‘No ground for criminal probe until reason behind Navalny’s illness is identified’

The Kremlin on Tuesday accused German doctors of being too hasty after they said tests on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny indicated he had been poisoned.

Mr. Navalny,44, who is one of the fiercest critics of President Vladimir Putin, is being treated at Berlin’s Charite hospital after falling ill on a flight in Siberia last Thursday.

He was treated in a hospital in Siberia before being transferred to Germany.

His supporters claim he was poisoned by something in his cup of tea at a Siberian airport before taking a flight to Moscow, pointing the finger of blame at Putin.

The German clinic said on Monday that clinical tests “indicate poisoning with a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors,” substances that are used in nerve agents as well as some medicines and insecticides.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed that Russian medics had diagnosed Mr. Navalny’s condition in a similar way to German doctors but did not know what caused it.

‘Lot of other versions’

“The medical analysis of our doctors and the German ones absolutely matches. But the conclusions differ. We don’t understand why our German colleagues are in such a hurry. The substance hasn’t yet been established,” he told journalists.

He cast doubt on the German government’s statement that it was “fairly likely” that Mr. Navalny was poisoned, saying there could be another cause for his illness.“We can only partially agree… There is a likelihood of something else too.”

Asked whether he believed that Mr. Navalny had been poisoned for his political activities, Mr. Peskov said: “We can’t consider anything because we don’t know whether this was a poisoning.”

He acknowledged this was a possibility, saying that poisoning “can be seen as one of the many versions.”

Mr. Peskov said that until the substance that caused Mr. Navalny’s condition was identified, there were no grounds for opening a criminal investigation into the poisoning. He said Russian medics had detected a low level of the cholinesterase enzyme and treated him with the antidote atropine.

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