HOS­PI­TAL: RUS­SIA’S NAVALNY OUT OF COMA, IS RE­SPON­SIVE

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION / WORLD - BY FRANK JORDANS

BERLIN — Poi­soned Rus­sian op­po­si­tion leader Alexei Navalny’s con­di­tion has im­proved, al­low­ing doc­tors to take him out of an in­duced coma, the Ger­man hos­pi­tal treat­ing him said Mon­day.

Navalny, a fierce, high-pro­file critic of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, was flown to Ger­many last month af­ter fall­ing ill on Aug. 20 on a do­mes­tic flight in Rus­sia. Ger­man chem­i­cal weapons ex­perts say tests show the 44-year-old was poi­soned with a Soviet-era nerve agent, prompt­ing the Ger­man gov­ern­ment last week to de­mand that Rus­sia in­ves­ti­gate the case.

“The pa­tient has been re­moved from his med­i­cally in­duced coma and is be­ing weaned off me­chan­i­cal ven­ti­la­tion,” Berlin’s Charite hos­pi­tal said in a state­ment. “He is re­spond­ing to ver­bal stim­uli. It re­mains too early to gauge the po­ten­tial long-term ef­fects of his se­vere poi­son­ing.”

It added that the de­ci­sion to pub­licly re­lease de­tails of his con­di­tion was made in con­sul­ta­tion with Navalny’s wife.

Navalny had been in an in­duced coma in the Berlin hos­pi­tal since he was flown to Ger­many on Aug. 22 for treat­ment.

News of his grad­ual re­cov­ery came as Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s of­fice in­di­cated that she might be will­ing to re­think the fate of a con­tro­ver­sial Ger­manRus­sian gas pipe­line pro­ject — a sign of Berlin’s grow­ing frus­tra­tion over Moscow’s stonewalli­ng about the Navalny case.

Ger­man au­thor­i­ties said last week that tests showed “proof with­out doubt” that Navalny was poi­soned with a chem­i­cal nerve agent from the Novi­chok group. Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties iden­ti­fied the Soviet-era Novi­chok as the poi­son used on for­mer Rus­sian spy Sergei Skri­pal and his daugh­ter in Eng­land in 2018.

Many coun­tries joined Ger­many in call­ing for a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter the rev­e­la­tion, with Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son last week call­ing the use of a chem­i­cal weapon “out­ra­geous.” White House press sec­re­tary Kayleigh McE­nany said that the poi­son­ing was “com­pletely rep­re­hen­si­ble” and that the U.S. was “work­ing with our al­lies and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to hold those in Rus­sia ac­count­able.”

On Mon­day, Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Do­minic Raab sum­moned Rus­sia’s am­bas­sador to reg­is­ter his “deep con­cern about the poi­son­ing,” he said on Twit­ter.

“It’s com­pletely un­ac­cept­able that a banned chem­i­cal weapon has been used and Rus­sia must hold a full, trans­par­ent in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Raab said.

AFP VIA GETTY IM­AGES YURI KADOBNOV/

Rus­sian op­po­si­tion leader Alexei Navalny, a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin’s, was “with­out doubt” poi­soned, Ger­man au­thor­i­ties have said.

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