Alexei Navalny: Tests indicate Putin critic was poisoned, German doctors say

Doctors treating Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny in a German hospital say tests indicate he was poisoned.

Medics at Charite-Universitatsmedizin Berlin, where the Putin critic was transferred to from Omsk in Russia’s Siberia region on Saturday, said: “The clinical findings indicate intoxication by a substance from the cholinesterase inhibitor group.

“The specific substance has not been identified so far and a further wide-ranging analysis has been initiated. The effect of the toxin, i.e. the cholinesterase inhibition in the organism, has been proven several times and in independent laboratories.”

They said Mr Navalny, leader of Russia’s opposition party, remains in an artificial coma and is in a serious condition “but there is currently no acute danger to his life”.

The 44-year-old collapsed into a coma last Thursday on an internal Russian flight after drinking what his supporters suspect was poisoned tea.

Doctors in Germany said he is being treated with atropine but they cannot currently determine whether he will have lasting issues, “especially in the area of the nervous system”.

Atropine is used to treat certain types of nerve agent and pesticide poisonings, as well as some types of slow heart rate and to decrease saliva production during surgery.

Cholinesterase inhibitors are a group of chemicals that prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, which then builds up and causes a jam in the nervous system.

Mr Navalny’s doctors in Siberia had said he was too unstable to be moved, despite a team of German specialists in a medical plane being sent to help.

The politician’s supporters believe doctors were stalling until any poison in his system could no longer be detected.

The Kremlin denies its resistance to the transfer was political and says it was purely a medical decision.

Doctors in Omsk said Mr Navalny was not poisoned, suggesting a drop in blood sugar may have caused him to lose consciousness.

Police have been posted outside the hospital in Berlin since the Russian politician’s arrival as a “precaution”, Dirk Wiese, the German government’s co-ordinator for Eastern European affairs said.

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