The chief doctor of a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk that briefly treated poisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been promoted to head of the regional health ministry, local authorities said Saturday.
In August, 44-year-old Navalny fell severely ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow and was hospitalised in Omsk after an emergency landing.
The anti-graft campaigner was eventually transferred for treatment to Germany where experts ruled he was poisoned with the Soviet-designed nerve agent Novichok.
Alexander Murakhovsky, the head physician of Omsk Emergency Hospital No.1, was among the doctors who claimed no traces of poison were found in Navalny’s system and stalled his transportation to Berlin.
A statement published on the website of the Omsk regional government said Murakhovsky “has completed all the professional steps, as a doctor and leader knows and understands all the processes that take place in healthcare”.
It said his candidacy “was confirmed with the leadership of the Health Ministry of the Russian Federation. Alexander Murakhovsky has been appointed to the post of the Health Ministry of the region”.
In a Twitter post, Navalny mocked Murakhovsky’s appointment:
“You lie, fake test results, are ready to please the bosses in any way – you get an award and a promotion”.
He added that now the healthcare of the region is in the hands of a “lying nobody”.
On Friday, the Siberian branch of the interior ministry said doctors in Omsk confirmed Navalny’s illness was caused by metabolic problems and pancreatitis, ruling out poisoning.
Navalny has claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is personally responsible for the poisoning.
The Kremlin has rejected all allegations it could have been involved and has accused Germany of not cooperating in investigating the incident.
In October, the EU sanctioned several senior Russian officials over the poisoning, saying the attack with Novichok could not have been carried out without the complicity of the FSB security service, the defence ministry and Putin’s office.
Navalny, who remains in Germany for treatment, has vowed to return to Russia after fully recovering.