VLADIMIR Putin’s rival Alexei Navalny has arrived in Berlin for treatment after a suspected poisoning left him fighting for his life in a coma.
Navalny, 44, fell ill after drinking tea at an airport on Thursday leading to accusations that the Kremlin carried out an assassination attempt.
Doctors in Russia said on Friday that the corruption activist was too sick to be moved but his condition later stabilised meaning he could make the near-six hour trip to Germany.
Navalny today landed at Tegel airport in Berlin after the flight paid for by German NGO Cinema for Peace. His wife Yulia travelled with him.
He is currently being treated at the Charité hospital in the German capital.
Pictures have emerged of a convoy of ambulances and police vehicles transporting the Russian to hospital.
Another image later emerged of a so-called bubble stretcher, believed to have carried Navalny, being wheeled out of the facility.
Navalny fell ill while flying to Moscow on Thursday from the Siberian city of Tomsk, where he met allies ahead of next month’s regional elections.
The 44-year-old was reportedly heard “screaming in pain” shortly after drinking tea at Tomsk airport.
Earlier, the Kremlin was accused of blocking Navalny’s transport to Berlin to prevent Western doctors from identifying deadly toxins in his body.
A video at a hospital in Omsk showed an ambulance with its rear doors open as medics wearing masks loaded the unconscious politician inside.
Navalny’s family members were told that they had to accept responsibility for any outcome that could result from moving him to Germany.
A chief doctor at the Omsk hospital, Alexander Murakhovsky, said Navalny most likely suffered a metabolic disorder and lost consciousness due to a drop in blood sugar.
However, Dr Anastasia Vasilyeva, who knows the politician, rubbished the official diagnosis after traces of industrial chemical substances were found on his clothes and fingers.
The Kremlin denied that its opposition to transferring Navalny was politically motivated, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov claiming it was for medical reasons.
After falling ill on Thursday, his plane made an emergency landing in Omsk and he was rushed unconscious to a hospital.
He was placed into an induced coma where he remains stable.
Specialist Russian doctors flew in from Moscow as Navalny battled to stay alive.
Navalny campaigned to run against Putin in the 2018 presidential election but was prevented from taking part in the contest.
After that, he began backing opposition candidates in regional elections and challenging officials of United Russia, which is the ruling party.
A vocal critic of Putin, Navalny has worked to expose government corruption in Russia and has served a number of jail terms.
His alleged poisoning has chilling echoes of Alexander Litvinenko – a former FSB spy and Moscow critic who died after drinking tea laced with radioactive material in London in 2006.