Air ambulance with Russian opposition leader leaves for Germany

Moscow, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- An air ambulance taking Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to Berlin for medical treatment left the Siberian city of Omsk on Saturday, one of his aides said, days after the Kremlin critic fell unconscious on a plane due to suspected poisoning.

“The plane with Alexei has left for Berlin. Thank you all for your support,” his press secretary Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter.

Yarmysh said the fight for Navalny’s life had just begun and that “there is a lot to go through but now at least the first step has been taken.”

The air ambulance left Omsk around 8 am local time (02.00 GMT).

Navalny, 44, is accompanied by his wife Yulia on the plane, according to his aides.

He fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on Thursday and was taken to a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.

His team made arrangements to transfer him to Charité, a clinic in Berlin, amid allegations that he was poisoned and that the Kremlin is behind his illness.

After initially refusing to allow him to be transported to Berlin ostensibly for medical reasons, the doctors in Omsk on Friday permitted his evacuation for specialist treatment.

Yarmysh had earlier argued that it was deadly dangerous for him to remain in the Omsk hospital in his current condition without equipment or a diagnosis.

She suspected that the doctors were delaying his evacuation to “wait until the poison in his body can no longer be traced.”

This was backed up by Navalny’s doctor, Anastasia Vasilyeva, who flew to Omsk from Moscow Thursday.

After doctors at the Omsk hospital reversed their position against Navalny’s transfer, Vasilyeva tweeted: “I can’t even believe that in some 2 hours Alexei will fly to Germany.”

Yarmysh said the only thing he had consumed Thursday was tea before his flight to Moscow and suspected that poison was mixed with it.

In a video filmed by a passenger on the flight, Navalny can be heard screaming in pain.

According to a statement from S7 airlines, Navalny did not consume anything on board the plane.

Yarmysh on Thursday recalled an incident last year in which Navalny suffered an allergic reaction that his doctor said may have indicated poisoning.

At the time, he was serving a 30-day prison sentence after his arrest for calling people to attend an anti-government protest.

“Obviously the same thing has happened again,” she said.

Navalny had been traveling through Siberia to support independent candidates in next months’ local elections.

He is an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin and has been at the forefront of the fight against corruption in the country.

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