Accessibility links

Breaking News

Germany Mulls Russia Response As Navalny's Condition Remains 'Serious'

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny

The Berlin hospital treating Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny after a suspected poisoning says the Kremlin critic is still in an induced coma but his condition is stable and his symptoms are improving.

Charite Hospital said August 28 that the 44-year-old remains in an intensive-care unit and on a ventilator, describing his condition as serious but not life-threatening.

Navalny fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20, forcing the plane he was traveling on to make an emergency landing in Omsk, where he spent two days in the hospital before being evacuated to Germany.

Doctors at the renowned German hospital have concluded that Navalny was poisoned by the group of active substances called cholinesterase inhibitors. Cholinesterase are a group of chemicals that are found in several drugs as well as in some pesticides and nerve agents. He is being treated with the antidote atropine.

“While his condition remains serious, there is no immediate danger to his life,” Charite said in a statement. “However, due to the severity of the patient’s poisoning, it remains too early to gauge potential long-term effects.”

Navalny’s team says he was deliberately poisoned and the Kremlin had a role, an accusation the Russian government has denied. Russian doctors said their tests did not find any trace of poison while they treated Navalny.

Navalny’s suspected poisoning has prompted Western governments to call for full transparency, with policymakers mulling a number of responses if the Kremlin is confirmed to have had a role.

So far, Russian officials have brushed aside allegations Navalny was deliberately poisoned and shown little indication they plan to fully investigate the case.

Speaking at her annual summer news conference on August 28, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that once there is more clarity on what happened to Navalny, Germany will try to ensure a “European reaction” against those responsible.

"We will try that, once we have more clarity on the circumstances," Merkel told reporters, noting that a coordinated response was taken after the poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain in March 2018.

“We have an obligation to do everything so that this can be cleared up,” she said. "It was right and good that Germany said we were take in Mr. Navalny. And now we will try to get this cleared up with the possibilities we have, which are indeed limited.”

Omid Nouripour, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, said that it is time for Germany to "wake up" regarding its relations with Russia in the wake of Navalny’s suspected poisoning.

"I hope that the people will wake up in this country seeing the systematic way of attacks on people who are not like-minded with the Kremlin," Nouripour told RFE/RL by telephone, pointing to a long line of Kremlin opponents injured or killed in Russia and abroad.

"My government asked for investigations, common investigations with Russia," Nouripour said. "This is wishful [thinking]. I would love to see that, but I do not see that coming."

Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

He called for Germany to reconsider its dealings with Russia on such projects as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a contentious underwater Baltic Sea pipeline that will bring gas from Russia to Germany.

"I think that the question of Nord Stream is a question of [political] will," he added.

But Merkel rejected the idea that the Navalny case should be linked to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

“Our opinion is that Nord Stream 2 should be completed," she said. “I don't think it is appropriate to link this business-operated project with the Navalny question."

Expressing hope that Navalny can recover, Nouripour said that dialogue with Russia must continue. But he also said that Russia should face consequences for its actions.

He called for Western European countries to coordinate their response, saying that "the most important thing is to keep the European Union together and to make us strong when it comes to resilience to the hybrid warfare that a lot of countries in Europe are suffering from.”

Kremlin-controlled Gazprom is seeking to complete the last 160 kilometers of the contentious pipeline along the bottom of the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, despite U.S. sanctions aimed at preventing it from doing so.

Merkel has strongly opposed U.S. extraterritorial sanctions.

The Green Party’s view on foreign-policy questions is increasingly pertinent in Germany, where the party consistently polls second behind Merkel’s conservatives ahead of federal elections scheduled for the second half of next year. That could put the Greens in a position to join a future government.

Based on an interview conducted by RFE/RL’s Rikard Jozwiak, with additional reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AFP
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.