02/05/2021, 16.58
RUSSIA
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The strange death of Navalny’s doctor

Dr Sergey Maximishin arranged the treatment that saved the life of the poisoned blogger by placing him in a medically-induced coma. For Leonid Volkov, the doctor “knew more than anyone else about Alexey's condition so I can't dismiss possibility of foul play”.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Dr Sergey Maximishin, chief first aid physician at the Omsk hospital where Alexey Navalny was treated last August immediately after his poisoning, died suddenly at the age of 55, the hospital reported on his website.

Maximishin, who was the deputy chief physician for anesthesiology and resuscitation at the hospital, died of a massive heart attack unrelated to the coronavirus. He had arranged the treatment that saved Navalny's life, placing him in a medically-induced coma.

The doctor “knew more than anyone else about Alexey's condition so I can't dismiss possibility of foul play,” said Leonid Volkov, head of Navalny's regional headquarters network. Now Volkov strongly doubts that any investigation will be held into the doctor's death.

When in August 2020 Russia’s main opposition leader was taken to the Emergency City Clinical Hospital No. 1 in Omsk after his plane made an emergency landing, his case was immediately surrounded by secrecy enforced by law enforcement.

Navalny’s relatives and friends reported that some of the doctors in the hospital immediately pointed to poisoning, but after initially admitting that possibility, the hospital management stubbornly denied it.

With Navalny hospitalised in Omsk in an induced coma in an intensive care room, men in uniform settled permanently in the doctor's office. The head physician refused to reveal who they were, even though one of them was recognised as Mayor Vyacheslav Kryuchkov, department chief for the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Omsk Region.

Navalny's relatives immediately insisted on having Alexey flown to Germany for treatment, but the doctors insisted that his clinical condition had to be stabilised first. Since the incident, chief physician Alexander Murakhovsky was promoted in November 2020 to the post of director of the Omsk section of the Ministry of Health, a somewhat surprising advancement for a mid-level physician.

During Navalny's stay at the Omsk hospital, Murakhovsky liaised with the press, describing the politician's illness as a form of “metabolic disorder”. At first, he also prevented Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, from seeing her comatose husband because she could not produce her marriage certificate.

When Navalny finally arrived in Germany, the doctors at Berlin’s Charité Hospital immediately diagnosed poisoning with Novichok, a conclusion confirmed by three independent laboratories in different countries. In Russia, however, no one wants to open an investigation into the attempt on the life of the blogger who is now in prison after phoney trials.

Investigations by media, including one by Navalny himself, uncovered details about the poisoning attempt, pinning it on a group of eight FSB[*] operatives, one of whom even confessed to the poisoning  over the phone with Navalny, who used caller ID spoofing to make the call look like he was calling from an FSB number.

With Maximishin’s death, any attempt to find out what happened at the Omsk hospital back in August is probably at a dead end.

Today, 5 February, Navalny goes on trial again in a libel case. The blogger is accused of  tarnishing the reputation of Ignat Artemenko, a 94-year-old of World War II veteran, by describing the ex-soldier on twitter as a “national disgrace” and “traitor” because he appeared in a pro-Putin video about a controversial constitutional reform. One of the amendments is a provision that bans dishonouring the memory of patriotic victories.

Still, Navalny’s legal woes have spurred the protest movement, with people now rallying to get the release of 7,000 protesters taken into custody in the past few days. (V. R.)


[*] Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB RF).

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