MOSCOW: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday confirmed reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited him in a Berlin hospital where he was being treated for what German authorities determined was nerve agent poisoning.
“There was a meeting, but one shouldn’t call it secret,” Navalny said in a tweet, referring to media reports alleging that Merkel made a secret visit to the Charite hospital where he remained for 32 days.
“Rather, (it was) a private visit and a conversation with the family. I’m very grateful to chancellor Merkel for visiting me in the hospital,” the politician wrote.
German magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday evening, without citing sources, that Merkel had made a secret visit to Navalny when he was at the Charite hospital in Berlin. It didn’t specify when the visit happened, but Navalny was discharged from the hospital last week.
Navalny spent 32 days in the hospital, 24 of them in intensive care, before doctors deemed his condition had improved sufficiently for him to be discharged. He will remain in Germany for the time being to continue his rehabilitation, his team said.
Navalny, a politician and corruption investigator who is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most visible opponent, was flown to Germany two days after falling ill on Aug. 20 on a domestic flight in Russia.
He spent those two days in a coma in a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk, where Russian doctors said they found no trace of any poisoning. German chemical weapons experts determined that he was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok — findings corroborated by labs in France and Sweden.