Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Russian doctors gave permission to Alexei Navalny who is in a coma after a suspected poisoning, to be transferred abroad for medical treatment, a senior physician said on Friday.

The reversal came after more than 24 hours of wrangling over Alexei Navalny's condition and treatment.

Alexei Navalny, a 44-year-old politician and corruption investigator who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's fiercest critics, was admitted to an intensive care unit in the Siberian city of Omsk on Thursday. His supporters believe he was poisoned and that the Kremlin is behind it.

His family and supporters wanted him brought to a top German medical clinic, but his physicians in Omsk said he was too unstable to move, even after a plane with German specialists and advanced equipment arrived.

Navalny's supporters denounced that as a ploy by authorities to stall until any poison would no longer be traceable in his system. A senior doctor in Omsk said the team did not believe he was poisoned.

The German doctors later examined Navalny and said he was fit to be transported, according to a representative of the charity that has organised the plane to bring him to Berlin.

"I understand he's still unconscious, but they're used to such special assignments and they say very clearly he can fly and they want to fly him," film producer Jaka Bizilj, of Cinema For Peace, told The Associated Press after being in contact with the German doctors.

The Russian medical team then relented and deputy chief doctor of the Omsk hospital Anatoly Kalinichenko told reporters on Friday that he would be allowed to leave.

The flight was scheduled for Saturday morning, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing airport officials.

Earlier, a Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the resistance to the transfer was political. He said he wasn't aware of any instructions to stop the transfer and that it was purely a medical decision. "It may pose a threat to his health," Peskov said.

Navalny's wife told reporters that hospital staff and men she suspected were law enforcement agents didn't let her speak to the German specialists, who she said were brought into the facility in secrecy, through a back door.

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