Russian opponent, breathing unassisted, will return to Russia once handed over


Protester for Alexei Navalny – Kommersant / SIPA

Once recovered, Alexeï Navalny will return to Russia, his spokesperson announced on Tuesday after the publication of the first message from the Russian opponent posted since his suspected poisoning in late August.

“I don’t know almost anything yet, but yesterday (Monday) I was able to breathe on my own all day,” wrote Alexeï Navalny,
in a message posted on his Instagram account accompanied by a photo showing him with open eyes and drawn features, sitting on his hospital bed with his wife, son and daughter.

Alexeï Navalny will soon be able to do without “artificial ventilation”

“It’s an amazing process and is underestimated by many. I recommend it, ”he joked. He also told his 1.7 million subscribers, “I miss you,” a week after being released from a induced coma. The opponent, victim of intentional poisoning on August 20 in Tomsk in Siberia according to his entourage, will soon be able to do without “artificial ventilation”, the Berlin hospital where he is being treated had said the day before. Asked about the opponent’s return to Russia once restored, his spokesperson replied that “there had never been any question of anything else”. “I understand why we are asking the question, but I nevertheless find it strange that we can think” that he can go into exile, she commented on Twitter.

A German military laboratory concluded on September 3 that Alexei Navalny, 44, had been poisoned by a substance of the Novichok type, designed for military purposes in Soviet times. This agent had already been used against the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in 2018 in England. For London, the GRU, the Russian military intelligence, is the main suspect. French and Swedish laboratories have confirmed the German conclusions, so that Paris and Berlin insisted again Monday on the need for a Russian investigation.

No stock of Novichok in Russia

According to his supporters, Alexei Navalny was poisoned at the end of a trip to Siberia devoted to the electoral campaign of his candidates in the local elections of September 13 and to investigations into the corruption of the elites. Excluded from the national political and media scene, the opponent has a very large audience on social networks and among young people, in particular thanks to his investigations targeting the entourage of Vladimir Putin. Moscow refuses to open a criminal investigation into the case because Russian doctors say they did not identify any toxic substances in Alexey Navalny’s body when he was hospitalized in Siberia.

Russia therefore questions the reliability of German analyzes, seeing them as a pretext for the European Union to threaten it with new sanctions. She also claims to have no Novichok stock. These stocks “were destroyed in accordance with the protocol and regulations of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons” (OPCW), said foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin, according to Russian news agencies.

Several Navalny supporters elected in Russia

He stressed that he had “a lot of questions for the German side” because “when Alexeï Navalny left Russian territory, there was no toxic substance in his body”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also expressed his “misunderstanding” because Moscow has not received the data on the health of the opponent requested in Berlin.

The German public prosecutor’s office had declared that these could only be transmitted with the agreement of Alexeï Navalny. Regarding the patient’s state of health, Dmitry Peskov, who never mentioned the opponent’s name, said, according to Russian agencies, that “everyone” would be “happy” if he recovered. Alexeï Navalny’s first message comes the day after a symbolic electoral victory in Tomsk, where two of his supporters entered the city council, a first. Others were elected in the country’s third city, Novosibirsk, still in Siberia.

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