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Russia medics deny outside pressure on Navalny treatment

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 26, 2019 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands near law enforcement agents in a hallway of a business centre, which houses the office of his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), in Moscow. – The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was in intensive care in a Siberian hospital on August 20, 2020 after he fell ill in what his spokeswoman said was a suspected poisoning. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)


Russian doctors who treated opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Siberia denied on Monday there was any official interference in his treatment.

The 44-year-old critic of the Kremlin was rushed into intensive care on Thursday after he fell ill on a plane to Moscow and it landed in the Siberian city of Omsk.

Aides say they believe Navalny was poisoned with a cup of tea, pointing the blame at President Vladimir Putin.

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Doctors who treated him gave a press conference in Omsk on Monday morning, denying they were influenced by officials while treating him.

“There was no influence on the treatment of the patient a priori and there couldn’t have been any,” the chief doctor of the Omsk emergency hospital No. 1, Alexander Murakhovsky, said.

“We didn’t agree with any diagnoses with anyone. There was no pressure on us from any doctors or any other forces.”

An air ambulance transferred Navalny to a German clinic at the request of his relatives on Saturday, after they complained the Omsk hospital was ill-equipped and said they distrusted the doctors.

Journalists and Navalny’s allies said the hospital was packed with police and plain-clothed officers sat in Murakhovsky’s office.

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“I can’t tell you who they were,” the chief doctor said.

“I had a lot of people in my office after all (Navalny)’s a political figure,” he added.

“I can’t say they did anything… They just came and asked what was going on.”

Berlin’s Charite hospital said Sunday that Navalny was stable.

The Omsk regional health ministry said Saturday that caffeine and alcohol were found in Navalny’s urine, but “no convulsive or synthetic poisons were detected”.

“Yes, of course, we found substances,” said the hospital deputy chief Anatoly Kalinichenko, while adding that Navalny did not have alcohol poisoning.

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Doctors repeated their insistence that no poison was detected by blood tests.

“There was nothing in the blood,” said Murakhovsky.

“If we had found poisoning, confirmed something, for us that would have been much easier,” said Kalinichenko.

The Omsk doctors said Navalny appeared to have had a “metabolic disorder” and low blood sugar.

Doctors insisted they had acted appropriately.

“We saved his life, stabilised his state,” said Kalinichenko, adding that Navalny had been in a “critical state”.

“For the first day and a half we were fighting practically every moment for his life”.

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