Kremlin critic alexei navalny in berlin: the russian patient

The Russian oppositionist Nawalny was spied on before he collapsed. Now doctors in Berlin are dealing with the case.

First results are expected on Monday at the earliest Photo: dpa

Walks along the waterfront in Tomsk, swimming laps in the Tom River in the village of Kaftanchikovo, sushi from a delivery service, juices and water from a store that sells mostly alcohol: The journalists of the Moscow tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets recounted in detail over the weekend the Siberia service trip that Alexei Navalny made in the days leading up to his serious illness. They said they had the information about it from "our law enforcement sources." They did not question the spying on the Russian Kremlin critic.

Instead, they reported in a casual conversational style on the surveillance of the Muscovite – and perfidiously showed how commonplace tailing apparently is in the life of the 44-year-old opposition figure. Like so many Russian media outlets, they wrote of Nawalny’s "poisoning" as if it were a confirmed fact. Russian authorities, on the other hand, continue to deny such a thing. No toxins were found in either blood or urine, the Omsk Region Health Ministry said.

"The extent of the monitoring does not surprise me at all, we were aware of it earlier," Nawalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on Twitter on Sunday. She said she was only surprised by the shamelessness of journalists to report on it in detail.

Meanwhile, Navalny remains in a coma. Since Saturday, a team of doctors has been treating him at the Charite hospital in Berlin, where he was taken on Saturday. This Monday, there should be a statement on his condition. So far, there has only been a tweet from the hospital:

Charite Hospital in Berlin

"Extensive medical diagnostics are currently underway"

"Charite confirms to have admitted Alexei Anatolyevich Nawalny for medical treatment. Extensive medical diagnostics are currently underway. After the completion of the examinations and after consultation with the family, the attending physicians will comment to the public on the disease and further treatment steps."

Security guards at the clinic

These sober and almost banal-sounding words come as a great relief to Nawalny’s supporters*. They had felt too much like they were not being taken seriously by the doctors in Siberia, too much like they were being pushed away by the security forces who had been coming and going at the number one emergency clinic in Omsk.

Since Nawalny was admitted to the hospital in Omsk – after an emergency landing of the plane from Tomsk to Moscow – the trust in the Russian doctors was in any case non-existent. A real tug-of-war began over the seriously ill patient.

Nawalny’s family and supporters were quick to speak of deliberate poisoning. According to his spokeswoman, the anti-corruption campaigner had only taken tea in a cafe at Tomsk airport in the morning before his flight. Later, he collapsed while screaming on board the plane.

Had it not been for the stopover in Omsk, Nawalny would not have survived the flight, Yaka Bizily of the Cinema for Peace initiative later told reporters in Berlin. A special plane organized by his organization with intensive care doctors from the Charite hospital had been waiting at Omsk airport all Friday to fly out Nawalny. It was not until Saturday morning local time that the plane took off in Siberia. "The fight for Alexei’s life and health has just begun," his spokeswoman Yarmysh tweeted.

Patron Simin confirms costs will be covered

In Berlin, Nawalny’s campaign chief Leonid Volkov thanked all those involved in the transfer, especially Chancellor Angela Merkel, the German government and Russian patron Boris Simin, who lives in the United States. The latter has meanwhile confirmed that he has assumed the costs of the rescue operation. Only after the examination by the German doctors who had flown in, was Navalny declared fit for transport in Omsk after some back and forth.

The Siberian doctors had lambasted for a long time and finally announced that Navalny was suffering from a metabolic disorder. They did not say what could have caused this. In any case, they gave the impression that it was not they, the medical experts, who were calling the shots in this political case. A game of time began – time that was lost, Nawalny’s team fears, to find out what triggered his condition.

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