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Navalny says he is breathing himself into a message from his hospital bed

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BERLIN Alexei A. Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who is recovering in Berlin after being poisoned, posted a picture Tuesday showing him in hospital, looking tired but very lively and telling followers he was breathing itself.

Hello, its Navalny, he said in an Instagram post with a photo of him sitting in a hospital bed surrounded by his wife and other relatives. I still can do almost nothing, but yesterday I could breathe all day on my own.

The message came hours after a senior German security official told The New York Times that Mr Navalny had been alert, vigilant and had told German prosecutors he was refusing to co-operate with a Russian investigation into his case. He also vowed, according to the official, to return to Russia as soon as possible to continue his work.

Mr Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh confirmed on Tuesday that Mr Navalny planned to return to Russia.

Stranger is strange to me that anyone can think differently, Ms. Yarmysh said on Twitter. No other option is being considered.

Asked if Mr Navalny would be allowed to return to Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said any Russian citizen was allowed to leave and enter the country at will.

Mr Navalny returns to health, as well as on social media, has the potential to reactivate Russia’s opposition after nearly a month of uncertainty since Mr Navalny first fell ill on 20 August.

Mr Navalny and his allies made modest gains in Russia’s regional election over the weekend, devoting most of their time to the ruling party in the Novosibirsk City Council, a Siberian industrial hub that is Russia’s third largest city.

Moscow, which has refused to cooperate with German and European demands to shed light on the poisoning, has instead pressured Berlin to share its findings and hospital reports regarding Mr’s health. Navalnys.

Russia recently made a formal request for mutual assistance in this matter. The German government, acting on the protocol, instructed the Berlin prosecutor’s office to consult with Mr. Navalny. By z. Navalny on Monday refused to authorize the sharing of his files with Russian authorities.

Leonid Volkov, Mr Navalnys Chief of Staff, who is in Berlin, said on Tuesday that Mr Navalny would not co-operate with a Russian investigation. He said Mr Navalnys’s team was talking to German officials about the governments’ response to Russia and that they welcomed the clarity with which German and other European officials had condemned the poisoning.

The EU has taken a strong, tough stance, said Mr. Volkov. They are using unusual formulations in this case, which is a good sign that they may be prepared to go one step further.

German officials now say they have almost no doubt that the Russian state was behind Mr poisoning. Navalny.

The German government said Monday that laboratories in France and Sweden had confirmed that the substance used to poison Mr Navalny was a form of Novichok nerve agent. The results are consistent with Berlin’s own findings and provide additional confidence in state involvement, as Western intelligence agencies have estimated that only the Russian government was likely to have access to such a weapon.

German officials and others have said any use of the nerve agent would violate the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Russia is a signatory.

But while patience with President Vladimir V. Putin is waning, Berlin is trying to figure out exactly how to respond. Some have suggested the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a nearly $ 11 billion project to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany.

So far, however, the German government, its European allies, and the United States have taken no action other than raising the prospect of imposing additional sanctions on Russia.

Catherine Bennhold reported from Berlin and Michael Schwirtz from London.



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