The paramedics who treated Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny after he fell deathly ill on a flight to Moscow contradicted the diagnosis given by Russian doctors who said he had fallen into a coma due to a metabolic disorder and experienced a major spike in blood-sugar levels, according to a report.
Five medical sources told Reuters that the first responders found no increase in Navalny’s blood sugar in initial tests and did not observe any signs of a metabolic disorder – despite what doctors said at a Siberian hospital in Omsk where he was treated.
A glucose test performed by four paramedics at the airport found that the dissident’s blood sugar was 3 to 5 millimoles per liter, which falls within normal limits, three sources with knowledge of his initial treatment told the news outlet.
“There was no diabetes there, it was all checked at once and ruled out,” one source told Reuters. “The indicator was normal, there was no problem in carbohydrate metabolism.”
Reuters said it did not independently review the results of the tests administered by the medical workers.
Two other sources also aware of Navalny’s early treatment at the airport told Reuters that his blood sugar was not abnormal.
Four of the five sources said the paramedics witnessed a clinical sign of poisoning, with symptoms including stupor rather than any indications of a metabolic disorder.
“It was indescribable. Navalny was in a stupor, a state of confused consciousness, he could not explain anything,” one of the sources told Reuters.
The report about the paramedics comes as Navalny posted a photograph of himself Tuesday in a German hospital bed.
“Hi, this is Navalny. I miss you,” Navalny wrote in Russian on Instagram, adding that he still can’t do anything — but managed to breathe by himself all day Monday.
Navalny had been flown to Germany to be treated two days after being poisoned. His family insists the poisoning was the work of the Kremlin, but Russian authorities deny the charge.
On Monday, specialized labs in France and Sweden independently confirmed he was poisoned by Novichok, a nerve agent that is a purported favorite of Moscow intelligence forces.
Alexander Sabaev, chief toxicologist of Omsk’s Emergency Hospital No. 1, disputed the accounts of the paramedics’ findings.
“No, this is not true, the ambulance team saw sugar 13 millimoles per liter,” Sabaev told Reuters. “Metabolic parameters can only be found by biochemical analysis, which can only be done in a hospital.”
A sugar level of 13 millimoles per liter is more than twice what is considered a normal level.
Sabaev also said Navalny had a “tendency to coma,” adding that the paramedics did not administer atropine, a drug used when certain kinds of poisons are suspected.
Three sources who said the medical responders saw clinical signs of poisoning told Reuters they used some unspecified injections for his symptoms but did not administer atropine at the airport because they did not suspect that kind of poisoning.
Last week, Sabaev said he gave Navalny a small amount of atropine to treat a lung problem when he was in the hospital after suspecting poisoning based on what the paramedics had told him.
Some medical sources have said the atropine — which is used to counteract nerve agents such as Novichok — likely saved Navalny’s life, according to Reuters.