Doctor who treated Russian leader Navalny after poisoning dies

Putin critic Alexei Navalny has been detained after flying back to Moscow, five months after he was nearly killed by a nerve agent attack.

A doctor who treated Alexei Navalny last year after the Russian opposition leader was poisoned has suddenly died, the hospital where he worked announced Thursday.

Sergey Maximishin served as deputy chief physician at the Omsk emergency hospital that immediately treated Navalny following the poison attack that the opposition leader has blamed on the Russian government. Maximishin died “suddenly” at the age of 55, the hospital said.

“With regret, we inform you that … the deputy chief physician for anesthesiology and resuscitation of the emergency hospital №1, assistant of the department of Omsk State Medical University, PhD of medical sciences Maximishin Sergey Valentinovich suddenly passed away,” the hospital said in a statement reported by CNN.

The hospital statement did not state a cause of death, though a spokeswoman from Omsk’s regional health ministry later told CNN that Maximishin died of a heart attack, citing “preliminary data.”

Maximishin was in charge of treating Navalny after he was poisoned. Navalny was put in a medically induced coma before being moved to Berlin for further treatment.

A top aide to Navalny noted that it’s “not uncommon for doctors of his age to suddenly die.”

“[Maximishin] knew more than anyone else about Alexey’s condition so I can’t dismiss possibility of foul play,” Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s chief of staff, told CNN. “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.”

CNN noted that it had no evidence of foul play being involved.

Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on Tuesday after being accused of breaking his parole requirements from a sentence back in 2014. Navalny maintains that the charges against him are not legitimate.

Russia has denied all allegations by Navalny and has jailed thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets in support of the opposition figure.