Alexei Navalny seems to be poisoned, but exact toxin is not identified yet

The Charité Hospital in Berlin found ‘traces of poisoning’ in Alexei Navalny’s body. The Russian opposition leader was brought to this hospital after he became seriously ill on a flight in Russia last week.

Clinical studies indicate that Navalny has been poisoned with a so-called cholinesterase inhibitor. That would indicate a neurotoxin. The exact nature of the substance is not known at the moment. That’s still under investigation, says the Charité hospital on Monday.

Nor, according to the doctors, is it clear what the long-term consequences will be. There may be permanent damage to the nervous system.

Navalny is being treated with the drug atropine. He’s still being held in intensive care in a medically induced coma. The 44-year-old man is no longer in mortal danger, but is still seriously ill.

He was taken on a medical plane from Russia to Berlin on Saturday. This happened with some delay because the hospital in Omsk, where Navalny was initially treated, did not agree to the relocation a day earlier. Before that, the doctors said Navalny’s condition wasn’t stable enough.

The doctors in Omsk reported on Monday that they had tested the opposition leader for cholinesterase inhibiting substances, but that those tests were negative.

Navalny’s family wanted to move him to Germany as soon as possible, because they don’t trust the hospitals in Russia. According to his supporters, the opposition leader got sick for drinking poisoned tea at the airport.

In his probes of his clothes, fingers and hair unknown substances were found, Russian doctors and police announced last weekend. The Russian Ministry of the Interior subsequently confirmed that an industrial substance had been found.

The Kremlin examines whether this substance may have come from the plastic cup from which Navalny drank his tea. The results of this study should be published soon.

Navalny is best known as an outspoken opponent of Russian president Vladimir Putin. He has repeatedly criticised the Kremlin and high-ranking Russian officials. Last year he was sentenced to 30 days in prison for calling for a protest.

About the author: David Foster

With a background in international relations and a deep understanding of strategic intelligence, David Foster is a sought-after commentator on global security dynamics.

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