The former head doctor at the Siberian hospital which first treated Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny who denied his poisoning has gone missing on a hunting trip, police said Sunday.
Alexander Murakhovsky was chief doctor at Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1, which admitted Navalny when he fell gravely ill on an Aug. 20, 2020, flight that was forced to make an emergency landing. The governor of the Omsk region 2,200 kilometers east of Moscow later promoted Murakhovsky, 49, to the post of regional health minister last fall.
Omsk regional police said Murakhovsky has not been seen since leaving a hunting base in a forest near the Bolesheukovsky district village of Pospelovo last Friday.
“For about a day, the acquaintances of the disappeared made independent attempts to find the man, after which they reported the incident to the police,” it added.
Police later said that Murakhovsky’s ATV was found 6.5 kilometers from the hunting base.
Citing an unnamed individual involved in the search efforts, Ngs55.ru reported Monday that Murakhovsky’s ATV stalled en route to the base.
“He ran into a tree trunk, the ATV got stuck,” they were quoted as saying. “It didn’t look like he was trying to pull out. His footprints led toward the road. Maybe he fell ill.”
Omsk police resumed search operations early Monday morning after an overnight pause, police told state media.
Two other Omsk emergency hospital doctors — deputy chief physician Sergei Maximishin in February and head of the trauma and orthopedics department Rustam Agishev in March — have died since Navalny’s treatment.
Despite Murakhovsky’s initial refusals, Navalny was airlifted to Germany for treatment following a tense standoff between Navalny’s family and associates and the authorities.
President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal domestic critic returned to Russia in January after recovering from what European scientists said was Novichok chemical weapon poisoning, an act he blames on the Kremlin. He was immediately arrested and jailed for two and a half years on charges of violating parole on an old fraud conviction during his recovery abroad.
The Kremlin rejects claims that it was behind Navalny’s poisoning and has cast doubt on whether he was poisoned at all.