A Russian doctor is claiming Monday that there has been no outside interference in the treatment of opposition critic Alexei Navalny, who is suspected to have been poisoned by the Kremlin and remains in a coma.
The declaration from Alexander Murkhavsky – the chief doctor of Omsk Ambulance Hospital No. 1, where Navalny was first taken Thursday after falling ill on a flight to Moscow – comes as the 44-year-old dissident is reported to be in “critical, but stable” condition at a medical facility in Berlin. Navalny was flown to a German hospital on Saturday from Siberia following a dispute over whether he was stable enough to be transported.
“We were treating the patient, and we saved him,” Murakhovsky said Monday while rejecting allegations made by Navalny’s team that doctors in Omsk had been acting in coordination with Russia’s security services. “There wasn’t and couldn’t be any influence on the patient’s treatment.”
But Murkhavsky wasn’t able to identify men in plainclothes spotted in the hospital last week who the politician’s allies said were law enforcement and security service agents.
“I can’t say who they were,” Murakhovsky said, according to the Associated Press.
Allies of Navalny, who has promoted opposition candidates to Russian President Vladimir Putin since being kept from running against the longtime leader in a 2018 presidential election, suspect the tea he was drinking before the flight was poisoned by someone linked to Putin.
Navalny was first approved to be transferred to the Berlin hospital Friday, but when the German plane equipped with medical supplies arrived, his Russian doctors said he was too fragile to travel, leading supporters to believe his transfer was delayed for political reasons – and until any poison would be untraceable in his system.
Russian doctors on Monday claimed two laboratories found no poisonous substances in his system.
“If we had found poisoning confirmed by something, it would have been much easier for us,” said Anatoly Kalinichenko, deputy chief doctor of the Omsk Ambulance Hospital No. 1. “But we received a final conclusion from two laboratories that no toxic chemicals that can be considered poisons or by-products of poisons, were found.”
Meanwhile, police are posted outside the hospital in Germany where Navalny is being treated.
“The circumstances of what led to Alexei Navalny’s critical condition haven’t yet been clarified,” Dirk Wiese, the German government’s coordinator for Eastern European affairs, told public broadcaster ZDF.
“We expect full transparent and also cooperative clarification, especially from the Russian authorities,” he added. “And before it is known how this happened, appropriate security precautions are necessary.”
The hospital is expected to release an update on Navalny’s condition later today. Wiese said he is “currently critical, but stable.”
“He is now receiving the best possible treatment,” he said.
On Sunday, Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, and aide Leonid Volkov visited the Russian opposition leader in the hospital but didn’t speak to reporters.
Like many other opposition politicians in Russia, Navalny has been frequently detained by law enforcement and harassed by pro-Kremlin groups. In 2017, he was attacked by several men who threw antiseptic in his face, damaging an eye.
Last year, Navalny was rushed to a hospital from jail where he was serving a sentence on charges of violating protest regulations. His team also suspected poisoning then. Doctors said he had a severe allergic reaction and sent him back to detention the following day.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.