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Alexei Navalny walks down stairs in Instagram snap as Putin foe recovers from Novichok poisoning

THE Kremlin critic who survived Novichok poisoning has been seen walking down stairs in an Instagram photo as he continues to recover.

Alexei Navalny, 44, a staunch opponent of Vladimir Putin, said he still has difficulties climbing stairs because his legs tremble but his path to recovery is now "clear, although long,” in his social media post on Saturday.

It comes just five days after a Berlin hospital said he had been taken off a ventilator and could breathe independently.

“Let me tell you how my recovery is going. It is already a clear path although a long one,” Navalny wrote.

In the Instagram post he said he had difficulties using his phone, pouring water or climbing stairs because his hands failed him and his legs trembled.

Navalny fell ill on a domestic flight in Siberia on August 20 and was airlifted to Berlin while still in a coma.

Laboratory tests in three countries have determined that Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said the use of the chemical weapon showed the "dangerous" attack on Navalny was attempted murder and the aim was to silence him.

'A CLEAR PATH'

Western governments have demanded an explanation from Russia.

The Kremlin denied Russia was responsible for Navalny’s illness and said that there was not enough evidence of his poisoning.

Moscow has called for Germany to provide evidence of any use of Novichok or foul play.

Russian authorities have refused to open a formal probe into Navalny’s case and instead have launched a preliminary procedure, which should conclude if an investigation is needed.

Russian prosecutors also ordered an inspection of the hotel in Siberian city Tomsk where Navalny stayed before collapsing on a plane and where his team said traces of Novichok were discovered on a water bottle.

The inspection found several minor health and sanitation violations in the hotel’s restaurant, for which its staff would be fined 62,000 roubles (£634), according to a report on the Prosecutor’s General Office website, published on Saturday.

Among the listed violations were celery used by the restaurant without documentation on its quality, absence of trash bin covers and drying dishes on unsuitable shelves.

The head of Germany’s foreign affairs committee, Norbert Roettgen, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung weekly newspaper that there should be an international investigation into the circumstances in which Navalny fell ill.

“This can be done within the framework of the UN or the Council of Europe,” he said.

NATO officials have warned that despite western countries calling for tougher sanctions against Russia, it won't stop Moscow from trying to kill Navalny again.

Navalny said in his post that after weeks in a medically induced coma and with assisted breathing, his current health problems seemed minor.

“I’ll tell you why. Only recently I couldn’t recognise people and didn’t know how to talk,” he wrote.

Earlier this week he posted his first picture from hospital, surrounded by his family.

His spokeswoman said he planned to return to Russia as soon as he recovers.

Poisoned Putin critic Alexei Navalny says Novichok 'found on water bottles provided by hotel' after falling ill on flight

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