The head doctor at the Siberian hospital treating Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Friday he had been diagnosed with a metabolic disease caused by low blood sugar.
Alexander Murakhovsky, the head doctor at the hospital treating Navalny in the city of Omsk, also said that traces of industrial chemical substances had been found on the 44-year-old’s clothes and fingers.
The announcement came shortly after allies of Navalny accused the Kremlin of thwarting his medical evacuation to Germany, saying the decision places his life in mortal danger because the Siberian hospital treating him is under-equipped.
Navalny, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin and his lieutenants, is in a serious condition after drinking tea on a plane on Thursday that his allies believe was laced with poison. A doctor on Friday said his condition had improved a little overnight.
Navalny’s wife Yulia and his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh spoke out against the Kremlin after Murakhovsky said moving him would put his life at risk because he was still in a coma and his condition unstable.
“The ban on transporting Navalny is an attempt on his life being carried out right now by doctors and the deceitful authorities that have authorised it,” Yarmysh wrote on social media.
She said doctors had previously consented to his being moved, but had withheld their agreement at the last minute.
“This decision, of course, was not made by them but by the Kremlin,” said Yarmysh.
The Kremlin said on Thursday medical authorities would promptly consider any request to move him to a European clinic and were being open about his medical condition.
The dispute over moving Navalny broke out as a German air ambulance landed in Omsk, the city where he is being treated, with the intention of flying him to Germany for treatment if possible.
Murakhovsky told reporters many legal questions would need to be resolved before Navalny could be handed over to European doctors.
He said top doctors had been flown in from Moscow to treat Navalny. The Moscow doctors were no worse than their European counterparts, he said.
Later on Friday, the Kremlin said not evacuating Navalny was “purely a medical decision”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the German doctors who arrived on Friday had been invited to join Russian doctors treating Navalny.
Navalny’s team cited a police officer as saying a highly dangerous substance had been identified in his body that posed a risk to everyone around him who should therefore wear protective suits.
Navalny’s team said it believed authorities wanted to stall for time so that any trace of what poisoned him would disappear.
Navalny, a lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner, is among Putin’s fiercest critics. He lost consciousness while on a flight on Thursday and his plane made an emergency landing.
Doctors said they were working to save his life after he went into a coma and was put on a ventilator in intensive care.