Alexei Navalny to be flown to Germany after suspected poisoning

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Alexei Navalny
Alexei Navalny

A German NGO is sending an air-ambulance with a coma-specialist team to pick up Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

An ambulance aircraft with a team specialised in treating coma patients is due to leave Germany to pick up stricken Russian dissident Alexei Navalny on Thursday evening, the Berlin-based Cinema for Peace Foundation said.

Alexei Navalny was taken seriously ill while on a domestic flight. Navalny, who is among President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, was hospitalised in the city of Omsk — some 2,200 kilometres (1,367 miles) east of Moscow — after he lost consciousness during a flight to Moscow and his plane made an emergency landing.

Passed out after drinking tea

The lawyer suddenly passed out after apparently drinking black tea at the airport.

Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said he was on a ventilator in a coma and his condition was serious but stable.

Yarmysh is convinced that he was “intentionally poisoned.”

Navalny spends his time exposing corruption among the Russian elite and has suffered a constant campaign of intimidation and threats.

He suffered a similar incident last year where he was also suspected to have been poisoned while in police custody.

A Cinema For Peace Foundation spokesperson confirmed that an air ambulance was due to leave for Russia at midnight German time.

“For humanitarian reasons, at Pussy Riot’s Pyotr Verzilov’s request, we will send at midnight an air ambulance with medical equipment and specialists with which Navalny can be brought to Germany,” said Jaka Bizilj, who heads the foundation.

Bizilj added that the Berlin Charite hospital was ready to treat Navalny.

“If Navalny is in a state to be transported tomorrow morning, the plane will immediately fly to Berlin. His wife will accompany him.”

History Repeating itself?

In 2018, Bizilj helped to fly fellow Putin critic Pyotr Verzilov to Germany for treatment after he was poisoned. He was treated by specialists in the Berlin Charite hospital.

The prospect of treating Navalny in Germany was backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in southern France.

“If asked to, we will provide him with medical assistance, including German hospitals, but the request has to come from there,” Merkel said.

The two leaders said they were deeply concerned about what had happened to the politician.

The French leader said France was ready to provide all assistance that Navalny needed, including asylum and medical care.

An official from the German Foreign Ministry said they were aware of a “private initiative” to bring Navalny to Germany.

Navalny, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, began feeling ill on a plane to Moscow on Thursday morning after drinking tea at an airport cafe in the Siberian city of Tomsk.

If his illness is confirmed as a poisoning, it would be the latest in a long series of such cases and suspected cases involving people who have fallen out with the Kremlin, which denies settling scores with its foes by murdering them.

mm/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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