A plane carrying prominent Russian politician Alexei Navalny who is in a coma after a suspected poisoning has arrived in Berlin from the Siberian city of Omsk, according to Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokeswoman.
The plane with German doctors took off just after 8am local time (02:00 GMT) on Saturday, after more than 24 hours of wrangling over Alexei Navalny’s condition and treatment, with the opposition leader’s allies accusing Russian authorities of trying to stop his evacuation.
Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Berlin, said that Navalny will be treated at prominent Charite hospital in the German capital.
“Navalny is still expected here at the Charite area of Berlin with his convoy to take him to the emergency area to start his treatment,” he said.
One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, Navalny was admitted to an intensive care unit in Omsk on Thursday. His supporters believe that tea he drank was laced with poison – and that the Kremlin is behind both his illness and the delay in transferring him to a top German hospital.
Russian doctors say there is no evidence of poisoning, and the Kremlin denied the authorities tried to prevent the transfer from happening.
Even after German specialists arrived on a plane equipped with advanced medical equipment on Friday morning at his family’s behest, Navalny’s physicians in Omsk said he was too unstable to move.
Navalny’s supporters denounced that as a ploy by authorities to stall until any poison in his system would no longer be traceable. The Omsk medical team relented only after a charity that had organised the medevac plane revealed that the German doctors examined the politician and said he was fit to be transported.
Deputy chief doctor of the Omsk hospital Anatoly Kalinichenko then told reporters that Navalny’s condition had stabilised and that physicians “didn’t mind” transferring the politician, given that his relatives were willing “to take on the risks”.
The Kremlin denied resistance to the transfer was political, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that it was purely a medical decision. However, the reversal came as international pressure on Russia’s leadership mounted.
On Thursday, leaders of France and Germany said the two countries were ready to offer Navalny and his family any and all assistance and insisted on an investigation into what happened. On Friday, European Union spokeswoman Nabila Massrali added that the bloc was urging Russian authorities to allow him to be taken abroad.
Also on Friday, the European Court of Human Rights said it was considering a request from Navalny’s supporters that it urge the Russian government to let the politician be moved.