The doctor who famously and falsely announced that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was not poisoned but had a bout of pancreatitis and hypoglycemia has disappeared in a swampy forest, according to several Russian media outlets. Kremlin-friendly outlet Life.ru suggested that “there could have been an accident” after two bears were spotted where the doctor was last seen.
Alexander Murakhovsky, who was promoted to become minister of health of the Omsk Region days after he publicly refuted claims that someone had tried to kill Vladimir Putin’s most public foe, went hunting on a four-wheeler May 7 and has not been seen since. His hunting partners reportedly say his four-wheeler got stuck in muddy terrain behind them, and he set off on foot. He spoke to one person on his walkie-talkie but later did not respond. They last failed to find him after a day of searching and later alerted authorities, who have continued looking for him with a 65-person strong search party. The authorities say the forest was full of bears, which may have contributed to the doctor’s disappearance.
Navalny, who fell into a coma on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow in August 2020, was later transferred to Berlin where German doctors confirmed he had been poisoned with a substance similar to Novichok. Murakhovsky had tried to block the transfer abroad, but finally backed down and signed off on it. He was soon promoted.
Navalny later mocked the promotion, writing on Twitter, “You lie, fake test results, are ready to please the bosses in any way—you get an award and a promotion.”
Two other doctors who treated Navaly at the Omsk hospital have died. Sergei Maksimishin, the deputy head physician who originally confirmed Navalny had been poisoned before backtracking, died of a heart attack in December 2020. In March 2021, Rustam Agishev, another doctor who treated Navalny, died from complications after suffering a stroke.
Navalny is currently serving a jail term for violating parole conditions by traveling to Germany to seek medical treatment for the poisoning. He ended a near-fatal hunger strike in April.