VLADIMIR Putin critic Alexei Navalny WAS poisoned and he will be ‘incapacitated’ for months, German doctors have revealed today.
Russian opposition leader Navalny, 44, fell ill after drinking tea at an airport in Siberia on Thursday leading to accusations that the Kremlin carried out an assassination attempt.
He was airlifted to Berlin from Russia for treatment on Saturday.
Doctors at the Charité hospital in Berlin where Navalny is being treated in an intensive care unit said he is still in a coma.
The hospital said in a statement that the team of doctors who have been treating Navalny have found “cholinesterase inhibitors” in his system.
Cholinesterase inhibitors are a broad range of substances that are found in several drugs, but also pesticides and nerve agents.
However, the doctors said at the moment the specific substance to which Navalny was exposed is not yet known.
“The patient is in an intensive care unit and is still in an induced coma. His health is serious but there is currently no acute danger to his life,” the hospital said.
Berlin police and federal agents were posted at the hospital, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally offered the country’s assistance.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Navalny was likely the victim of a deliberate poisoning.
“Because there is a certain probability of a poison attack, protection is necessary,” Seibert told a press conference.
“The suspicion is that Mr Navalny was poisoned given that unfortunately, recent Russian history has had several such suspected cases.”
The doctors at the hospital in Siberia where Navalny was first treated have denied claims they were forced into saying they found no toxins in his body.
Local media reported that police officers were in Omsk Emergency Hospital No.1 chief doctor Alexander Murakhovsky’s when Navalny was taken there.
But Murakhovsky said he “didn’t know” who was in his office when Navalny arrived.
“I had a lot of people in my office, after all [Navalny] is a political figure. I can’t say they did anything. They just came and asked what was going on,” he said.
“We saved his life with great effort and work. There was no influence on the treatment of the patient and there couldn’t have been any.
“We didn’t agree diagnoses with anyone. There was no pressure on us from any doctors or any other forces.”
Murakhovsky earlier 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.
Meanwhile, senior doctor Anatoly Kalinichenko also denied claims Navalny had poison in his system.
“If we had found some kind of poison that was somehow confirmed then it would have been a lot easier for us. It would have been a clear diagnosis, a clear condition and a well-known course of treatment,” he said.
Navalny landed at Tegel airport in Berlin on Saturday 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.
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.
He 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.
The Kremlin denied that its opposition to transferring Navalny was politically motivated, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov claiming it was for medical reasons.
Navalny’s family members were told that they had to accept responsibility for any outcome that could result from moving him to Germany.
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.