Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that testing had “identified unequivocally” that Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition politician, had been poisoned. Navalny was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, one of a family of exotic Soviet-era chemical weapons. Novichok is a favorite weapon of Russian intelligence operatives.
Navalny, a very high-profile critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was flown to Germany last month after falling ill while on a domestic flight. Navalny was reportedly drank a cup of tea that was laced with the nerve agent before boarding the plane.
But the 44-year old’s condition has improved. He has now been taken out of a medically induced coma.
“The patient has been removed from his medically induced coma and is being weaned off mechanical ventilation,” Berlin’s Charite hospital, where Navalny is being treated, said in a statement. “He is responding to verbal stimuli. It remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning.”