Ex-head of Siberian hospital that treated Russian opposition figure Navalny found alive after 'disappearing' while on hunting trip

The former chief doctor of Omsk’s Emergency Hospital No.1, the medical facility that housed Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny following his alleged poisoning last year, has been found alive after going missing in the woods.

Alexander Murakhovsky attracted worldwide attention last year, when he claimed Navalny had slipped into a coma due to a metabolic disease that may have caused a sharp drop in his blood sugar. A few days later, after the activist was flown for treatment in Berlin, German doctors contradicted his diagnosis, saying the sudden onset of illness was caused by a poison.

Murakhovsky said no toxic substances had been discovered in Navalny’s test results while he was in the Siberian facility, located 2200km east of Moscow. He has since been promoted to the post of health minister for the Omsk region.

On Sunday, it was reported that Murakhovsky had gone missing in the Siberian woods a few days prior. This weekend was an important holiday in Russia, and the fine spring weather has prompted many to engage in outdoor activity.

His quad bike, also known as an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), was later found 6.5km from the hunting base from which he had left. It had apparently stalled. Murakhovsky’s friends tried to find him themselves for a day, before reporting his disappearance to the police, who launched a hunt for the doctor using ATVs, helicopters, and drones.

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On Monday afternoon, it was revealed that Murakhovsky had been found alive and in good health. His wife said he had not yet been fully briefed on the broad scale of the search-and-rescue mission. There had been serious concern for the doctor’s welfare, with locals from the village of Pospelovo, where the hunting base is located, revealing that bears had recently been spotted nearby. Bear hunting is legal in the area.

Murakhovsky is not the first doctor from the Omsk Hospital to have made the headlines in recent months. In February this year, deputy chief doctor Sergey Maksimishin died of a heart attack. He was on sick leave while Navalny was at the facility, and took no part in the activist’s treatment. In March, the head of the hospital’s department of traumatology and orthopedics, Rustam Agishev, died from a stroke he had suffered in December. Again, it appears that he had not been directly involved in the care of the opposition figure.

In August last year, Navalny fell ill on a flight to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk. After a forced emergency landing in Omsk, he was taken to hospital. A few days later, after requests from his family, he was flown to Germany, where he was treated in Berlin’s Charité Clinic. At the end of his convalescence, Navalny returned to Russia. He was arrested at passport control in Moscow, and is currently in jail serving a two-year and eight-month jail term for breaking the conditions of a suspended sentence handed to him in 2014, when he was found guilty of embezzling 30 million rubles ($400,000) from two companies, including the French cosmetics brand Yves Rocher.

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