Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has posted a photo of himself in his hospital bed, nearly four weeks after he was poisoned with what experts say was a Soviet-era nerve agent.
- A spokeswoman for Alexei Navalny says he wants to return to Russia once recovered
- Russian authorities say he is welcome to return and are insisting Germany shares medical samples
- The Kremlin denies involvement in what European governments say was a Novichok poisoning
The photo on Instagram shows the 44-year-old sitting up in bed with three family members around him.
“Hi, this is Navalny. I miss you all,” the photo’s caption reads.
“I still don’t know much about anything, but yesterday I could breathe all day on my own.”
Mr Navalny plans to return to Russia once his treatment in Germany is over, spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on Twitter.
In response to questions from journalists about Mr Navalny’s travel plans, Ms Yarmysh wrote: “I’ll confirm again to everyone: no other options were ever considered.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier that “any citizen of the Russian Federation is free to leave Russia and return to Russia”.
The main opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Navalny collapsed while on an internal flight in Russia in August and was taken to Germany for treatment.
Multiple independent laboratories have confirmed he was poisoned with the Russian Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, but Russia has denied any involvement in the incident.
It was the same class of Soviet-era agent that Britain said was used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England in 2018.
He had been in an induced coma, but the German hospital treating him confirmed that he had “successfully been removed from mechanical ventilation”.
Mr Peskov reiterated that Moscow was open to clearing up what happened to Navalny, but it needed access to information on his case from Germany.
He said Moscow did not understand why, if French and Swedish laboratories had been able to test his medical samples, Russia was not being given the same access.
Russian doctors who treated Mr Navalny in Omsk said no evidence of poisoning could be found.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the West of using the incident as a pretext to introduce new sanctions against Moscow.