Allies of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny allege poisoning


Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, one of Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, is reportedly in a coma in a Siberian hospital as of Friday, one day after his allies allege he was poisoned. ~

The 44-year-old Navalny fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk on Thursday, and was taken to a hospital after the plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said on Twitter. She told the Echo Moskvy radio station that he must have consumed poison in tea he drank at an airport cafe before boarding the plane early Thursday. During the flight, Navalny started sweating and asked her to talk to him so that he could “focus on the sound of a voice.” He then went to the bathroom and lost consciousness, and has been in a coma and on a ventilator in critical condition since (ABC). ~

In a video statement released early Friday in Omsk, Yarmysh said Navalny remained in critical condition. Doctors at Omsk Ambulance Hospital No. 1, where the politician was being treated, remained tight-lipped about his diagnosis saying only that they were considering a variety of theories, including poisoning. State news agency Tass reported that police were not considering deliberate poisoning, a statement the politician’s allies dismissed (CNN). ~

Navalny’s Foundation for fighting corruption has been exposing graft among government officials, including some at the highest level. When asked in a 2017 interview with CBS what the chances were that he’d end up dead, Navalny answered: “Well, like, 50% I would be killed, or I would not be killed.” Navalny is not the first opposition figure to suffer from a mysterious poisoning. In 2018, Pyotr Verzilov, affiliated with Russia’s protest group Pussy Riot, ended up in an intensive care unit after a suspected poisoning. Opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza was hospitalized with poisoning symptoms twice — in 2015 and 2017. Like many other opposition politicians in Russia, Navalny has been frequently detained by law enforcement and has faced pressures by the Kremlin. In 2017, he was attacked by several men who threw antiseptic in his face, damaging one eye (FOX). ~


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