Alexei Navalny 'is able to speak again' as condition improves and police protection stepped up

Alexei Navalny 'is able to speak again', reports claim. Credit: AP

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny has made further progress in his recovery and is able to speak again, Der Spiegel magazine has reported.

The Kremlin critic is being treated in Berlin’s Charite hospital after falling ill on a Russian domestic flight last month after what Germany said was poisoning with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent.

Germany says Navalny was the victim of an attempt to kill him and has demanded an explanation from Russia. Moscow has said it has seen no evidence that Navalny, 44, was poisoned.

Police protection has been stepped up in the expectation that he would be receiving more visitors as his condition improved, Der Spiegel magazine said.

“Der Spiegel and Bellingcat understand that Navalny can speak again and can likely remember details about his collapse,” it wrote, crediting its investigative website partner.

“His statements could be dangerous for people behind the attack.”

However, there was no confirmation of Navalny's progress from the hospital or Berlin police.

Kira Yarmysh (right) pictured with Alexei Navalny in 2015. Credit: AP

Kira Yarmysh, Mr Navalny’s spokesperson, tweeted that “the story is exaggerated and contains many factual inaccuracies”.

On Monday, the Berlin hospital said that he has been taken out of his coma and that his condition has improved.

It said that he is being weaned off mechanical ventilation and is responding to speech.

Mr Navalny’s allies in Russia have insisted he was deliberately poisoned by the country’s authorities, accusations the Kremlin rejected as “empty noise”.

The Prime Minister condemned that attack, saying: "It’s outrageous that a chemical weapon was used against Alexey Navalny.

"We have seen first-hand the deadly consequences of Novichok in the UK.

"The Russian government must now explain what happened to Mr Navalny – we will work with international partners to ensure justice is done."

Novichok was used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury in March 2018, sparking a major investigation by British authorities and international condemnation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday there was a “substantial chance” his poisoning was ordered by senior Russian officials.

The Russian doctors who treated him in Siberia have repeatedly contested the German hospital’s conclusion, saying they had ruled out poisoning.