The Slatest

Kremlin Critic Navalny Out of Induced Coma, Is Responsive

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, his wife Yulia, opposition politician Lyubov Sobol and other demonstrators take part in a march in memory of murdered Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov in downtown Moscow on February 29, 2020.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, his wife Yulia, opposition politician Lyubov Sobol and other demonstrators take part in a march in memory of murdered Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov in downtown Moscow on February 29, 2020. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s medical condition has improved and that has allowed doctors to take him out of an induced coma, the German hospital that is treating him said. Navalny, 44, is responding to verbal stimuli and is being “weaned off mechanical ventilation,” the hospital said, adding that “it remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning.”

Navalny, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, became sick during a flight to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk. He was treated in a Siberian hospital and was then evacuated to Berlin on Aug. 22. Germany said last week there was “unequivocal evidence” that Navalny had been poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent from the Novichok group, which led the German government to call on Moscow to investigate. That nerve agent was the same that British authorities said was used to poison a Russian double agent and his daughter in England in 2018.

Navalny’s allies have directly blamed the Kremlin for the poisoning while Germany’s government is demanding answers. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office is making clear her frustrations over the way Moscow has refused to answer questions about the case. Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said Sunday that what happens with the Navalny case could lead the government to change its backing for a controversial German-Russian gas pipeline project.

Germany is not the only country demanding answers. On Monday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab summoned Russia’s ambassador to express his “deep concern about the poisoning” and said that it is imperative for Moscow to carry out “a full, transparent investigation.” The Kremlin has repeatedly denied it had anything to do with the poisoning and a spokesperson said that effort to link Putin to the poisoning were “absurd.”