Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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Russia’s Navalny out of coma after poisoning

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image captionAlexei Navalny was flown to Berlin for treatment in August after falling ill

Russia’s poisoned opposition figure Alexei Navalny is out of an induced coma and his condition has improved, says the Berlin hospital treating him.

Doctors say he is responding to verbal stimuli. Mr Navalny, 44, was flown to Germany after falling ill on a flight in Siberia in July.

His team says he was poisoned on orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who denies involvement.

German doctors say he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.

On Monday, the Charité hospital in Berlin said in a statement

Mr Navalny was being weaned off mechanical ventilation

.

“He is responding to verbal stimuli. It remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning,” it said.

It also said doctors were in close contact with Mr Navalny’s wife.

There is growing pressure in Germany for Chancellor Angela Markel to take a tougher stance over the incident. Last week, she said Mr Navalny was the victim of attempted murder and that the world would look to Russia for answers.

A senior German MP on Monday demanded a halt to the Nord Stream gas pipeline, a huge energy project with Russia that would double the flow of Russian gas to Europe.

On Monday, the Kremlin said it was “absurd” to blame Russia for Mr Navalny’s poisoning.

“Attempts to somehow associate Russia with what happened are unacceptable to us, they are absurd,” Mr Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has previously said the allegation that Novichok was used to poison the leader was not backed up by evidence.

A Novichok nerve agent was used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK in 2018.

Mr Navalny is an anti-corruption campaigner who has led nationwide protests against the Russian authorities. He has called Mr Putin’s party a place of “crooks and thieves” that is “sucking the blood out of Russia”.

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