‘It’s manic depression or he ate a battery’. Russia’s Foreign Ministry endorses conspiracy-theorist initiative that attributes Alexey Navalny’s near-fatal illness to psychiatric drugs, not a chemical weapon

Last December, doctors at the Charité Clinic in Berlin, where Alexey Navalny was treated after falling suddenly and gravely ill, published a research paper in the scientific journal The Lancet about “a 44-year-old man” from Russia who survived exposure to a Novichok-group nerve agent. The article didn’t identify Navalny by name, but the Charité Clinic later confirmed in a press release that the patient in question is Alexey Navalny. In January 2021, a little-known German-language website called “World Economy” (run by the pro-Kremlin Russian journalist Alexander Sosnovsky) released an interview with a Swiss neurologist named Vitaly Kozak who claims to have discovered “contradictions” in the report that appeared in The Lancet. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later cited Kozak’s remarks, demanding an explanation from European leaders, and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has accused the West of evading “uncomfortable questions” about Navalny’s illness. At Meduza’s request, journalists Anna Vilisova and Ilya Shevelev took a closer look at Dr. Vitaly Kozak.

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