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Hospitalised Kremlin critic's office thanks Finnish President

Alexei Navalny’s office said it was grateful Sauli Niinistö had phoned Vladimir Putin about treating Navalny in Germany.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle

The office of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny told Yle it was grateful for Finnish President Sauli Niinistö’s help in getting Russian officials to allow Navalny to fly to Germany for medical treatment.

Navalny’s close aide, Leonid Volkov, told Yle in Berlin that Navalny’s office appreciated Niinistö phoning Russian president Vladimir Putin on the opposition leader’s behalf.

"A big thank you goes to Niinistö for calling Putin and discussing his transfer to Berlin," Volkov told Yle on Monday.

As Navalny’s team had attempted to pressure the Kremlin through a number of channels, Volkov said it was impossible to determine which call or action was key in persuading Russian officials allowing him to fly to Germany for treatment.

"But every one of these actions was important and we’re really grateful for them," he said.

Navalny, who is in a coma after a suspected poisoning, was flown to Berlin for treatment early Saturday. Russian officials had previously refused to allow him to be removed from the hospital in Omsk where he was being treated, but reversed their stance late Friday.

On Friday Niinistö and Putin had 'a long phone call' about 'the case of Navalny and the question of organising his health care' as well as the situation in Belarus, according to Niinistö’s office.

"I asked whether he couldn't be moved to Germany," Niinistö told Yle on Saturday. Ahead of the call, Niinistö had held talks with several heads of state, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who supported Navalny’s treatment in Germany.

Emmanuel Macron had also said France was ready to provide Navalny medical help.