Navalny discharged from hospital

Updated 24 Sep 2020

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BERLIN: This handout picture posted on Instagram  shows Alexei Navalny sitting on a bench in Berlin.—AFP
BERLIN: This handout picture posted on Instagram shows Alexei Navalny sitting on a bench in Berlin.—AFP

BERLIN: Leading Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who the West believes was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent, has been discharged from hospital after a month and can make a full recovery, his doctors in Berlin said on Wednesday.

European leaders have demanded explanations from Moscow since Germany said toxicology tests showed the 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner was poisoned with Novichok.

But the Kremlin has rubbished allegations it was behind the poisoning, and it said on Wednesday that with his recovery, Navalny “is free” to return to Russia anytime, “like any other Russian citizen”.

The outspoken opposition activist fell ill after boarding a plane in Siberia in August. Russian doctors who first treated him said their tests did not find any toxic substances.

German lab tests however pointed to “unequivocal proof” of Novichok, which was also used to poison ex-double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England, in 2018. He survived.

France and Sweden have since said tests they ran independently corroborate Germany’s conclusions.

Navalny spent 32 days in Charite hospital in the German capital, including 24 days in intensive care, before his release on Tuesday, the hospital said.

“Based on the patient’s progress and current condition, the treating physicians believe that complete recovery is possible,” Charite said in a statement, adding however that it remained too early to assess any long-term effects of his severe poisoning.

For now, Navalny will remain in Germany as he embarks on rehabilitation, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter.

Navalny collapsed last month while on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow after a campaign trip to support opposition candidates in local elections.

He was evacuated to Berlin on August 22 in a coma and on mechanical ventilation.

Posting a photograph of himself sitting on a Berlin bench, Navalny said on Instagram he was far from fully recovered and would require rehabilitation.

“The plans are always simple: a physiotherapist every day. Possibly a rehabilitation centre. Stand on one leg. Take back control of my fingers completely. Maintain balance,” he wrote.

The Kremlin critic has been active on social media since being brought out of the coma.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2020