▶ Watch Video: Putin critic Alexei Navalny in coma after possible poisoning

Moscow — Russian doctors who treated opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Siberia denied on Monday there was any official interference in his treatment. The 44-year-old critic of the Kremlin was rushed into intensive care on Thursday after he fell ill on a plane to Moscow and it landed in the Siberian city of Omsk.

Aides say they believe Navalny was poisoned with a cup of tea, pointing the blame at President Vladimir Putin.

Over the weekend the vocal critic of Putin, who has faced numerous arrests and even been the subject of a previous suspected poisoning, was flown to Germany for treatment at the request of his team and family.

“Facts are missing”

The Russian doctors initially refused to allow his transfer last week, claiming he was too ill to be moved. They relented after German doctors examined Navalny in Omsk and stated publicly that he was in a stable condition for transfer, dismissing the basis of their Russian counterparts’ refusal as false.

Navalny was still said to be in a coma on Monday in Berlin’s Charite Hospital, but officials confirmed he was stable and that he’d undergone a battery of tests, the results of which were still pending.

“Many facts are missing in the case of Navalny, medical and also likely criminological,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday during a news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart. “We must wait for those (facts).”

“Can’t tell you who they were”

Doctors who treated him in Russia gave a press conference in Omsk on Monday morning, denying they were influenced by officials while treating him.

“There was no influence on the treatment of the patient a priori and there couldn’t have been any,” the chief doctor of the Omsk emergency hospital No. 1, Alexander Murakhovsky, said.

“We didn’t agree any diagnoses with anyone. There was no pressure on us from any doctors or any other forces.”

Journalists and Navalny’s allies said the hospital was packed with police and plain-clothed officers sat in Murakhovsky’s office.

“I can’t tell you who they were,” the chief doctor said. “I had a lot of people in my office, after all (Navalny)’s a political figure.”

Medical specialists carry Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on a stretcher into an ambulance on their way to an airport before his medical evacuation to Germany, in Omsk, Russia, August 22, 2020. 

ALEXEY MALGAVKO/REUTERS

“I can’t say they did anything… They just came and asked what was going on,” he added.

“Nothing in the blood”

Berlin’s Charite hospital said Sunday that Navalny was stable.

The Omsk regional health ministry said Saturday that caffeine and alcohol were found in Navalny’s urine, but “no convulsive or synthetic poisons were detected”.

“Yes of course we found substances,” said the hospital deputy chief Anatoly Kalinichenko, while adding that Navalny did not have alcohol poisoning.

Doctors repeated their insistence that no poison was detected by blood tests.

“There was nothing in the blood,” said Murakhovsky.

“If we had found poisoning, confirmed something, for us that would have been much easier,” said Kalinichenko.


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The Omsk doctors said Navalny appeared to have had a “metabolic disorder” and low blood sugar.

Doctors insisted they had acted appropriately.

“We saved his life, stabilized his state,” said Kalinichenko, adding that Navalny had been in a “critical state.”

“For the first day and a half we were fighting practically every moment for his life.”

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