Merkel visited Kremlin critic Navalny in hospital

September 28, 2020Updated: September 28, 2020

MOSCOW/BERLIN—German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a personal visit to Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny while he was undergoing treatment in a Berlin hospital for poisoning, her spokesman said on Monday.

News of the meeting is likely to annoy Moscow, which rejects the finding of German, French, and Swedish experts that Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent in Russia last month. Russia has repeatedly criticized Germany over what it says is a failure to share information on the case.

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia pose for a photo on his Instagram account in a hospital in Berlin, on Sept. 21, 2020. (Navalny Instagram via AP)

“It was a personal visit to Navalny in hospital,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular news conference, declining to disclose details of what was said or how long the meeting lasted.

Germany still expects an explanation from Russia on the case, Seibert added.

Navalny wrote on Twitter that it was “a private meeting and conversation with the family”. He added: “I am very grateful to Chancellor Merkel for visiting me in hospital.”

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This handout photo published by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on his instagram account, shows himself, center, and his wife Yulia, right, daughter Daria, and son Zakhar, top left, posing for a photo in a hospital in Berlin, on Sept. 15, 2020. (Navalny Instagram/AP Photo)

The Navalny case has further worsened relations between Moscow and a number of Western countries. Merkel has faced calls to halt the nearly-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline bringing Russian gas to Germany.

Navalny was flown from Russia to Berlin last month after falling ill on a domestic flight. He received treatment in the Charite hospital for 32 days before being discharged last week.