World Russia's Navalny thanks 'unknown friends' for saving his life
Navalny's team says nerve agent used to poison him found on hotel room bottle
Traces of the Novichok nerve agent used to poison Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny were found on a bottle in his hotel room in Siberia, his team said. The discovery suggests that Navalny was poisoned before he left the hotel and not at the airport, where they initially suspected he might have ingested the poison through a cup of tea.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny said on Friday he owed his life to the pilots who made an emergency landing when he collapsed on a flight last month, and the paramedics he said had diagnosed poisoning and injected him with atropine.
Navalny thanked his "unknown good friends" in the latest of a series of Instagram posts charting his gradual recovery from the poisoning, which German, French and Swedish laboratories have established was carried out with a nerve agent. Russia denies poisoning him and says it has seen no evidence.
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"As far as I understand ... the killers' plan was simple: I will feel bad 20 minutes after takeoff, after another 15 minutes I will pass out," said Navalny, who collapsed shortly after his flight took off from the Siberian city of Tomsk on Aug. 20.
"Medical assistance will be guaranteed to be unavailable, and in another hour I will continue my journey in a black plastic bag on the last row of seats, terrifying passengers going to the toilet," he added with characteristic black humour.
Though he has not been allowed to form a political party, Navalny has been a thorn in the side of President Vladimir Putin for the past decade, using YouTube and Instagram to publish stinging investigations of official corruption.
The 44-year-old thanked the pilots for diverting the plane to Omsk, despite a bomb warning that was phoned through to the airport there.
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State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said foreign operators such as German intelligence agents may have poisoned the Kremlin critic.State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin linked the case of Navalny, who is being treated at the Charité hospital in Berlin, with the crisis in Belarus where Alexander Lukashenko faces a wave of discontent with protests following his disputed election victory.
He also credited the airport medical officers and ambulance team who "did not say any lies about diabetes, etc., but immediately clearly said: 'this is toxic poisoning' and gave me a dose of atropine."
Contradictory accounts have emerged of when and where Navalny was given atropine, a drug used to treat nerve agent or pesticide poisonings. Medical experts have said it probably saved his life.
Sources had previously told Reuters that parademics gave him injections, but not of atropine, and that this was administered later when he was admitted to hospital in Omsk.
Navalny was discharged from a Berlin hospital earlier this week and has said he will undertake daily physiotherapy.
The latest Instagram post showed him hugging his wife Yulia and gazing straight into the camera with a neutral expression.
"Thank you, good unknown friends. You are good people," he said.
(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Anton Zverev; Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
How Navalny hotel evidence adds to case against Kremlin
New evidence indicates that Vladimir Putin was responsible for the recent Novichok nerve agent poisoning of investigative journalist and human rights activist, Alexey Navalny. © Provided by Washington Examiner According to a German laboratory, traces of Novichok were found on one of the water bottles found in Navalny's room at the Xander hotel in Tomsk city. It was on Aug 20, shortly after leaving that hotel room, that Navalny fell ill as he flew to Moscow. After an emergency landing in the nearby city of Omsk, Navalny was detained in hospital for 36 hours.
Video: Kremlin critic Navalny appears in public after leaving Berlin hospital (Reuters)
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The Russian opposition campaigner told Der Spiegel Vladimir Putin was behind his Novichok attack, which the Kremlin has dismissed.The anti-corruption campaigner spent 16 days in a coma after he fell ill on a flight on August 20. He had been transferred from a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk to Charité hospital in Berlin. He is now recovering in the German capital.