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Alexei Navalny will return to Russia, allies say

September 24, 2020

The German NGO that organized Alexei Navalny's evacuation from Siberia to Berlin says the Russian dissident is determined to return to his home country — but that it'll be at least another month before he's fit to do so.

Alexei Navalny sitting on a bench after his release from hospital
Image: Navalny/Instagram/dpa/picture-alliance

Russian dissident politician Alexei Navalny will need at least another month to regain full fitness, the head of the Cinema for Peace Foundation told reporters in Berlin on Thursday.

"He is still not 100% how he was before," the NGO's founder Jaka Bizilj said, adding that Navalny planned to return to Russia to resume his political activism.

The 44-year-old Kremlin critic was airlifted to the German capital last month — in an operation organized by the foundation — after falling seriously ill in Siberia. 

A number of separate laboratory tests have since confirmed he was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.

Jaka Bizilj
Jaka Bizilj of the Cinema for Peace Foundation Image: picture-alliance/dpa/F. Sommer

Navalny was kept in a medically induced coma in the intensive care unit at Berlin's Charite hospital for more than three weeks. He was formally discharged on Tuesday after 32 days of treatment. 

Read moreCalls grow for 'transparent' probe into suspected poisoning

"When we got the first reports, we got the impression he had made a fast recovery and was fit but we have to be careful," Bizilj said. "I think he will need at least a month to be fit again."

Jaka Bizilj talks to DW

Russia-Germany ties

The Navalny case has strained relations between Berlin and Moscow, with the German government demanding an explanation from Russian authorities for the opposition leader's suspected poisoning.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the incident and accuses the West of unleashing a "massive disinformation campaign" over Navalny's hospitalization.

Bizilj, whose foundation also previously helped Pussy Riot activist Pyotr Verzilov get treatment in Germany after a suspected poisoning, said Navalny's "chief of staff has made it clear there is no doubt he wants to go back to Russia."

Poison just one method used to attack Kremlin critics

Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter that he would continue treatment in Germany in the meantime.

"His treatment is not over," she said, adding that doctors were hopeful for "a full recovery."

The Kremlin said Wednesday it was pleased Navalny was recovering well, adding that he was "free to return to Russia like any other citizen," according to Russia's TASS news agency.

nm/rt (Reuters, TASS)