Russian dissident Alexei Navalny arrives in Berlin for medical treatment

Alexei Navalny © Aleksandr Shcherbak/TASS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BERLIN, Aug 22, 2020, AFP, Reuters. Russian dissident politician Alexei Navalny landed at Berlin Tegel airport after being airlifted from a hospital in Omsk, Russia. He is being treated for suspected poisoning at Berlin’s Charite hospital, DW reported.

The German military brought him to the hospital from the airport in an intensive care transporter, according to dpa new agency.

The Russian opposition leader is currently in a coma and breathing through a ventilator.

Jaka Bizilj, founder of Cinemas for Peace, the German NGO that funded Navalny’s flight to Berlin, told Bild newspaper that the Russian politician’s condition was stable following his arrival in Germany.

Berlin “hopes that the treatment at Charite leads to an improvement in his condition and enables a full recovery,” according to a government spokesperson.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among those who pushed for a speedy transfer for Navalny to Germany.

Wrangling between Germany and Russia

Navalny left Russia early Saturday on a flight bound for Germany following more than 24 hours of wrangling between German and Russian medics.

An ambulance carrying Navalny arrived at Omsk airport at around 6 a.m. local time (00:30 UTC). He left in a private plane chartered by Cinema for Peace that was sent to fly Navalny to Berlin.

Shortly before takeoff, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on Twitter that he had boarded the plane.

“The fight for Alexei’s life and health is just beginning and there is a long way to go, but at least the first step has been taken,” she said.

Navalny is in a coma after a suspected poisoning. Russia gave permission for the NGO to transfer the 44-year-old to the German capital from Siberia on Friday. Initially Russian medical professionals said he was not in a fit state to travel by plane, but relented when the German doctors declared he could be transported.

Targeted by Kremlin

The politician and corruption investigator is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s harshest and most prominent critics. His supporters say that tea he drank was laced with poison and the Kremlin is responsible.

Navalny was rushed to hospital in Omsk on Thursday. Russian doctors say there is no evidence of poisoning, claiming Navalny has a “metabolic disorder.”

Navalny’s supporters said the delay in giving permission for him to be transferred was a ploy to stall his treatment until there was no more poison in his system. The Kremlin denied the claim.

Like many other opposition politicians in Russia, Navalny has frequently been detained by law enforcement and pro-Kremlin groups. He was rushed to hospital in 2017 from jail in what doctors called a “severe allergic reaction” but supporters suspect may have been a poisoning.

He served time for violating protest regulations.

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