Russian doctors granted permission Friday for opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the critic of President Vladimir Putin who has been in a coma following allegations he was poisoned in a Kremlin-linked attack, to be flown to Germany for medical treatment.
Still, the Russian doctors asserted that they did not believe he actually was poisoned. Their decision capped off a standoff lasting over 24 hours regarding who could treat him, and where.
A charity organized the flight sending Navalny to Berlin.
Alexander Murakhovksy, the head doctor of a hospital in Omsk, Siberia, said Navalny had been diagnosed with a metabolic disease that may have been caused by low blood sugar, and did not believe that Navalny had been poisoned, Reuters reported.
Navalny, 44, remained in a coma after he fell ill while on a flight back to Moscow, with allies alleging that he may have swallowed poisoned tea before boarding the flight.
“Poisoning as a diagnosis remains on the back burner, but we don’t believe that the patient suffered from poisoning,” deputy chief doctor Anatoly Kalinichenko at the hospital in Omsk told reporters Friday.
Navalny’s wife openly criticized the hospital after it initially claimed moving him would put his life at risk. German doctors flew out to the hospital and stated that it was safe to move Navalny, but their Russian counterparts disagreed at first, saying he was too unstable to be moved.
“I understand he’s still unconscious, but they’re used to such special assignments and they say very clearly he can fly and they want to fly him,” film producer Jaka Bizilj, of Cinema For Peace, told The Associated Press after being in touch with the German medical team.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he wasn’t aware of any instructions to stop the transfer and that it was purely a medical decision.
“It may pose a threat to his health,” Peskov said.
This is a developing story; check back for updates. The Associated Press contributed to this report.