07:34 GMT24 September 2020
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    Alexei Navalny was airlifted to Germany and admitted to Berlin's Charite hospital on Saturday after falling ill during a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow on Thursday. His press secretary suggested that he may have been poisoned. Doctors in Omsk, where he was briefly hospitalized, found no traces of poison.

    A Moscow court suspended a libel case against Alexei Navalny on Monday afternoon due to the opposition figure's poor health condition, a Sputnik correspondent has learned.

    "Criminal proceedings have been ordered suspended," the court said in its decision, citing Navalny's status as in hospital and ill. According to the court, proceedings will resume once he recovers.

    The court also retained an order against the political figure not to leave the country under his own recognizance, notwithstanding the fact that he is now in Germany in a comatose state.

    Navalny had a criminal investigation opened against him earlier this year over suspected libel on social media against a veteran of the Second World War who was featured in a promotional clip urging Russians to vote in favour of constitutional reforms.

    In a June 2 tweet, Navalny posted the video and called people expressing support for the constitutional changes, including a cosmonaut, sports champions, actors, businessmen, a doctor, a military officer, a mother and the veteran "the shame of our country" and "traitors."

    Ignat Artemenko, the 93-year-old veteran featured in the clip, took Navalny to court over the remarks. If convicted, Navalny could face a fine of up to one year's income or up to 240 hours of community service.

    Navalny arrived in Germany aboard a chartered jet on Saturday and was granted the status of 'chancellor's guest' by Angela Merkel to guarantee his protection. He arrived in the country in a comatose state from Omsk, where he was being treated after falling ill during a flight from Tomsk last week. The opposition figure's spokesperson has speculated that he may have been poisoned. However, doctors in Omsk said no traces of poison had been found in his blood or urine samples. Later, Russian doctors said Navalny may have a metabolic condition which caused a severe drop in his bloodsugar levels and led him to lose consciousness and go into a coma.

    German medics are expected to release a statement on Navalny's condition later on Monday.

    Navalny has long been a staple of Russia's liberal opposition, and is arguably the best known Russian opposition figure in the West. In addition to organizing meetings and anti-government demonstrations, the politician and his organization, the 'Anti-Corruption Foundation' (Russian acronym FBK), has created dozens of videos exposing alleged corruption by high-profile officials and businessmen. FBK was declared a foreign agent by the Justice Ministry in October 2019, and announced that it would be shutting down in July due to a defamation case by Russian restaurateur Yevgeny Prigozhin.  Navalny has several convictions against him, including money laundering and embezzlement, and a 2014 fine for libel after calling a district councillor a "drug addict" on Twitter. In 2017, FBK was forced to edit one of its videos after oligarch Alisher Usmanov sued Navalny for libel following a bitter online exchange.

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