Russia: Navalny in Coma, Doctors Oppose Transport to Germany

Published: 21 August 2020

Alexey Navalny with wife YuliaAlexei Navalny with his wife Yulia. (Photo: Bogomolov.PL (CC BY-SA 3.0))

By Zdravko Ljubas

A day after Russia's top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was admitted to a hospital in Siberian Omsk after allegedly being poisoned, German and French leaders called on the Kremlin to allow them to transfer the opposition leader to Germany or France.

Navalny was travelling on Thursday from Tomsk, Siberia, to Moscow when his plane had to make an emergency landing because he fell sick after having a cup of tea at the airport. He was reportedly in a coma.

Although the Kremlin has not officially responded to the calls of the two EU leaders, Germany on Friday sent a special plane equipped with an intensive care unit, but the doctors currently treating Navalny did not allow the transfer of the patient, saying that he was too weak to travel.

Steffen Seibert, the spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Friday that Navalny’s life has priority but also that “for the federal government it is clear -- the circumstances of this dismaying case must be clarified completely and transparently.”

However, Russia’s News Agency TASS reported that President Vladimir Putin said he was not planning “to discuss with German Chancellor Angela Merkel” the condition of Navalny.

The UN Human Rights Office has also expressed concern about the anti-corruption activist’s condition.

“I think our first call and our first consideration would be, we really hope that he is able to make a speedy and completely full recovery and as part of that we would absolutely stress that it is important that he gets all the adequate care that he needs in order to be able to make a recovery,” Elizabeth Throssell, spokesperson and media officer at UN Human Rights Office, told OCCRP.

Alexei’s wife Yulia Navalnaya urged the Russian President to let her husband leave the country.

“I believe that Alexei Navalny needs qualified medical care in the Federal Republic of Germany. I am officially asking for permission to transport Alexei Navalny to Germany,” Navalnaya tweeted.

Russian doctors in Omsk dismissed the possibility that Navalny was poisoned, repeating that he has been suffering a serious metabolic disorder.

“Again they take us for idiots. They say intelligent common words, but we can't establish the cause of the coma and the diagnosis,” Navalny’s personal doctor Anastasy Vasilyeva commented on Twitter.

She claimed that “poisoning actually caused the severe metabolic disorder,” and added that she does not trust the opinion of the Omsk doctors.

“If the diagnosis is just a ‘metabolic disorder,’ then why isn’t Alexei released to Berlin?” asked Vasilyeva and answered: “Because they are waiting for three days so that there are no traces of poison left in the body, and in Europe it will no longer be possible to identify this toxic substance.”