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Tests indicate Russian opposition leader Navalny was poisoned, German hospital says

Tests indicate Russian opposition leader Navalny was poisoned, German hospital says

Prominent Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appears to have been poisoned last week, according to findings released on Monday by doctors at Berlin’s Charité Hospital. 

In a statement, the hospital said that Navalny's health condition remains serious and that he is currently in an artificial coma. However, doctors say there is "no acute danger to his life."

"The clinical findings indicate intoxication by a substance from the group of active substances called cholinesterase inhibitors," the Charité Hospital said, noting the exact substance is still unknown. The hospital said that the effect of the toxin has been proven by tests conducted at independent laboratories. 

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"The outcome of the disease remains uncertain and long-term effects, especially in the area of ​​the nervous system, cannot be ruled out," the statement added. 

Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinSafeguarding US elections by sanctioning Russian sovereign debt DOJ: Russian hackers targeted 2018 Olympics, French elections Putin stands with Belarus's dictator — we should stand by its people MORE, was hospitalized last week after falling ill on a flight returning to Moscow from Siberia. Navalny's spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, said in a series of tweets last Thursday that his aides assumed he "was poisoned with something mixed into the tea" he drank before his flight. 

"It was the only thing that he drank in the morning. Doctors say the toxin was absorbed faster through the hot liquid. Alexei is now unconscious," she said, alleging that the poisoning was intentional.

Navalny, who has been in a coma since Thursday, was later transported to a hospital in Germany for treatment after authorities initially prevented him from leaving Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel played a role in getting Navalny to Berlin, a spokesperson said. 

Doctors found no traces of poison in his system but have said that it is the likely cause of his worsened health condition, The Washington Post reported

Navalny has been jailed several times for organizing protests against the Kremlin, according to Reuters. He was arrested last year after organizing an unauthorized protest opposing a decision to bar some local candidates from running in Moscow’s city council elections. 

Russian authorities have been suspected of targeting a number of politicians and dissidents. In 2018, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer who acted as a double agent in the United Kingdom, was poisoned in England.