The wife of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, who is currently in a medically induced coma in Berlin after being diagnosed with poisoning, has slammed a leading Russian physician as being little more than a stooge for President Vladimir Putin after he suggested creating a joint German-Russian expert group to assess the state of her husband's health.
Yulia Navalnaya wrote on Instagram on September 6 that medical institutions in Russia consider patients their "property," falsifying information they make public via the media while "deceiving relatives, not letting them see the patient and inventing rules at their own discretion, literally turning the hospital into an analogue of a Russian prison."
The sharp rebuke comes after 87-year-old physician Leonid Roshal, who in recent years has publicly supported Putin and his policies, said on September 5 that Russia's National Medical Chamber had called on Germany's Physicians Chamber (Aerztekammer) to create a joint group to evaluate Navalny's health.
German doctors and Navalny's relatives believe that the 44-yar-old politician was poisoned with the Soviet-style military-grade nerve agent known as Novichok while on a trip in Siberia, and that authorities most likely were behind the poisoning, which the Kremlin vehemently denies.
"Dr. Roshal, I would like to say that my husband is not your property. You did not have, do not have, and will not have anything to do with his treatment. All your pubic activities in recent years give me no reason to trust and respect you. You are not acting as a doctor, but as the voice of the state, and you do not want to help a patient whom you do not care about, but to find out information and curry favor for your boss. Do not take sin on your soul, especially at such a respectable age," Navalnaya wrote.
Navalny was brought to Berlin's Charite clinic from Siberia after he fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow in late August.
Germany has signaled that Berlin would push for new sanctions against Russia if Moscow fails to explain the poisoning of the Kremlin critic, including a possible shift in German policy regarding the nearly complete Baltic Sea pipeline known as Nord Stream 2, which would bring gas from Russia to Germany. Merkel has been under pressure from the United States and other Western countries to scrap the plan.
Asked on September 7 whether Chancellor Angela Merkel would protect the multibillion-euro pipeline if Germany were to seek sanctions over the Navalny case, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said: "The chancellor believes it would be wrong to rule anything out from the start."
Navalny's close associate Lyubov Sobol told RFE/RL on September 4 that she believes Navalny was poisoned either by Russia's Federal Security Service or by the Kremlin-connected powerful businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin.
"Neither special services, nor Yevgeny Prigozhin could organize this poisoning without the direct order by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin," Sobol said, though she did not provide any concrete evidence of a connection.
Sobol believes the Kremlin would want to poison Navalny because of his Smart Voting campaign, which supports independent and opposition candidates in municipal elections scheduled for later this month.
She added that a wave of instability sparked by protests stretching from Belarus, on Russia's western border, to the Far Eastern region of the Khabarovsk Krai, has also unsettled Russia's leadership.