Putin op­po­nent leaves hos­pi­tal af­ter poi­son­ing

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - WORLD - By Melissa Eddy Melissa Eddy is a New York Times writer.

BER­LIN — Alexei Navalny, Rus­sia’s most prom­i­nent op­po­si­tion leader, has been re­leased from a hos­pi­tal in Ger­many and could make a full re­cov­ery from poi­son­ing with a highly toxic nerve agent, doc­tors said Wed­nes­day, as Euro­pean lead­ers wres­tled over a re­sponse to Moscow.

“Based on the pa­tient’s progress and cur­rent con­di­tion, the treat­ing physi­cians be­lieve that com­plete re­cov­ery is pos­si­ble,” the Char­ité hos­pi­tal said in a state­ment re­leased Wed­nes­day. “How­ever, it re­mains too early to gauge the po­ten­tial long­term ef­fects of his se­vere poi­son­ing.”

Nei­ther the doc­tors nor Navalny, 44, who has re­turned to com­mu­ni­cat­ing with his sup­port­ers through his In­sta­gram ac­count in re­cent days, gave any in­di­ca­tion of where he would go af­ter his re­lease. But a se­nior Ger­man se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, said he would re­main un­der pro­tec­tion in Ber­lin for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Navalny has said that he in­tends to re­turn to Rus­sia once he has made a full re­cov­ery. He ar­rived at the hos­pi­tal Aug. 22 af­ter be­ing evac­u­ated by air am­bu­lance from the Siberian city of Omsk, where he had been re­ceiv­ing treat­ment af­ter col­laps­ing Aug. 20 while aboard a do­mes­tic flight to Moscow.

Rus­sia has main­tained that it played no role in the poi­son­ing of Navalny, al­though he would not be the first

Krem­lin enemy to be at­tacked with a class of Novi­chok, a Soviet­de­signed chem­i­cal weapon.

Given the sub­stance used, Ger­man au­thor­i­ties and oth­ers say there is no doubt that the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment was be­hind the poi­son­ing.

Once Navalny ar­rived in Ber­lin, doc­tors at the Char­ité hos­pi­tal placed him in a med­i­cally in­duced coma in the in­ten­sive care ward, where he spent 24 days, while also un­der con­stant po­lice pro­tec­tion.

Sus­pect­ing that their pa­tient was suf­fer­ing from an agent more com­plex than what they could de­tect, they sent sam­ples to their col­leagues at the Mil­i­tary In­sti­tute for Phar­ma­col­ogy and Tox­i­col­ogy in Mu­nich, which found traces of a nerve agent from the Novi­chok fam­ily in Navalny’s blood and urine.

It was also found on a wa­ter bot­tle that the op­po­si­tion leader’s team brought to Ger­many from his ho­tel room, lead­ing them to be­lieve that he was poi­soned there, not at the air­port as had orig­i­nally been sus­pected.

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Rus­sian op­po­si­tion leader Alexei Navalny sits on a bench in Ber­lin af­ter be­ing dis­charged from a hos­pi­tal where he spent 24 days re­cov­er­ing from poi­son­ing with a highly toxic nerve agent.

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