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Alexander Murakhovsky, the Siberian doctor who treated President Vladimir Putin’s critic Alexei Navalny after he was reportedly poisoned with novichok last year, has been found alive following a three-day search after he went missing on a hunting trip.
The 49-year-old, who is the Health Minister of the Omsk region, was found walking out of a Siberian forest after vanishing on Friday from a hunting base, amid fears he had been attacked by wild bears in the vicinity.
RBC news website reports that he wandered out of the forest near the village of Basly in the Bolsheukovsky district and asked locals for help.
The doctor was taken to a nearby hospital, the regional government’s press service said.
‘The health minister Alexander Murakhnovsky walked to the people of Basly village by himself. He is in a normal condition, he is getting checks at the hospital of Bolshie Uki district,’ they said a statement.
Dr Murakhovsky’s wife Nazezhda, 61, also a doctor, confirmed to broadcaster Dozhd that she has spoken to him on the phone, adding that he doesn’t yet ‘understand the scale of the search’.
She said: ‘He is not a hunter. He has never shot an animal in his life. I believe he survived for three days only because of his will power.
‘He is really strong. He didn’t want to upset us. Sorry, I cannot speak anymore.’
His disappearance came after two other two medics who had also treated Navalny had died in mysterious circumstances earlier this year.
Dr. Murakhovsky, who overseen Mr. Navalny’s initial treatment and had claimed initial laboratory tests showed no traces of the Novichok nerve agent.
Mr. Navalny fell ill during a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow in August last year with suspected Novichok poisoning. He was eventually allowed to be airlifted to Germany for further treatment.
But tests by laboratories in three European countries, confirmed by the international chemical weapons watchdog OPCW, said that poison had in fact been used on the opposition figure.
The Kremlin has denied accusations of being behind the attempted killing of one of President Vladimir Putin’s main political opponents.
In November 2020, Dr. Murakhovsky was controversially promoted to regional health minister of Omsk.
He was called out on Twitter by Mr. Navalny, 44, who said: ‘You lie, fake test results, are ready to please the bosses in any way – you get an award and a promotion.’
When Navalny returned to Russia after recovering, he was immediately arrested and jailed in February for parole violations, on what he says were politically motivated charges, and sent to a penal colony.