Relatives of Russian opponent Navalny denounce refusal to transfer him abroad

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OMSK | Relatives and allies of the main Russian opponent, Alexeï Navalny, placed in intensive care after suspected poisoning, denounced on Friday the refusal of doctors to transfer him abroad, a decision which they said puts “his life in danger”.

France and Germany both offered Thursday “all medical aid”, a medical plane chartered from Berlin by an NGO that even reached Siberia overnight with the objective of bringing back to Germany the charismatic anti-corruption activist.

“The chief doctor announced that Navalny is not transportable. His condition is unstable, “said the spokesperson of the opponent Kira Iarmych on Twitter, believing that it would be” mortally dangerous “to leave him in this” unequipped “hospital and” with a diagnosis still not made “, in Omsk, Western Siberia.

According to her, the decision of the opponent’s relatives is not sufficient to trigger his transfer to be treated abroad, the doctors refusing to do so.

The hospital’s chief doctor, Alexander Murakhovsky, for his part explained to journalists that he was working on five hypotheses for the diagnosis and that the tests would continue for two days. He added that there were no complications during the night and that the opponent’s condition had improved slightly this morning, but that he was still unconscious.

“Regarding his transfer (…) the question is premature. It is necessary to arrive at a complete stabilization of the patient, ”he said.

According to the doctor, the hospital must settle “certain legal questions” before letting European doctors see Mr. Navalny. Specialists from Moscow arrived overnight to examine it.

The refusal to transfer Mr. Navalny abroad was denounced by his right-hand man Leonid Volkov as a “political decision, not a medical one”. “They wait for the toxins to come out and stop being detectable in the body. There is no diagnosis or analysis. Alexeï’s life is in great danger, ”he wrote on Twitter.

Medical aircraft

Alexei Navalny, one of the fiercest critics of the Kremlin, was traveling from Tomsk to Moscow by plane when he became unwell. The aircraft had to make an emergency landing in Omsk.

The opponent was admitted to hospital there, plunged into a natural coma, placed in intensive care and connected to an artificial respirator. Doctors said Thursday “to fight to save his life”.

His allies have said they believe he was the victim of “intentional poisoning”, “with something mixed with his tea”.

A medical plane chartered by the German NGO Cinema for Peace, which had already carried out a similar operation with a member of the opposition group Pussy Riot in 2018, arrived in Omsk in the morning, according to local media.

French President Emmanuel Macron, “extremely concerned”, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, “upset”, asked Thursday respectively “clarity” and “transparency” on the state of Mr. Navalny.

Main opponent of the Kremlin, whose publications denouncing the corruption of Russian elites are widely shared on social networks, Alexeï Navalny has already been the victim of physical attacks. In 2017, he was sprayed with an antiseptic product in his eyes when leaving his office in Moscow.

In July 2019, while serving a short prison sentence, he was treated in hospital after suddenly suffering from an abscess on his upper body, denouncing poisoning as authorities spoke of an “allergic reaction”.

Campaigning in recent days in favor of the opposition candidates for the regional elections in September, Alexeï Navalny has several times been sentenced to short prison terms, in particular because of the organization of demonstrations. His organization and its supporters are regularly subjected to pressure, arrests and legal proceedings.

The Kremlin said to wish Alexeï Navalny, “like any Russian citizen”, a “speedy recovery”, also stressing that the poisoning was so far only “a guess”.

Many opponents of the Kremlin have been victims of poisoning in recent years, in Russia or abroad. Two high-profile poisoning cases notably took place in the United Kingdom in 2018 and 2006 on former Russian secret agents.

Several Russian opponents who have also been hospitalized have denounced poisonings in recent years. Each time, the Russian authorities have denied any responsibility.

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