The acutely ill Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has arrived in Germany from Siberia for treatment.He fell into a coma after drinking what his supporters suspect was poisoned tea; they accuse the authorities of trying to conceal a crime.Doctors treating him in Omsk had insisted on Friday that he was too ill to be moved.
But they later said his condition was stable enough for the flight. His wife Yulia is travelling with him.On Saturday morning, Mr Navalny’s medical evacuation flight – paid for by the German NGO Cinema for Peace – landed at Tegel airport in Berlin. He is being treated at the Charité hospital in the German capital.
The founder of the Cinema for Peace Foundation, activist and filmmaker Jaka Bizilj, told German newspaper Bild that Mr Navalny’s condition had remained “stable” throughout the flight and after landing.Mr Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, earlier tweeted: “Massive thanks to everyone for their support. The struggle for Alexei’s life and health is just beginning.”
Ms Yarmysh said it was a pity that doctors had taken so long to approve his flight as the plane and the right documents had been ready since Friday morning.Mr Navalny fell ill during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow on Thursday, and his plane made an emergency landing in Omsk.
A photograph on social media appeared to show him drinking from a cup at a Tomsk airport cafe before the flight. His team suspects a poisonous substance was put in his tea.Disturbing video appeared to show a stricken Mr Navalny howling in agony on the flight. Passenger Pavel Lebedev said he heard the activist “screaming in pain”.
What the doctors said on Friday
The head doctor at the hospital where Mr Navalny was being treated in Omsk, Alexander Murakhovsky, warned late on Friday that doctors did not recommend flying, “but his wife insists on her husband being transferred to a German clinic”.
“The patient’s condition is stable,” deputy chief doctor Anatoly Kalinichenko was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Mr Navalny is said to be in a stable condition in an induced coma.