Putin critic flies to Germany for treatment

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny is being flown from Siberia to Germany so he can receive treatment for a suspected poisoning that has left him in a coma for 36 hours.

Navalny fell into coma after drinking what his supporters suspect was poisoned tea.

Doctors treating him in Omsk had initially insisted that he was too ill to be moved, however, later they said that his condition was stable enough for the flight.

His wife Yulia is travelling with him.

The Opposition leader will be treated at the Charité hospital after a German NGO Cinema for Peace paid for a medical evacuation flight.

“Alexei’s plane has taken off for Berlin,” his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh tweeted on Saturday morning. “Massive thanks to everyone for their support. The struggle for Alexei’s life and health is just beginning.”

Navalny gained prominence as a critic of corruption and of the government led by President Vladimir Putin. He had sought to challenge Putin in the 2018 presidential election, only to be barred by the country’s electoral commission over a conviction for corruption. The trial had been deemed unfair by the European Court of Human Rights and the conviction was overturned by the Russian Supreme Court, only for a lower court to repeat its sentence.

Navalny fell ill during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow on Thursday, and his plane made an emergency landing in Omsk.