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Russian top doctor emerges from forest

The former head of the Russian hospital that treated Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny last year has emerged from a Siberian forest, having been missing.

Teams using a helicopter and drones spent the weekend searching the swampy area in the Omsk region.

Dr Alexander Murakhovsky, 49, disappeared from a hunting base on Friday. But officials say he reached a village on Monday, looking healthy.

He reappeared in Basly, 32km (20 miles) from the hunting base.

His all-terrain vehicle had been found 6.5km from the base in Pospelovo, another village. The doctor is now having a medical check, the Omsk government told Russian media.

Last August Navalny collapsed on a flight and was treated in Omsk, then airlifted to Berlin. Western experts concluded that he had been poisoned with Novichok, a Russian military-grade nerve agent.

Two senior doctors at the Omsk hospital died aged 55 and 63 this year.

The hospital, headed by Dr Murakhovsky last year, insisted that it had found no trace of nerve agent while treating Navalny.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied allegations that Russian state agents tried to kill Navalny. Lab tests in three Western countries, confirmed by the global chemical weapons watchdog, established that Novichok had poisoned him.

At the weekend police, an emergencies ministry team and volunteers searched a swampy forest about 2,200km (1,370 miles) east of Moscow for the missing doctor, who is currently health minister for the Omsk region.

Navalny is the most prominent Russian critic of President Vladimir Putin, whom he accused of having ordered the Novichok attack.

Since February Navalny has been in jail in a penal colony, serving a term of nearly three years for an old embezzlement case. He called the conviction fraudulent and politically motivated.

The top medical team at the Omsk hospital which treated Navalny has changed since it was in the world media spotlight last year.

A deputy to Dr Murakhovsky – intensive care specialist Dr Sergei Maximishin – died in February aged 55, from a heart attack.

In March the hospital’s traumatology chief, Dr Rustam Agishev, died aged 63. He had had a stroke in December.

Dr Murakhovsky left in November, to head the Omsk regional health service. Another of his deputies, Anatoly Kalinichenko, had resigned in October. Source: BBC

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