The poisoned Russian opposition activist, Alexei Navalny, can be discharged from hospital and has a chance of “complete recovery”, doctors treating him in Germany said on Wednesday.

Mr Navalny, the most vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had been treated at Berlin’s Charité hospital for suspected poisoning by the chemical agent novichok, and spent 24 days in intensive care.

“Based on the patient’s progress and current condition, the treating physicians believe that complete recovery is possible,” a statement from Charité said. “However, it remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning.”

Mr Navalny fell ill on a flight from Siberia on August 20. He was flown to Berlin for treatment two days later. 

Early in September, the German government announced that a toxicology test by a specialist military laboratory proved “beyond all doubt” that he was poisoned with novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union. Novichok was also used in the 2018 Salisbury poisonings in the UK that targeted former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The Kremlin has denied any responsibility for the attack, but Mr Navalny’s poisoning and subsequent treatment in Germany have strained German-Russian relations, already at a low after the murder of a Chechen rebel in a Berlin park last year and a huge hack on the Bundestag computer system in 2015. Moscow says the accusations are a pretext by US “puppetmasters” to introduce further sanctions against Russia’s economy.

Mr Navalny, Russia’s most prominent anti-corruption activist, has vowed to return to Russia to continue his activism and accused the Kremlin of stonewalling attempts to find his poisoners.

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German media reports, citing intelligence sources, said the novichok used on Mr Navalny was a new, far more potent formulation of the agent than that used on the Skripals. The reports speculated that Mr Navalny survived only because of the swift action of the pilot who made an emergency landing, as well as the medics that immediately treated him.

Russia says it found no traces of novichok in Mr Navalny’s system and has suggested he might have been poisoned after he arrived in Germany.

Officials and state media have issued a series of contradictory claims to muddy the waters, including that Mr Navalny was poisoned by his own allies on instructions from the CIA, or that he fell into a diabetic coma. Russian officials also accused his team of taking evidence of the crime to Germany despite refusing to investigate it themselves.

In a conversation last month, Mr Putin told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, that Mr Navalny might have somehow poisoned himself with novichok, Le Monde reported on Tuesday.

“I cooked up some novichok in the kitchen. Had a sip from a flask on the plane. Fell into a coma,” Mr Navalny joked on Instagram. “The end goal of my cunning plan was to die in a hospital in Omsk and wind up in the Omsk morgue so they could diagnose ‘he’d lived long enough’ as the cause of death. But Putin beat me. You can’t trick him that easily. So I was in a coma for 18 days but didn’t get what I wanted. The provocation failed!”

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Via Financial Times