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Navalny plans to return to Russia after surviving poison attack

By Ilya Arkhipov and Jake Rudnitsky, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Alexey Navalny is planning to return to Russia even as the Kremlin critic and opposition leader remains under guard in a German hospital after a near fatal poisoning in his homeland last month.

"No other option was ever considered," Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said by text message. "We haven't discussed concrete plans yet."

Navalny's health has continued to improve after he collapsed on a plane bound for Moscow from a campaign trip in Siberia. Germany said he was poisoned by what European laboratories have identified as Novichok, a weapons-grade nerve agent developed in Russia, and has demanded an explanation from the Russian government.

Navalny has been taken off a ventilator and is able to get out of bed for short periods, according to a statement Monday by Charite hospital, the Berlin clinic that's treating him.

French President Emmanuel Macron called the attack an "assassination attempt" in a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday, and demanded a transparent investigation. The Kremlin labeled the allegations groundless. It's refused to open a criminal investigation, asserting it has no evidence Navalny was poisoned.

 

There was no trace of poison in Navalny's body when he left Russia, Foreign Intelligence Service chief Sergei Naryshkin said, the state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported Tuesday. Russia has destroyed all of its Novichok stockpiles, according to Naryshkin.

Navalny, 44, was hospitalized initially in the Siberian city of Omsk, after his flight made an emergency landing to save his life. The hospital refused to discharge him for two days, citing his unstable condition, before he was flown to Berlin.

The New York Times first reported Navalny's plans to return to Russia, citing a German security official. Navalny spoke with a German prosecutor and seemed mentally sharp, the official said.

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