Relatives and allies of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny – who is in a coma in a Siberian hospital – are fighting for him to be transferred to Germany after local doctors claimed to have found ‘no evidence’ he was poisoned.
The politician, 44, was admitted to intensive care after falling suddenly ill on a flight to Omsk, Siberia, on Thursday. His supporters believe he was poisoned through a cup of tea he drank before his flight in an attack they believe was engineered by the Kremlin.
Mr Navalny is one of President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics.
Local doctors in Omsk today said he is too unstable to be moved and have refused to give authorisation for the transfer.
Speaking today, deputy chief doctor Anatoly Kalinichenko at Omsk hospital said that no traces of poison have been found in Mr Navalny’s body.
Dr Kalinichenko told reporters: ‘Poisoning as a diagnosis remains on the back burner, but we don’t believe that the patient suffered from poisoning.’
Shocking video released yesterday claimed to show the moment Mr Navalny fell ill, with his pained cries of agony audible in the footage, allegedly filmed on the flight to Omsk.
Pictures believed to have been taken at the airport ahead of his flight have also appeared on social media, including one in which Mr Navalny is seen drinking a hot drink that his supporters claim was poisoned.
Alexander Murakhovsky, chief doctor at Omsk Ambulance Hospital No. 1, said Navalny’s condition has ‘somewhat improved’ but that he is still not stable enough to transfer. Mr Murakhovsky said doctors were still working on determining a diagnosis.
The politician’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh tweeted that his family was not given a diagnosis, but rather ‘a range of symptoms that can be interpreted differently’.
‘Doctors still can’t determine the cause of Alexei’s condition,’ she said. She also claimed the ban on transferring Mr Navalny ‘is needed to stall and wait until the poison in his body can no longer be traced’.
‘Every hour of stalling creates a threat to his life,’ Ms Yarmysh said.
The opposition politician was due to fly into Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk on Thursday but his flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Omsk when he suddenly fell ill.
He remains in a coma in intensive care. Ally Ivan Zhdanov today claimed police had already found a ‘very dangerous substance’ in his system but that officials refuse to disclose what.
Mr Navalny has been frequently detained by law enforcement and harassed by pro-Kremlin groups during his political career. In 2017, he was attacked by several men who threw antiseptic in his face, damaging his eye.
His Anti-Corruption Foundation has been exposing meddling among high-ranking Russian government officials but last month he was forced to dissolve the non-profit after a devastating financial lawsuit from Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Kremlin-linked St Petersburg businessman.
As the most prominent member of Russia’s opposition, Mr Navalny set up campaign offices around the country, promoting regional opposition candidates to challenge members of the Russian ruling party, United Russia, led by President Putin.
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