The Kremlin announced Tuesday that there is no immediate need to investigate the circumstances surrounding opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s illness — stating that a German clinic’s initial findings pointing to poisoning are not yet conclusive.
The Charité hospital in Berlin announced Monday that Navalny, 44, showed signs of “poisoning by a substance from the group of active substances called cholinesterase inhibitors.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in turn, called for Russia to investigate the case and hold the perpetrators accountable.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the substance that sickened Navalny hasn’t been conclusively identified, and it’s unclear why German doctors were “rushing” to label the case as a poisoning.
“If the substance is identified and if it is determined that it is poisoning, then, of course, this will be a reason for investigation,” he told reporters on a conference call.
Russian health officials argued that Navalny had tested negative for cholinesterase inhibitors when he was hospitalized in Omsk last week.
Peskov also told reporters that doctors at a hospital in the city of Omsk had worked on Navalny’s treatment for three days and may have saved his life.
Navalny fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on Thursday and was taken to the Omsk hospital after the plane made an emergency landing.
He was transferred to the Berlin hospital and remains in a medically induced coma there.
He is listed in critical but stable condition and is being treated with the antidote atropine, though the outcome remains uncertain because long-term effects — particularly on the nervous system — cannot be ruled out, according to the hospital’s statement.
For more than a decade, Navalny has exposed what he says is high-level graft by the Kremlin, and has mobilized droves of young protesters.
He has been sued over his investigations into corruption, detained multiple times for organizing public meetings, and was prohibited from running in a presidential election in 2018.