German chancellor Angela Merkel visited Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a Berlin hospital where he was recovering after being poisoned with Novichok, her spokesman has revealed.
Mrs Merkel visited Navalny in a “personal” capacity, Steffen Seibert told a news conference on Monday.
He did not say when or for how long the pair met, but Nalvany said he was “very grateful” she had come to see him, reports Sky News.
The 44-year-old Russian opposition leader wrote on Twitter: “It was a private meeting and conversation with the family. I am very grateful to Chancellor Merkel for visiting me in hospital.”
The Kremlin critic has now left the Charite hospital where he spent 32 days and says he has been “hobbling through the park” amid rehab sessions.
He fell ill while on a domestic flight from Siberia last month and was airlifted to Berlin in a coma.
Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden confirmed that he was poisoned with the same nerve agent used to target Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.
But Moscow denies the claims and news of the meeting between Navalny and Mrs Merkel could cause further tensions between the two countries.
Russia has repeatedly criticised Germany over what it says is a failure to share information about Navalny’s case.
There has also been pressure on Mrs Merkel to pull the nearly completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will transport gas to Germany from Russia.
The UK and other Western countries have demanded answers from Russia too.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for a “full, transparent investigation into what happened” and pledged to “join international efforts to ensure justice is done”.
Moscow has said it is yet to see evidence of a crime and has declined to open an investigation.