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Aleksei Navalny Arrives in Germany for Potential Poisoning Treatment

2020-08-22 11:13:14
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BERLIN – Russia's most prominent opposition figure, Aleksei A. Navalny, arrived in Berlin for treatment on Saturday, more than 48 hours after falling into a coma in Siberia from what his family and supporters suspect was deliberate poisoning.

Mr Navalny was admitted to Charité, one of Germany's main medical research facilities, where he will undergo "extensive diagnostic tests," the hospital said hours after the plane carrying him landed in a statement.

"Patient stable, mission accomplished," said Jaka Bizilj, who leads the foundation that organized air transport at the urging of Mr Navalny's friends and family.

Mr Navalny, who remained in a coma after falling ill during a flight within Russia on Thursday, was in stable condition during his Saturday morning trip from the Siberian city of Omsk to Berlin, said Mr Bizilj, who founded and runs the Cinema. foundation for Peace, which organized the air ambulance.

Upon landing in Berlin after about seven hours in the air, Mr. Navalny was met by an ambulance who took him under police escort to the hospital where he was admitted and will undergo an examination.

"Upon completion of the investigations and after consultation with the family, the treating physicians will comment on the disease and further treatment steps," Manuela Zingl, a Charité spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The exams will take a while. We therefore ask for your patience; we will inform you as soon as we have findings. "

Doctors at the hospital treated Pyotr Verzilov, a member of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot, in 2018 and found that he probably poisoned. Speaking to reporters via video link Friday, Mr. Verzilov said the onset of his symptoms mirrored that of Mr. Navalny, including a loss of consciousness and slipping into a coma several hours after the suspected poisoning.

"The similarities are striking not only in the medical condition, but also in the behavior of the Russian government and doctors," said Mr Verzilov, noting that his own transfer from Russia was also postponed to more than two days after the alleged poisoning. took place. Critics have said such delays on the part of Russian officials make it more difficult to determine what substance has been ingested.

Navalny had collapsed in agonizing pain on Thursday, shortly after takeoff on what would have been a 2,000-mile flight to Moscow. His family suspects that poison was added to a cup of tea he drank at the airport hours before boarding that flight.

His evacuation came after hours of wrestling with Russian doctors and officials, who insisted that a transfer to Germany would endanger Mr. Navalny's health. But a team of German doctors, who had arrived in Omsk by air ambulance, were granted access to the opposition leader Friday afternoon and unequivocally stated that it was safe for him to travel and that he was allowed to board.

Mr. Navalny's wife, Yulia, who sent Mr. Putin a letter Friday to ask for permission to evacuate her husband, if she was allowed to accompany him to Germany.

The Russian authorities have consistently denied that there is any evidence of poisoning. At a press conference on Friday, Dr. Aleksandr Murakhovsky said that tests for toxins in Mr. Navalny were all negative. He said Mr Navalny had developed a "carbohydrate imbalance, that is, a metabolic disorder", possibly caused by low blood sugar.

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