Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been poisoned, medical tests carried out by German doctors have indicated.
In a statement the Berlin hospital where he is being treated revealed extensive tests pointed to ‘intoxication by a substances from the group of active substances called cholinesterase inhibitors’. Further analysis to identify the exact chemical is ongoing.
‘The outcome remains uncertain but long-term effects, especially to the nervous system, could not be ruled out’, they said.
Cholinesterase inhibitors are drugs that can increase communication between nerve cells in the brain. They are sometimes used to temporarily improve or stabilise the symptoms of people with dementia.
Common side effects of cholinesterase inhibitors include vomiting, muscle cramps, headache and hallucinations.
Certain chemical classes of pesticides work against bugs by interfering with, or ‘inhibiting’, cholinesterase but they can also be poisonous to humans.
The Kremlin said it was unclear what caused Navalny to fall ill and that initial tests did not show he was poisoned, as his aides had charged.
The politician’s supporters have accused the Kremlin of masterminding a plot to poison Navalny, who is one of Vladimir Putin’s fiercest opponents.
Navalny is being treated in an intensive care unit under armed guard at the Charite hospital in Berlin for his own protection.
He is in an artificial coma and receiving the antidote atropine, they said.