made an emergency landing on Thursday.

Navalny’s aides say they believe he was poisoned and that something was put in his tea at an airport cafe, but doctors on Friday said “no trace” of any poison was found.

His supporters organised an air ambulance with specialists from a German clinic that arrived at Omsk airport on Friday and the medics examined him later in the day.

In this file photo taken on January 16, 2018 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny smiles during an interview with AFP at the office of his Anti-corruption Foundation (FBK) in Moscow. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP
In this file photo taken on January 16, 2018 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny smiles during an interview with AFP at the office of his Anti-corruption Foundation (FBK) in Moscow. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

 

The German doctors said they were “able and willing” to fly him to Berlin’s Charite hospital, the Cinema For Peace foundation that organised the flight said.

Russian doctors however ruled he was too “unstable” to be moved.

Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, posted on Twitter a letter addressed to Putin, saying: “I officially apply to you with a demand for permission to take Alexei Navalny to Germany.”

The anti-graft campaigner’s team also appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to ask the Russian government to allow his transfer.

Navalny is the latest in a long line of Kremlin critics who have fallen seriously ill or died in apparent poisonings.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there were “no obstacles” to evacuating Navalny and this was “purely a medical decision”.

The Omsk hospital’s chief doctor, Alexander Murakhovsky, said medics agreed Navalny could only be moved after “sustained stabilisation of his state”.

Tests had shown no trace of any poison and suggested Navalny lost consciousness due to a fall in blood sugar, Murakhovsky said.

“We didn’t find any poisonous substances,” he said, giving a preliminary diagnosis of a “metabolic disorder”.

Navalny’s wife said guards and plain-clothed officers blocked her way as she attempted to speak to the German doctors.

“This situation is outrageous,” she told journalists, breathing hard.

She said she wanted Navalny treated “in an independent hospital, whose doctors we trust”.

‘Play for time’

Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh claimed Russia’s refusal to evacuate Navalny was a ploy to “play for time” and make it impossible to trace poison, posing a “critical threat to his life”.

Regional police said they found traces of an industrial chemical after swabbing Navalny and his luggage, while suggesting it came from a disposable cup.

The air ambulance dispatched to take Navalny to Berlin for treatment landed in Omsk after Chancellor Angela Merkel extended an offer of treatment.

In this file photo taken on May 05, 2018 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny addresses supporters during an unauthorized anti-Putin rally in Moscow, two days ahead of Vladimir Putin's inauguration for a fourth Kremlin term. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
In this file photo taken on May 05, 2018 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny addresses supporters during an unauthorized anti-Putin rally in Moscow, two days ahead of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fourth Kremlin term. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

 

European Union leaders including Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have voiced concern for Navalny, who has faced repeated physical attacks and prosecutions in more than a decade of opposition to Russian authorities.

The EU spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy, Nabila Massrali, said: “The Russian authorities are well aware we are closely watching this,” urging “his safe transfer and treatment”.

The US embassy in Moscow said in a tweet that if the poisoning claim proved true it would represent “a grave moment for Russia, and the Russian people deserve to see all those involved held to account”.

Navalny lost consciousness shortly after his plane took off on Thursday from Tomsk in Siberia, where he was working to support opposition candidates ahead of regional elections next month.

Yarmysh said he had seemed “absolutely fine” before boarding the flight and had only consumed a cup of tea at the airport.

She said she was sure he had suffered from an “intentional poisoning” and  blamed Putin.

Navalny has made many enemies with his anti-corruption investigations, which often reveal the lavish lifestyles of Russia’s elite and attract millions of views online.

Previous poisonings

He has suffered physical attacks in the past, including a 2017 incident where he endured chemical burns to his eye after green dye was splashed on his face.

Last year Navalny said he suspected poisoning when he suffered rashes and his face became swollen while serving a short jail term after calling for illegal protests.

He has been the target of multiple criminal probes and spent numerous stretches in police cells for organising illegal protests, while his Anti-Corruption Foundation was regularly raided by police and investigators.

In this file photo taken on July 20, 2019 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks with journalists during a rally to support opposition and independent candidates after authorities refused to register them for September elections to the Moscow City Duma, Moscow. Maxim ZMEYEV / AFP
In this file photo taken on July 20, 2019 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks with journalists during a rally to support opposition and independent candidates after authorities refused to register them for September elections to the Moscow City Duma, Moscow. Maxim ZMEYEV / AFP

 

The latest incident follows several infamous poisonings of Kremlin critics in the past.

Britain named two Russian spies as suspects after Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in the city of Salisbury in March 2018.

Former Russian security service agent Alexander Litvinenko was fatally poisoned with radioactive polonium in a cup of tea in London. Russia refused to extradite chief suspect Andrei Lugovoi, who became a nationalist MP after the 2006 attack.

Several other opposition figures have suffered severe illnesses in Russia that they blamed on poisoning.

 

AFP

Putin’s Critic, Alexei Navalny, In Intensive Care After ‘Poisoning’

 In this file photo taken on May 05, 2018 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny addresses supporters during an unauthorized anti-Putin rally in Moscow, two days ahead of Vladimir Putin's inauguration for a fourth Kremlin term. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
In this file photo taken on May 05, 2018 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny addresses supporters during an unauthorized anti-Putin rally in Moscow, two days ahead of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fourth Kremlin term. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

 

The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was in intensive care in a Siberian hospital on Thursday after he fell ill in what his spokeswoman said was a suspected poisoning.

Navalny, a 44-year-old lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner who is among President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, was being treated in a hospital in the city of Omsk after he lost consciousness on a flight to Moscow and his plane made an emergency landing.

His spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on Twitter that Navalny had been placed in a coma on a ventilator and that tests were being carried out.

“Alexei has toxic poisoning,” she wrote. “Alexei is now in intensive care.”

“I’m sure it was intentional poisoning,” she told the Echo of Moscow radio station.

State news agency TASS reported that Navalny was in the intensive care unit for toxicology patients in Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1.

“He is in a serious condition,” the hospital’s chief doctor Alexander Murakhovsky told TASS.

The hospital’s deputy head Antoly Kalinichenko told journalists: “He is on a ventilator, his condition is stable.”

He said a diagnosis should be established Thursday but that doctors have “no confidence as of today that the reason for his condition is poisoning”.

‘Something in his tea’

Yarmysh said that police and investigators had arrived and questioned a doctor.

“We think that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed in his tea. That was the only thing he drank in the morning,” she wrote on Twitter.

 In this file photo taken on January 16, 2018 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny smiles during an interview with AFP at the office of his Anti-corruption Foundation (FBK) in Moscow. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP
In this file photo taken on January 16, 2018 Navalny smiles during an interview with AFP at the office of his Anti-corruption Foundation (FBK) in Moscow. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

 

The head of the legal department of the Anti-Corruption Foundation that Navalny heads, Vyacheslav Gimadi, wrote on Twitter that “there is no doubt that Navalny was poisoned for his political position and activity.”

He said Navalny’s lawyers were requesting an investigation into the attempted assassination of a public figure.

Navalny has previously suffered physical attacks, and a number of Kremlin critics have been poisoned in the past.

He endured chemical burns to his eye in 2017 when attackers threw green dye used as a disinfectant at his face outside his office.

In August last year Navalny suffered rashes and his face became swollen while he was in a police detention centre serving a short term for calling for illegal protests.

‘Quickly lost consciousness’

He was taken to hospital where doctors said he had suffered an allergic reaction but Navalny asked for an investigation into poisoning.

“He was poisoned in the police detention centre. I’m sure that now the same thing happened. It’s different symptoms, evidently a different drug,” Yarmysh told Echo of Moscow.

She told the radio station that she met Navalny to go to the airport in the Siberian city of Tomsk on Thursday morning when he seemed “absolutely fine”.

 In this file photo taken on July 20, 2019 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks with journalists during a rally to support opposition and independent candidates after authorities refused to register them for September elections to the Moscow City Duma, Moscow. Maxim ZMEYEV / AFP
In this file photo taken on July 20, 2019 Navalny speaks with journalists during a rally to support opposition and independent candidates after authorities refused to register them for September elections to the Moscow City Duma, Moscow. Maxim ZMEYEV / AFP

 

“He only drank black tea in the airport,” she said.

“Straight after takeoff he quite quickly lost consciousness.”

A witness posted a photo on social media of Navalny drinking from a paper cup at an airport cafe.

The REN TV channel posted a video shot from the plane of him being wheeled on a stretcher into an ambulance.

High-profile poisonings

Navalny, a charismatic lawyer and whistleblower, is travelling the country to promote a tactical voting strategy to oppose pro-Putin candidates in more than 30 regional elections in September.

He has been the target of multiple criminal probes, while his Anti-Corruption Foundation is regularly raided by police and investigators.

He has served numerous terms in police cells for organising illegal protests.

Yarmysh said they had been on a work trip to Tomsk.

Former US ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul tweeted: “Praying @navalny will be ok.”

The incident involving the highest-profile opposition figure in Russia follows other poisonings of Kremlin critics in and outside the country.

Britain named two Russian military intelligence agents as suspects after Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with nerve agent Novichok in the city of Salisbury in March 2018.

In 2006, former Russian security service agent Alexander Litvinenko was fatally poisoned with radioactive polonium in a cup of tea in London. Russia refused to extradite chief suspect Andrei Lugovoi, who became a nationalist MP.

Several other opposition figures have suffered severe illnesses in Russia that they blamed on poisoning.

 

AFP

Russia Opposition Leader Accuses Authorities Of Freezing Account

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 20, 2019 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny addresses demonstrators during a rally to support opposition and independent candidates after authorities refused to register them for September elections to the Moscow City Duma, Moscow.  AFP

 

Russia’s main opposition leader Alexei Navalny said Tuesday that authorities had frozen all of his bank accounts and those of his family, including his elderly parents.

“All accounts have been blocked,” Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who has emerged as President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, said on Twitter.

His spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh told AFP that the accounts had been frozen due to a money-laundering probe against Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

Navalny said that because of the blocked accounts his daughter, who is a student at Stanford University, was without money and that his retired parents could not receive their pensions.

“This is quite unpleasant, I won’t deny it. My parents are elderly people, pensioners,” he wrote in a blog post.

“My child is studying at the other end of the planet by herself — she’s been left without a single cent.”

He added that his son no longer had access to his savings account.

Investigators last summer launched a money-laundering probe into Navalny’s foundation, which seeks donations from the public, accusing it of taking money that was procured illegally.

In August, a Moscow district court froze 75 million rubles ($1.1 million) held in accounts by the foundation and staff members.

Navalny said his personal accounts had until now remained untouched.

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny’s foundation, said authorities had also blocked the bank accounts of his family.

Investigators have repeatedly accused Navalny’s foundation of financial crimes, including money laundering and accepting illegal donations, and frozen its accounts.

Navalny organised some of the biggest protests against Putin in recent years.

In the run-up to local elections in September, Navalny and his supporters organised a wave of protests after popular opposition politicians were barred from standing in the Moscow municipal election, prompting a police crackdown.

AFP