Russian dissident Alexei Navalny was poisoned, the German hospital treating him has said.

The Charite hospital said the team of doctors treating him since he was admitted on Saturday found the presence of “cholinesterase inhibitors” in his system.

Cholinesterase inhibitors are a broad range of substances found in several drugs, but also pesticides and nerve agents. Common side effects include vomiting, muscle cramps, headache and hallucinations.

 
 

Doctors at Charite said at the moment the specific substance Mr Navalny was exposed to is not yet known.

 

“The patient is in an intensive care unit and is still in an induced coma. His health is serious but there is currently no acute danger to his life,” the hospital said in a statement.

 

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Berlin police and federal agents were posted at the downtown Charite hospital where the 44-year-old is undergoing treatment following his arrival in Germany after the chancellor, Angela Merkel, personally offered the country’s assistance.

“It was obvious that after his arrival, protective precautions had to be taken,” Ms Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters. “After all, this is a patient who, with a certain degree of probability, was poisoned.”

Mr Navalny was campaigning in Siberia when he collapsed while on a plane after drinking tea.

His supporters believe he drank tea which was laced with poison. They allege the Kremlin is behind both his illness and a delay in transferring him to Germany.

  
 

However, Russian doctors have said tests have shown no traces of poison in his system. The Kremlin has not yet commented on the allegation.

 

Last week, Mr Navalny’s team submitted a request in Russia to launch a criminal probe, but as of Monday, Russia’s Investigative Committee still has not opened a case, Mr Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said.

Ilya Yashin, an opposition politician in Moscow and a close ally of Mr Navalny, urged Russia’s law enforcement, in a video statement, to investigate “an attempt at a life of a public figure” and to look into the possible involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 

“It is Putin who benefits from these endless assaults,” Mr Yashin said.

Mr Navalny has been an outspoken critic of the Kremlin for more than a decade.

He has been repeatedly detained for organising rallies and public meetings and sued over his investigations into corruption. In 2018, he was barred from running in a presidential election.