Doctors block Navalny’s transfer to Germany amid confusion about whether Moscow protest leader was poisoned

Medics treating Alexey Navalny have prevented his evacuation to Germany, saying his condition isn’t stable enough for the journey. Meanwhile, there were conflicting reports early on Friday as to whether the activist was poisoned.

The deputy chief physician of the facility caring for the Moscow protest leader says no traces of poison were found in his blood and urine. Analysis was carried out both in Moscow and in Omsk, where Navalny is currently in intensive care, according to Dr Anatoly Kalinichenko.

The activist was hospitalized on Thursday after he lost consciousness on a flight from Tomsk. Kalinichenko added that he remained unconscious and on a ventilator, but his “condition had improved somewhat overnight.”

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Anatoly Kalinichenko, Deputy chief doctor of the emergency medical service hospital №1 in Omsk © Sputnik/Elena Latypova; (inset) Alexey Navalny © Sputnik/Valery Melnikov
Doctors say condition of Moscow protest leader Navalny has stabilized, as Kremlin promises probe if traces of poison are found

“No poisons or traces of poison have been found in his system. I suppose the diagnosis of ‘poisoning’ is still at the back of our minds,” Kalinichenko told reporters. “But we do not think that the patient has been poisoned.”

However, earlier on Friday morning, Navalny’s associate Ivan Zhdanov, a director at the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), said police had spoken of a ‘deadly substance’ being found. There was no information about where it was discovered or whether it was in Navalny’s body. The blogger’s wife, Yulia, believes that authorities are stalling for time until the toxin passes from his system.

“The substance poses a threat not only to Alexey’s life, but also to those around him,” Zhdanov warned. “A representative of the transport police said that everyone around him should be in protective suits.” He added that police would not identify the substance, because it is an “investigative secret.”

On Friday morning, Alexander Murakhovsky, the chief physician at the Omsk emergency hospital where Navalny was taken, said that doctors had concluded – following a case conference, which included Moscow specialists – that it was impossible to transport him abroad. According to Murakhovsky, Navalny’s condition has improved but he is still not stable enough to travel.

An air ambulance had arrived to take him to Germany overnight. It was sent from Nuremberg by the ‘Cinema for Peace’ human rights foundation. On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian government would allow Navalny to be transported abroad if there were such a request.

Supporters of Navalny plan to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) with a request to urgently intervene. “We demand that the Russian authorities be prohibited from interfering with the transportation of Navalny to a [German] medical facility,” his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on Telegram.

News agency TASS, citing a law enforcement source, also reported that no poison has been detected in the activist’s system. It said a criminal case has not yet been opened, since there is no information indicating that Navalny was deliberately poisoned. They added that he will be interviewed as part of a probe as soon as his health condition allows.

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