BERLIN (Reuters) – His doctors said on Monday that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was discharged from a ventilator and could leave his hospital bed for a short time, while Germany announced that French and Swedish laboratories had confirmed their findings that he had been poisoned with nerve gas from the Soviet era. Novichuk.
Navalny, 44, was flown to Berlin for treatment at Charite Hospital two days after he fell ill on a domestic flight in Russia on August 20. Germany called on Russia to investigate the case.
The hospital said that he was “successfully removed from mechanical ventilation” and was able to leave his bed “for short periods”.
Although indicating improvement in Navalny’s health, the statement did not address the long-term prospects of the anti-corruption activist and most prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Doctors have previously warned that although Navalny has recovered, long-term health problems from the poisoning cannot be ruled out.
The Kremlin was furious with the calls made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders to Russia to answer questions about poisoning, and denied any official involvement and accused the West of trying to defame Moscow. His ministry announced that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has canceled a visit to Germany scheduled for Tuesday.
The news regarding Navalny’s case came as his partners made some gains in the regional elections held across Russia on Sunday.
In Novosibirsk, which Navalny had visited days before his illness, the head of his regional headquarters, Sergey Boyko, won a seat on the city council. The main Kremlin party, United Russia, which Navalny called “the party of fraudsters and thieves”, lost the majority in the council, according to preliminary statistics. Another representative of the Navy, Ksenia Fadeeva, won a seat on the city council in Tomsk, the city he left on the flight in which he fell ill.
The German government said that tests conducted by laboratories in France and Sweden supported previous findings by a German military laboratory that Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok, the same class of Soviet-era agents that British authorities said were used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his colleagues. Daughter in Salisbury, England, in 2018.
German government spokesman Steven Seibert said that the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is also taking steps to test samples of Navalny in its designated laboratories.
He said Germany had asked France and Sweden to conduct an independent examination of the results. German officials said that laboratories in both countries, as well as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, took their new samples from Navalny.
“In efforts separate from OPCW testing, which is still ongoing, three laboratories independently provided evidence that Mr Navalny’s poisoning was caused by a nerve gas from the Novichok group,” Seibert said.
“We call on Russia once again to make a statement on the incident,” he added. “We are consulting closely with our European partners regarding possible next steps.”
Seibert did not specify specialized French and Swedish laboratories. But the head of the Swedish Defense Research Agency, Asa Scott, told the Swedish news agency TT: “We can confirm that we see the same results as the German laboratory, that is, there is no doubt that it is related to these materials.”
Macron’s office said French President Emmanuel Macron expressed “deep concern about the criminal act” that targeted Navalny during a phone call with Putin on Monday.
Macron confirmed that France reached the same conclusions as its European partners regarding poisoning, according to the statement. She added, “There is a need for clarification from Russia within the framework of a credible and transparent investigation.”
In the call, the Kremlin said, Putin “emphasized the inadequacy of the baseless accusations against the Russian side” and stressed Russia’s demand for Germany to hand over Navalny’s analyzes and samples to Russian experts. Putin also called for joint work on the issue by German and Russian doctors.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Russia: “With the support of the findings of Germany by laboratories abroad, we do not expect the owner of bad news – that is, us – to be subjected to further attack, but rather they should deal with the same news.” the authorities.
Russian officials urged Germany to share evidence that led it to conclude “without a doubt” that Navalny had poisoned Novichok. Berlin has rejected suggestions from Moscow that it is slowing down.
When asked why Navalny samples had not been delivered to Russia, German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebehr replied that “Mr. Navalny was receiving treatment in Russia in hospital for 48 hours.”
When he fell ill, Navalny was taken to a hospital in Omsk, Siberia, where Russian doctors said there was no evidence of their poisoning and said he was too unstable to move. A German charity sent a medical evacuation plane to bring him to Berlin, which it did after German doctors said it was stable enough to be transported.
“There are samples from Mr. Navalny on the Russian side,” Adibehr said. “The Russian side is invited, even after three independent laboratories have established the result, to explain itself, and Russia has … all the information and all the samples it needs for analysis.”
Navalny was in an induced coma for more than a week as he was being treated with an antidote before hospital officials said a week ago that his condition had improved enough to be discharged.
Associated Press writers Frank Jordan in Berlin, Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Sylvie Corbett in Paris, and Jan M Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark contributed to this.