Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who Germany says was poisoned by a weapons-grade Novichok nerve agent, is now out of a medically induced coma and reacting to speech, the Berlin hospital treating him said on Monday.
The 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner and one of President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a domestic flight last month and was treated in a Siberian hospital before being evacuated to Berlin.
“He is responding to verbal stimuli,” Charite hospital said in a statement, reporting that his condition “has improved”.
Navalny is also being weaned off mechanical ventilation, but the hospital said it was too early to determine the long-term impact of the poisoning.
Germany said last week that toxicology tests conducted by its armed forces found “unequivocal evidence” that Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok, the substance used in the 2018 attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.
Navalny’s associates say the use of Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, shows that only the Russian state could be responsible, but the Kremlin fiercely denies any involvement.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday: “Attempts to somehow associate Russia with what happened are unacceptable to us, they are absurd.”
Russian officials have accused Germany of being slow to share the findings of its investigation, despite a request from prosecutors.
“We expect information [from Germany] to be provided in the coming days,” Peskov said. “We are looking forward to it.”
But Germany warned that the failure by Moscow to thoroughly investigate the incident could have serious consequences.