Russia allows Putin critic to fly to Germany for treatment
In a reversal, Russia will allow Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who is in a coma from suspected poisoning, to be sent to Germany for medical treatment, a senior physician said Friday.
The move comes after doctors at a medical facility in the Siberian city of Omsk refused to sign off on transferring Navalny to a facility in Berlin, leading his supporters to believe the Kremlin was responsible for his condition, The Associated Press reported.
Navalny’s spokesperson later announced that he had been put on a plane to Berlin and thanked his supporters.
Самолёт с Алексеем вылетел в Берлин.
Огромное спасибо всем за поддержку. Борьба за жизнь и здоровье Алексея только начинается, и предстоит пройти еще очень много, но сейчас хотя бы сделан первый шаг
— Кира Ярмыш (@Kira_Yarmysh) August 22, 2020
Navalny, 44, is a politician and corruption investigator who is known for his criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Physicians in Omsk initially said Navalny was too unstable to be moved to the German clinic, despite a plane with German specialists and equipment arriving in the city to aid him.
German doctors later examined him and determined he was fit to be transported, according to a spokesperson of the charity that organized Navalny’s medevac flight.
A senior medical official in Omsk said the team did not think Navalny was poisoned.
Navalny’s wife said she was not allowed to speak to German specialists and added they were brought into the facility through the back door.
“I was forcibly kicked out in a rude manner,” Yulia Navalnaya said. “This is an appalling situation. They are not letting us take Alexei. We believe that clearly something is being hidden from us.”
Navalny began feeling ill Thursday after a flight to Moscow.
He has been frequently detained by law enforcement and has been subject to harassment by pro-Kremlin groups.
Last year, Navalny was rushed from prison, where he was serving a sentence after an administrative arrest, to a medical facility after fears that he had been poisoned.
Medical examiners determined he had an allergic reaction and discharged him to prison the following day.
The widow of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian agent who was killed in London by radioactive poisoning in 2006, told the AP she understands Navalny’s family wanting to send him to Germany for treatment.
Updated 10:39 p.m.