Kremlin critic Navalny out of coma, says Berlin hospital

BERLIN • Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been removed from a medically induced coma and is responding to speech, Berlin’s Charite hospital said yesterday.

The hospital, which has been treating Mr Navalny since he was airlifted to Germany after falling ill on a Russian domestic flight last month, said his condition has improved and he is being weaned off mechanical ventilation.

“It remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning,” Charite said in a statement.

Mr Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, was airlifted to Germany last month after collapsing on a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow.

It made an emergency landing in Omsk so that Mr Navalny could be stretchered off.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her government has concluded Mr Navalny, 44, was poisoned with Novichok, the same substance Britain said was used on a Russian double agent and his daughter in an attack in 2018.

Moscow says it has seen no evidence Mr Navalny was poisoned. It has denounced attempts to blame the poisoning on Russia as “absurd”.

The incident has put the future of Germany’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline with Russia in doubt as a growing number of politicians call for support for the project to be withdrawn unless Russia helps to clear up the circumstances around Mr Navalny’s poisoning.

Dr Merkel’s spokesman said yesterday she does not rule out imposing sanctions on the pipeline in response to the poisoning.

Novichok is a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s. It can be deployed in an ultra-fine powder, liquid or vapour.

Britain says Russia used Novichok to poison former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury two years ago.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack, which the Skripals survived. A member of the public was killed.


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