The physician who treated Russian dissident Alexei Navalny after he was poisoned last year has died suddenly of an apparent heart attack at age 55, the hospital where he worked confirmed Thursday.
Sergey Maximishin served as deputy chief physician for anesthesiology and resuscitation at the Omsk emergency hospital, the Washington Examiner reported. After being poisoned in August 2020, Navalny was treated there and then was airlifted to Germany.
“With regret, we inform you that … the deputy chief physician for anesthesiology and resuscitation of the emergency hospital No. 1, assistant of the department of Omsk State Medical University, PhD of medical sciences Maximishin Sergey Valentinovich suddenly passed away,” the statement read.
Navalny’s chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, said that Maximishin was in charge of treating Navalny, an opposition leader who is an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Colleague “can’t dismiss” foul play
“Sergey Maximishin was the head of the department that treated Alexey Navalny and was in charge of his treatment — specifically his medically induced coma,” Volkov told CNN. “[Maximishin] knew more than anyone else about Alexey’s condition so I can’t dismiss possibility of foul play.”
“However Russia’s health care system is very poor and it’s not uncommon for doctors of his age to suddenly die. I doubt there will any investigation into his death,” he added.
Doctors at the hospital, including Maximishin, said that they didn’t think Navalny was poisoned and initially refused to allow him to be taken to Germany, but they eventually relented.
German medical professionals determined that he was poisoned, and he spent five months recovering in Germany, only to be arrested when he returned to Russia last month. He has now been sentenced to serve more than two years in prison for violating parole.
Maximishin worked at the hospital for 28 years and is credited with saving thousands of lives during that time.
There is currently no evidence that his death involved foul play, but questions persist about how much he knew about Navalny’s poisoning and whether he was honest in saying he didn’t think poison was involved.
Navalny headed for prison
Opposition forces inside Russia are working to get Navalny released, claiming his imprisonment is politically motivated to keep him from challenging Putin.
“Cases are always fabricated against me, but the authorities have problems when cases go to court,” Navalny told the court during a hearing, the Washington Examiner reported. “It is clear to everyone there that the truth is on my side.”