The head doctor at the hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk that treated Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny has not been seen since he left a hunting base on an all-terrain vehicle on May 7, according to regional authorities.
Emergency services, hunting inspectors, employees of the Emergency Situations Ministry, and local residents joined in a search for Aleksandr Murakhovsky, the press service of the Omsk region Interior Ministry said in a statement on May 9.
A helicopter and drone were involved in the search, which was complicated by difficult terrain, including swampy areas, the statement said, adding that an all-terrain vehicle had been found about 6 kilometers from the hunting base.
Murakhovsky's acquaintances reported that he was missing on May 8 in the north of the Omsk region in the Bolsheukovsky district, according to news reports.
A few months after treating Navalny, Murakhovsky was appointed health minister for the Omsk region.
Navalny was admitted to the hospital on August 20, 2020, after he became ill, forcing his flight to make an emergency landing in Omsk.
Initially, doctors at the hospital publicly admitted that the cause of Navalny’s illness was poisoning, but then denied that it was. After tense negotiations with the authorities, Navalny was airlifted to Germany for further treatment.
Murakhovsky, a member of the ruling United Russia party, delayed Navalny's transfer to Berlin for two days after announcing that Navalny's grave health condition was caused by a "metabolic disorder."
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Navalny, who returned to Russia from Germany in January, is currently serving a 2 1/2 year prison sentence on embezzlement charges that he says were trumped up because of his political activity. A Moscow court in February ruled that while in Germany, Navalny violated the terms of parole from the embezzlement case.
He recently ended a hunger strike to demand he be examined by his own doctors amid what he has described as a “deliberate campaign” by Russian prison officials to undermine his health.
Two other doctors at the hospital where Navalny was treated have died in recent months. Rustam Agishev, head of the trauma and orthopedics department, died in March after suffering a stroke in December 2020.
Agishev’s death followed the death of Sergei Maksimishin, deputy chief physician for anesthesiology and resuscitation at the hospital. Maksimishin died of a heart attack.