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Kremlin sees no grounds to launch criminal probe into Navalny’s condition

There will be a cause for investigation if the fact of Russian blogger Alexei Navalny's poisoning with some definite substance is established, according to the spokesman
Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov  Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, August 25. /TASS/. The Kremlin so far sees no grounds to launch a criminal probe into the situation around opposition blogger Alexei Navalny, Russian president’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

"First, it is necessary to identify the substance, to find out what caused his condition. It means there should be grounds for an investigation. So far, all we can say is that the patient is in a coma," he said.

If the fact of Russian blogger Alexei Navalny's poisoning with some definite substance is established, there will be a cause for investigation, Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.

"If the substance is established and if it is established that this is poisoning, then, of course, this will be a cause for investigation," he said.

"Medics are addressing this matter, first Russian doctors and then German doctors. They are conducting phase one of this investigation, trying to find out what has caused the condition the patient is in now. So far, regrettably, to no avail," he said.

 Peskov stressed that there was nothing new in the German clinic’s statement about Navalny’s condition. "The fact of low cholinesterase was established by our medics during the first hours at the Omsk hospital and atropine the Germans are talking about and which is now being used was administered during the first hour of the patient’s stay in the intensive care unit," he said.

The Kremlin spokesman noted that it was purely medical information. "We simply called and asked the doctor what it means at all. None of us knows. An ordinary man has no idea of cholinesterase. I knew nothing about that until yesterday," he confessed.

Peskov noted that, according to medics, cholinesterase inhibitors are widely used in medicine. "There are a lot of such medicines but no chemical components of such a preparation have been identified. Neither German nor our doctors are able to say what inhibited cholinesterase," he stressed, adding that the Russian side "would be only grateful" if this substance is identified by German doctors.

"Cholinesterase levels may drop due to various reasons," he went on to say, noting that it is possible when various drugs are used. "It is very important to identify what triggered the cholinesterase drop. And neither our nor German medics are so far able to say why this happened, at least, this is what follows from the German medics’ statement. Regrettably, the substance has not been identified, samples do not show it," Peskov stressed.

He surmised however that the German side may have some additional data. "In this context, of course, our medics are ready to provide the first sample taken from the patient and want to invite the German colleagues to exchange information and various biomaterials," he said.

The spokesman added that poisoning may be considered only as one of the versions of what happened to Navalny. "So far there are many other medical versions as well," he noted, naming among them use of certain medicines and an individual reaction to certain circumstances. "All these versions were considered in the very first hours by the Omsk doctors and specialists from Moscow, all of this has been discussed and checked a dozen times already while looking for substances. It didn’t work out, they didn’t find it, they do not see this substance. Maybe, the Germans will see it," the Kremlin representative said.

He refrained from answering the question whether Russian doctors had done everything they could and whether extra analysis would be needed. "I cannot say, I don’t know. I have little idea of how many samples are needed and how much information can be derived from them. We are not specialists, you know," he noted. "The Kremlin cannot be an expert in that. We take no samples, we cannot say anything about sample probe results. It is pointless to speak about that, we know nothing about that."

When asked whether Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed Navalny’s condition and his transportation to Germany with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinisto, the Kremlin spokesman noted that this topic had been "raised but not discussed." "This is not a subject for talks, this is not a topic for discussion. But, indeed, it was raised," he said, adding that Russian medics who had been fighting for Navalny’s life for three days needed no special instructions from Putin. "Medics had been sparing no effort to save the patient’s life for three days, and probably this life was saved thanks to them. Later on, our various agencies swiftly settled all formalities, as an exception, taking into account the difficult situation, reckoning with his wife’s request to take him to Germany," he said and stressed that the existing system had worked smoothly.

Allegations against Russian authorities

The Kremlin spokesman has castigated allegations that Russian authorities were involved in the poisoning of blogger Alexei Navalny, branding them nothing but ‘hot air’ that cannot be taken seriously. "We can’t take these… allegations seriously. These accusations, which cannot be true, are nothing but hot air, I would say, so we have no intention of treating it seriously," he pointed out.

The Kremlin is perplexed at Germany’s haste to voice the poisoning theory, Dmitry Peskov went on. According to the spokesman, Russian and German specialists have identical medical data on the matter yet their conclusions are different.

"We don’t understand why our German colleagues are in such a hurry to use the word ‘poisoning,’" he said, adding that this theory was among the first ones considered by Russian medics but "the substance has not yet been identified."

"The matter is that my German colleague rushed to say about a high degree of probability of poisoning," Peskov insisted. "We can share this point of view only partially. Because in this case, he should have said that other options or theories were also probable. These theories were looked into by our doctors but it is wrong to speak about only one theory at this point."

On August 20, the blogger’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said that the plane carrying Navalny from Tomsk to Moscow made an emergency landing in Omsk after he suddenly felt under the weather in mid-flight. Navalny was rushed to a hospital while being in a coma and was connected to a ventilator.

On Saturday, Navalny was transported to Berlin and admitted to Charite clinic.