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Poisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny discharged from hospital, doctors say complete recovery possible

The hospital said a "complete recovery" is possible for Navalny, but it remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his poisoning.
Image: Alexei Navalny
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Berlin's Charite hospital.@navalny / instagram; AFP - Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been discharged from a Berlin hospital where he was being treated after he was poisoned with what Germany said was a military-grade nerve agent in Russia last month.

The Charité hospital said in a statement Wednesday that Navalny’s condition had improved sufficiently for him to be discharged from acute inpatient care.

“Alexei Navalny had been receiving treatment at Charité for a total of 32 days, of which 24 days were spent in intensive care,” the statement said. “Based on the patient’s progress and current condition, the treating physicians believe that complete recovery is possible. However, it remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning.”

Image: Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny sits on a bench in Berlin, Germany.
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny sits on a bench in Berlin, Germany.@navalny / Reuters

Navalny, one of the fiercest Kremlin critics, fell ill on a flight from Tomsk, a Siberian city in Russia where he was conducting a corruption investigation into local politicians, on Aug. 20.

The plane had to make an emergency landing and Navalny, 44, was put into an induced coma and on a ventilator.

His associates immediately said he was poisoned, but Russian doctors instead said he may have suffered from a metabolic disease.

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Navalny’s family requested his transfer to Germany for further treatment, which Russian authorities eventually allowed.

As Navalny was being treated in Berlin, the German government said he had been poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok family, similar to the one the British government said was used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the U.K. in 2018.

The German government said last week that laboratories in Sweden and France also confirmed that Novichok was used to poison Navalny.

The Kremlin has denied that he was poisoned, saying Germany has failed to provide any evidence. No formal criminal investigation has been launched into the incident in Russia.

On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Navalny could come back to Russia any time, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

"It's great if the patient is really getting better, we wish him a speedy recovery," he added.

However, Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said in a video statement on Twitter that he would stay in Germany for the time-being because his treatment was not finished.

Navalny’s aides said last week that a plastic water bottle that was taken out of a hotel room where Navalny stayed during his trip to Tomsk contained traces of Novichok.

On Monday, Navalny asked that the clothes he wore on the day he fell ill be returned to him by Russian authorities, saying it could contain important evidence of his poisoning.

The politician has been posting updates on social media from his hospital bed in Berlin as his condition improved, revealing that he could breathe on his own and walk down the stairs.

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In one post he thanked German doctors and quipped that they have helped to turn him from “a person who was technically alive” into someone who can read and “like” things on Instagram. He also said hearing the voice of his wife Yulia, who has been with him at the hospital, helped him heal.

The politician’s poisoning has created a further rift between Moscow and the west, with mounting pressure on the German government to reconsider the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a huge project to double Russian gas exports to Germany.

Navalny rose to prominence in 2009 with investigations into official corruption and became a protest leader when hundreds of thousands took to the streets across Russia in 2011 to protest electoral fraud.

His anti-corruption foundation has conducted in-depth investigations into the highest ranks of the Russian political elite, including his most famous investigation into former Prime Minister and President Dmitry Medvedev.