Critically Ill Navalny Gets OK to Be Flown From Russia to Berlin

Russian doctors at first refused family's request to let him be transported, saying he was too sick
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2020 1:45 PM CDT
Russian Doctors Give OK for Navalny to Get Care in Berlin
In this file photo taken on Feb. 29, 2020, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen in Moscow.   (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

Alexei Navalny is headed to Germany. The family of the 44-year-old Russian opposition leader—in a coma and on a ventilator in a hospital's intensive care unit in Omsk after what allies suspect was a poisoning on Thursday—had wanted Navalny to be transferred to a clinic in Berlin, but Russian doctors initially refused that request, insisting his condition was too precarious. That decision was apparently reversed Friday, with a doctor now saying Navalny's condition is "stable" and that he's free to make the trip, the BBC reports. Per the Tass state news agency, via CNN, Navalny could be transported "within a day." Doctors at the Omsk hospital say no poison has been found in his body and that they think he may be suffering from a metabolic disorder caused by low blood sugar.

Per CBS News, Western toxicology experts don't think a poisoning could've been ruled out so quickly. And a metabolic disorder is not the theory held by Navalny's supporters, who insist he was poisoned and that the Kremlin is to blame. Ivan Zhdanov, who heads up Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, says that he was at the hospital when a transport cop told him a "deadly substance" was involved in Navalny's sickness—a substance so dangerous that "everybody around should wear protective suits," per CNN. Navalny's wife, Yulia, had earlier written a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom her husband has been a fierce critic of, to demand Navalny's release. She said at a presser that she believes the stalling on releasing her husband was to give the substance used to poison him enough time to become untraceable. (More Alexei Navalny stories.)

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