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Let’s share notes, fellow colleagues Russian doctors want to see the data German physicians used to determine that Alexey Navalny was poisoned

Source: Meduza
Alexey Malgavko / Reuters / Scanpix / LETA

Ever since Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny was hospitalized in Omsk after becoming suddenly ill aboard a flight to Moscow, his family and aides have sparred in tweets and news headlines against local medical officials. For nearly two days, the hospital treating Navalny in intensive care refused to issue the paperwork needed to release him for transfer to a clinic in Berlin. The oppositionists’ supporters believe doctors delayed the medical evacuation to ensure that any traces of poison in Navalny’s system would be undetectable by the time he was turned over to independent experts. In the media and online, physicians in Omsk are now waging a PR counteroffensive, pressing German doctors for their supposed proof that Navalny was poisoned and condemning Navalny’s allies for sullying their reputations.

Alexander Murakhovsky, the chief physician at the Omsk hospital that treated opposition politician Alexey Navalny for almost two days after he became violently ill, is calling on the doctors now caring for Navalny in Berlin to produce their evidence that he was poisoned. Evgeny Popov, who hosts a talk show on Russian state television, published Murakhovsky’s letter to the Charité Clinic on his Telegram channel on Wednesday.

In the letter, Murakhovsky explains that his hospital “studied the possibility of toxication” but withdrew the diagnosis due to “the absence of distinct clinical symptoms and negative lab tests.” “A decrease in the level of cholinesterase could be caused by many factors — both by taking in a compound or internal causes of various origins,” wrote Murakhovsky.

The Omsk physician’s letter confirms that Russian doctors gave Navalny atropine — a medication used to treat certain types of nerve-agent and pesticide poisonings — but Murakhovsky says this was administered on different medical grounds. “Acting exclusively in the patient’s interests,” Murakhovsky also proposes that the Omsk hospital and the Charité Clinic should exchange Navalny’s biological samples.

Television host Evgeny Popov also published an excerpt from an “independent expert analysis of Navalny’s lab work” that claims no cholinesterase inhibitors were detected in his test results. The document shared by Popov states that the analysis was conducted on August 25 (roughly four days after Navalny was transferred to Germany).

Murakhovsky’s letter isn’t the only text from physicians in Omsk that appeared online today. Local journalists also published a text attributed to “the Omsk region’s medical community” that denounces “the harsh reaction from liberal society against the actions of Omsk doctors in the rescue of Alexey Navalny.” The opposition politician’s supporters, argue the letter’s authors, are medically illiterate and “bent on defaming those who saved his life.” “In essence, we’re faced with what might be called a ‘political’ diagnosis that has nothing to do with medicine,” reads the letter, signed by Health Workers' Union Chairman Sergey Bystrushkin, Omsk State Medical Rector University Maria Livzan, and several senior physicians in the area.

On August 24, doctors at the Charité Clinic in Berlin now treating Alexey Navalny announced that lab work detected the presence of a cholinesterase-inhibitor poison in the patient’s body. German physicians say they then started administering atropine to Navalny as an antidote. The precise substance responsible for the poisoning remains unclear.

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