Doctors describe the poisoned Russian opposition leader’s illness and treatment


In an article for a major medical journal, German doctors treating Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny after he was poisoned with a nerve agent have identified the situation.

Navalny had given his permission for the article to be published in The Lancet, Berlin’s Charite Hospital said.

He unexpectedly fell ill on a domestic flight to Russia on Aug. 20. Two days of political wrangling ended after an emergency landing and treatment at a Siberian hospital in Omsk, with Navalny being flown by private ambulance to Berlin on Aug. 22.

After tests by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons revealed that he was exposed to the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, the European Union placed fines on six Russian officials and a state research center.

With sanctions of its own against EU officials, the Kremlin, which denies involvement in the poisoning, has retaliated.

The path of Mr. Navalny’s illness and treatment with a variety of medications to relieve his symptoms and underlying medical condition was outlined in detail in their journal article by Charite doctors.

He was taken out of a medically induced coma as his health progressed, and physicians observed that after three weeks, the difficulty understanding speech and speaking that he had initially displayed upon waking had vanished.

“At the last follow-up visit on day 55, we noted almost complete recovery of neurological, neuropsychological and neurophysiological findings, with no evidence of polyneuropathy,” they report.

Although the symptoms and treatment are close to those of exposure to organophosphorus pesticides, which kill more than 100,000 people per year in Asia, it is the first clinical case study explaining Nowichok poisoning.

The physicians of Mr. Navalny noticed that their patient had “a very favorable outcome” and attributed this to the rapid care he received in Russia.

Last week, a joint report by the Bellingcat research group and several media outlets reported that Mr. Navalny had been tracked by agents of Russia’s FSB internal security agency during his travels since 2017.

This week, Mr. Navalny, who is convalescing in Germany, posted a video of a phone call to one of the suspected agents, who said that his underwear was covered with poison. The FSB branded it a fraudulent call.


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