Putin Critic Navalny Has Come out of Coma, Berlin Hospital Says

By Reuters
September 7, 2020Europe
Putin Critic Navalny Has Come out of Coma, Berlin Hospital Says
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny takes part in a march in memory of murdered Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov in downtown Moscow on Feb. 29, 2020. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images)

BERLIN—Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been removed from a medically induced coma and is responding to speech, Berlin’s Charite hospital said on Monday.

The hospital, which has been treating Navalny since he was airlifted to Germany after falling ill on a Russian domestic flight last month, said his condition has improved and he is being weaned off mechanical ventilation.

“It remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning,” Charite said in a statement.

Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, was airlifted to Germany last month after collapsing on a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow. It made an emergency landing in Omsk so that Navalny could be stretchered off.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her government has concluded Navalny, 44, was poisoned with Novichok, the same substance that Britain said was used against a Russian double agent and his daughter in an attack in England in 2018.

Moscow says it has seen no evidence he was poisoned.

The incident has put the future of Germany’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline with Russia in doubt as a growing number of politicians call for support for the project to be withdrawn unless Russia helps to clear up the circumstances around Navalny’s poisoning.

Merkel’s spokesman said on Monday she does not rule out imposing sanctions on the pipeline in response to the suspected poisoning.

Novichok is a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s.

Britain says Russia used Novichok to poison former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the city of Salisbury two years ago. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack, which the Skripals survived. A member of the public was killed.

By Thomas Seythal and Caroline Copley

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