Navalny Aide: This Was 'an Attempt to Kill,' Not to Scare

Doctors say the still-unconscious Russian opposition leader is slowly starting to improve
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2020 2:08 PM CDT
Still-Unconscious Navalny Slowly Improving, Doctors Say
In this Aug. 27, 2018, file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen while speaking in a courtroom in Moscow.   (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

As more pieces of the puzzle behind Alexei Navalny's sickness come together, some good news out of Germany, where he's hospitalized. The doctors treating the 44-year-old Russian opposition leader say he's still on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma in the ICU after likely being poisoned, but he's slowly starting to improve, NBC News reports. "While his condition remains serious, there is no immediate danger to his life," a statement from Berlin's Charite hospital reads. "However, due to the severity of the patient's poisoning, it remains too early to gauge potential long-term effects." Navalny is being treated with the antidote atropine, which the Guardian notes was used to treat ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter when they were poisoned in 2018. The hospital adds it's been in touch with Navalny's wife.

After Russian doctors said they didn't think Navalny had been poisoned and he was airlifted to Berlin, German doctors disputed that, saying they'd found cholinesterase inhibitors—which are also found in certain chemical nerve agents and pesticides—in his system. Meanwhile, Navalny's best friend and chief aide, Leonid Volkov, tells CNN that he's long had nightmares that Navalny would be killed, or that "something very bad" would happen to him. And while he can't prove Vladimir Putin himself had anything to do with Navalny's suspected poisoning, he can't see how high-level state actors or agencies didn't play a role. "It was an attempt to kill, not to scare him off," Volkov says. Russia has denied any involvement, and on Thursday, prosecutors there said they have no plan right now to start a criminal investigation into what happened to the outspoken Kremlin critic. (More Alexei Navalny stories.)

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