A top doctor at the Russian hospital where opposition leader Alexey Navalny was treated immediately after his poisoning last summer has died unexpectedly.
Sergey Maximishin, who was the deputy chief physician of the Omsk emergency hospital, died “suddenly” at the age of 55, according to a statement released by the hospital.
“With regret, we inform you that the deputy chief physician for anesthesiology and resuscitation of the Emergency Hospital No. 1, Maksimishin Sergey Valentinovich suddenly passed away,” the hospital said in a statement, without mentioning a cause of death.
Navalny was initially admitted to the acute poisoning unit of Omsk emergency hospital No. 1 on Aug 20, after falling ill from exposure to military-grade Novichok on a plane heading from Siberia to Moscow. The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk where he was rushed to the hospital.
Maximishin, one of the most senior doctors at the hospital, did not give any press briefings at the time Navalny was under his care.
Navalny was put into a medically induced coma and eventually evacuated to the German capital of Berlin, where he spent five months recovering from the poisoning.
Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s chief of staff, confirmed Maximishin was in charge of treating the poisoned opposition leader.
“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. “Maximishim knew more than anyone else about Alexey’s condition so I can’t dismiss possibility of foul play.”
Volkov continued, “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.”
Volkov is not the only one with suspicions of foul play, media sources say. However, deaths of Russian frontline medical workers, including whistleblowers, are a politically charged topic in the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The health minister of the Omsk region said in statement that Maximishin worked at the hospital for 28 years and saved thousands of lives.