Doctors deny permission to transport Navalny abroad, says aide

Moscow, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- Doctors treating Russia’s most prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny for suspected poisoning have refused permission for him to be transferred abroad for treatment, the politician’s press secretary said Friday.

Navalny is in a coma in intensive care in the Siberian city of Omsk after the 44-year-old fell ill on a Thursday flight from from Tomsk to Moscow, forcing an emergency landing and his admission to hospital.

“The chief physician said that Navalny was not transportable. His condition is unstable. The decision of relatives to transport him is not enough,” the politician’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh wrote on her Twitter account, adding that the ban was “a direct threat to his life.”

An air ambulance, reportedly organized by the NGO Cinema for Peace, had already left Nuremberg, Germany, in the early hours to evacuate Navalny for treatment in Berlin, Bild newspaper said.

It was deadly dangerous for him to remain in Omsk hospital in his current condition without equipment or a diagnosis, Yarmysh added.

This was backed up by Navalny’s doctor, Anastasia Vasilieva, who flew to Omsk from Moscow Thursday. She said on Twitter that it was “illegal to keep Alexei in a hospital that does not have the necessary treatments, conditions and equipment.”

All the necessary documentation was filed, including the request of a relative and the agreement of a German clinic to accept the patient, as well as transport documentation.

“The hospital’s decision is inexplicable and monstrous,” Yarmysh said, adding that until then the doctors had been willing to authorize the medical evacuation.

She suspected that the ban is in place to “stall for time and wait until the poison in his body can no longer be traced.”

The deputy director of the hospital told a press briefing on Friday that there were no traces of poison found in tests done on Navalny.

“No poisons or traces of poison have been found in his system,” Anatoly Kalinichenko said.

“I suppose the diagnosis ‘poisoning’ is still at the back of our minds. But we do not think that the patient has been poisoned”, he added.

He said that doctors treating the opposition leader “have a comprehensive diagnosis”, but that they could not make it public. “It has been conveyed to (Navalny’s) wife and brother,” Kalinichenko said.

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

His press secretary said the only thing he had consumed Thursday was tea before his flight, and suspected that a 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 Nalvalny 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 added.

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

The politician has been jailed repeatedly by Russia and was barred from running against Putin in the 2018 presidential election after fraud charges were filed against him, which the opposition leader says were invented.

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