Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies
Tests conducted on Russian dissident Alexei Navalny at a German hospital indicate that he was poisoned, but doctors said Monday they do not believe his life at immediate risk. The Charité hospital said in a statement that the team of doctors who have been examining Navalny since he was flown from Siberia and admitted Saturday have found the presence of “cholinesterase inhibitors” in his system. Cholinesterase inhibitors are a broad range of substances that are found in several drugs, but also pesticides and nerve agents. However, doctors at Charite said at the moment the specific substance to which Navalny was exposed is not yet known.“The patient is in an intensive care unit and is still in an induced coma. His health is serious but there is currently no acute danger to his life,” the hospital said in a statement. Navalny remained in critical but stable condition at the Berlin hospital, with special protection details on hand to ensure his safety, German officials said.
Berlin police and federal agents were posted at the downtown Charité hospital where the 44-year-old is undergoing treatment following his arrival in Germany after Chancellor Angela Merkel personally offered the country's assistance.“It was obvious that after his arrival, protective precautions had to be taken,” Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters. “After all, this is a patient who, with a certain degree of probability, was poisoned.” He wouldn't comment on Navalny's condition, but earlier in the day, Dirk Wiese, the German government's coordinator for Eastern European affairs, told public broadcaster ZDF he was “currently critical, but stable.”“He is now receiving the best possible treatment,” Wiese said.Navalny's supporters believe that tea he drank was laced with poison - and that the Kremlin is behind both his illness and a delay in transferring him to Germany.Russian doctors have said, however, that tests have shown no traces of poison in his system. The Kremlin hasn't yet commented on the allegation.
Navalny’s team last week submitted a request in Russia to launch a criminal probe, but as of Monday, Russia’s Investigative Committee still has not opened a case, Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said. Ilya Yashin, an opposition politician in Moscow and a close ally of Navalny, in a video statement Monday urged Russia’s law enforcement to investigate “an attempt at a life of a public figure” and to look into the possible involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “It is Putin who benefits from these endless assaults,” Yashin said. Navalny, a politician and corruption investigator who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on Thursday and was taken to the hospital in the city of Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.
Russian doctors on Monday said two laboratories found no poisonous substances in his system.