Merkel privately visited Russian opposition leader Navalny in hospital after Novichok poisoning

Alexei Navalny, pictured with his wife Yulia says Angela Merkel went to see him and his family on a “private” visit to his Berlin hospital – Navalny Instagram via AP

Alexei Navalny met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a Berlin hospital where he was recovering from a poisoning that kept him in a coma for weeks, he has revealed.

Mr Navalny was discharged from the Charite hospital in Berlin on Wednesday after spending weeks on a ventilator in a medically induced coma.

The German media outlet Der Spiegel on Monday quoted unnamed sources saying that Chancellor Merkel went to see Mr Navalny in hospital in a sign of solidarity.

The 44-year old Russian politician confirmed the reports later in the day, insisting that there was nothing “secret” about the meeting.

“It was more of a private meeting and conversation with the family,” he tweeted.

“I’m very grateful to Chancellor Merkel for seeing me in hospital.”

He did not say when the meeting took place or offer any details. The top Kremlin critic fell suddenly ill on the plane from Siberia to Moscow at the end of August.

Several European laboratories independently confirmed that he was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok which was used in the 2018 attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

Mr Navalny spent two days in a Siberian hospital before he was evacuated to Germany where he was hospitalised for more than a month.

In his first social media post after he was discharged, Mr Navalny said he had a long recovery ahead of him and that he would need time to regain movement and muscle memory.

Just a few days earlier, his allies said he was learning how to walk and he still could not type on his phone or computer.

Mr Navalny, a fierce critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin, has vowed to return to Russia when he has recovered, while the Kremlin said there was nothing stopping him from coming back to his home country.

Russian government officials have gone back and forth, either denying that he ever was poisoned with Novichok or insisted that it was only after he was evacuated to Germany that the traces of poison were found in his body.

Russia never launched a formal investigation, and Mr Navalny’s allies said traces of Novichok were found on the water bottles that they took from his hotel room shortly after the poisoning.

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