Navalny able to leave bed, doctors say, as European labs confirm Novichok poisoning

Theo Merz
·2 min read
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (file photo) - ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (file photo) - ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images

Poisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny is able to leave his bed for short periods and is no longer using a ventilator, the German hospital where he is being treated said on Monday.

The improvement to Mr Navalny’s health comes as three independent laboratories confirmed the top Kremlin critic was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok last month.

Moscow had dismissed Berlin doctors’ diagnosis of Novichok poisoning, accusing them of “rushing to conclusions”. But German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday that laboratories in France and Sweden “have now confirmed independently of one another the proof of a nerve agent of the Novichok group”.

He added that the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was also testing samples.

Mr Navalny pictured before he fell ill - gluchinskiy via AP, File
Mr Navalny pictured before he fell ill - gluchinskiy via AP, File

Mr Navalny, 44, “is currently undergoing mobilisation and is able to leave his bed for short periods of time,” the Charité hospital in Berlin said in a statement.

Doctors, who have previously warned of lasting damage to his health, did not comment on the long-term outlook for the activist.

International leaders have called on the Kremlin to explain the poisoning and threatened further sanctions against Russia in response.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement and said it sees no basis for a criminal probe.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday urged Russian leader Vladimir Putin to urgently shed light on the “attempted murder” of Mr Navalny.

Mr Macron told Putin in telephone talks that it is “imperative that all light be shed, without delay, on the circumstances of this attempted murder and who is responsible,” the French presidency said in a statement.

A man stands next to a screen displaying preliminary voting results - Sergei Fadeichev\\TASS via Getty Images
A man stands next to a screen displaying preliminary voting results - Sergei Fadeichev\\TASS via Getty Images

Mr Navalny’s team has continued its activity in his absence and at the weekend several of his allies won seats in Russian regional elections.

Opposition activists took council seats in the Siberian cities of Tomsk and Novosibirsk, where Mr Navalny had been campaigning shortly before his poisoning.

Mr Navalny’s team had been running a campaign of “smart voting” in the regional elections, in which they encouraged supporters to vote for whichever candidate had the best chance of beating United Russia, whether they be from Communist or nationalist parties.

Some of Mr Navalny’s supporters have suggested he was attacked because of the threat this tactic poses to the Kremlin.