Germany upgrades hospital protection for ‘poisoned’ Russian opposition leader

Berlin: German federal authorities have taken over the police protection of prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny who is being treated at a Berlin hospital for suspected poisoning in Siberia.

"The state has initially taken over the police protection of Alexei Navalny," a government spokesman said.

Germany's criminal police office are responsible for protection of government officials, as well as foreign guests during state visits.

Alexei Navalny is suspected of being poisoned.Credit:AP

Navalny, who is still fighting for his life, was taken ill on a flight to Moscow on Thursday and flown to Germany on Saturday for emergency treatment at Berlin's Charite hospital.

His team says he was poisoned in Siberia. Russian doctors have said he could be suffering from a metabolic disorder.

Meanwhile, the film producer Jaka Bizilj, who organised a Siberia-to-Berlin transport for the Russian opposition politician, said he believes Navalny would survive.

"From my point of view, the crucial question is whether he will survive this unscathed and continue to play his role," Bizilj told German tabloid Bild in a video interview on Sunday.

"If he survives this unscathed, which we all hope, he will surely still be out of the political arena for at least a month or two."

Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh was surprised about the film producer's comments, noting that no one has access to information about his condition at the moment – especially someone outside the family circle.

"Alexei's family has not asked anyone to report anything to the press about his health," she wrote in the Telegram news channel early Monday morning.

"At the moment there are no new details about Alexei's health. We ask everyone to be patient and not to react to untrue communications," Yarmysh said authorised information could only be given by the doctors or by herself.

A medical vehicle of the German Army or Bundeswehr carrying Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny arrives at Charite Hospital in Berlin, Germany. Credit:Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

Navalny was reportedly being closely watched by the authorities ahead of what his supporters claim was a life-threatening poisoning earlier this week.

"The extent of the surveillance does not surprise me at all, we were already aware of it," Yarmysh had earlier said on Twitter. "But it is astonishing that they did not hesitate to tell everyone about it," she added.

Yarmysh's comments came in response to a report by the Moscow-tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets detailing Navalny's movements in the days before he was taken seriously ill and slipped into a coma on Thursday.

Citing unnamed security officials who admitted they had been following Navalny, the report lists where Navalny and his team stayed, whom he spoke with and even what they ate during a trip through Siberia.

The article claims that given the level of surveillance Navalny was under, he could only have been poisoned at the airport or on the plane.

The German government official in charge of relations with Russia, Dirk Wiese, on Sunday demanded a full explanation of the circumstances surrounding Navalny's illness.

"There is an accusation of poisoning.

The rapid deterioration in Navalny's health condition needs to be plausibly and transparently clarified with the Russian authorities' cooperation," he told the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland group.


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