The medical plane carrying the main Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny, in a coma after what his entourage claims to be “poisoning”, flew Saturday morning from the Siberian city of Omsk to Germany, where he must be treated .
• Read also: Opponent Navalny will be transferred to Germany on Saturday morning
• Read also: Relatives of Russian opponent Navalny denounce refusal to transfer him abroad
• Read also: Doctors fight to ‘save the life’ of Russian opponent Navalny
This departure comes after a day of arm wrestling between his relatives and Russian doctors over his evacuation.
AFP journalists saw the plane take off from the airport in the western Siberian city.
“The plane with Alexei flew to Berlin. Many thanks to everyone for your support. The fight for Alexei’s life and health has only just begun, and there is still a lot to go through, but now at least the first step has been taken, ”the spokeswoman for the opponent, Kira Iarmych.
Shortly before, she had posted a photo of the stretcher carrying Mr. Navalny on the plane, claiming it was accompanied by his wife.
The Russian hospital where the opponent was admitted on Thursday gave the green light to his transport to Germany on Friday, saying his condition was “stable” after initially opposing it.
A medical plane chartered by a German NGO arrived at Omsk airport on Friday morning. German doctors were able to examine Mr Navalny, 44, and said they would be able to transport him to Berlin for treatment.
“On the tarmac, in addition to Russian and German doctors, there are airport security officers, traffic and transport police officers, journalists from (the national channel) Russia 1 with a camera,” he said. added his spokesperson.
The rest of the journalists were unable to access the tarmac.
Alexei Navalny was traveling from Tomsk, Siberia, to Moscow by plane when he became unwell. The aircraft had to make an emergency landing in Omsk.
The opponent was admitted to hospital there and placed in intensive care with artificial respiration. He is currently in a coma, in serious condition.
Those around him claim that he was the victim of “intentional poisoning”, “with something mixed with his tea”.
Russian doctors have assured them that they have detected “no poison” in the blood and urine of Mr. Navalny, claiming to favor the hypothesis of a “carbohydrate imbalance”, caused by a drop in blood sugar levels .
The regional interior ministry said police took an industrial chemical from the man and his luggage, but doctors said it would not have made him feel unwell.
The private medical plane arrived in Omsk on Friday morning, but Russian medics initially refused Mr. Navalny’s evacuation, saying his condition was too unstable.
The spokesperson for Mr. Navalny attributed this refusal to an intention to “buy time and wait until the poison can no longer be detected in his body.”
The hospital finally gave its agreement in the evening, after the examination by the German doctors of the patient, a letter from his wife Yulia Navalnaya asking President Vladimir Putin to authorize the evacuation, and after the family of the opponent appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The opponent is expected to be transported to Charité Hospital in Berlin, where another Russian opponent, Piotr Verzilov, was treated in 2018 by the same NGO, Cinema for Peace. The latter, cured, had also denounced poisoning.
Many Western capitals and international organizations have expressed concern and called for clarification of the circumstances of the hospitalization.
The main opponent of the Kremlin, whose publications denouncing the corruption of Russian elites are widely shared on the internet, Alexei Navalny has already been the victim of physical attacks.
“The FBK (Fund for the fight against corruption) continues its work,” said on Twitter just before takeoff Ivan Jdanov, director of this organization founded by Mr. Navalny.
In recent years, many opponents of the Kremlin have suffered or denounced poisoning in Russia and abroad. The Russian authorities have always denied any responsibility.