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.
The arrival in Germany of Mr Navalny, who took the Russia's most persistent critic of President Vladimir V. Putin, comes as Moscow watches popular uprisings in Khabarovsk in the Far East, and in neighboring Belarus, where thousands have taken to the streets to protest an August 9 election, whose results had been widely viewed as falsified.
Navalny, who had met opposition candidates in Siberia at an upcoming local election, welcomed the recent unrest as an inspiring sign that even long-standing political systems could be changed.
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.
Mr. Navalny's wife and personal physician quickly dismissed this story, saying the idea that an otherwise healthy 44-year-old was suffering from low blood sugar was ludicrous.
If it turns out that Mr. Navalny has ingested dangerous poisons, he would become the last prominent Kremlin critic to be poisoned in recent years.
A lethal dose of the radioactive substance polonium 210 was used against it Alexander Litvinenko and a nerve agent called Novichok to Sergei Skripal, both former Russian intelligence officers attacked in England. Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko became ill with a dioxin and unknown poisons were used against Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian journalist who lobbied in the West for sanctions against Kremlin agents.
In all these cases, the person or persons who ordered the attacks has remained unknown and, despite attempts to bring cases to higher courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, no justice has been served.
Officials in Berlin did not immediately comment on the arrival of Mr Navalny, fully aware of the sensitivity of the issue. But by offering to bring the opposition leader to Germany for medical treatment earlier this week, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a thorough investigation into what had happened.
"What's especially important is that the circumstances behind this are cleared up very quickly," she said. “We insist on that, because what we have heard so far is very unfavorable. It must be done very transparently. "