Russian Hospital Says Kremlin Critic Navalny Can’t Be Moved
Russian doctors say Russian opposition figure Aleksei Navalny is not well enough to be moved from the Siberian hospital where he is being treated for suspected poisoning.
Aleksandr Murakhovsky, the head doctor at Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1, said on August 21 that Navalny’s condition has improved a little, but that it was still unstable.
Attempting to move the 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner could pose a risk to his life, Murakhovsky added.
Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, called the decision “a direct threat to his life.”
“It is deadly to remain in the Omsk hospital without equipment or a diagnosis,” she tweeted.
There has been no official diagnosis of Navalny’s condition, but his team believes he was poisoned because of his activities.
The annoucement comes as a German air ambulance carrying a team of doctors landed in Omsk to pick up Navalny, who went into a coma and was put on a ventilator in intensive care.
He was to be treated at Berlin’s Charite hospital upon his arrival in the German capital.
Navalny became ill on August 20 while on a flight to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk, forcing the aircraft to make an unscheduled landing in Omsk, also in Siberia, where he was transported by ambulance to a hospital.
The spokeswoman quoted Navalny’s associate Ivan Zhdanov as saying on August 21 that “a police officer at the hospital had just said that a poison was found in Aleksei’s body, which was dangerous not only for him, but also for those around him.”
The previous day, Anatoly Kalinichenko, a doctor at Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1, said there was “no certainty that the cause of his condition is poisoning,” adding, “This is one of the possible reasons” and that several diagnoses are being considered as tests are carried out.
White House national-security adviser Robert O’Brien said on August 20 that the suspected poisoning was “extraordinarily concerning” and could have an impact on U.S.-Russia relations.
“He’s a very courageous man. He is a very courageous politician to have stood up to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin inside Russia, and our thoughts and our prayers are with him and his family,” O’Brien said in an interview on Fox News.
“It’s extraordinarily concerning and if the Russians were behind this…it’s something that we’re going to factor into how we deal with the Russians going forward,” he said.
Navalny’s physician, Yaroslav Ashikhmin, told Meduza that opposition leader “needs to be evacuated to Europe” for treatment in part because Western clinics have more chance of finding the substance that may have caused the alleged poisoning.
The Kremlin said it was aware that Putin’s chief critic was ill and wished him well, but said there was no evidence yet to back claims he had been poisoned.
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russian law enforcement would launch an investigation if poisoning is confirmed.
The cafe where Navalny bought the tea was in an area beyond check-in and security controls.
A law enforcement source told TASS that interviews with workers from the shop showed they knew little about what happened.
Navalny, who has exposed rampant corruption in Russia, has suffered physical attacks in the past.
He endured chemical burns to one of his eyes in 2017 after he was assaulted with antiseptic dye.
In July 2019, Navalny was given a 30-day jail term after calling for unauthorized protests. During that jail sentence, he was taken to a hospital with severe swelling of the face and a rash, and later alleged he was poisoned.
He has been jailed several times in recent years, barred from running for president, and had a bid to run for Moscow mayor blocked.
The head of the legal department of the anti-corruption foundation Navalny founded, Vyacheslav Gimadi, wrote on Twitter: “There is no doubt that Navalny was poisoned for his political position and activity.”
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