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German police beef up security at hospital treating Kremlin critic Navalny

German police cruiser. (Felix O/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

German police have beefed up security at the hospital in Berlin where the gravely ill Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny is being treated.

Navalny was evacuated to Germany on August 22 for medical treatment, flown out of the Siberian city of Omsk in an ambulance aircraft amid fears he had been poisoned.

There was no word yet from the Charite hospital on his condition but the founder of the activist group that arranged the flight called Navalny’s health condition “very worrying.”

As Navalny was being treated inside, social-media posts showed police increasing their presence around the hospital.

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A longtime opponent of President Vladimir Putin and campaigner against corruption, Navalny collapsed on a plane on August 20 after drinking tea that his allies believe was laced with poison.

The air ambulance, arranged by the Cinema for Peace Foundation, flew to Berlin early on August 22 and Navalny, 44, was rushed to the Charite hospital complex.

The hospital said in a statement that it would provide an update about his condition and further treatment once tests have been completed and after consulting with his family.

The flight followed a daylong battle by Navalny’s family and supporters to get Russian authorities to agree to allow him to go to the West for what they regard as more reliable, effective, and transparent treatment.

The Russian doctors treating him had refused for hours to allow him to leave, arguing that he was not fit to travel.

Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter that his condition during the trip “once again confirms: nothing prevented Navalny from being transported, and it was necessary to do it as quickly as possible.”

Navalny has been in an induced coma since he fell ill on August 20 during a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Omsk. Yarmysh said she believed the politician was poisoned when he drank tea purchased at the Tomsk airport.