Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny out of induced coma

7 September 2020, 14:32 | Updated: 7 September 2020, 16:40

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Alexei Navalny is out of an induced coma and is 'responding to speech' after his suspected poisoning with novichok.

Mr Navalny is currently being treated in a Berlin hospital.

Doctors said that despite his improvement, "long-term consequences of the serious poisoning cannot be ruled out."

Mr Navalny's press secretary tweeted that he will be gradually disconnected from the ventilator he is currently on.

The Kremlin critic, 44, fell ill on a flight to Moscow and had been in an induced coma since 22 August.

It comes after German officials said last weeks that test showed Mr Navalny had been poisoned with novichok, a nerve agent used to poison father and daughter Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the use of novichok showed the "dangerous" attack on Mr Navalny was attempted murder and the aim was to silence him.

The German government has demanded that Russia investigate the case, however the Kremlin said it was unable to give a proper response to the findings.

The Russian ambassador in Germany has since been summoned.

Earlier on Monday, chancellor Angela Merkel's office indicated she might be willing to rethink the fate of a German-Russian gas pipeline project in a sign of Berlin's growing frustration at Moscow's stonewalling over the poisoning of Mr Navalny.

Germany's foreign minister Heiko Maas said in an interview on Sunday that the Russian reaction could determine whether Germany changes its long-standing backing of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

"The chancellor also believes that it's wrong to rule anything out," Mrs Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters after being asked about Mr Maas's comments.

Previously, Mrs Merkel had insisted on "decoupling" the Navalny case from the pipeline project, which the US strongly opposes.

In early August, three Republican senators threatened sanctions against the operator of a Baltic Sea port located in Mrs Merkel's parliamentary constituency over its role as a staging post for ships involved in building Nord Stream 2.