Russian opposition and Putin critic Alexei Navalny has reportedly woken up from his medically induced coma just short of three weeks since he was poisoned with a nerve agent.
Doctors are encouraged that Navalny is responding to speech, but still caution that it is too early to determine whether the 44-year-old will suffer with any long-term health consequences.
After being seen drinking tea in an airport café on August 20, Navalny became violently ill on a plane flight from Tomsk to Moscow. Witnesses aboard the plane say he was "screaming in agony."He was transferred to Germany for medical treatment, where officials found traces of Novichok, a toxic nerve agent, in Navalny's blood.
Novichok is spread as a very thin powder and could have easily been dissolved into the Russian opposition leader's tea. Once in the system, Novichok blocks messages from the nerves to the muscles, causing painful involuntary muscle contractions, as well as a complete collapse of many bodily functions. Cardiac arrest is a common result.
Navalny continues to be treated at the Charite hospital in Berlin.