German doctors gain access in Siberia to dissident in coma.

GERMANY: The German doctors later examined Navalny and determined that he was fit to fly to Germany for treatment

Moscow, August 21

German doctors who examined a Russian opposition leader suspected of having been poisoning said he is fit to be flown abroad for medical treatment, according to a charity representative. But physicians at the hospital in Siberia where Alexei Navalny lies in a coma have refused to authorise the transfer.

Navalny, a 44-year-old politician and corruption investigator who is one of fiercest critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was admitted to an ICU in the Siberian city of Omsk on Thursday. His supporters believe he was poisoned and that the Kremlin is behind it.

A plane with German specialists and equipment necessary to transfer Navalny landed at Omsk airport on Friday morning but doctors at the Siberian hospital said his condition was too unstable to transport him.

Supporters of Navalny denounced that as a ploy by authorities to stall until any poison would no longer be traceable in his system. A senior doctor in Omsk said no poison had been found so far.

The German doctors later examined Navalny and determined that he was fit to fly to Germany for treatment, according to a representative of the NGO that has organised the plane to bring him to Berlin.

“I understand he is still unconscious but they are used to such special assignments and they say very clearly he can fly and they want to fly him,” film producer Jaka Bizilj, of Cinema For Peace, told The Associated Press after being in touch with the German medical team.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he was not aware of any instructions to stop the transfer and that it was purely a medical decision.

“It may pose a threat to his health,” Peskov said.

Navalny is wife told reporters that the hospital staff and the men she suspected were law enforcement agents did not let her speak to the German specialists, who she said were brought into the facility in secrecy, through a back door.

“I was forcibly kicked out in a rude manner,” Yulia Navalnaya said, her voice shaking, adding: “This is an appalling situation. They are not letting us take Alexei. We believe that clearly something is being hidden from us.”

She submitted a written request for a transfer on Friday to Putin. Later on Friday, the European Court of Human Rights said it was considering a request from  allies of Navalny to urge the Russian government to let the politician be transferred. The move seemed largely aimed at exerting pressure on Russia.

The most prominent member of opposition of Russia, Navalny campaigned to challenge Putin in the 2018 presidential election but was barred from running.

ince then, he has been promoting opposition candidates in regional elections, challenging members of the ruling party, United Russia.

His Foundation for Fighting Corruption has been exposing graft among government officials, including some at the highest level. Last month, he had to shut the foundation after a financially devastating lawsuit from a businessman with close ties to the Kremlin.

Navalny fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on Thursday and was taken to the hospital after the plane made an emergency landing. His team made arrangements to transfer him to Charite, a clinic in Berlin that has a history of treating famous foreign leaders and dissidents and insisted that the transfer is paramount to saving the life of politician.

“The ban on transferring Navalny is needed to stall and wait until the poison in his body can no longer be traced. Yet every hour of stalling creates a threat to his life,” spokesperson of Navalny , Kira Yarmysh, tweeted.

Dr Yaroslav Ashikhmin, physician of Navalny in Moscow, told The Associated Press on Friday that there were very few conditions that would prevent patients from being transported these days.

Being on a plane with specialised equipment, including a ventilator and a machine that can do the work of the heart and lungs, “can be even safer than staying in a hospital in Omsk,” Ashikhmin said.

Yarmysh posted pictures of what she said was a bathroom inside the hospital that showed squalid conditions, including walls with paint peeling off, rusting pipes, and a dirty floor and walls.

While his supporters and family members continue to insist that Navalny was poisoned, Omsk hospital deputy chief doctor, Anatoly Kalinichenko, said doctors do not “believe the patient suffered from poisoning”.

Omsk news outlet NGS55 published a video statement of the  chief doctor in hospital, Alexander Murakhovsky, saying that a metabolic disorder was the most likely diagnosis and that a drop in blood sugar may have caused Navalny to lose consciousness