Prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been taken out of his medically induced coma and is being gradually taken off a ventilator, the Charité hospital in Berlin where he has been undergoing treatment for the past two weeks said Monday.
German authorities have said that Navalny, Russia’s de facto opposition leader, was poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok family, the substance that Britain has said was used to poison a former Russian spy on its soil in 2018. The 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner fell violently ill on a flight to Moscow on Aug. 20 and was evacuated to Germany after two days of treatment in Siberia.
“The patient has been removed from his medically induced coma and is being weaned off mechanical ventilation,” Charité said in a statement.
Navalny is “responding to verbal stimuli,” it added.
The hospital warned, however, that the long-term health effects of Navalny’s “severe poisoning” were still unknown.
Russian authorities have maintained that they have not seen evidence that Navalny was poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent. The Kremlin has said it was willing to work with Germany in investigating Navalny’s poisoning but urged Berlin to share its findings.
Doctors who treated Navalny in Siberia said they diagnosed him with a metabolic disease. On Friday, Siberian toxicologists pinned Navalny’s coma on dieting, excess drinking, stress or fatigue.
Navalny’s associates have attempted but failed to get the Russian authorities to open a criminal investigation into his attempted murder.