A team of German doctors who flew in on a medical plane to evacuate Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny were allowed to see him in a Siberian hospital on Friday, but local doctors refused to authorise the transfer, claiming that the Kremlin critic was too ill for a medical evacuation.
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Navalny, Russia's most prominent opposition leader, has been in a coma since Thursday in a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk after he fell ill on a flight.
His supporters believe he was poisoned shortly before boarding the flight. Navalny's wife Yulia Navalnaya and his supporters want to fly the stricken Russian opposition figure to Germany for medical treatment.
Navalnaya on Friday posted a letter on her husbands Twitter account addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "I officially apply to you with a demand for permission to take Alexei Navalny to Germany," the letter said.
Navalny's wife speaks to reporters outside Russian hospital
Doctors in Omsk who are treating Navalny said on Friday the politicians condition had improved a little, but that it was still unstable and attempting to move him could pose a risk to his life.
However, the team of German doctors that flew to Omsk were finally given access to the stricken Russian opposition leader, Navalnys staff said on Friday.
"This is a positive sign that this decision that he is not transportable, not allowed to board this aircraft, might be reversed," Leonid Volkov, Navalny's chief of staff, told reporters at a Berlin news conference organised by rights group the Cinema for Peace Foundation.
The doctors specialised in treating coma patients departed Germany on Thursday evening to try to bring Navalny back to Berlin, where the Charite hospital has agreed to accept him as a patient.
Volkov said even though there were optimistic signs what with the doctors being allowed to see him, they were still lacking any reliable “independent data” on Navalny's condition and his allies were standing by their demand that he needs to be brought to Germany for examination.
“We are still very far away from having this situation resolved,” he said.
Traces of industrial chemical substance
Navalny's supporters believe he must have consumed poison in the tea he drank at an airport cafe before boarding the plane early Thursday. During the flight, Navalny started sweating and asked Yarmysh to talk to him so that he could “focus on the sound of a voice". He then went to the bathroom and lost consciousness.
Earlier Friday, the deputy head of the Omsk hospital where Navalny is being treated told reporters there were no traces of poison in tests carried out on the 44-year-old opposition figure.
Navalny's supporters denounced the medical verdict as a ploy by the authorities to “stall and wait” until the suspected poison is no longer traceable in his system.
But later Friday, Siberian health officials said a police laboratory had found traces of an inudstrial chemical substance of an industrial nature on Navalnys hair and hands.
Russia expert 'firmly believes it was a poisoning'
Macron, Merkel offer help
Reports about the alleged poisoning made waves in the West. French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said France was ready to offer Navalny and his family “all necessary assistance … in terms of health care, asylum, protection" and insisted on the need to clarify what happened.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking at a joint news conference with Macron, echoed his sentiment. “Obviously Germany will let him have all the medical help that is needed also in German hospitals,” Merkel said.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and the United Nations also expressed concern over what happened to Navalny, and Amnesty International demanded a full and thorough investigation.