BERLIN – Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, in a coma after a suspected poisoning, was flown from Siberia on Saturday to Berlin for treatment by specialists at the German capital’s main hospital.
After touching down shortly before 9 a.m. at a special area of the capital’s Tegel airport used for government and military flights, Navalny was taken by ambulance to the downtown campus of Berlin’s Charité hospital.
“He survived the flight and he's stable,” Jaka Bizilj, of the German organization Cinema For Peace, which organized the flight, told The Associated Press.
The hospital later issued a statement saying extensive tests were being carried out on Navalny, and doctors would not comment on his illness or treatment until those were completed.
Navalny, a politician and corruption investigator who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, was admitted to an intensive care unit in the Siberian city of Omsk on Thursday. His supporters believe that tea he drank was laced with poison — and that the Kremlin is behind both his illness and the delay in transferring him to Germany.
The Omsk regional health ministry on Saturday issued a statement saying that, so far, tests done on Navalny while he was there had found no poisons.
“Tests were immediately taken for the presence of toxic substances in the body,” the ministry said. “Already today we can say that oxybutyrates, barbiturates, strychnine, convulsive or synthetic poisons have not been found. Alcohol and caffeine were found in the urine.”
Bizilj, a film producer, said he was not qualified to say how Navalny fell ill, but that “it's obvious that something terrible happened.”