Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny posted a photo of himself from his hospital room in Germany on Tuesday, and said he was able to breathe for an entire day without the aid of a ventilator.
Navalny reportedly told German officials he plans to return to Russia as soon as he has recovered from what several international diagnostic teams have now confirmed as Novichok poisoning.
Navalny appears in the hospital photo with his wife Yulia and two children. In the accompanying text, he joked about the joys of being able to breathe without mechanical assistance and said he is now able to rise from his bed for “short periods of time.”
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Привет, это Навальный. Скучаю по вам 😍. Я все ещё почти ничего не умею, но вот вчера смог целый день дышать сам. Вообще сам. Никакой посторонней помощи, даже простейший вентиль в горле не использовал. Очень понравилось. Удивительный, недооценённый многими процесс. Рекомендую
“Just on my own, no extra help, I didn’t even use the simplest valve in my throat. I liked it very much. It’s a remarkable process that is underestimated by many. Strongly recommended,” he said of breathing.
“I miss you all,” Navalny told his supporters in Russia.
“He’s fully aware of his condition, he’s fully aware of what happened and he’s fully aware of where he is,” an unnamed German security official told the New York Times when asked about Navalny’s condition.
“He’s not planning to go into exile in Germany. He wants to go home to Russia and he wants to continue his mission,” the official added.
Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh on Tuesday confirmed comments from other German officials that Navalny plans to return to Russia as soon as he is able.
“All morning journalists write to me and ask if it is true that Alexei plans to return to Russia,” Yarmysh said on Twitter. “I understand the reason for the question, but nevertheless I find it strange that someone could think otherwise. Once again I confirm to everyone: no other options have ever been considered.”
Asked if Russian President Vladimir Putin would be willing to meet with Navalny after he recovers, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov brusquely replied, “We do not see the need for such a meeting, so I believe that such a meeting will not take place.” The BBC noted that Putin and his mouthpieces studiously avoid even referring to Navalny by name, to convey the impression that they regard him as insignificant.