Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has posted a message on social media saying that his path to recovery after being poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent is “clear” but “long.”
In a statement issued via his Instagram account on September 19, Navalny also posted a photograph of himself walking down stairs inside the Berlin hospital where he is being treated after falling ill in August aboard a domestic Russian airline.
Navalny said in the post that he still has difficulty walking up the stairs.
“Let me tell you about my recovery,” Navalny wrote. “It’s a clear path now, albeit long…Now I’m a guy whose legs are shaking when he takes the stairs, but at least is thinking, ‘Oh, that’s the stairs! People use it to go up. I probably should look for an elevator.”
Not so long ago, Navalny said, he would “just stand and stare dumbly.”
Navalny also described his thought processes after he first came out of an induced coma at Charite hospital in Berlin, saying he previously “did not recognize people and could not understand how to talk.”
Navalny wrote: "The doctor visited me every morning and said, 'Aleksei, I brought you a whiteboard. Let's think what word to write on it'."
"It made me desperate, because even though I could generally understand what the doctor wanted from me, I couldn't understand where to get those words from," he said. "In what place in my head do they appear? Where to find a word and how to make it mean something? All of that was utterly unclear. However, I didn't know how to express my despair as well and was just silent.”
Navalny fell ill suddenly on August 20 while on a Russian commercial flight from Siberia. He was medically evacuated to Germany at the request of his wife several days later.
Doctors in Berlin removed Navalny from a medically induced coma on September 7, saying his condition had improved but that it was unclear what long-term effects the “severe poisoning” would have on his health.
Germany says laboratory tests in three countries have determined the 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner and Kremlin critic was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, and Western governments have demanded an explanation and an investigation from Russia.
Russian investigators said on September 19 that they have not uncovered any evidence so far that might lead to criminal charges.
But Navalny's team says a water bottle removed from his hotel room in the Siberian city of Tomsk after he fell critically ill had been taken to Germany and also was found to have traces of a Novichok nerve agent.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refuted that claim on September 18, calling it "absurd."