Navalny sits up and says he’s on the mend

The Guardian - - Front Page - Shaun Walker

The Rus­sian op­po­si­tion leader Alexei Navalny has said he is now able to breathe with­out ex­ter­nal sup­port, in his first pub­lic state­ment since he was poi­soned last month.

Navalny, who Ger­man au­thor­i­ties said was poi­soned with the nerve agent novi­chok, posted a pho­to­graph on In­sta­gram of him­self sit­ting up in a hos­pi­tal bed sur­rounded by his wife and two chil­dren.

In the cap­tion to the post, he wrote: “Hi, this is Navalny. I’m miss­ing you. I still can hardly do any­thing, but yes­ter­day I could breathe the whole day on my own. Com­pletely on my own. No ex­ter­nal help, not even a sim­ple ven­ti­la­tor in my throat. I liked it a lot. A sur­pris­ing process that is un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated by many. I highly rec­om­mend.”

Navalny col­lapsed on a flight from Tomsk in Siberia to Moscow af­ter drink­ing a cup of tea at the air­port. The flight made an emer­gency land­ing in Omsk, where he spent two days be­ing treated by

Rus­sian doc­tors, who ruled out poi­son­ing in pub­lic state­ments. How­ever, a med­i­cal source in the city told Reuters on Mon­day that the doc­tors treat­ing him had im­me­di­ately sus­pected poi­son­ing. Af­ter two days he was flown on a spe­cially equipped med­i­cal plane to Ber­lin, where he is be­ing treated at the Char­ité hos­pi­tal.

On Mon­day, the hos­pi­tal said in a state­ment that he “con­tin­ues to im­prove” and hinted that Navalny was able to talk. Navalny’s spokes­woman, Kira Yarmysh, con­firmed yes­ter­day that he planned to re­turn to Rus­sia when he could. “I’ll con­firm again to ev­ery­one: no other op­tions were ever con­sid­ered,” Yarmysh tweeted in re­sponse to ques­tions from jour­nal­ists about Navalny’s travel plans.

A Ger­man se­cu­rity of­fi­cial had told the New York Times on Mon­day that Navalny was speak­ing, was aware of what had hap­pened to him, and had ex­pressed a de­sire to re­turn to Rus­sia. “He’s not plan­ning to go into ex­ile in

Ger­many,” the of­fi­cial said. “He wants to go home to Rus­sia.”

Ger­man au­thor­i­ties say French and Swedish lab­o­ra­to­ries con­firmed their find­ings that novi­chok was used. The French pres­i­dent, Em­manuel Macron, called his Rus­sian coun­ter­part, Vladimir Putin, to ask for an ex­pla­na­tion. Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties have de­nied all in­volve­ment in the poi­son­ing, ei­ther sug­gest­ing Navalny had fallen ill for other rea­sons or sug­gest­ing oth­ers had car­ried out a poi­son­ing.

Yes­ter­day, Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Rus­sia’s for­eign spy agency, told jour­nal­ists there was no poi­son in Navalny’s body when he left Rus­sia.

▲ Alexei Navalny, in a pic­ture with his fam­ily posted on In­sta­gram. He is breath­ing un­aided for the first time in weeks

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