On Tuesday, Alexei Navalny left a Berlin hospital. Doctors believe the Russian leader will probably make a “complete recovery” after 32 days at Berlin’s Charite hospital, mostly in intensive care. The cause of his illness? Probably a mysterious Soviet-era poison.
Navalny, a politician and corruption investigator, is Putin’s most visible opponent. He fell ill on August 20 on a flight. He spent two days in a coma in a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk. Russian doctors there said they found no trace of any poisoning.
Two days later, he went to Germany. German experts found evidence of a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok. Two other labs confirmed the finding.
After being discharged to outpatient care, Navalny displayed his usual sarcastic sense of humor. In an Instagram post Tuesday night, he laughed off a report that Putin suggested Navalny “could have taken the poison himself.”
Yesterday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the report about Putin was “inaccurate in its reported wording.” But he didn’t say which part was inaccurate.
“Good theory, I believe it deserves the most careful attention,” Navalny posted about Putin’s supposed theory. “Cooked Novichok in the kitchen. Took a sip from a flask on the plane. Fell into a coma.”
He dryly wrote that the “ultimate aim of my cunning plan” must have been to die in Siberia, where the cause of death would be “lived long enough.”
“But Putin outmaneuvered me,” Navalny wrote. “You can’t fool him.”
Navalny stayed in an induced coma for more than two weeks as he was treated with an antidote. Members of his team accuse the Kremlin of involvement in the poisoning. Russian officials strongly deny those charges.
Navalny wants Russia to return the clothes he was wearing on the day he fell into a coma. He calls them a “crucial piece of evidence” of poisoning.
German doctors say it “remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning.” Still, Navalny’s team says the leader eventually plans to return to Russia.
Peskov insists what happened to Navalny remains “a big question” for the Kremlin—since Russian investigators “don’t have any facts pointing to” poisonous substances in Navalny’s body. He says Navalny, “as any other Russian citizen,” is free to come back to Russia “at any moment.”
(Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia pose for a photo in a hospital in Berlin. Navalny Instagram via AP)