Putin critic Navalny under guard after likely poisoning, says Germany

Putin critic Navalny under guard after likely poisoning, says Germany
epa08620703 Police outside the Charite hospital where Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny (not in the picture) stays for treatment in Berlin, Germany, 23 August 2020. Navalny was first placed in an hospital in Omsk, Russia, after he felt bad on board of a plane on his way from Tomsk to Moscow. The flight was interrupted and after landing in Omsk Navalny was delivered to hospital with a suspicion on a toxic poisoning. The hospital management agreed on 21 August 2020 to transport Navalny to a German hospital for further treatment. EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER

BERLIN, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Germany said on Monday it had placed Alexei Navalny under guard in hospital after determining that the long-time critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin had most likely been poisoned while campaigning in Siberia.

Navalny collapsed on a plane on Thursday last week after drinking tea that his allies said they believe was laced with poison. He was flown to Germany for treatment on Saturday.

“The suspicion is that Mr. Navalny was poisoned given that unfortunately recent Russian history has had several such suspected cases,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told journalists.

“Because one can say with near certainty that it was a poisoning attack, protection is necessary,” Seibert added.

Russia’s government made no immediate comment on the German statement. The Kremlin said on Friday it was still unclear what caused Navalny to fall ill and that initial tests did not show he was poisoned.

The incident could further strain Russia’s fraught relations with its European and NATO neighbours, who have accused it of mounting attacks on dissidents in Europe in the past – accusations that Russia has dismissed.

Doctors at the Siberian hospital that first treated Navalny said earlier on Monday they had saved his life but that they had not found traces of poison in his system.

“If we had found some kind of poison that was somehow confirmed then it would have been a lot easier for us. It would have been a clear diagnosis, a clear condition and a well-known course of treatment,” senior doctor Anatoly Kalinichenko told reporters in the Siberian city of Omsk.

The Russian doctors did not say what they had treated him for. Last week they said they had diagnosed him with metabolic disease possibly brought on by low blood sugar.

The doctors said they had not come under pressure from authorities while treating Navalny.

Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said on Monday supporters had reported what they described as a suspected poisoning to the Russian police and Investigative Committee as soon as Navalny fell ill.

The police and Investigative Committee were not immediately available for comment.

Navalny has been a thorn in the Kremlin’s side for more than a decade, exposing what he says is high-level graft and mobilising crowds of young protesters.

He has been repeatedly detained for organising public meetings and rallies and sued over his investigations into corruption. He was barred from running in a presidential election in 2018. (Additional reporting by Anton Zverev, Andrey Kuzmin and Tom Balmforth in Moscow; Editing by Andrew Heavens)


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.