Alexei Navalny: Putin’s staunch opponent is coming out of his coma after being poisoned

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REUTERS

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Alexei Navalny was transferred to Berlin for treatment in August.

Doctors treating Russian dissident Alexei Navalny said he was out of an artificial coma and that his condition has improved since he was poisoned.

The medical team treating Navalny explained that he was “hearing voices”.

Navalny, 44, was transferred to Germany after falling ill on a flight in Siberia in August.

His team alleges that he was poisoned on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who denies any involvement.

  • What is the “Novichok” poison and what are its effects on the human body?

German doctors say Putin’s staunchest critics have been poisoned with Novichok.

The Charite Hospital in Berlin said in a statement that Navalny had ventilators removed.

“It responds to the sounds. But it is too early to measure the potential long-term effects of his severe toxicity,” the statement added.

“News about Alexei,” Navalny’s spokeswoman, Keira Yarmisch, wrote on Twitter.

In recent years Navalny has become Russias most prominent opposition politician to President Putin.

What happened to Alexei Navalny?

Navalny fell ill on August 20 on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow.

His supporters suspected of putting the poison in a teacup at Tomsk Airport.

“Alexei started moaning and screaming. He was clearly in pain. He was lying on the ground in the part of the plane designated for the flight crew,” a passenger sitting near Navalny on the plane told the BBC.

The plane was diverted to Omsk, where the opposition politician was admitted to the emergency hospital.

Russian officials initially refused to allow Navalny to be taken abroad for medical treatment, but three days later he was airlifted to Berlin.

Last week, doctors in Germany said results of toxicology tests conducted in a military laboratory gave “unquestionable evidence” that Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok.

Doctors in Omsk insisted that no toxic substances were detected in Navalny’s body while he was under their care.

On Monday, the Kremlin said it was “absurd” to blame Russia for poisoning Navalny.

“Attempts to somehow connect Russia with what happened are unacceptable to us, they are ridiculous,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the claim of Novichok was not supported by evidence.

Novichok was used to poison former Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom in 2018.

A British investigation blamed Russia.

What is the international response?

On Monday, the British government summoned the Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom “to express deep concern about Navalny.”

“It is absolutely unacceptable to use a prohibited chemical weapon, and Russia must conduct a full and transparent investigation,” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Monday.

In Germany, there is increasing pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel to take a tougher stance on the incident.

Last week, she said Navalny was the victim of an attempted murder and that the world would look to Russia for answers.

  • The poisoning of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny is a test for Western countries

Russia faces diplomatic fallout

Damian McGuinness analysis, BBC News, Berlin

Alexei Navalny’s condition has improved, but the German-Russian relationship looks worse.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that if Moscow fails to cooperate with the poisoning investigation during the next few days, Berlin will start talking to European partners about the sanctions.

The most serious threat is that for the first time, the government of Angela Merkel no longer rules out a halt to construction work on the nearly completed “Nord Stream 2” pipeline, which is supposed to bring Russian gas to Germany using a pipeline under the Baltic Sea.

But stopping the project would be costly. About 120 European companies are participating in it, and the total cost is more than 9 billion euros (10.6 billion dollars). Germany will have to pay compensation. Merkel may be under pressure. But German society is divided over how to deal with the Kremlin and German attitudes toward Russia are varied and complex.

A German government spokesman said on Monday that it was too early to make a decision on Nord Stream.

The Interfax news agency quoted Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak as saying that the project must be completed despite the current “difficulties”.

The European Union called on the Russian government to conduct a “transparent” investigation.

US President Donald Trump refused Russias conviction, saying the case was “tragic” but he did not see evidence of Putin’s involvement.

On Monday, when asked about the “Nord Stream 2” pipeline, Trump repeated the United States’ opposition to the gas project.

What is Navalny famous for?

Navalny is an anti-corruption activist who has led nationwide protests against the Russian authorities.

He made his mark for the first time in 2008 when he began blogging about alleged misconduct and corruption at some of Russias largest state-controlled companies.

He described Putin’s party as the place of “fraudsters and thieves” and as “sucking blood from Russia” and has faced attacks in the past.

However, he was banned from running against Putin in the recent elections due to his embezzlement conviction.

He denies the crime, saying his legal troubles are reprisals from the Kremlin for his violent criticism.



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