Kremlin critic Navalny shares picture from hospital

Kremlin critic Navalny shares picture from hospital
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Russian dissident Alexei Navalny posted a picture Tuesday after emerging from a medically induced coma in a Berlin hospital last week.

“Hi, this is Navalny. I miss you all,” the opposition leader wrote in an Instagram post. “I can still hardly do anything, but yesterday I could breathe all day on my own. Actually on my own.”

Navalny became ill on a flight in August and was transported to Berlin, where he was hospitalized and placed in the coma. German officials have said he was poisoned with Novichok, the same Cold War-era nerve agent suspected in the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

On Tuesday, a Kremlin spokesman said Navalny was free to come back to Russia once he left the hospital, according to Reuters. The spokesperson added that Russia has not had the same access to medical samples as French and Swedish laboratories that have confirmed Navalny was poisoned.

Doctors said Monday that Navalny’s health has rebounded to the point that he is able to briefly venture out of his hospital bed and he has “successfully been removed from mechanical ventilation.”

German officials have demanded the Kremlin conduct a full investigation into what happened to Navalny. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has suggested the survival of a German-Russian pipeline deal may depend on the Kremlin conducting a thorough probe.

“I hope the Russians won’t force us to change our position regarding the Nord Stream 2 [pipeline],” Maas said earlier this month. “If there won’t be an contributions from the Russian side regarding the investigation in the coming days, we will have to consult with our partners.”

“We have high expectations from the Russians to bring light into this severe crime,” he added. “If they have nothing to do with this attack, then it’s in their own interest to put the facts on the table.”